Wolf ‘depredation’ numbers overlook some injured livestock
Meeteetse — While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines depredation as animals injured or killed, the agency’s annual wolf reports fall short when it comes to reporting actual livestock damage caused as a result of wolves.
Ed Bangs, FWS Wolf Recovery Leader in Helena says the FWS defines depredation as, “the injury or killing of livestock or other domestic animals by wolves.” Depredations listed in the agency’s annual wolf reports, however, only include livestock killed, which they call “Confirmed Losses.”
Although injured livestock may be a loss for the livestock producer, the FWS does not consider injured livestock a “confirmed loss.” Livestock injured are only briefly mentioned on page 27, “Confirmed livestock depredations include 41 cattle (35 calves, six cows / yearlings) and 26 sheep. Thirteen additional probable sheep depredations and three injured cattle were reported.”
Mike Jimenez, FWS Wyoming Wolf Project Leader in Jackson says, “We started, in the late 80s listing only confirmed dead livestock, and left it that way on the table (in the annual reports). If we were to start over, we would probably show both, but this way, you can compare year-to-year.”
Wolves actually injured more than three head of cattle. Jimenez says, “In Wyoming in 2008, there were actually 11 cattle confirmed injured (by wolves).” The report only stated three were injured, and Jimenez says the other eight “fell through the cracks.”
The Report states, “Ten… packs were involved in at least one depredation in 2008,” when in fact, a minimum of 13 packs and some miscellaneous wolves were involved in livestock depredation. Table 1 in the report shows 12 packs and some miscellaneous wolves involved in depredation, but two of those packs were removed during 2008, so although they depredated on livestock, they are not counted in the total of depredating packs. Also, the Yellowstone Delta Pack, with a home range mostly in YNP, attacked cattle in Wyoming, and this pack is not included in that total.
Echo Renner is a Field Editor for the Roundup, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.