Wiping out wolves leads to more livestock predation

Wisconsin State Farmer
Letter to the editor

This is a response to Laurie Groskopf's letter on wolves and livestock.

Ms. Groskopf is partially correct in her analysis of NASS statistics, but she presents the facts implying wolves are more of a problem than they are.

The NASS study she refers to: Death loss in US cattle and calves due to predator and non-predator causes, 2015 is available online for anyone to examine.

Wisconsin had 4.2 million cattle of all ages on the 1st of January 2016 (page 8). Of those many millions of animals, 188,000 adult cattle and calves died early, 4870 were taken by predators, 1748 were injured but not killed by predators.  (pages 14 and 16), and of those killed by predators wolves took 28.9 percent (page 66)

So that means that 96.4 percent of cattle harmed or dying early in Wisconsin are doing so from something besides predation, and 99.25 percent are dying from something besides wolf predation.

Said another way, if we totally wiped out all predators, 97.4 percent of the cattle dying early would still die.

Predation is a significant problem for the farmers who experience it, but how many farmers in Wisconsin are experiencing this? .09 percent, which means 99.1 percent are not experiencing loss due to predation.

We know from previous campaigns that Ms. Groskopf wishes to eliminate two-thirds of Wisconsin’s wolf population: from 1000 to 350 animals. We also know from numerous studies that wiping out broad swaths of wolf population that is mostly NOT causing problems leads to MORE livestock predation, not less.

This interpretation of the numbers suggests that farmers and legislators of Wisconsin should not focus on “managing” (read killing) wolves to assuage livestock loss but might focus instead on why certain farms have predation problems, and on all those other causes of death, many of which are preventable. 
Chris Albert, DVM
Lebanon Junction, KY 40150