Calls recent Montana report “misleading”.
Carter Niemeyer’s recent book “Wolfer” described, in great detail, the inner workings of Wildlife Services for whom he worked as their Montana western supervisor from 1975-1990 and as their Montana wolf specialist for the following 10 years until he took a post in Idaho as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator. In the book he describes how the incestuous relationship between the livestock industry and Wildlife Services works to maintain hegemony over how predators are blamed for livestock deaths so that they can be managed and killed and so that the taxpayer funds flow freely. He goes on to describe how the reporting of livestock depredations is routinely influenced by the higher ups in the department so that blame could be squarely placed on any number of predators instead of what usually boils down to poor animal husbandry practices.
Often times he was called to the scene of a “wolf depredation” only to find out, upon investigation, that the animal had died from other causes or that dogs had been behind the incident. When he would write up his report he would skin the animal out to look for hemorrhaging caused by the bites of a wolf or other predator, he would take pictures, he would look for tracks. This was frowned upon by his superiors and he was told to use only the small space on the investigation report form to describe whether the livestock had been killed by predators or not.He described situations in which the ranchers would call politicians and newspapers if he didn’t determine that a wolf had killed their livestock by.
There is a lot of pressure on Wildlife Service agents to blame livestock deaths on predators and there is a lot of pressure on them to find excuses to kill predators so that their obscene budgets can be justified. Few of the agents are able to withstand that pressure and those who do are often marginalized as Carter had been. While acting as the Montana wolf specialist he was moved to Missoula, far away from where the wolves were, and made to live inside a camp trailer parked in an obscure warehouse without adequate heat. The agency did things like move his office space to a closet sized room in a federal office building where he had to store his bait in a warehouse next to where a federal judge parked. He also brought carcasses into the warehouse to thaw them so that he could skin them out.
In his book he writes how was the only trapper for ADC who didn’t just do as the rancher wanted and conducted a thorough investigation where he skinned the animal “to its hooves” and took extensive notes which were added to the report. His superiors reacted by keeping him away from wolf investigations and told him not to write any more than could fit in the small space on the report form.
This week there is an article out about a recent report done by Wildlife Services at the request of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association which claims that the presence of wolves has caused predation of livestock by other predators to increase because it has limited their methods of killing. It also claims that predation by wolves has risen sharply.
Carter strongly questions the validity of the report calling it “misleading”.
Niemeyer said that only probable and confirmed kills should be considered. And even listing a depredation as probable, Niemeyer said, means “it probably was a predator.” When Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks publishes its annual report, it lists only confirmed wolf kills.
“Probable is foggy, but possible is pretty much unknown and reported doesn’t really mean anything,” Niemeyer said. “It’s that confirmed one that’s really the one of interest, the one that counts.”
The report claims that in 2006 there were only 111 calves killed in 2006 by coyotes and that there were 1348 in 2010. Carter questions this too.
“I can’t even imagine that,” Niemeyer said. “My whole career with Wildlife Services it was pretty unusual to see calves killed by coyotes.”
This report appears to be an orchestrated effort to blame wolves for everything in an attempt at influencing the politics so that wolves will be delisted through legislation. It also appears to be an effort to increase the budget of Wildlife Services in Montana so that they can go back to the good old days where they used M-44’s which fire a pellet of cyanide poison into the mouth of any predator that pulls on the baited device.
Questions as Livestock Losses Skyrocket
By Myers Reece – Flathead Beacon.