Idaho Year-End Wolf Population Declines 11% to 683. Livestock Losses Increase.


The Idaho Fish and Game has just released it’s 2012 annual report for wolves and it shows that the year-end population is 11% lower than the 2011 year-end estimate.  The report estimates that there were 683 wolves on December 31, 2012.  The Idaho wolf population consisted of 117 packs within the state and 23 border packs that overlapped the borders of Montana, Wyoming, and Washington.  They confirmed that 66 packs reproduced but could only confirm that 35 of those packs qualified as breeding pairs that produced a minimum of 187 pups. The report also has retroactively increased the 2011 end-of-year estimate from 746 to 768 because they were able to document new packs that had pups born in 2011.  In 2012 there were 425 documented wolf mortalities, of which, 98% were human caused.

The report also includes statistics on wolf killed livestock.  The number of sheep killed by wolves is much higher than last year’s number with 337 sheep killed in 2012 compared to 147 killed in 2011.  The number of cattle killed slightly increased from 90 in 2011 to 92 in 2012.

The report does not include those wolves killed since the end of the year during the hunting and trapping season that ended in most of the state on Saturday.  Currently that number lies at around 525, just before wolves den and have new litters.  In total, if you calculate from April to April for each year when wolves have pups, the proportion of the population killed this year has decreased slightly compared to last year.  In the period from April 1, 2011 to April 1, 2012 approximately 46% of the population was killed, primarily from human causes.  The population began the period at 1051 including pups and declined to 561 wolves.  Compare that to the period from April 1, 2012 to April 1, 2013 when approximately 42% of the population has been killed.  During this period the population began at 896 and declined to about 525 wolves.



The method used to estimate the wolf population is based on a formula that factors in packs that were documented over the previous two years.  Since the wolf population is declining, and because some of the packs documented in 2011 may no longer exist due to the heavy hunting pressure that occurred, it is possible that the formula, created during a time when wolves were increasing in population, may overestimate the number of wolves in the state.  The effect of this two year lag may become apparent in next year’s report.







  1. Gail Avatar

    Why do they keep banging their heads into brick walls? How dumb! I copied the following which fit well with this article:


    Killing Adult Wolves Creating Chaos Within the Packs

    Posted by Linda Camac (cause founder)

    A very important excerpt from an article written by George Wuerthner—explains the consequences of killing wolves and disrupting wolf families; causing chaos within the packs.
    You cannot think of wolves without thinking of family—they are a unit. What happens to pups when adults are killed and don’t come home? What happens to adolescent wolves who have not been fully taught or schooled…even as to what their food source should be? See what this author has to say —

    “….a growing body of research that suggests that indiscriminate killing—which hunting is—actually exacerbates livestock/predator conflicts. The mantra of pro wolf-hunting community is that wolves should be “managed” like “other” wildlife. This ignores the findings that suggest that predators are not like other wildlife. They are behaviorally different from say elk and deer. Random killing of predators including bears, mountain lions and wolves creates social chaos that destabilizes predator social structure. Hunting of wolves can skew wolf populations towards younger animals. Younger animals are less skillful hunters. As a consequence, they will be more inclined to kill livestock. Destabilized and small wolf packs also have more difficulty in holding territories and even defending their kills from scavengers and other predators which in end means they are more likely to kill new prey animal.”

    1. Kevin Avatar

      Exactly. If you want to minimize livestock predation and new pack formation, the exactly wrong thing to do is to allow random, un-targeted killing of wolves. But wolves ain’t never been about biology or logic – they’re a religious argument. And nobody wins a religious argument

      1. Rita k Sharpe Avatar
        Rita k Sharpe

        Amen,to that.

      2. Zach Avatar

        Like ranchers ‘have’ to do in Oregon.

        There is a bit of proof in what you speak.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Oregon deserves a lot of credit for managing wolves non-lethally. It is good for wolves and for livestock and for how people perceive the state wildlife agency.

          Wolf and livestock management does not have to be a win/lose or lose/win(called “zero sum”) battle. Everyone can either win or at least stay the same.

          1. CodyCoyote Avatar

            Tomorrow the Wyoming G & F large carnivore coordinator Mark Bruscino will be giving a public talk on Wyoming’s wolf management program to date. I will ask him during Q & A about ” nonlethal management ” to see if it is in his or his department’s vernacular.

            The term never seems to come up in Wyoming, but should…

            1. JEFF E Avatar
              JEFF E

              as soon as you say “nonlethal” someone in the Dept. will rush up and try to tell him what that means

            2. jon Avatar

              Please report back and give us a update on what was said at the meeting and the answers you got from Mr. Bruscino Cody.

