Are Wolves the Real Killers?

“A fearful few wage war on American’s wolves. The war comes because agribusiness exaggerates and lies about wolf predation.”

Are Wolves the Real Killers ?Huffington Post – Wendy Keefover-Ring

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the agribusiness industry can be counted among the fearful few, killing wolves with alarming readiness. USDA agents shoot wolves from planes and helicopters. Agents salt our national landscapes with sodium cyanide, M-44s, booby traps and neck snares. Rascals, sanctioned or just tolerated, set out illegal poison bait, often using banned substances such as Compound 1080, or shoot wolves where they have returned to the backcountry.

These acts of aggression against wolves are wrong, contrary to the will of the people, and based on lies.



  1. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    You have to give the USDA an A for creative imagination….The system is broken like so many other aspects of the Fed government

    1. jon Avatar

      The real killers are wildlife services.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Finally, a major news article showing in detail (hard figures) the incredible gap between the verified losses from wolves detected by professionally trained agents who can tell a wolf kill from cougar kill from cow dead of poison plants and later scavenged on, and livestock owners who couldn’t find their lost sheep or think any dead animal must have been killed by a wolf.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    More . . . official government deceitfulness like this not only harms wildlife management, it serves to destroy government credibility on matters far afield from this.

    Detailed studies of public opinion show that in the 1950s and through most of the 60s, Americans trusted their government(s). This trust helped make a strong, stable nation, but government lying about many things has created the unstable situation we have today with our public discourse filled with the wildest rumors . . . the “birthers,” the “truthers,” the “deathers,” and on and on.

  4. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    The numbers are so embarassingly far off from each other.

    Even if you extrapolated losses based on the assumption that in certain terrain, for every cow or sheep lost, there are a number that aren’t found, you still don’t even get close. I think 7:1 was about as high as it got, that being in formidable terrain.

    Statistics are used to manipulate opinion in so many different areas. Polls get tossed around on sites like the Huffington Post like Busch Light at a redneck family picnic. Once you drill down deeper, in many cases the statistics are put together by groups with agendas. It’s amazing how you can manipulate the numbers to prove a point through adjustments to the criteria for the statistical analysis.

    The USDA figures are the most suspect in this case. They have the strongest motive and Wildlife Services has a history of capitulation to ranchers.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      My last paragraph was incorrect. Should have said the rancher survey can’t possibly be taken seriously and the Wildlife Service total is suspect.

  5. ma'iingan Avatar

    “FWS uses professional, verified, ground-tested reports from agents.” As she proceeds to vilify Wildlife Services, the author is apparently unaware that Wildlife Service agents are the only agents authorized by USFWS to verify wolf depredations. The article aptly illustrates that emotion and hyperbole are rampant on both sides of the wolf issue.

    1. jon Avatar

      I take it you work for wildlife services because you seem to defend them every chance you get. Wildlife services is the agency that kills thousands upon thousands of wild animals each year for those who may not know about them. I think everyone on this site for the most part would be in favor of getting rid of widllife services altogether. The bad that they do outweighs any positive things they do by far.

      1. ma'iingan Avatar

        “I take it you work for wildlife services because you seem to defend them every chance you get.”

        I’m defending rational discourse on the wolf issue. The linked article is far from rational – nor is your opinion of WS.

    2. Brian Ertz Avatar

      The point that you make is largely irrelevant to the context of the article – and in no way impugns the merit of her argument.

      Wendy is clearly demonstrating that FWS relies upon statistics that are compiled by agents who have some baseline official protocol (and public accountability) for determining whether the cause of a given predation is wolf – whereas NASS relies upon a survey of livestock producers of which there is no assurance that any official competency/protocol was used in determining their numbers.

      The point is that policy-makers and media are relying upon junk statistics deriving from hearsay and laundered through NASS rather than the official numbers as compiled by an agency charged with collecting that data via some baseline protocol that’s subject to legitimate oversight.

      Now – you and I might know that Wildlife Services numbers are pumped (see: Carter Neimeyer’s inside account) – but that does not detract from the fact that even given Wildlife Services numbers being pumped – they are still substantially lower than those produced via the industry’s hearsay.

      The article aptly illustrates that emotion and hyperbole are rampant on both sides of the wolf issue.

      I like this part the best. Just another example of how you can just ‘say it’ without applying any reason or rationale of your own.

      How does Wendy’s analysis of the different ways that data was collected illustrate that emotion and hyperbole are at issue ?

      Is it not true that those agents on the ground had at least some baseline training/protocol by which their calls on depredation were made ?

      Is it not true that NASS’s statistics are substantially different – and based largely on survey’s of industry – on hearsay ?

      Is it not concerning that decision-makers and media are basing decisions and coverage of an important public policy issue on stats that are supposed to measure the same thing but for which there is such significant discrepancy ?

      step-up ma’iingan – or shut up.

      1. ma'iingan Avatar

        “Agents salt our national landscapes with sodium cyanide, M-44s, booby traps and neck snares. Rascals, sanctioned or just tolerated, set out illegal poison bait, often using banned substances such as Compound 1080” – I didn’t have to look very far to find the hyperbole and emotion, did I? Or do you actually believe WS is using M-44 and 1080 on wolves? And what exactly is a booby trap?

        Read my post again – I don’t deny the USFWS tally and NASS claims are ridiculously disparate. I was pointing out, ironically, that the very agency the author vilifies is responsible for providing the USFWS with verified depredations. Either the author conveniently forgot to mention that in her quest to condemn WS, or she didn’t do her homework. Nor does she link the NASS numbers to any actual lethal wolf control, if you want to go there. It doesn’t make sense – she’s speculating that WS is basing wolf removal on NASS data rather than verified depredations from their own field agents?

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      The officially reported numbers of livestock lost to wolf depredation does indeed (as you say) come from “professional, verified, ground-tested reports from agents.” Most of these are Wildlife Services agents.

      The big question is where do these immensely much larger numbers come from? They come from NASS. They use a survey of livestock producers. These producers have every reason to make very large estimates of predatory losses.

      Oddly, it might seem, there is no reason why contradictory government figures can’t both come from different parts of the same agency. Anyone who has worked in government or studied policy in detail knows that government is no monolith and people in the same office can have very different agendas.

  6. SAP Avatar

    Too tired to go look it up, but I recall running across the NASS tallies for Montana about a decade ago. Beyond wolves and coyotes, they were blaming bears for a huge amount of dead sheep.

    Also, if I recall correctly, they had a huge body count attributed to foxes and badgers. Yes, foxes and badgers. It was like some children’s story run amok.

    ma’iingan does have a point: in this hyper-politicized climate, let’s make sure we have our facts straight and that we’re as accurate as we can be.

    Re: M-44s – regardless of whether they are killing wolves, we should NOT be putting these monstrosities out on the landscape. Period. Again, too tired to dig it up right now, but in the mid to late 1990s (97 or 98) we did have a couple wolves killed by M-44s here in southwest Montana. It happens.

    Maybe, if we had hordes of dire wolves roaming the hills and packing off children, and we couldn’t for some reason kill them from aircraft, maybe there would be some justification for putting a baited contraption that squirts sodium cyanide out on the land. Until that day, there is no justification for the M-44. Nasty, dangerous, non-selective.


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Brian Ertz