Archive for the ‘Idaho’ Tag

WOLVES   2 comments

October 29, 2010 by Australian reporter Kirsty Bennett

VIDEOLINK – FOUND ON ORIGINAL ARTICLE http://www.abc.net.au/btn/story/s3045575.htm#  (not able to embed video)

From feature films to fairy tales wolves haven’t got the best reputation.

And they’re not too popular with farmers in some parts of the US either.

For years the wolves were hunted and killed but now they’re protected.

Kirsty checked out why that’s got some farmers pretty angry.

KIRSTY BENNETT, REPORTER: Wolves get a pretty bad rap. They’re either a scary superhero like Wolverine or appear as an evil werewolf character in the movies. In Australia, this is the closest we get to seeing wolves. But over in the US and Canada, these animals have roamed in the wild for a long time.

This is one place wolves can call home. It’s the Wild West in America – a state called Idaho. Thousands of Gray Wolves used to hang around here but by the 1930s most of them were killed by hunters. Almost 70 years later, packs of wolves from Canada were brought back to the area to rebuild the population. Now, around sixteen hundred wolves live here and in two of the neighbouring states. They can’t be hunted either because they’re a protected species. And that doesn’t please some of the locals, who don’t think they belong.

Ron’s family has lived on this range for more than a hundred years. His feeling towards wolves is pretty obvious, he doesn’t like them.

RON GILLETTE: What are these wolves going to eat? We’re in a wildlife disaster right now they’re killing near everything. What are they going to do eat our livestock and then start eating humans?

KIRSTY: Ron would normally be out hunting wolves by now. But the US Federal Court has put the animals back on the protected list, so they can’t be touched for the time being. It’s a frustrating situation for farmers like Luke too. He’s had to lock up his dogs and cattle behind huge fences to protect them.

LUKE MORGAN, RANCHER: Now we spend a lot of nights and days worrying about how many livestock is actually getting killed by them. It’ll put a lot of ranchers out of business, which is hard on the whole economic deal.

KIRSTY: So for some, wolves are public enemy number one. But for others, they’re great mates!

NANCY TAYLOR, “WOLF PEOPLE”: Give mummy a kiss. Give mummy kisses. Good boy!

KIRSTY: Nancy has been breeding wolves in captivity for about seventeen years. And she reckons their bad reputation is unfair.

NANCY TAYLOR: They make him out to be a monster, a snarling evil creature which he isn’t.

KIRSTY: Here, wolves look pretty similar to your pet dog. And they’re not really much different. Many scientists reckon that domestic dogs evolved from wolves. Over tens of thousands of years people have used selective breeding to get dogs for their own use.

So if that’s the case, all dogs, including this little fur-ball are pretty close relatives! Hundreds of years ago, before white people moved in, Idaho was also home to the Nez Perce Indians who feel a strong connection to the wolf. Tribal leaders are joining the battle to protect the animal.

This bloke reckons you can’t sacrifice a species just because it’s convenient. For the time being it sounds like the wolves are a bit safer than they have been in any fairytale.

COMMENTS (57)

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  • SIX EM RODICK :

    24 Nov 2010 5:46:49pm

    as Dan said, but HIGHER fences


  • SWIFTCLAWS :

    24 Nov 2010 10:01:38am

    I seriously hate the way wolves are treated in fairy tales, they have a right to live in this world.


  • DAN :

    17 Nov 2010 1:28:50pm

    Just put up fences! Simple!

    I like wolves and I think they should continue to be protected.


  • SHAMISE :

    11 Nov 2010 10:56:50am

    Wolves are awesome like dogs they dont do anything to cattle.


  • TOP RIDER :

    11 Nov 2010 10:54:57am

    I reckon that wolves shouldn’t be hunted they have a right to live on the world


  • PITTYGIRL :

    11 Nov 2010 10:54:41am

    I think wolves do nothing to hurt livestock as long as they make secure fences


  • BOB :

    11 Nov 2010 10:53:38am

    I think that wolves should be kill because they are killing the sheep and cattle


  • MR PUFFY :

    11 Nov 2010 10:44:28am

    I think that wolves should be protected so at least one animal doesn’t get extinct


  • PLUTO :

    11 Nov 2010 10:43:00am

    I love wolves
    They should stay in America and be protected. Farmers shouldn’t shoot them.
    Wolves are wicked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • CALLUM AND DANIEL :

    11 Nov 2010 10:38:30am

    We both think that Wolves should be killed and be protected


  • THE FANTASTIC CABBAGE :

    11 Nov 2010 10:36:26am

    The wolves should stay because the Nev Perce Indians feel a strong connection to them and they were they before the white yanks


  • LARICK97 :

    09 Nov 2010 10:50:19am

    I think they should be protected creatures because they were on land before the white people


  • EBONY03 :

    09 Nov 2010 10:50:03am

    I think the wolves should be on the protected list because it was their land first .


  • PETER GRIFFEN :

    09 Nov 2010 10:48:03am

    I think wolves should be controlled not kill them but just stop them breeding as fast but i dont think they should be killed as long as they don’t hassel the farmers to much.


  • NED :

    09 Nov 2010 10:45:54am

    I think that wolves shouldn’t be able to roam free. People should fence a big bushland area off and put them all in there. Shooting wolves should not be aloud because it is cruel.


  • KAVISH1100 :

    08 Nov 2010 4:49:31pm

    I like wolves because they are not that dangerous if you want to pet them but if you try to harm them, they will attack back.