            3. Louise Kane Avatar

              yes Cody please do report… if you have keeled over in frustration

        2. WM Avatar

          From the article:

          ++State wildlife officials provided him with an alarm that erupts with bright lights and the sound of gunshots when a wolf bearing a radio-tracking collar treads near. He also staked out fladry at calving time. The long strings of red plastic flags flutter in the wind to scare away wolves. The flags fly from an electrically charged wire that gives off a jolt to predators that dare touch it.

          The rancher put 7,000 miles on his ATV spending more time with his herd, and cleaned up old carcasses that put the scent of meat on the wind. And state wildlife officials text him nightly, advising whether a wolf with a satellite GPS tracking collar is nearby.

          “None of this stuff is a sure cure,” said Patton, who worries the fladry will lose its effectiveness once wolves become accustomed to it. Such measures also can’t be used in open range.++

          Just how much do these measure cost – the rancher and the state? How much will it cost all ranchers in areas where wolves will increase in number?

          One thing I dislike about news stories like these – they are incomplete, and largely fluff when it comes to the economics part, not giving a clue to what the capital or increased labor costs might be, and why ranchers tend to resist.

          1. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue


            Is there a hidden industry here?

            1. WM Avatar


              Can you clarify your thought?

              1. Immer Treue Avatar
                Immer Treue


                Expected that reply. As with any need, services are/can be/ provided/invented. Cost is unavoidable. Supposedly we are a nation of innovation. Fladry seems a temporary patch. Radio collared alarms are innovative.

                Perhaps a niché industry, but with the creative minds in this country, plus people supposedly looking for work, a melding of the two could/should provide some sort of solution.

                Where the $ comes from is the question. It already is costing the government and ranchers. Outfits like DOW could once again come on board.

                Just throwing a pregnant idea out there, and with any gestation period there is cost involved. I don’t want to sound naive, but with all the negative energy out there, in the immortal words of “Oddball” from “Kelly’s Heroes”, “We need some positive waves baby”.

                The need is there, the invention is not.

              2. SAP Avatar

                Integrated risk management, Immer. Similar to “the world’s largest undiscovered caverns” that a friend jokes about, it’s logically impossible for me to say that there is no yet-to-be-invented awesome solution.

                What I can say is that there is a menu of risk management tools already available. None of them alone or in combo will absolutely prevent wolf predation on livestock. Then again, per the topic of this thread, it’s pretty clear that anything short of a toxic and expensive eradication campaign on the lethal side will absolutely prevent wolf predation.

                Including lethal removal of problem individuals, the risk management package could include: fladry, permanent electric fence, livestock guardian dogs, increased vigilance by people, management intensive grazing (keeps animals bunched up and moved frequently, and may have substantial range health benefits), removing dead livestock to a secure facility, selecting individual or classes of livestock that may have stronger protective instincts (Temple Grandin is currently researching this), timing calving or lambing to be in sync with wild ungulate parturition, and scare devices. There could be more tools as well, but this is what I’ve seen make a difference. It’s quite a list, none of it is straightforward, and some lethal will likely always be part of the package. It comes down to ranchers selecting the tools that will work for them, and working cooperatively to share the costs.

          2. SAP Avatar

            WM – the rancher in the article has two miles of fladry & posts (plus gate handles and assorted other parts) that I delivered to his ranch (1,000 mile roundtrip). Myself and two local watershed employees put up the fladry around his calving pastures in 2011. DOn’t know who has put it up past two calving seasons but it takes about 10 person hours to surround his pastures.

            It does cost the rancher time to maintain the fladry — to make sure it’s still up and sufficiently charged. I will never expect a rancher to go out buy his own fladry. Fladry works, but it is fairly labor intensive and many folks just flat refuse to believe that it works.

            (We’re actually working right now to develop some fladry that is gray instead of red, because the two miles of flapping red flags simply does not appeal to a lot of people. Wolves just see the relative brightness of the flags, not the color, so the flags could be some neutral color like gray.)

            You’ll get no argument out of me that wolves cost ranchers money, one way or another. I will not get drawn into another philosophical debate about who should pay for these additional costs. Like Larry the Cable Guy, I’m a pragmatist: Get ‘er done!

