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dogs to help protect livestock from predators
2010 Article in Sheep & Goat Research Journal
- by Cat & Jim Urbigkit
Expanding large carnivore populations pose new challenges
for livestock owners to protect their herds from predators
while abiding to the laws that protect some of these predator
species which are under federal protection. Some sheep ranchers
have used specially-bred livestock protection dogs as a non-lethal
tool to help protect their herds from wolf predation. Cat
and Jim Urbigkit, ranchers in Big Piney, have co-authored
a paper on the use of livestock protection dogs (LPDs), which
was recently published in Sheep & Goat Research Journal. “The
number of LPDs killed by large predators is increasing,” they
wrote. “We conducted a literature review to identify
LPD breeds that may be more suited for use around large carnivores,
such as gray wolves.” Click on this link
for the PDF
of this article
Sublette County 2006 -
Wolves killed in agency control work
(chronic problem wolves involved in livestock depredations)
March 3: 2 wolves, Cora
March 17: 4 wolves, Cora
April 14: 3 wolves, Boulder/Muddy
July: I adult,
2 pups, Upper Green
August 1: 1 old female, Upper Green
August 1: young of year, Upper Green
August 26: 1 adult male, Upper Green
August 30: 3 wolves, Cora/Black Butte
August 30: 1 adult, Upper Green
August 31: 1 adult, Prospect/Farson
September 5: 2 wolves, Upper Green
October 27: 1 adult male, Prospect/Muddy
RUNNING TOTAL: 23
Wolves killed Wyoming in control actions: Wyoming
Wolves killed in control actions in the Northern
(Montana, Idaho and Wyoming)
With wolves granted federal protection by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, livestock producers are limited
in what actions they may take when wolves prey on their
But with federal management comes responsibility, and under
the federal rules in effect throughout the entire state
of Wyoming, when a livestock producer has a problem, it’s
FWS’s responsibility to resolve the conflict.
FWS contracts with USDA Wildlife Services to control/kill
problem wolves. It’s a program that has worked very
effectively in Wyoming. Neighboring states should be so
For example, in 2005, Idaho had 20 confirmed cattle deaths
and 184 confirmed sheep deaths due to wolves (with the
state’s minimum wolf population of 512). Only 27
wolves were killed in response to depredations.
Compare that to Wyoming, in the same year. With total confirmed
kills of 54 cattle and 27 sheep, federal officials responded
by killing 41 wolves (the state’s minimum population
Although state officials in Montana and Idaho were granted
day-to-day responsibilities for wolf management in 2005
and 2006, the states are only allowed to implement portions
of their state management plans that are consistent with
federal regulations governing the experimental population,
and FWS retains all law enforcement authority. There is
little difference to the livestock producer. While regulations
seem to allow more liberal “take” of wolves,
wolves must still be “caught in the act” of
attacking before a property owner can react on his own.
What is eliminated is the FWS responsibility to take care
of the problem.
Federal rule allows limited control of wolves
The following is the portion of the federal rule for the
Yellowstone region’s non-essential, experimental
population of wolves. This rule applies within the entire
state of Wyoming.
(3) No person may take this species in the wild in an
experimental population area except as provided in paragraphs
(i) (3), (7), and (8) of this section.
(i) Landowners on their private land and livestock producers (i.e., producers
of cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf
management plans as approved by the Service) that are legally using public
land (Federal land and any other public lands designated in State and tribal
wolf management plans as approved by the Service) may harass any wolf in an
opportunistic (the wolf cannot be purposely attracted, tracked, waited for,
or searched out, then harassed) and noninjurious (no temporary or permanent
physical damage may result) manner at any time, Provided that such harassment
is non- lethal or is not physically injurious to the gray wolf and is reported
within 7 days to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency
representative designated by the Service.
(ii) Any livestock producers on their private land may take (including to kill
or injure) a wolf in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle,
sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management
plans as approved by the Service),
Provided that such incidents are to be immediately reported within 24 hours
to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative
designated by the Service, and livestock freshly (less than 24 hours) wounded
(torn flesh and bleeding) or killed by wolves must be evident. Service or other
Service authorized agencies will confirm if livestock were wounded or killed
by wolves. The taking of any wolf without such evidence may be referred to
the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(iii) Any livestock producer or permittee with livestock grazing allotments
on public land may receive a written permit, valid for up to 45 days, from
the Service or other agencies designated by the
Service, to take (including to kill or injure) a wolf that is in the act of
killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or
as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service),
Provided that six or more breeding pairs of wolves have been documented in
the experimental population area and the Service or other agencies authorized
by the Service has confirmed that the livestock losses were caused by wolves
and have completed agency efforts to resolve the problem. Such take must be
reported immediately within 24 hours to the Service project leader for wolf
reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service.