  • JESSIE MACNEY :

    02 Nov 2010 6:39:03pm

    I absolutely agree with all wolf supporters! Wolves should definately have the rights to not be hunted! Imagine if you were a wolf and you got hunted because you were a pest to some silly old farmer. Now that is just plain unfair!!!WOLVES MUST NOT BE HUNTED!!!!


  • I LOVE ANIMALS :

    02 Nov 2010 5:57:53pm

    Wolves are amazing creatures they don’t deserve to be killed to save livestock.


  • THE GREAT CABBAGE :

    02 Nov 2010 5:19:47pm

    I thnk that it was a very touching story…. *Sniff* SAVE THE WOLVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • THALIA :

    02 Nov 2010 4:16:34pm

    I think wolves should roam free. They can just eat the sick livestock so that the farmers don’t need to spend mutch money on curing them…


  • THE GREAT CABBAGE :

    02 Nov 2010 3:55:22pm

    I love wolves!!! DO NOT KILL WOLVES!!!


  • ANIMALS :

    01 Nov 2010 11:51:53pm

    I really think every single wildlife including wolves should be let free from captivity and I think every animal has the right to have freedom and to roam around the place. They can be free to survive and no one is allowed to hurt them. They are really rare now because harmful hunters killed them which is really bad so START SAVING WOLVES AND WILDLIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • MEG ,12 :

    01 Nov 2010 9:37:43pm

    Wolves are native animals to the area, it could ruin eco systems to take them away.

    P.S. Wolverine was named after the animal wolverine not the wolf


  • YOONGY :

    01 Nov 2010 7:29:29pm

    I reckon wolves should be around, have u farmers thought about how much u did to those animals and wolves just to plant trees?! And ITS LIFE part of the food chain – cant they eat wat we grow as well i mean we eat them?


  • LUV 4 WOLVES :

    01 Nov 2010 7:06:15pm

    These people should be more sensitive. In the end, the wolves, as said, are just dogs. Do we kill dogs because they eat some cattle? No! (well, not domestic dogs) Wolves are wonderful animals. To harm or kill them is absolutely downright horrid and is a horrible crime. Save the wolves! Save the wolves!

    *This comment was from a 10-20 yr old girl who has a great heart for wolves*


  • CHRISY101 :

    01 Nov 2010 6:56:21pm

    Wolves are just like dogs but not as well trained.


  • IZZY :

    01 Nov 2010 6:55:19pm

    Like totally wolves are soo scary!


    • YYYYYYYYYJ :

      05 Nov 2010 8:55:14pm

      I agree!


  • 2-3B AND 2K :

    01 Nov 2010 10:34:01am

    Wolves and Dogs are related to eachother.
    We find this very interesting.
    What do you think.


    • THE GREAT CABBAGE :

      02 Nov 2010 5:23:59pm

      Wolves ARE dogs!!!


  • GINNY :

    31 Oct 2010 8:41:17pm

    C’mon! Wolves kill livestock! It costs a lot of money and the poor farmers!


  • ADALITA :

    28 Oct 2010 8:00:06pm

    I think that it is good that they are re-breeding the wolves because it is their natural habitat. There should be no discrimination against the wolves because they would think ‘We were here before them why should we get discriminated?’
    I think it is good the way the lady cares about the wolves and how they are supposed to live.


  • SOUNDHOUND :

    28 Oct 2010 6:38:37pm

    I think wolves are great animals and should not be hunted


  • PHILLIP AND MR. CHICKEN :

    28 Oct 2010 3:09:36pm

    I like wolves and I think people should stop killing them coz there are only 116 left and they r the bomb


  • BULLBUG :

    28 Oct 2010 3:08:46pm

    I think that we should look after the wolves. Because wolves are the best.


  • BLABLABLA6671 :

    27 Oct 2010 5:59:19pm

    It’s so cruel people want to kill an animal. there so FLUFFY!!!!!!!


    • CZCVZMNVMN :

      01 Nov 2010 8:49:41pm

      They shouldn’t kill wolves because they take too much space wolves are something like dogs that round up cattle and i do agree that they’re FLUFFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • GREEN_MUNKI :

    27 Oct 2010 5:57:55pm

    Yeah, I have a friend who loves wolves and I didn’t really know what she was on about before i watched this BTN story. Now i look at them and think ‘Wow, who would ever be cruel enough to want to kill this amazing creature just for fun.’ Seriously, though wolves are AWSOME!


  • LUKE :

    27 Oct 2010 4:44:18pm

    The werewolf looks weird


  • RONNIE :

    27 Oct 2010 4:37:55pm

    I think anybody who thinks they should go is mean. They have a right and anyway, they’re too fluffy to die!!


  • CHARLIE HIGHGATE :

    27 Oct 2010 4:22:37pm

    I think wolves should be let free out of captivity and not be able to get hunted down.


  • KATE :

    27 Oct 2010 1:06:41pm

    I think the wolves shouldnt be killed because the farmers livestock are being killed. I also think the farmers should be given a fence where wolves shouldnt be able to come in


  • BELLABANJO :

    27 Oct 2010 10:38:59am

    I don’t know why people would want to shoot an adorable little animal because of crops. if you were the animal that needed something to eat wouldn’t you go to farms as well??? think about it…


  • NATALIE :

    26 Oct 2010 9:09:50pm

    white wolves are so adorable and cute they look like huskies


    • LOL :

      05 Nov 2010 8:59:56pm

      the white wolf was so cuteeeee!!
      I want one!