  2. Lonna O'Leary Avatar
    Lonna O’Leary

    As you can see by the numbers alone Idaho “sportsmen” who get their jollies by hunting /trapping wolves and Idaho ranchers who consistantly whine about livestock getting preyed upon by wolves, Killing them is not doing them or ranchers any good. This killing is only making matters worse for ranchers. Maybe you people should take a lesson from Oregon. They do not allow the hunting of wolves there and their losses of livestock to wolves are far below yours Idaho. In other words if you want less livestock to be preyed upon by wolves quit killing them. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

    1. rork Avatar

      Come on. There are less than 100 wolves in Oregon.
      And as convenient as it might be to conclude that the hunting has increased livestock losses, I’m not willing to think that has really been demonstrated, based on so little data (and low-quality data, and with other possible explanations).

  3. ann fox Avatar
    ann fox

    Statistics are easily manipulated…depending on who is doing them. Am I the only one who cares for the small lamb with his throat ripped out? The lamb has a predator who hunts them…so the wolf has one too….man. I do not like killing ANY animal just for the sake of killing. But I will defend my livestock & family pets from predation, just like I would shield my child from danger. Sometimes when we find the sheep they are still alive & need to be shot. No wolves or coyotes in sight…believe me these gentle souls suffer while the wolves train their pups. There are domestic dogs running with a wolf pack around here…this can only end in tears for the wolfdog pups that will result from this. Wolves & coyotes eat some dogs & befriend others…WHY?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Sounds to me like an animal husbandry problem more than a wolf or coyote problem. Maybe you should keep your livestock in an area where they aren’t subject to such losses instead of blaming nature for your ineptitude.

      1. Robert R Avatar
        Robert R

        Ken come on really!!

        1. Ken Cole Avatar

          Uh, yeah, really.

          I’m tired of the constant drone of ranchers complaining that nature is killing off their livestock when they are too lazy to do what is necessary to protect them. If you leave livestock unattended you should expect losses and you shouldn’t expect taxpayers to compensate you for them.

          1. Robert R Avatar
            Robert R

            Maybe you should stay off of the highways because if you hit any wildlife I surely don’t want you compensated by insurance for your vehicle.
            Ken if you feel so bitter towards agriculture and ranchers maybe you should watch what you eat or wear its all connected.

            1. Ken Cole Avatar

              You do know the difference between paying for insurance and getting a welfare check from the government don’t you? Do understand what a moral hazard is? You might want to look it up.

              1. Jeff N. Avatar
                Jeff N.

                Not to butt in on your conversation with w/ Robert R. But I thought I’d make it easier for him.

                Moral Hazard – In economic theory, a moral hazard is a situation where a party will have a tendency to take risks because the costs that could incur will not be felt by the party taking the risk. In other words, it is a tendency to be more willing to take a risk, knowing that the potential costs or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place.

              2. Robert R Avatar
                Robert R

                This reminds me of the two brothers who would not speak to each other. One day a man came along asking the one brother if he had any small jobs. He said yes,do you see all those boards, I want you to build a fence so my brother cannot see what I’m doing.
                The guy returned to the house and said he was done. The brother went to look and there was no fence but a bridge built aacrossed the creek. The two brothers who had not spoke in years shook hands and talked.
                So don’t burn your bridges build them!

              3. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                taint necessarily true there buckwheat.

                “If you purchase cattle with the intent to resell them, you’re eligible to deduct both the cost of the cattle themselves and of transporting the cattle. However, you can’t deduct these costs in the year you buy them, unless it’s also the year you sell them. According to the IRS, all deductions must be made during the year they’re sold.”

                which way did that ambulance go?

              4. WM Avatar

                Jeff E.,

                You pull that language off some website like ehow, that will give you a four paragraph description about how to do in home brain surgery using a hacksaw and spoon, written by an eighth grader?

                Taxation of cow-calf operations do, in fact, differ depending on the holding period of the asset for Section 179 and 1231 treatment purposes. You just made a subset of the type of operation to fit your example.

                For tax treatment of this, let’s go to a more authoritative source, and be mindful of the terms technical terms “income” and “deductible expense.” Let’s look at IRS publication 225 and the entries of such information on Schedule F, specifically lines 1a and line 1b which address calculation of Gross Income from the purchase and sale of a farm asset held for a period of less than 24 months. 😉

                Links to the referenced sources:



                And, by the way, staying with the thread, I agree with you about a surcharge to the ridiculously low grazing fee, for at least an increase of 25 cents to cover wolf predation insurance.

            2. JB Avatar

              C’mon, Robert. You made a good analogy, but you’ve suddenly lost interest. Personally, I think livestock insurance, paid for by the producer, would be a great way of reducing any burden associated with wolves. In fact, I would argue that livestock insurance should be a requirement for anyone who puts livestock on federal public lands (just like anyone who drives a car on public roads is required to carry car insurance).

