Study from WSU Carnivore Conservation Lab states Lethal Wolf Control Counterproductive
I’m Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
In studies on cougars and bears researchers have found that lethal control disrupts their populations - so much so that younger, less disciplined animals of both groups end up attacking more livestock. After thoroughly studying 25 years worth of lethal control data from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Interagency Annual Wolf Reports in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming Washington State University researchers have found that killing a wolf increases the odds of depredations by 4% for sheep and 5 to 6% for cattle. Rob Wielgus with the WSU Large Carnivore Conservation Lab explains.
WIELGUS: The first thing I did there was analyze this data from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming just to see if similar things would happen with wolves that happen with bears and cougars. And to tell you the truth I didn’t think so because wolves are very different - they’re social, they’re pack animals, and bears and cougars are solitary/territorial; I didn’t expect to see this immigration response. But none the less, I went ahead and analyzed that data and found wow for every wolf that you kill you get a 5% increase in livestock depredations the following year.
While the results with wolves were not nearly as dramatic as was seen with cougars and bears Wielgus stresses that the results were the same.
WIELGUS: We felt well, what could cause this? It’s probably not the immigration thing; that seems unlikely. Then other researchers have found breeding pairs are primarily responsible for livestock depredations because they’re tied to the den site. So they’ll take whatever is available, and sometimes that’s livestock.
Tomorrow we’ll talk more with Wielgus about how lethally removing wolves connects with breeding pairs.
That’s Washington Ag Today.
I’m Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.