  • BRIDGET W.P.S. :

    26 Oct 2010 6:28:20pm

    I am glad that the wolves are protected and hope they will STAY protected.


    • MIKE :

      28 Oct 2010 8:35:56pm

      I am also glad but they don’t need to stay protected for more then 6 months people need hunting for meat


  • LOL :

    26 Oct 2010 6:27:47pm

    I think that the farmers shouldnt be hunting the wolves because they are soo CUTE and other stuff.
    I LOVE WOLVES


  • MIKE P :

    26 Oct 2010 6:08:15pm

    They are so cute, I love Wolves


  • LOOPY LU :

    26 Oct 2010 5:25:58pm

    Just because wolves are being wolves (as they should) does not mean they should die. Farmers just need to make an effort to put high fencing on their land. These beautiful animals cannot be killed- that is just cruel.


  • SOPHIE :

    26 Oct 2010 4:19:06pm

    I think that wolves should be protected by law because they are animals and they have their rights as well as us. If farmers livestock are killed well than that’s their fault for not locking them up. Anyone else agree?


  • SHANNY :

    26 Oct 2010 10:57:22am

    I love wolves too


    • WOLVES 88 :

      26 Oct 2010 4:08:12pm

      I know. they are so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Just like cats!


    • AUDY :

      27 Oct 2010 8:23:57pm

      I SO AGREE WTTH U


      • BLABLABLA :

        28 Oct 2010 6:37:14pm

        WOLVES HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ALIVE!! IF WE KILLL OFF ALL WOLVES THEN THE FOOD CHAIN WILL GO OUT OF WACK!!!


      • WOLVES333 :

        31 Oct 2010 8:24:46am

        same here


      • MYNANEISEMILYIRULESOMUCH :

        03 Nov 2010 7:13:24pm

        =] wolves + chiwawas.related.weird.[=
        o.m.g wolves are soooo cute and….
        FLUFFY!

        yay got quiz right me cool.

        – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I happened  to come across this old Australian article regarding wolves and I found it quite interesting! Especially the comments. To think this was written only 6 years ago! Times have changed, reached rock bottom only to start climbing slowly again. What pleases me most regarding this article and it’s comments is that the majority is pro-wolf! I’d appreciate my reader’s input through comments.

Thanks in advance!


Source

Wolves in Idaho wilderness area get reprieve   3 comments

From Summit County Citizen’s Voice on August 6, 2015 by Bob Berwyn

State-based wolf plan would have allowed trapping wolves to inflate elk populations

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife advocates in Idaho have slowed the frantic state-sanctioned wolf slaughter that has ensued since the federal government turned management of the species over to the state.

Idaho wolves catch a break. Photo via USFWS.

In response to a lawsuit filed by conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with four conservation groups, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service have halted wolf killing in the federally-protected Franck Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16. 

According to Earthjustice, Idaho’s wolf management plan for the Middle Fork zone in the heart of the River of No Return Wilderness authorizes the sustained killing of up to sixty percent of the resident wolves over multiple years. The goal is to artificially inflate elk populations to benefit commercial outfitters and guides. During the winter of 2013-2014, a state trapper killed nine wolves in the wilderness area.

The state stopped its wolf-killing program after the lawsuit was filed last year. This week, a new notification confirms that the wolves of the River of No Return will be safe from Idaho’s killing program for the 2015-16 winter as well.

“The Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness is one of our nation’s last great wild spaces,” said Earthjustice attorney Timothy Preso. “We are relieved that it will be managed as a wild place with natural wildlife populations, rather than an elk farm, for at least the coming winter. We will remain vigilant to ensure that wilderness values prevail for the long term.”

“Happily this means a year will go by without Idaho Fish and Game artificially disrupting the natural wildlife processes that are essential to a protected wilderness area,” said Ralph Maughan, a retired Idaho State University professor who was a member of the citizens’ group that drew up the boundaries of the Frank Church Wilderness 35 years ago. “I like to think it means respect for wilderness is growing inside the department.”

“After the Idaho Department of Fish and Game killed the Golden Pack, one of the most researched wolf packs in Idaho, we are happy that they have decided not to indiscriminately kill more wolves in one of the premier wilderness areas of the United States this winter,” said Ken Cole of Western Watersheds Project.  “If wolves aren’t safe from government persecution in wilderness, where can they be?”

Lawsuit Challenges Government’s Large-scale Wildlife Killing in Idaho   9 comments

From:  The Wildlife News

Killing Thousands of Animals Each Year Violates Environmental Laws

wolf

BOISE, Idaho— Five conservation groups filed a lawsuit today over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s failure to fully analyze and disclose the impact of its “Wildlife Services” program in Idaho, which kills thousands of wolves, coyotes, foxes, cougars, birds and other wild animals each year at taxpayer expense. The multimillion-dollar federal program, whose work primarily benefits the agriculture industry, relies on an array of lethal methods including aerial and ground shooting, poison, trapping and explosives.

Following a notice of intent to sue sent by the conservation groups in September 2014, the agency agreed to prepare a new environmental analysis for its wildlife-killing activities in Idaho — an incremental step that falls short of the more comprehensive analysis required by law. Today’s lawsuit seeks long-term changes in the agency’s operations to adopt nonlethal methods, as well as the development of an environmental impact statement to analyze the impacts of killing wildlife across the state year after year.

“Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to indiscriminately shoot, poison and trap coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, foxes, badgers and many other wildlife species — yet it refuses to comply with our nation’s basic environmental laws,” said Laird J. Lucas, director of litigation at Advocates for the West. “This lawsuit will shine a bright line on this rogue agency and force it to reveal publicly exactly what wildlife killing programs it is engaged in and the adverse impacts of those activities.”

“A transparent and public analysis of Wildlife Services’ activities is long overdue,” said Greta Anderson, deputy director of Western Watersheds Project, adding that “Wildlife Services’ wanton killing of Idaho’s wildlife is morally wrong, environmentally counterproductive, and procedurally illegal.”

The agency has never comprehensively examined how its actions affect grizzly bears, Canada lynx and bull trout, all protected under the Endangered Species Act. The agency sets traps and snares across the state that accidentally capture and kill federally protected wildlife, as well as domestic pets. Bull trout are killed when the agency detonates explosives to remove beaver dams.

“Without a comprehensive analysis of Wildlife Service’s wildlife-killing activities across the state, it’s impossible to know whether it’s leading to widespread damage to other species like grizzly bears,” said Andrea Santarsiere, staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The public deserves more, and so does Idaho’s wildlife.”

“Shrouded in secrecy, Wildlife Services operates as though it is above the law, further endangering already imperiled species and wasting our taxpayer dollars,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians. “A full accounting and scientific analysis of Wildlife Services’ cruel practices is long overdue.”

The state of knowledge about the impacts of wildlife killing has changed significantly over the years. “Current science doesn’t support the arbitrary killing of animals as a ‘management’ tool,” added Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote. “For example, killing wolves and coyotes indiscriminately can exacerbate livestock conflicts and is simply a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“The long reach of this killing program kills key predators like wolves even in remote wildlands like the backcountry of the Clearwater Basin,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater. “It is past time the agency is held accountable to we the people.”

In 2013 Wildlife Services killed more than 3,000 mammals in Idaho using methods such as aerial gunning, neck snares, foothold traps, and toxic devices known as M-44s that spray sodium cyanide into the victim’s mouth, causing tremendous suffering and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment.

Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity,Friends of the Clearwater and Project Coyote are represented by attorneys Laurie Rule and Talasi Brooks of Advocates for the West, and Kristin Ruether of Western Watersheds Project.

A copy of today’s filing can be read online here.

 

Idaho Begins 2015 With 3-Day Wolf and Coyote Hunt   2 comments

From:  TakePart article

Jan. 02, 2015 by Emily Gertz

A gray wolf looks out from its snow-covered shelter. Some hunters are beginning 2015 with a 3-day coyote and wolf-hunting contest near Salmon, Idaho.

 

The Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous, organized by a group called Idaho for Wildlife, began at sunrise Thursday morning and ends on Sunday, Jan. 4.  The hunt is happening on about 3 million acres of privately owned ranchlands, as well as U.S. Forest Service land, near Salmon, a town in eastern-central Idaho that bills itself as “the birthplace of Sacajawea.”

A listing on coyotecontest.com notes that the contest includes two youth categories (ages 10–13 and 14–17) and bars traps as well as aerial and dog-assisted hunting. Idaho for Wildlife’s website was inaccessible at press time.

In mid-November, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a five-year permit to Idaho for Wildlife that would have allowed the hunt on BLM lands throughout the state. But the BLM withdrew the permit two weeks later after conservation advocates sued the agency for not fully investigating the hunt’s environmental impacts, reported The Oregonian.

The BLM also received 56,500 public comments on the permit, most of them against the hunt, reported Boise State Public Radio.

The coyotecontest.com listing notes that participants must “sign a waiver stating that no predators taken on BLM land will be eligible” for prizes, suggesting that hunters might pursue animals on the agency’s lands nonetheless.

Wolves were nearly wiped out in the contiguous 48 states by the 1960s, and they were protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. But their numbers didn’t grow significantly until active efforts began in the 1990s to reintroduce them in some parts of their historic U.S. range.

Wolf populations in Alaska are considered healthy, while in Canada wolves still inhabit nearly all of their historic range. “We have 6,000 wolves in Alberta alone,” University of Alberta biologist Mark Boyce told Nature News recently. “Except for Mexican wolves, the populations in the lower 48 states add nothing to the genetic diversity of the species,” while expanding them could lead to more predation on livestock herds, he believes.

Since 2009, the Obama administration has removed federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies, including in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, as well as for wolves in nine states across the western Great Lakes region, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Those moves turned wolf management over to the states.

But last month, a federal judge restored federal protection to wolves in the western Great Lakes, finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the ESA when it took them off the endangered list in 2012. “[A]t times, a court ‘must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough,’ ” wrote U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in her final ruling on Dec. 19.

“This case is one of those times,” Howell continued, describing the move to delist the Great Lakes wolves as “no more valid than the agency’s three prior attempts to remove federal protections for a population of gray wolves, which are otherwise members of an endangered species.”

 

Idaho Hunters Begin 3-Day ‘Predator Derby’ Killing SpreeDo   2 comments

From:  The Dodo

Jan.92, 2014 by Melissa Cronin

 

 

A controversial wolf and coyote hunting derby that angered conservationists earlier this year begins this Friday at sunrise in Idaho. The three-day hunt is now being held on mostly private land, after it was pushed off government land earlier this year.

