Skinny cows, fat chance – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering compensating ranchers whose cattle purportedly lose weight as a result of the presence of wolves. But, as our wolf expert Suzanne Stone points out in an interview with Northwest News Network, there’s no scientific evidence to prove that cattle lose weight because of wolves.
Listen to the story here:
The state wildlife commission will consider proposed changes to their compensation program at its meeting in Olympia on Nov. 9. If you live in the area, we hope you will consider weighing in against this proposal and encourage better ways to address ranchers’ concerns about native predators. Any money allocated to ameliorate the potential impacts of predators on livestock producers should go toward verifiable costs, not be doled out based on speculation.
Wildlife Services Agent Gone Wild – While hunters and trappers routinely post graphic images of their kills, we expect more from federal agents responsible for managing America’s wildlife. Yet, a report from the Sacramento Bee indicates that a federal trapper with USDA’s Wildlife Services posted photos on his Facebook page of his dogs attacking a coyote caught in a leg hold trap. Incidents like these demonstrate a lack of professionalism and suggest that some in the agency are still stuck in the 1930s when bounties were paid for eliminating predators. Hopefully, stories like this one will help raise awareness of the need to reform Wildlife Services.
A proper context for livestock losses – What kills cows and sheep besides wolves? Lots of things. That’s the gist of a recent blog post by our colleagues at Oregon Wild. Newspapers across the region continue to run front page stories when wolves are blamed for dead livestock, while reports of far more devastating losses attributed to other causes get buried. Here are a few recent accounts of livestock lost to something OTHER than wolves:
- 95 sheep died last week from eating poisoned grass in Idaho after their owner illegally grazed his herd in an abandoned mine (link)
- Earlier this month domestic dogs killed 44 sheep in Wyoming in a single incident – about the number killed statewide by wolves last year (link)
- 44 unattended cows were killed by trucks near Madras, OR when they broke through a fence in September (link)
- Last year an Amtrak train killed 24 cows that broke through an unmaintained fence near Klamath Falls, OR The rancher wants compensation (link)
- Over 1,200 cows have been stolen by human thieves in Malheur County, OR alone from 2006 – 2009 (link)
- A single storm in Montana killed over 2,250 livestock (link)
Wolves do kill livestock from time to time. However, these reports show that, in the bigger picture, wolves account for only a tiny fraction of overall losses and don’t deserve as much attention (or blame) as they typically get.
Kenai wolves NOT killing moose – A study of 54 radio-collared moose calves in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula found that bears and humans, not wolves, were the leading causes of death. Of the 45 calves that died, 26 were killed by bears, and seven died after being collared by researchers and subsequently abandoned by their mothers. Only one moose calf was lost to either a wolf or a coyote. Hopefully this new information will convince the state Board of Game to abandon its plan to cull more wolves via aerial gunning in order to boost moose herds.