HOWL Colorado

Senator Crapo calls out wolf reintroduction as a primary cause of livestock loss

Senator Crapo states in a recent Blog posting that wolves and wildfires are primary causes of livestock loss, and the Federal government should be reimbursing ranchers for those losses.

Here’s the first couple of paragraphs:

Threats to livestock operations have been compounded in recent years by the increased presence of federally reintroduced wolves and wildfires raging across limited grazing land. While certainly not a cure all, Congress included programs in the enacted Farm Bill to help producers recover from these and other losses.

The federal government is responsible for the reintroduction of wolves in Idaho, and thus responsible for the impacts of this reintroduction. In the 2013 Idaho Wolf Monitoring Progress Report, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Nez Perce Tribe indicate that while not all wolf packs in Idaho are presumed to be documented, estimates indicated there were 659 wolves in Idaho at the end of 2013. Wolves have been responsible for livestock deaths throughout Idaho. In 2013 alone, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services responded to hundreds of calls of reported wolf depredation. In many of those cases, sheep and cattle losses were confirmed.

There are claims in there regarding wolf depredation calls. Hundreds apparently. There are only 600 or so wolves in the state and they are historically NOT inclined towards predating on livestock.

Indeed, the statistics of livestock death place predators as very low on the list of causes, with wolves making up a small percentage of even that low number.

You know what’s odd? How hard it is to find specific statistics for livestock losses by predator and by non-predator. Montana is amazingly open with these numbers. So we will use this neighboring state as a comparison.

2012 Sheep and lamb losses (NASS hasn’t updated the report since Feb. 2013) by predation: 18,300

2012 sheep and lamb losses by predation – Wolf: 300 (0.4% of total losses)

2012 sheep and lamb losses non-predation: 43,000. **note: this number fluctuates some 10,000 based entirely off of weather conditions. 2012 was the lowest number in many years**

You can certainly try to find the statistics which Senator Crapo uses for his claims, but I couldn’t find them. NASS and USDA are both full of statistics, for right around 2011 and they tell the same story as those 2012 numbers from Montana. Wolves do kill cattle, so does lightning, bears, dogs, people and many more other things, including as Senator Crapo noted, wildfires.

Wolf predation is not the evil, omnipresent threat that some would have you believe. What’s more, wolves are a source of livestock loss that can be curbed through diligent husbandry, and inexpensive deterrence strategies.

Senator Crapo and his many special interest buddies continue a campaign of wolf demonization, which is reminiscent of the late 19th century – glad to see we have evolved as a civilization.


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