              1. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                I have maintained for years that 25 cents should be tacked on to grazing fees for the sole purpose of creating an insurance fund to address the very losses that ranchers cry and whine about.

                God forbid they pay there own way.

              2. Robert R Avatar
                Robert R

                I could be wrong but I do believe that all registered livestock has insurance on them and more so any sires of the male gender.
                I would not doubt it if the producer gets paid both by insurance and compensation payments.
                Maybe Rancher Bob could put some light on the insurance.

              3. Rancher Bob Avatar
                Rancher Bob

                Livestock insurance is a lot like the program the state has one must prove beyond a doubt what caused the death before payment. Payment cannot be made for natural deaths. Registered cattle are only insured because they are usually more valuable.
                I find the welfare check and inept comment from Ken, par for the course, here’s Ken living from federal payments from the Equal Justice Act and from donations to a non-profit from tax payers trying to keep their money from Uncle Sam. Talk about your self-entitled welfare lifestyles.

              4. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                plus tax write offs

              5. Robert R Avatar
                Robert R

                Jeff we all have some sort of tax write offs.!
                Anyone who has a business has tax write offs or donates.
                Look at any business that buys something new, it’s depreciated and written off.

              6. Ken Cole Avatar

                Livestock owners in Idaho do not have to prove beyond a doubt that wolves killed their livestock to receive payment. I went to a meeting a year ago where they handed out a bunch of money to livestock producers who had possible livestock losses to wolves and they gave one sheep rancher a bunch of money for sheep that had been scared by their own livestock guard dogs and subsequently trampled each other to death.

              7. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                Rancher Bob
                So lets recap
                A rancher goes to a livestock auction and buys a cow and calf, the total expense of which is a tax deduction, including fuel, meals etc. and motel if any.

                Rancher then turns cow and calf (AUM) out on public grazing allotment for $1:35 a month and again writes off any other expenses such as transportation to the allotment.

                Then if cow and/or calf is killed by a wolf, the rancher gets total reimbursement from a state funded taken from the tax base, while at the same time calling in WS to kill some wolves @ ~ $1000.00 hr. for helicopter time.

                Then writing of losing the cows on taxes as an operating loss and collecting insurance if any.

                That about cover it?

              8. WM Avatar

                Jeff E.

                Correction to your scenario:

                Cost of cow + calf is not a deduction. It creates the basis of the investment.

                The expectation is that the investment will increase in value over time. Now, if the livestock operator buys 100 cows, and some die from from whatever cause or are lost or stolen, there is less opportunity for profit which is total cost of the net asset [(cows bought-cows died/lost/injured) x (weight gain on the live ones sold)] – expenses(vaccinations + vet bills, expenses of securing the purchase, transportation, labor, state and federal taxes, fencing, holding pens, commission for any middlemen in the sale, feed including grazing permits, interest on loan if money is borrowed for the purchase, misc. such as supplemental feed or hay) = Net profit on investment over time from purchase to sale.

                More cows die or more expenses = less profit.

                Let’s be candid and accurate here. This is no cake walk as you would depict it.

            3. JEFF E Avatar
              JEFF E

              Not surprised you don’t comprehend.

              Seems to be your forte.

              My scenario has to do with wolf predation only, not any of the miss direction you try to interject.

              Plus I believe a large part of this fluff—

              “expenses (vaccinations + vet bills, expenses of securing the purchase, transportation, labor, state and federal taxes, fencing, holding pens, commission for any middlemen in the sale, feed including grazing permits, interest on loan if money is borrowed for the purchase, misc. such as supplemental feed or hay)”

              is either in whole or part tax deductible.

              Having said that, if 25 cents were added to the grazing fees to create an industry insurance program, even the losses not caused by wolves would be more than covered. (Yes I know that the state or Fed would contrive some way to get there cut of that)

              1. WM Avatar

                Jeff E.,

                Oh, I have a very good understanding of profit and loss calculations, the basis for which I won’t go into here. Tax deductability for certain items only affects profit margin. A business can have shit load of them and still lose money. Some who talk about this stuff on this forum, would benefit from a business accounting class or two, or may be one on tax law, or maybe even running a business.

                The wolf predation issue for the producer has both expense sides, and a subsidy side (if government chooses to reimburse for losses whether deserved or not).

                By the way, Jeff, there is no misdirection on my part. You asserted the capital cost of a purchase of cows as a tax deductible expense. It is not.

                Your statement, sentence 1:

                ++A rancher goes to a livestock auction and buys a cow and calf, the total expense of which is a tax deduction…++


              2. WM Avatar


                Just to be clear, certain expenses are, in fact, deductible from gross income, which gives the calculation of net profit. That is the part to the right of “= sign” in case that was not clear, where I stated “net profit,” which is what the producer nets, after all those tax deductible expenses.