The hunt was originally slated to occur on 3 million acres of federal land in the Rocky Mountain town of Salmon, thanks to a permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). But after a coalition of outraged environmental organizations announced plans to file a lawsuit against the agency to stop the derby, the permit was withdrawn and the derby was promptly kicked off public lands.

But that didn’t stop Idaho hunters. Now, the three-day “Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous,” hosted by the group Idaho for Wildlife, will be held on private ranch land and U.S. Forest Service land near the town of Salmon, AP reports. The area is half the size of the original plan and a last-ditch attempt to revoke the land permit, led by conservationists and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, failed.

The organizers are offering a $1,000 prize to the hunter who kills the most wolves and coyotes. A spokesman for the hunt said that so far, 40 hunters from outside Idaho have committed to participate.

Wolves, long the center of political and environmental conflict, were nearly extinct in much of the U.S. until an aggressive reintroduction program began in 1995. They were finally granted protection under a precursor to the Endangered Species Act in the 1960s. Since then, gray wolves have seen a slow recovery in the U.S. — though their numbers are nowhere that of their historic population.

But that trend may end soon. Approximately 1,600 Rocky Mountain gray wolves were removed from protection in 2011 by Congress, and hunters have been targeting them since. And in June 2013, the Obama administration announced plans to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. Many conservationists argue that wolves’ recovery is incomplete, and that the iconic animals still need government protection.

 

Study: Killing wolves doesn’t result in fewer livestock attacks   Leave a comment

From:  UPI

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Rob Wielgus said.
 By Brooks Hays   |   Dec. 4, 2014 at 11:31 AM

PULLMAN, Wash., Dec. 4 (UPI) — The frequent fights that boil up over the protection of wild predators routinely feature the same interested parties — conservationists and animals rights activists one on side, ranchers on the other.

Understandably, ranchers are consistently concerned about their ability to protect their herds — their assets. But now, new research may weaken their bargaining position, as recent scientific evidence suggests killing wolves does not reduce the frequency of livestock attacks.

Researchers at the Washington State University arrived at their findings after analyzing 25 years of lethal control data from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The data on wolf killings in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho showed that killing a single wolf actually increased the chance of livestock attacks the following year.

One dead wolf increased odds of depredations four percent for sheep herds, and five to six percent for cattle. If 20 wolves were shot or trapped the year prior, livestock deaths doubled.

“I had no idea what the results were going to be, positive or negative,” Rob Wielgus, a wildlife biologist at Washington State University, said in a press release. “I said, ‘Let’s take a look at it and see what happened.’ I was surprised that there was a big effect.”

Wielgus, who conducted the research with the help of data analyst Kaylie Peebles, says that killing wolves likely disrupts the social order of the pack. An older mating pair will keep younger, less mature wolves from coupling and starting a family. But should one or both of two mature mating wolves be killed, younger pairs will form. Starting a family limits a wolf’s ability to hunt, and increases the likelihood that a wolf will be forced to seek out easy prey like cattle and sheep.

Wielgus encourages ranchers to use more effective non-lethal strategies like guard dogs, range guards on horseback, flags and spotlights.

“The only way you’re going to completely eliminate livestock depredations is to get rid of all the wolves,” Wielgus said, “and society has told us that that’s not going to happen.”


 

The study was published this week in the journal PLOS ONE:

Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations

  • Robert B. Wielgus,
    Kaylie A. Peebles mail
  • Published: December 03, 2014
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113505

Abstract

Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations, – but the efficacy of lethal control has rarely been tested. We assessed the effects of wolf mortality on reducing livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987–2012 using a 25 year time series. The number of livestock depredated, livestock populations, wolf population estimates, number of breeding pairs, and wolves killed were calculated for the wolf-occupied area of each state for each year. The data were then analyzed using a negative binomial generalized linear model to test for the expected negative relationship between the number of livestock depredated in the current year and the number of wolves controlled the previous year. We found that the number of livestock depredated was positively associated with the number of livestock and the number of breeding pairs. However, we also found that the number of livestock depredated the following year was positively, not negatively, associated with the number of wolves killed the previous year. The odds of livestock depredations increased 4% for sheep and 5–6% for cattle with increased wolf control – up until wolf mortality exceeded the mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves at 25%. Possible reasons for the increased livestock depredations at ≤25% mortality may be compensatory increased breeding pairs and numbers of wolves following increased mortality. After mortality exceeded 25%, the total number of breeding pairs, wolves, and livestock depredations declined. However, mortality rates exceeding 25% are unsustainable over the long term. Lethal control of individual depredating wolves may sometimes necessary to stop depredations in the near-term, but we recommend that non-lethal alternatives also be considered.

Figures

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Table 1. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of cattle depredations

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t001

In both models all of the main effects and some two way interactions were found to be statistically significant (Table 2). The number of wolves killed in year one was positively related to the number of cattle depredated the following year (rate ratios = 1.05, 1.05 and 1.06,z = 5.67 and 5.66, 4.69, P<0.001) (Figure 1). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 5 to 6%. The number of breeding pairs was also positively related to the number of cattle depredated (rate ratios = 1.08, 1.09 and 1.08, z = 6.28, 4.87 and 6.04, P = 0.0336 and <0.001) (Figure 2). For each additional breeding pair on the landscape the estimated mean number of cattle depredated the following year increased by 8 to 9%. Breeding pairs were highly correlated with numbers of wolves (Table S2).
thumbnail

Figure 1. Wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g001

thumbnail

Figure 2. Number of breeding pairs vs cattle depredated.