There must be evidence of freshly wounded or killed livestock by wolves. Service
or other agencies, authorized by the Service, will investigate and determine
if the livestock were wounded or killed by wolves. The taking of any wolf without
such evidence may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(iv) Potentially affected States and tribes may capture and translocate wolves
to other areas within an experimental population area as described in paragraph
(i)(7), Provided the level of wolf predation is negatively impacting localized
ungulate populations at an unacceptable level. Such translocations cannot inhibit
wolf population recovery. The States and tribes will define such unacceptable
impacts, how they would be measured, and identify other possible mitigation
in their State or tribal wolf management plans. These plans must be approved
by the Service before such movement of wolves may be conducted.
(v) The Service, or agencies authorized by the Service, may promptly remove
(place in captivity or kill) any wolf the Service or agency authorized by the
Service determines to present a threat to human life or safety.
(vi) Any person may harass or take (kill or injure) a wolf in self defense
or in defense of others, Provided that such take is reported immediately (within
24 hours) to the Service reintroduction project leader or Service designated
agent. The taking of a wolf without an immediate and direct threat to human
life may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(vii) The Service or agencies designated by the Service may take wolves that
are determined to be "problem" wolves. Problem wolves are defined
as: wolves that in a calendar year attack livestock (cattle, sheep, horses,
and mules) or as defined by State and tribal wolf management plans approved
by the Service, or wolves that twice in a calendar year attack domestic animals
(all domestic animals other than livestock). Authorized take includes, but
is not limited to non-lethal measures such as: aversive conditioning,nonlethal
control, and/or translocating wolves. Such taking may be implemented when five
or fewer breeding pairs are established in a experimental population area.
If the take results in a wolfmortality, then evidence that the mortality was
nondeliberate, nonnegligent, accidental, and unavoidable must be provided.
When six or more breeding pairs are established in the experimental population
area, lethal control of problem wolves or permanent placement in captivity
will be authorized but only after other methods to resolve livestock depredations
have been exhausted.
Depredations occurring on Federal lands or other public lands identified in
State or tribal wolf management plans and prior to six breeding pairs becoming
established in an experimental population area, may result in capture and release
of the female wolf with pups, and her pups at or near the site of capture prior
to October 1. All wolves on private land, including female wolves with pups,
may be relocated or moved to other areas within the experimental population
area if continued depredation occurs. Wolves attacking domestic animals other
than livestock, including pets on private land, two or more times in a calendar
year will be relocated. All chronic problem wolves (wolves that depredate on
domestic animals after being moved once for previous domestic animal depredations)
will be removed from the wild (killed or placed in captivity). The following
three criteria will be used in determining the status of problem wolves within
the nonessential experimental population area:
(A) There must be evidence of wounded livestock or partial remains of a livestock
carcass that clearly shows that the injury or death was caused by wolves. Such
evidence is essential since wolves may feed on carrion which they found and
did not kill. There must be reason to believe that additional livestock losses
would occur if no control action is taken.
(B) There must be no evidence of artificial or intentional feeding of wolves.
Improperly disposed of livestock carcasses in the area of depredation will
be considered attractants. Livestock carrion or carcasses on public land, not
being used as bait under an agency authorized control action, must be removed
or otherwise disposed of so that it will not attract wolves.
(C) On public lands, animal husbandry practices previously identified in existing
approved allotment plans and annual operating plans for allotments must have
(viii) Any person may take a gray wolf found in an area defined in paragraph
(i)(7), Provided that the take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity,
accidental, unavoidable, unintentional, not resulting from negligent conduct
lacking reasonable due care, and due care was exercised to avoid taking a gray
wolf. Such taking is to be reported within 24 hours to a Service or Service-designated
authority. Take that does not conform with such provisions may be referred
to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
Who do I call if I’ve got a problem with wolves?
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
• It’s a good idea to let Jimenez know when
you’ve got wolves in your area, so that he becomes
familiar with the situation and can react promptly when
there is a problem. It is Jimenez who can authorize USDA
Wildlife Services personnel to control problem wolves in
If you need a law enforcement officer on the scene immediately,
dial 911 or your local sheriff’’s office.
A word of caution: Do not call the Wyoming Game and Fish
Department for a wolf problem. That state agency has no
authority or responsibility for wolves at this time. Wolves
are a federally protected and managed species in Wyoming.
Note: Official agency maps never include wolf packs in
Sublette County because these packs always become involved
in livestock depredations and are then killed in control
actions. Any wolves that remain are too elusive to document.