                And, to be accurate, I should have included amortizaion or depreciation on capital assets in producing income, as well, but didn’t feel such detail was necessary to the core point I was making.

            4. JEFF E Avatar
              JEFF E

              I have already read those documents”before” I posted my last.


              you are not dealing with $3 Mike.

              So you are maintaining that I am inaccurate?

              If I buy cow/calf on Jan.15th, and it/they are killed by a wolf on Oct. 20th. how do you think I am going to declare that on my taxes?

              1. WM Avatar

                Jeff E.,

                Fortunately, I know I am not dealing with $3Mike. I respect your usually well stated and sometimes well researched views, even though we may occasionlly disagree.

                All I am saying is that you are mischaracterizing the calculation of gross/net income and expenses in your original example, per federal income tax rules and forms.

                And, if we go back over the content of your original post, you, to some degree, oversimplify the costs/risks of a cattle grazing operation in your response to Rancher Bob.

                There is another element here as well, but it takes us to a slightly different topic and that is parity between subsidies of crop growth agriculture vs. cattle/sheep grazing. In crop growing there are all kinds of federal subsidies from direct cash payments to farmers to keep land out of production, price supports, crop insurance subsidies and disaster payments if a crop gets wiped out by hail or a fire. States/counties significantly undertax crop ground for real estate tax purposes.

                These programs, IMHO, are just a different form of the subsidy for having WS thump a couple troublesome wolves (which typically are also cost-shared by states, while the USDA Farm Service Agency programs previously mentioned for crop farmers are not).

                And thanks for the “buckwheat” tribute. Now would that be the Eddie Murphy version, or from the original Our Gang? I am flattered either way.

              2. JEFF E Avatar
                JEFF E

                • Jeff E.,
                Fortunately, I know I am not dealing with $3Mike. I respect your usually well stated and sometimes well researched views,

                ( WM, if I do not state otherwise then it is only my opinion, and even then, If I do not state that I agree with it then it’s just information that I present for general consumption, without an opinion.)

                even though we may occasionally disagree.
                All I am saying is that you are mischaracterizing the calculation of gross/net income and expenses in your original example, per federal income tax rules and forms.

                (my original example was, admittedly, simplified, but had only to do with wolf predation, which was my only example.)

                And, if we go back over the content of your original post, you, to some degree, oversimplify the costs/risks of a cattle grazing operation in your response to Rancher Bob.(duh)

                There is another element here as well, but it takes us to a slightly different topic and that is parity between subsidies of crop growth agriculture vs. cattle/sheep grazing.

                In crop growing there are all kinds of federal subsidies from direct cash payments to farmers to keep land out of production, price supports, crop insurance subsidies and disaster payments if a crop gets wiped out by hail or a fire. States/counties significantly under tax crop ground for real estate tax purposes.( another subject, for another thread)

                These programs, IMHO, are just a different form of the subsidy for having WS thump a couple troublesome wolves (which typically are also cost-shared by states, while the USDA Farm Service Agency programs previously mentioned for crop farmers are not).
                And thanks for the “buckwheat” tribute.

                ( you earned it)

                Now would that be the Eddie Murphy version, or from the original Our Gang? I am flattered either way.

          2. jon Avatar

            “If you leave livestock unattended you should expect losses and you shouldn’t expect taxpayers to compensate you for them.”

            Very well said Ken. That’s why a lot of people have no sympathy for these ranchers when they lose livestock to predators. It’s the rancher’s fault and his only.

    2. JEFF E Avatar
      JEFF E

      gentle souls?

      you have been to the meat section in the supermarket, no?

      1. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        @ Ann Fox

    3. JB Avatar


      Predators don’t kill “for the sake of killing”–they kill to survive. (We, on the other hand, would survive a bit longer with less meat protein in our diets.)

      I support your right to defend your livestock and pets against predation. Of course, the best way to do this is to be proactive and use good animal husbandry.

      1. Louise Kane Avatar

        thank you JB
        for post to Ann

  4. Leslie Avatar

    How about the ranchers taking some responsibility for their own inventory (sheep,cattle) instead of letting the government do their bidding. After ranchers use an array of possible non-lethal methods available, at that time should they be issued shoot-to-kill licenses. Wolves are here to stay and businesses need to update their technology! Heck, even we had to eventually build a website and buy new computers for our employees!