Number of breeding pairs present on the landscape the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g002

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Table 2. Summary of best model for cattle depredated.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t002

There was also one important 2-way negative interaction for the relationship between the increasing numbers of wolves killed and decreasing breeding pairs on livestock depredations (rate ratios = 0.99, z = −5.39, −5.49 and −5.12, P<0.001. In our models, the main effects of wolves killed was increased depredations. But the negative interaction effect in the model shows that depredations ultimately declined with increased wolf kills as number of breeding pairs decreased. These conflicting effects on livestock depredations are represented here as proportion of wolves killed vs. cattle depredations in (Figure 3). Depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality up to about 25% mortality but then depredations declined when mortality exceeded 25%.

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Figure 3. The proportion of wolves killed vs cattle depredated.

Proportion of wolves killed the previous year versus the number of cattle depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g003

One model out of 53 (Table 3) was also selected for determining which factors may influence the number of sheep depredated the following year (Table 4). The model was g(y) = exp [−10.499+0.05539(minimum wolf population) +0.03883(wolves killed through control methods) +3.058×10−5(cattle) +2.077×10−4(sheep) – 5.116×10−4(wolves killed*wolf population) – 4.932×10−7(wolves killed*cattle) – 1.159×10−7(wolf population*cattle) – 3.712×10−6(wolves killed*sheep) – 6.827×10−7(wolf population*sheep) – 3.408×10−10(cattle*sheep) +6.532×10-10(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle) +4.819×10−9(wolves killed*wolf population*sheep) +3.682×10−12(wolves killed*cattle*sheep) – 4.336×10−15(wolves killed*wolf population*cattle*sheep)].
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Table 3. AIC and log-likelihood values for forward selection of main effects and interaction effects models of sheep depredations.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t003

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Table 4. Summary of best following year sheep depredated models.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.t004

Both of the main effects and one interaction effect were significant in this model. Once again, the number of wolves killed was positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.04, z = 2.218, P = 0.026) (Figure 4). For each additional wolf killed the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 4%. The minimum wolf population was also positively related to the number of sheep depredated the following year (rate ratio = 1.06, z = 3.220, P = 0.001) (Figure 5). For each additional wolf on the landscape the estimated mean number of sheep being depredated the following year increased by 6%. The number of cattle and sheep were found to be positively related to the number of sheep depredated but the coefficient was negligible (rate ratios = 1.00 and 1.00, z = 4.718 and 3.320, P = <0.001 and 0.001) which results in an increase of sheep depredated the following year by 1.00 or less than 1%. However, as with cattle, there was an important 2-way negative interaction. Sheep depredations increased with increasing wolf mortality rate up until about 25%, then depredations began to decline after mortality exceeded 25% (Figure 6).
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Figure 4. Wolves killed vs sheep depredated.

Number of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g004

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Figure 5. Minimum wolf population vs sheep depredated.

Minimum year end wolf population the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g005

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Figure 6. Proportion of wolves controlled versus the number of sheep depredated.

Proportions of wolves killed through control methods the previous year versus the number of sheep depredated the following year. The dashed lines show the upper and lower limits of the 95% confidence interval for the best fit line.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.g006

