Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predator

“The solution to stop the livestock killings by wolves is simple: A $50,000 fine given to each livestock owner who allows wolves to kill their livestock.”

Every once in awhile you come across a Letter to the Editor that just really hits it out of the park:

Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predatorMissoulian LTE

Defenders ends wolf depredation payments

All Defenders payments for dead livestock ends in September-

It really seemed like a good idea.  Wolves will kill some livestock, but a public spirited conservation group will pay generously for all verified losses and even 50% for unverified, but probable losses to wolves.

Defenders has been paying these claims for well over 15 years now. In my opinion, however, the program did not work if their intent was to generate public support or prevent opposition to wolf restoration. Defenders own studies showed that the program did not build support for wolves among livestock owners.

In retrospect, it is easy to see why it failed.  Livestock owners hatred of wolves is not based on the economic value of their losses.  If the losses were heavier, it might have been welcomed, but in most cases the person who lost stock could pretty easily afford to absorb the loss.  As a result, they could turn down the compensation, or maybe even accept it, but vent their spleen anyway. In a few cases it is clear that owners who welcomed a payment were pressured not to apply for one.

Defender’s program will be replaced by a federal/state compensation program recently set up by law by Senators Tester of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming. It is less generous, however. Under the new program there has to be a proven loss and states have to pay 50%. The later won’t be hard to achieve at least in Idaho, the legislature will be happy to cut the benefits of blind old people or those tax-sucking school children to pay for the livestock.

Conservation group ends wolf predation payments. Associated Press (as printed in the Seattle PI)

Reminder: Comments due today on Wildlife Services Idaho Wolf EA.

Wolf management plan examines killing of pups and sterilization of wolves.

The Wildlife Services issued an Environmental Assessment at the beginning of August. Today is the last day to comment on the EA which calls for killing pups which have been orphaned by their control actions, sterilization of wolves, and increased killing of wolves in response to livestock depredations.

Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation have submitted comments on the EA which you can read here:
WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Comments on Gray Wolf Damage Managment in ID Draft EA

Here is the post I made earlier in the month:

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Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs

Did a cow get your elk?

George Wuerthner has written another great essay about how ranchers are asking us to pay for the protection of their livestock on public lands by killing predators. They are also asking us to give up elk production on public lands when their cattle are using up vast amounts of forage needed to maintain healthy elk herds.

Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs.
George Wuerthner, NewWest.Net

Lastest WY wolf news from USFWS

August 20, 2010 update

Here is the latest wolf news latest wolf news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Wyoming where the feds still officially manage wolves. There are links to other resources.

I converted their news from .doc to a pdf file in an effort to make it readable here. Unfortunately the table giving livestock depredations in Wyoming did not convert (it is blank). That is too bad because the numbers are so trivial — 17 cattle (mostly calves); 32 sheep.

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Hysteria about wolves in Idaho and Montana continues to grow, fanned by politicians and long time anti-government activists. I predict that 20 years from now this controversy will be studied as a classic case of how rumor fans social hysteria. For those interested there is a vast literature on this in social psychology under the sub-discipline of collective behavior.

I think the rise of the Internet has made this development easier in that people can spend so much of their time “talking” with those who share their views, while ignoring outside information and trading rumor. Fifty years ago it would be much more difficult for this kind of thingwyom-to spread,

Wildlife Services wants your comments.

Wolf management plan examines killing of pups and sterilization of wolves.

Wildlife Services has issued a draft Environmental Analysis which examines a myriad of ways to kill wolves. Comments on the plan are accepted until August 31, 2010.

Idaho Wolf EA

“Management strategies would be developed for individual situations by applying the WS Decision Model (Slate et al. 1992). When appropriate, farm management practices (animal husbandry), frightening devices and livestock guarding animals would be recommended and utilized to reduce wolf damage to livestock. In other situations, WS might potentially utilize foothold traps, snares, ground shooting, chemical immobilization and euthanasia, and aerial shooting to remove individual problem wolves. An additional potential management method under the Proposed Action would be the infrequent taking of pups in or near the den, in those cases where removal of adult wolves due to chronic depredations on livestock might leave the pups defenseless and subject to starvation. Another potential management method under the Proposed Action, as an alternative to total removal of some chronic depredating wolf packs, would be removal of most or all wolves except the alpha pair from a chronic depredating pack. One (or both if possible) of the alpha animals would concurrently be live-captured, surgically sterilized, radio-collared, and released to maintain and defend their territory against other wolf packs which might be more likely to prey on livestock. This approach would only be considered on a case-by-case basis, and only with the concurrence of IDFG and potentially affected livestock producers.”

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Kudos to Oregon for Funding Non-Lethal Work to Prevent Wolf-Livestock Conflicts

Oregon Fish and Wildlife hires a rider to keep wolves and livestock apart-

This worked in Idaho and Montana back in the days before state wolf management. The states don’t even try.  Defenders is still doing something a bit like this in Idaho with the Phantom Hill Pack under the grudging toleration of Idaho Fish and Game.

Kudos to Oregon for Funding Non-Lethal Work to Prevent Wolf-Livestock Conflicts. Matt Skoglund’s Blog. NRDC.