    1. Jeff N. Avatar
      Jeff N.

      Based on the rhetoric we hear coming from ranchers, do not hold your breath waiting for the vast majority of them to take any type of responsibility of their inventory. Ann Fox is our latest example.

  5. Chuck Avatar

    Of those 337 sheep and 92 cows killed, I am curious as to the total amount of sheep & cattle that are grazed in Idaho?
    Also am curious if there is ever a number posted as to the number of livestock killed by cougars and bear.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      “Idaho cattle and calf inventory totaled a record high 2.37 million head as of January 1, 2013, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.”


      “All sheep and lamb inventory in Idaho on January 1, 2013, totaled 235,000 head, down 5,000 head from the previous year, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.”


      1. JB Avatar

        So there are more than 2.6 million sheep and cattle in Idaho alone?! That’s a tremendous amount of biomass that could be used to produce wildlife…

  6. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I would like to know how many of the livestock kills were on public land and which ranchers lost animals. These numbers are so general that it is difficult to know what is really going on.
    I am not opposed to livestock owners killing wolves that attack animals on private property. However, if you choose to ranch near wild areas, you should expect to have some losses, if you don’t fence or take other measures to keep wolves out.
    Wolves that are in wilderness areas or on large tracts of public lands should be left alone. Idaho should not be managed as an elk farm.

  7. Ken Cole Avatar

    Another important point that I didn’t put in the article is that the number of packs has increased while the size of the packs has decreased.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue


      Which effectively raises the question(s): disruption of wolf social structures that were in place; will this actually serve to raise wolf numbers; increase depredations; increase number of ungulates preyed upon;…?

      I am making not making the assertions others seem to presume, as wolf hunting seasons in five states will hopefully result in data that may confirm or refute the said assertions/questions.

      In MN I certainly hope a moratorium is put in place to gather and digest data. Could be a mute point in all states, then again, findings could be profound.

      1. ma'iingan Avatar

        “In MN I certainly hope a moratorium is put in place to gather and digest data.”

        You won’t get much meaningful data from the results of one season – certainly not enough for any science-based management plans.

        The danger is that you’ll get a set of incomplete data – ripe for cherry-picking in support of somebody’s agenda.

        1. Immer Treue Avatar
          Immer Treue


          Ok, let’s go with what we know, no agenda. First somewhat normal Winter in MN in a while. In NE region, no doe season in effort to increase deer numbers. The Fritts Mech paper would lend one to hypothesize that with winter severity being high, plentiful fawns, and with wolves being hammered in the NW wolf hunting zone, that livestock depredation would go down.

          I’ve been in touch with Dan Stark of MN DNR to see if any breakdown of wolf age cohorts are available. His reply, not until late Spring/early Summer. Even with that information available, can one draw conclusions on the causes of what might happen? I really don’t know.

          One thing I do know is that, in science, one question always opens the door for another. The “rush to hunt” wolves in MN was to address all the usual wolf “baggage”- depredations, pets, personal safety. The depredations were addressed with ~270 wolves taken out prior to the hunting seasons. Questions have been asked, how many of the wolves killed during hunting/trapping had nothing to do with the supposed concerns about wolves.

          I agree with you that one season like one day does not a week make, and have o problem with wolf management, in particular where wolves may be a problem. In my opinion, MN did not get it right. Can/should wolves be managed like deer?

          I’ve wandered a bit. Your reply is welcome.

          1. Rancher Bob Avatar
            Rancher Bob

            On the “rush to hunt” issue didn’t Minnesota reach minimum population back in 1990 something, with a number of attempted delisting, lawsuits to stop delisting, the whole court thing, on and on. So why is there this surprised shock with everyone about a hunting season. I know people from Minnesota who have talked about a wolf hunt it seems like forever.

            1. Immer Treue Avatar
              Immer Treue

              Rancher Bob,

              Yes, yes and yes. However, there are many, and I emphasize many, folks in MN who believe wolves should not be hunted/ trapped unless they are causing problems. 270 wolves this past year bear testament to that. All stakeholders appear satisfied with this process.

              Many hunters in MN have the ethic, if you don’t eat it, don’t shoot it. That leaves trappers, and with their intransigence over conibear and snare placements are not winning friends.

              Farmer Dale Lueck and a partner of his were continually suing for a wolf hunt. Argument, I can shoot a neighbors dog chasing my stock, but not a wolf. The wolf season was slipped in as MN government was shut down in 2011 if memory serves me correctly.

              One must remember, wolves were never extirpated from MN. They weren’t reintroduced. People grew to understand more about wolves. There are ranches/farms in MN wolf country, but not like in the West. Problem wolves were dealt with. Poaching estates ran as high as 400 per year, as reported by DNR. So wolves were being managed, legally and illegally. Why hunt/trap other than to generate money.

