Cattle: It’s About Welfare, Not Wolves

Not sure what the actual stats are, but the general idea is prob right: too many people go loco about Wolves, Coyotes, Bears, Bobcats. They need to focus on more pressing factors and issues: how species-appropriate a farm is for Cattle, Sheep, or other livestock. To be productive and successful and profitable, farmers need to get their ecological understanding in order before they ever thing of predators.


A graphic from “Government data confirm that wolves have a negligible effect on U.S. cattle & sheep industries


In the paper, they say:

In the United States, data show that wolves (Canis lupus, Canis lupus baileiy and Canis rufus) kill few cattle and sheep. Livestock predation data collected by various governmental bodies differ significantly, however. The most recent data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA)1 indicate losses many times greater than those collected by states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In the Northern Rocky Mountains, for instance, the USDA claims wolves killed 4,360 cattle in 2015, while the FWS verified only 161 such losses. The USDA’s methodology involves collecting data from a few, mostly unverified sources, which the USDA then extrapolated statewide without calculating standard errors or using models to test relationships among various mortality factors.2 This contravenes the scientific method and results in exaggerated livestock losses attributed to native carnivores and dogs. Unfortunately, this misinformation informs public policies that harm native carnivores, including helping to fuel countless legislative attacks on wolves, grizzly bears and the Endangered Species Act by Congress.

The Humane Society of the United States analyzed the USDA’s embellished predation numbers. Their data show that farmers and ranchers lose nine times more cattle and sheep to health, weather, birthing and theft problems than to all predators combined. In the USDA reports, “predators” include mammalian carnivores (e.g., cougars, wolves and bears), avian carnivores (e.g., eagles and hawks) and domestic dogs. Domestic dogs, according to the USDA’s data, kill 100 percent more cattle than wolves and 1,924 percent more sheep. According to the USDA, in the states where wolves live, they cause far fewer than one percent of unwanted cattle-calf (hereinafter “cattle”) and sheep-lamb (hereinafter “sheep”) losses by inventory.

We present our analysis of the USDA’s data sets on cattle and sheep deaths in wolf-occupied states and wolves’ effects on the national cattle and sheep industries. We compare the USDA’s data to those of other governmental bodies that also collect this information, which corroborates our findings that while the USDA’s predation figures are significantly exaggerated, they are nominal when compared to livestock mortalities from health, weather, theft and birthing problems (we refer to these livestock losses as “maladies”). We describe humane, efficacious and cost-effective non-lethal methods for cattle and sheep protection, and show that only a fraction of cattle and sheep growers in wolf-occupied states use non- lethal methods to protect their herds—even as numerous published scientific studies have found that non-lethal methods to protect non-native cattle and sheep from native carnivores are more efficacious and cost effective than the constant slaughter of wildlife that is ubiquitously employed—even on federally protected species.


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