There might be a backlash, but it is doubtful related to a spike in wolf attacks on livestock-
Matthew Brown from AP wrote this story. It has some good facts in it and a lot of wild anger from livestock owners.
I think what sparks backlashes are not the number of livestock killed. It is the number of news stories about it.
I think if someone did a content analysis of the news about wolves and livestock and compared it to the number of wolf-killed livestock each year since the reintroduction, there would be no relationship.
Matthew Brown points out that “The sharp increase over 2008 livestock losses, reported Thursday by state officials, was fueled largely by a wolf pack ravaging 148 sheep in southwestern Montana near Dillon in August.”
This single story got a lot of media attention, and I never read a single good account from the media or the Montana government giving the details of how this happened. At the time on this blog, I complained day after day about the lack of facts, except that a lot of sheep were dead.
As far increasing the hunt quota next because of the perception of large livestock losses, Montana FWP’s report was very clear that the hunt removed far fewer wolves in areas with livestock than they hoped, and more in livestock-free parts of the backcountry. Therefore, increasing the quota would be purely a political move unrelated to wolf depredations in fact.
Wolf supporters have got to win the delisting case, as the state wildlife agencies are nothing but political pawns. I am sick to death and furious!
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The statement that there are 8 dead livestock by wolves for every one found is often repeated as in this story. It seems to me they used to say “1 in 5,” but at any rate in checking, this all seems to come from one small study by John Oakleaf. The area studied was hardly representative — a remote section of public land leased for grazing that was known to have a high density of wolves. No doubt in less rugged and accessible country the number not found would be less.
If you think about it, the broad statement is absurd. The percentage of livestock killed by wolves and not found would vary everywhere. Every season cattle and sheep are simply missed (not rounded-up). They linger and die of the cold. They are also lost to accidental injury, sickness, poison plants, and other predators. Most carcasses would be scavenged by many scavengers, including wolves.
To sum it up, this “one in eight” figure appears to be an effort to inflate a relatively small problem for political purposes, and is based on a single unrepresentative study.