              Livestock, pets, personal safety…where main reasons for this past season. As I’ve written in the past, what is the reason for hunting wolves in the BWCAW where they cause no problems? I live in the NE zone. A few horses an llamas in my area, none I’m aware of have had problems with wolves. A few dogs have faired badly with wolves. No real reason to hunt wolves around where I live.

              The NW zone is where depredations really occurred, and most of the wolves killed, were killed there. But will this effect depredation rates.

              Bob, a lot of folks are really pissed about wolf hunting/trapping in MN, and not just folks from urban areas. Enough so that pressure was put on legislators who introduced a bill for a wolf hunting moratorium.

              Question boils down to, wolf management or trophy hunting. Management is acceptable to most, trophy hunting is not. And again, how many of the wolves killed had anything to do (livestock/pets/people)with the reasons legislators originally pushed forward the hunting season?

              1600 was a population goal set a long time ago, and took a while to reach. MN has proven to be able to be the home to more than 1600 wolves. Should they be managed like deer an animal that has also increased in number along with the wolves? In my opinion, I think not.

              1. Louise Kane Avatar

                Immer thanks for your thoughts on this. Minnesotans seem much more appreciative of wolves as a beneficial aspect of their environment, not to mention much less willing to be bullied by anti wolf and pro killing lobbies.

          2. ma'iingan Avatar

            I don’t know what the MDNR crew is going to find there in MN, Immer. Both MN and WI agencies are busy crunching numbers so they can report at the Wolf Stewards’ Meeting in a couple of weeks.

            The Wisconsin data could be significantly different, partly due to the differences in the season structures.

            In any event, I suspect in WI we’re going to see young animals making up the majority of the harvest, especially by trappers. Yearling wolves are the easiest to fool.

            1. JB Avatar


              Would you consider giving us a report on what happens at that meeting? I was hoping to go, but the travel gods were not smiling upon me this spring. 😉

        2. Louise Kane Avatar

          the proposed legislation is for five year moratorium and then hunting only after nn lethal options have been tried. really progressive and welcome. Ten years of data already exists, wolves were not a problem in MN and as others have suggested their populations had stabilized. It would seem that after 17 years of being on the ESA and coupled with 10 years of a pretty stable population, the one year where there was an additive factor of removing wolves by a public hunt might actually provide some data about the effects of the hunt. Hopefully the wolves won’t have to endure another useless cruel season of killing in MN.

          1. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue


            “the proposed legislation is for five year moratorium and then hunting only after nn lethal options have been tried. really progressive and welcome. Ten years of data already exists, wolves were not a problem in MN …”

            To be fair, the last sentence is. Of entirely true. ~270 + 16/17 more were removed for livestock/pet depredations in 2012. Most everybody, however, do agree with this management implementation.

            This will continue on 2013. The interesting follow-up will be to see if these numbers recede post hunting and trapping of wolves. Did people paying a license fee to hunt/trap do something positive in regard to depredations, or not?

            1. Immer Treue Avatar
              Immer Treue

              Sorry: Not entirely true…

            2. Louise Kane Avatar

              Immer, I’m not sure we can say that the statement “wolves were not a problem in MN” is entirely true or untrue. How many of the wolves that were killed for depredations were related to the “cry wolf” factor? Forgive the pun, but can we be sure. But I get your point and its one I could/should have made….I know wolves were killed for depredations what I meant was that the general population of wolves were not really causing any major problems in the minds of Minnesotans. Its not inconceivable that at least some of the 270 + 16/17 wolves removed for predations may have been the victims of eager- to- blame and kill livestock producers or folks who lacked good husbandry practices. If you have any info on that theory, I’d like to see it.
              The other point I was trying to make is one you allude to when you mull over whether the post hunt year will show more or less depredations. I guess you’d also have to look at the severity of the winter, availability of prey etc and in that respect Ma is probably right one year of data may be hard to extrapolate a concrete conclusion yet I still believe that the one year of hunting should provide some indication of the effect of predation especially if the number of wolves removed each year is historically and statistically similar over a span of time.

              1. JB Avatar


                Your point about over-eager control is fair; however, it is also possible/probable that some wolves guilty of livestock depredation escaped undetected, or producers didn’t think it was worth their while to contact wildlife services. So I don’t think we can necessarily assume that the number of “problem” wolves is a maximum estimate.

