Wyoming Wolves Attack Far Fewer Cattle Than Ranchers Claim

Conservationists and animal rights activists were appalled at the Federal government’s recent decision to kick Wyoming wolves off of the Endangered Species List. Careful examination of wolf population statistics reveal that Wyoming ranchers may have achieved this de-listing by exaggerating statistics about wolf attacks on grazing cattle.

Wolves were once common throughout all of North America but were killed in most areas of the United States by the mid 1930s. Today their range has been reduced to Canada and the following portions of the United States: Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming. According to Defenders of Wildlife, there are an estimated 200,000 wolves left in 57 countries, compared to up to 2 million in earlier times.

Wyoming ranchers in particular have resented the wolves’ protected status ever since they were included in the Endangered Species Act decades ago. The AP reports that ranchers and hunters started complaining that wolves were taking an unacceptable toll on cattle and wildlife soon after the federal government reintroduced the species to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s.

Since ranchers make their living raising cattle, many of which graze on the open range for several months of the year, it make sense that they would want to protect their livestock from hungry wolves. Hobby hunters are irritated that wolves follow their natural instinct to eat elk and other animals they’d rather shoot and mount on the wall. The facts, however, fail to support implications that hundreds of cattle are being senselessly slaughtered by bloodthirsty wolves on the prowl, and often extra elk hunting licenses have to be issued because herds have grown too big.

A January 2012 report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows that in 2011, wolves were responsible for the death of  only 65 livestock (35 cattle and 30 sheep), one horse and one dog in Wyoming. In 2009 and 2010, the numbers were even lower, with 20 and 26 heads of cattle killed, respectively.

The Fed’s strategy has always been to selectively remove these aggressive wolves from the population, allowing breeding adults that don’t cause trouble to remain with their packs. The Wyoming government, however, wasn’t satisfied, and fought to take back control of wolf management operations. Now, instead of being culled responsibly by trained wildlife professionals, wolves have been given “predator” status, meaning that they can be shot on sight, for any reason, at any time, by anyone.

The Wyoming Game Commission has approved wolf hunts starting Oct. 1 in a flexible zone generally bordering Yellowstone’s eastern and southern flanks. The state is prepared to issue unlimited hunting licenses but claims it will call a halt after hunters kill 52 wolves.

Unlike Idaho and Montana, which were granted legal immunity after getting their wolf populations de-listed, the Wyoming state government is still subject to lawsuits by environmental groups. Representatives from Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council have both indicated they will continue to oppose the decision.

Take Action by signing the petition to Save Wyoming Wolves.

Related Reading:

Western States Killing Wolves By The Hundreds

Rescued By Tourists, Orphaned Wolf Pup Heads To Busch Gardens

Live Bait OK To Kill Idaho Wolves

Image via Thinkstock


Michael Guest
Michael Guest3 years ago

Continue to take action to protect wolves, animals and people. Use non-lethal methods as an alternative.

Rosemary Lowe

Does anyone really think that the "statistics" showing wolves do not actually kill the number of livestock that ranchers claim they do?? It isn't about statistics folks. It isn't about "science." It is all about politics. Nothing we have said, or can say, to The Environmentally Destructive Livestock Industry, will make an ounce of difference. As long as this industry is allowed, by us, to remain on public lands (that truly belong to native animals) the wolves, coyotes, bobcats, mountains lions, prairie dogs, and other innocent wildlife will be tortured and killed. The Livestock Industry cares Nothing about wildlife, and they have never supported any protections for such species. This is the reality here in The West.
Let's Get Livestock Off Public Lands Now, before its too late.

Rosemary Lowe

Native wild animals are slaughtered and displaced from National Forests, Wilderness lands, Bureau of Lands Management lands, National Wildlife Refuges, and State lands, so The environmentally destructive Livestock Industry can graze livestock on them. Millions of native animals are poisoned, trapped, aerial gunned, burn from their dens and otherwise harrassed--just to appease The Livestock Industry. And, we taxpayers pay for this slaughter!
Does this make you see red? It should! The Livestock Industry now wants to add More cattle and sheep (domesticates) to these lands, under the slick marketing of "Holistic Management" formerly, Holistic Range Management." Please sign the petition below and share with everyone on Twitter and Facebook.


Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

I'm not surprised. It's easier to say that all wolves are dangerous and troublesome, so they can kill them all and the law won't stop them. Dirty bastards, I hope you get hit by a truck.

Valentina R.
Valentina R.3 years ago

I'm not surprised. It's easier to say that all wolves are dangerous and troublesome, so they can kill them all and the law won't stop them. Dirty bastards, I hope you get hit by a truck.

Rosemary Lowe

Sorry for my typo errors! I mean't to say "a plant-based" diet.

Rosemary Lowe

Wolves and other wild animals are not welcome on the public lands of this country because of The well-financed, politically powerful Livestock Industry. I have seen cattle here in the Southwest laying out on the range dead--not from any coyote (or wolf), but from neglect, drought, weather, etc. These animals are out on thousands of acres of land, with not protection from the elements. Packs of dogs roam these lands as well, and coyotes often get blamed for "kills" when dog packs are really the culprits. Ranchers get so many federal subsidies, does any think they care if some cattle die out on the range? If they blame a wolf or a coyote for an alleged death, the burden of proof does not lie with them: the agency involved on public lands will most often take their word for it. Hence, dead coyotes and wolves.
Ofcourse, a planet-based diet is superior to animal flesh. But, we also need to get all livestock off our public lands as soon as possible in order to save whatever habitat is left for remaining wild animals, particularly with Climate Change now on our door step.
Please sign the Public Lands Petition on getting livestock off our public lands. Just search the Care 2 site "public lands ranching" and it will come up first. Please share this petition site with everyone.

Terry V.
Terry V.3 years ago

Wolves are having THEIR home invaded. What would you do if your home was invaded???

Mother Nature Needs Us

carol k.
carol k.3 years ago

we all know ranchers are fat greedy liars! like Ken salazar. they want the bison wolf coyote and wild horses off all the land for their stupid cattle. Well I don't eat meat anymore and esp beef!

Dianne D.
Dianne D.4 years ago

Signed. The ranchers are so irresponsible for their own cattle. The farmers and ranchers are having a battle in my state as the ranchers let their cattle roam and the cattle are breaking down fences and destroying the crops. When the farmers try to make the ranchers pay, they throw up their arms and say it's not their fault. Damn the ranchers who don't take responsibility. Don't eat beef and put the ranchers out of business. Get Ken Salazar out of the white house. He is a rancher himself and is responsible for the slaughter of our wild horses, wolves and bison all so ranchers can put their cattle on OUR public lands.