Discussion

Our results do not support the “remedial control” hypothesis of predator mortality on livestock depredations the following year. However, lethal control of wolves appears to be related to increased depredations in a larger area the following year. Our results are supported by the findings of Harper et al. (2008) in Minnesota where they found that across the state (large scale) none of their correlations supported the hypothesis that killing a high number of wolves reduced the following year’s depredations. Harper et al also found that trapping and not catching wolves decreased depredations more than no trapping at all, suggesting that a mere increase in human activity at depredation sites reduced further depredations by those wolves in their study area. By contrast, Bjorge and Gunson (1985) found reducing the population from 40 to 3 wolves in 2 years in Alberta (a 10 fold reduction to near extirpation) resulted in a decline of livestock depredations for two years – followed by subsequent recolonization and increased depredations thereafter. Tompa (1983) also found that lethal control prevented conflict for more than a year in some areas of British Columbia. It should be noted that these 2 studies examined wolf control and livestock depredations at a fine scale (grazing allotment or wolf pack territory or management zone). They did not examine wolf control and livestock depredations at a larger scale (wolf occupied areas) as was done by Harper et al. (2008) and us (this study). It appears that wolf control is associated with reduced depredations at the local wolf pack scale but increased depredations at the larger wolf population scale. This appears consistent with Treves et al. (2005) prediction that the removal of carnivores generally only achieves a temporary reduction in livestock depredations locally when immigrants can rapidly fill the vacancies.
There were several different factors that influenced the number of livestock depredated the following year by wolves. In order of importance, based on the values of the rate ratios, these include: the number of wolves removed through control methods, the number of breeding pairs, the minimum wolf population, and the number of livestock on the landscape. Consistent with expectations, each additional breeding pair on the landscape increased the expected mean number of cattle depredated by 8 to 9% and each additional wolf on the landscape increased the expected mean number of sheep depredated by 6%. Cattle were most affected by breeding pairs and sheep by wolves – perhaps because it takes more than one wolf (a pack) to kill a relatively larger cow and only one wolf to kill a smaller sheep. However, contrary to the “remedial control” hypothesis, each additional wolf killed increased the expected mean number of livestock depredated by 5–6% for cattle and 4% for sheep. It appears that lethal wolf control to reduce the number of livestock depredated is associated with increased, not decreased, depredations the following year, on a large scale – at least until wolf mortality exceeds 25%. Why 25%? The observed mean intrinsic growth rate of wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana is about 25% [21]. Therefore, once anthropogenic mortality exceeds 25%, the numbers of breeding pairs and wolves must decline – resulting in fewer livestock depredations.
Below 25% mortality, lethal control may increase breeding pairs and wolves through social disruption and compensatory, density dependent effects. For example, wolf control efforts occur year round and often peak during grazing season in areas with livestock depredations[22], [23]. However, if control takes place during the breeding season and a member of the breeding pair is removed it may lead to pack instability and increased breeding pairs [24], [10]. Furthermore, loss of a breeder in a pack during or near breeding season can result in dissolution of territorial social groups, smaller pack sizes and compensatory density dependent effects – such as increased per-capita reproduction [11], [25], [26]. Culling of wolves may also cause frequent breeder turnover [11] and related social disruption – which can result in reduced effective prey use (through loss of knowledge of prey sources and ability to subdue prey) which may also result in increased livestock depredations [27], [28]. All of these effects could potentially result in increased livestock depredations.
We would expect to see increased depredations, wolves killed, and breeding pairs as the wolf population grows and recolonizes the area – but our data suggest that lethal control exacerbates these increases. The secondary effects of time, wolf population growth rate, wolf occupied area, and wolf population size on depredations were already subsumed in the primary main effect terms of breeding pairs (cattle) and wolves (sheep), so those secondary effects cannot account for the positive effects of wolf kills on depredations. We do not yet know the exact mechanism of how increased wolf mortality up to ≤25% results in increased livestock depredations, but we do know that increased mortality is associated with compensatory increased breeding pairs, compensatory numbers of wolves, and depredations [24], [10], [27],[28], [11], [26]. Further research is needed to determine the exact causal mechanism(s). Annual mortality in excess of 25% will reduce future depredations, but that mortality rate is unsustainable and cannot be carried out indefinitely if federal relisting of wolves is to be avoided. Furthermore, a 5% (sheep) and 5% (cattle) kill rate of wolves yields the same number of cattle and sheep depredations as a 35% (cattle) and 30% (sheep) kill rate (Figures 3 & 6), but the 30% or 35% rate is unsustainable for wolf population persistence and the 5% rate is not. The worst possible case appears to be a high mortality rate at about 20–25%, since this corresponds to a “standing wave” of the highest livestock depredations. Further research is needed to test if this high level of anthropogenic wolf mortality (25%) is associated with high levels of predation on natural prey such as deer and elk.
Further research is also needed to account for the limitations of our data set. The scale of our analysis was large (wolf occupied areas in each state in each year) and the scale of some other studies were small (wolf packs). Simultaneous, multi-scale analysis (individual wolf packs, wolf management zones, and wolf occupied areas) may yield further insights.
Although lethal control is sometimes a necessary management tool in the near-term, we suggest that managers also consider testing non-lethal methods of wolf control [29] because these methods might not be associated with increased depredations in the long-term.

Supporting Information

Figure_S1.tif1 / 4

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

Figure S1.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs cattle depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of cattle depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s001

(TIF)

Figure S2.

Proportion of wolves harvested vs sheep depredated. Proportion of wolves harvested the previous year in each state (Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) versus the number of sheep depredated the following year.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s002

(TIF)

Table S1.

Data by state, 1987–2012. Data for all variables used in the analysis grouped by state from 1987–2012.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s003

(DOCX)

Table S2.

Pearson correlation matrix. Pearson correlation matrix for independent variables: cattle, sheep, minimum wolf population, wolves harvested and number of breeding pairs.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505.s004

(DOCX)

Acknowledgments

This analysis and paper benefitted from the insights and comments of Hilary Cooley (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and John Pierce, Donny Martorello, Brian Kertsen, Ben Maletzke, and Stephanie Simick (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife).

Author Contributions

Conceived and designed the experiments: RBW KAP. Performed the experiments: RBW KAP. Analyzed the data: RBW KAP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RBW KAP. Wrote the paper: RBW KAP.

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Why Killing Wolves Might Not Save Livestock New study fuels debate over how to reduce attacks on cows and sheep.   1 comment

From:  National Geographic News

A photo of wolves killed by wildlife officials after the animals attacked cattle in Montana.

The remains of wolves killed by wildlife officials hang over the side of a truck in Montana in 2004. These animals, which were not part of the Huckleberry Pack, were killed because they attacked cattle.

PHOTOGRAPH BY JOEL SARTORE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

In late August, a government sharpshooter in a helicopter hovering above a wooded eastern Washington hillsidekilled the lead female wolf of the Huckleberry Pack. The aim was to end attacks by the wolf pack, which had killed more than two dozen sheep.

But in the long run, a shooting like this could just make matters worse. A new study has found that—paradoxically—killing a wolf can increase the risk that wolves will prey on livestock in the future.

The research, published today in the scientific journal PLOS One, flies in the face of the common idea that the swiftest and surest way to deal with wolves threatening livestock is by shooting the predators. It adds to a growing understanding of how humans influence the complex dynamics driving these pack animals, sometimes with unexpected consequences.

As wolves spread across the West, triggering more encounters with sheep and cattle, and as two states host wolf-hunting seasons, the new research also adds more fuel to an already heated political debate about how to deal with wolves.

“The livestock industry, they’re not going to be happy with this,” said Rob Wielgus, a Washington State University ecologist and the study’s lead author.

Back From the Brink

Shooting wolves is a long-standing practice in the ranching world. It helped lead to the animal’s eradication in the western United States in the 1930s. Since the wolf’s reintroduction in the mid-1990s, government officials and ranchers have frequently reached for a gun to cope with livestock problems—killing more than 2,000 wolves by 2013.

In 2011, wolves were removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, Montana, and parts of Washington, Oregon, and Utah. (Wyoming got a similar stamp of approval in 2012, but a federal judge recently overturned that decision.) That has made it easier to shoot wolves—Idaho and Montana now even allow recreational hunting.

But there have never been any large-scale studies of whether killing wolves really helps protect livestock.

Enter Wielgus. He has a track record for turning conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to attempts to control predators. In 2008 he made news with research that found shooting cougars led to more attacks on livestock. When mature adults were killed, Wielgus said, less seasoned adolescents moved in and were more likely to prey on cows and sheep.

After wolves arrived in Washington in 2008, growing to 13 packs by 2013, Wielgus turned his attention to the newest carnivore on the block. He examined 25 years of data on killing of wolves and cases where wolves attacked cattle and sheep in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—the first states where wolves were reintroduced.

Gray Wolves

Gray Wolves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What the Data Say

Wielgus found that when a wolf was killed, the chances of livestock getting killed increased the following year in that state—by 5 to 6 percent for cattle and 4 percent for sheep. With each additional wolf killed, the chance of livestock attacks rose further. The trend didn’t reverse until more than a quarter of the wolves in the state were killed in a single year. Then livestock losses started to decline.

That level of wolf-killing happened several times even while wolves were federally protected, under rules that allowed shooting of wolves that threatened livestock. And it is happening now in Idaho and Montana. Last year, hunters killed 231 wolves in Montana and 356 in Idaho, helping to reduce the population to slightly more than 600 in each state. The Idaho legislature this year created a Wolf Depredation Control Board, a move critics say is aimed at pushing wolf numbers down to just above 150—a cutoff that could trigger renewed protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Wielgus isn’t certain why more livestock die when smaller numbers of wolves are killed. But he suspects it’s tied to changes in pack behavior. Packs are led by a male and female breeding pair. If one or both of those wolves is killed, the pack can break up, giving rise to several breeding pairs—and thus an uptick in the wolf population. Livestock losses decline only when enough wolves are killed to overwhelm their ability to keep up through reproduction.

The theory fits observations made in and around Yellowstone National Park. Wolf packs inside the park—where wolves aren’t shot—are large and complex, with wolves of a variety of ages living together, said Doug Smith, a lead wolf researcher at Yellowstone. Wolf packs elsewhere tend to be just a breeding pair and pups.

For Wielgus, the upshot of his study is that while killing a wolf might sometimes be necessary, as a routine practice it’s counterproductive and unsustainable. Either livestock losses go up or, if enough wolves are killed to reduce livestock deaths, wolf numbers eventually drop so low that wolves wind up back on the endangered species list. If the killing slows to less than 25 percent of the wolf population per year, his study suggests, depredation rates shoot back up.

“It’s a bit of a catch-22,” Wielgus said. “You can reduce them now, but you can only reduce them so far, and when you stop that heavy harvest, now you’re at maximum livestock depredation.”

Is There Another Way?

Reaction to the new study was split down predictable fault lines. Wolf conservationists pointed to it as evidence that shooting wolves to save livestock usually doesn’t make sense. “You have this very archaic paradigm of kill first, ask questions later,” said Suzanne Stone, senior northwest representative for the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife. Overall, people in the livestock industry are “still pretty rigid in their views that the only way to deal with predators is to kill them. And that’s not true. It actually works against them.”

Stone has run a program with sheep growers in one Idaho valley aimed at finding ways for sheep and wolves to coexist. The ranchers there resort to a number of tactics to protect roughly 30,000 sheep: monitoring wolves to avoid grazing the sheep near denning sites, using guard dogs, flashing bright lights to scare off wolves, stringing a wire hung with small strips of fabric around the flock at night, and increasing the number of people herding the animals.

Stone said the program is cheaper than dispatching a gunman in a helicopter. Fewer than 30 sheep have been lost to wolves in seven years, and no wolves have been killed.

Stan Boyd, executive director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, said his group works with members to help them deter wolves without shooting the animals. But he still sees guns as critical tools, and he says wolf problems have declined recently as the number of Idaho wolves has gone down.

“Wolves get into livestock, we kill the wolves. And that works well,” Boyd said. “The professor can say whatever he wants. We’re not going to just let wolves run wild.”

In Washington state, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which paid for Wielgus’s research, is waiting for him to complete a broader examination of all options for managing wolves, said John Pierce, the agency’s chief wildlife scientist. “In the long run, we definitely would prefer to do nonlethal removal if we can figure out how it works,” Pierce said.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the Huckleberry Pack. In the aftermath of the shooting of the lead female, will fewer sheep die in wolf attacks—or more?

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