                I also agree with Ma’: There is too much variation from year to year in depredations to separate the signal from the noise with just one year of hunting data. So (for example), depredations went down in MT and ID after the first year of hunting, which suggests hunting had the desired effect. However, the data also show that they went down MORE in Wyoming, which didn’t have a hunt. Now after the second year of hunting we see an increase in depredations. Is this effect because of a lag, or are these two years or is this simply the background noise. We can’t really know with so little data.

              2. Immer Treue Avatar
                Immer Treue

                Ma’iingan and I are both familiar with a study done by Fritts and Mech. While not definitive, it suggests tough Winters lead to less depredation. MN has finally had a MN winter again, not severe but certainly not as mild as the past two. With no very limited to no doe season, one would expect plentiful fawns.

                Putting the variables together we have had a average to cold Winter, more does having fawns, fewer wolves, suggested study by Fritts and Mech. One might hypothesize (considerably) less depredations in MN this year.

          2. ma'iingan Avatar

            “the proposed legislation is for five year moratorium and then hunting only after nn lethal options have been tried.”

            Does the proposed legislation provide a funding mechanism for these non-lethal options? If not, who’s paying?

            Fladry in the WGL costs about $1800 a mile if you can access the perimeter on an ATV. You can about double that cost if you have to hike it in.

            And RAG boxes cost upwards of $3000 each, plus you have to radio-collar a wolf, or wolves, in the pack in order to trigger the boxes.

            Income from Wisconsin’s wolf harvest provided all the funding for depredation payments for the year, with enough left over for continuing research and monitoring. And there will likely be sufficient funds to assist producers who prefer to apply non-lethal treatments.

  8. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    and I am not sure why my posts are all over the map.

    1. Rancher Bob Avatar
      Rancher Bob

      Jeff E
      You and WM hashed out a nice part of your comment above, so let me add a couple points. All businesses in the USA figure their taxes the same, a expense is a expense and a capital loss is a loss. Problem with your buying a cow example is most of us raise our replacement cows there fore they are not a capital investment. Also what is the ratio of lost animals to animals compensated.
      As far as WS, I pay a per animal tax that makes up over half of Montana’s WS budget. Most producers pay more than they get from the program. As a average tax payer you would pay less than 25 cents a year toward WS, you get a lot of bitching for 25 cents.
      As far as your insurance plan it could work, two problems as stated here often less than 1% of losses are wolf related why not spend my money on causes of higher losses. Second, in Montana in 2010 and 2011 over 70% of confirmed losses were on private land.
      To recap any time you think it’s a great business deal to loses cattle to wolves let me know I have a business deal for you.

      1. JEFF E Avatar
        JEFF E

        Not to beat a dead horse but my idea for an insurance fund would be to cover all loses not otherwise covered, not just by predation and not just paid into by Public lands grazing in Montana, but by ALL such operations in whichever state.
        Maybe I did not make that clear enough before.

        1. Nancy Avatar

          Jeff E – insurance is available to those that want to factor it in (individual, herd or under a blanket policy for the entire operation/ranch)

          I doubt though that it covers dumping animals on public lands for 4 to 6 months out of the year with little supervision.

          But, if you can get a policy for say 6 months (winter & during calving, where it appears most ranchers have problems w/predators – on private land) then it seems you could make out very well:

          Payout for claim under policy, payout from state for predation, end of the year writeoff for loss. Hmmm….

          Sample of insurance rates:

          1. JEFF E Avatar
            JEFF E

            You miss my point I think.
            I full well realize that there is insurance available. What My point is, is that Ranchers, instead of pissing and moaning about any and every thing under the sun, they could be proactive and implement a way to help themselves with a fund to cover ANY and All causes of mortality.
            Don’t hold your breath.

            1. JEFF E Avatar
              JEFF E

              and I think they make out well enough with just a little business sense….

      2. JB Avatar

        A few other problems…

        (1) Insurers are going to want you to prove your losses; if cattle are dumped out on public land and don’t come back, the producer will have a hard time proving a loss.

        (2) Related point: If producers are not forced to prove their losses, then the moral hazard rears its ugly head–unless insurance pays less than market value, then producers would have an incentive to keep cattle alive. Of course, then we would hear the same complaints and be in the same position.

        1. WM Avatar

          And, of course, no such problems exist in crop farming for insurance or disaster payment programs the federal government gives out to wheat, corn and rice farmers. What was the crop last year (look at a forumula for yield and expected loss from drought/hail/fire), then cut the check. How many billions do they pay out every year, and here we are pissing and moaning over a few head of cows/sheep that must be carefully proven before payment is made.

          The labor and travel costs of doing investigations, and necropsies are likely to be much more than the payouts.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole