ON THE RANCH
In 2006, about 12 percent of the Northern Rocky Mountain
wolf population was removed because of conflicts with livestock,
but it still increased over 20 percent. Human-caused mortality
would have to remove 34 percent or more of the wolf population
annually before population growth would cease. Preliminary
wolf survival data from radio-telemetry studies suggests
that adult wolf mortality resulting from conflict could
be doubled to an average of 14–20 percent annually
and still not significantly impact wolf population recovery.
General wolf depredation guide
Be wary – look for warning that wolves are in your
• Animals tightly bunched together instead of being spread across the pasture; • the
entire herd or flock is disturbed;
Sheep become panicked in the presence of herding dogs;
Wolf signs such as tracks or scat is present;
Animals refuse to enter certain areas;
Cattle breaking through otherwise sound pasture fences;
Drastic changes in herd temperament.
If you’ve got a carcass:
Carefully examine the kill site and dead livestock. Don’t
trample the tracks or disturb the site.
Protect your remaining animals by temporarily moving them
to a more secure site or guard them.
Preserve the kill site. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture
- Secure the area from the entry of livestock since curious
animals or upset mothers can destroy evidence quickly.
- - Look for tracks or scat (droppings) that will show
a wolf's presence. Cover with plywood or weighted cans.
- Cover livestock carcass or remains with a tarp and weight
securely to keep other predators from destroying teeth
marks or other evidence.
- Photograph or video tape the evidence. It is helpful
to put some common object next to the evidence to document
- Do not disturb evidence until the federal control officer
can investigate the site.
Call in authorities.
For more information on what to do if you have a wolf
depredation problem, read the depredation guides published
by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Montana State
Who do I call if I’ve got a problem with
USDA Wildlife Services has a memorandum of understanding
with USDI Fish and Wildlife Service to handle on-the-ground
wolf problems. While FWS is the agency charged with protecting
wolves and is the decision-maker on when to take problem
wolves out of the population, it’s Wildlife Services
that gets called to control the animals. With decades upon
decades of experience in animal damage control, these guys
are pros at taking out problem wolves.
If you’re a livestock producer who is seeing wolves
or sign of wolves and haven't worked with Wildlife Services
before, get in touch with your local specialists and get
an agreement in place in advance. Wildlife Services must
have a written agreement with the landowner, authorizing
them to conduct control activities on private land. It’s
a short, simple form that can be completed in a couple
of minutes. There is no charge to the producer for their
As Wyoming Wildlife Services State Director Rod Krischke
noted, “That way when and if livestock losses occur
we will be able to respond without delay.” To contact
Wildlife Services, try these numbers:
In the counties of Teton, Sublette, Fremont, Sweetwater,
Lincoln, Uinta, Hot Springs and Carbon contact the Rock
Springs Office at 307-362-7238. This is a field office
and personnel here are often in the field. If you can’t
reach anyone here, call the state office (below).
In all other counties in Wyoming contact the State Office
in Casper at 307-261-5336.
• 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.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Wolf numbers up, as are livestock losses
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that preliminary
data suggests that the wolf population, livestock loss,
and lethal wolf control statistics were higher in 2006
than in 2005 for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
FWS estimates the tri-state population
is about 1,264 wolves, which includes at least 163 packs
of two or more animals,
and at least 86 breeding pairs. FWS defines a pack as two
or more wolves with an established territory, while a breeding
pair is a pack of wolves that has at least one adult male
and one adult female and two pups that survive until December
Confirmed livestock losses so far in 2006 (through late
November) included 170 cattle, 344 sheep, eight dogs, one
horse, one mule, and two llamas. In response to chronic
livestock depredations, 152 wolves were killed by federal
Wyoming’s minimum wolf population estimate rang in
at 314 wolves in 34 packs and 25 breeding pairs. This number
includes 140 wolves based in Yellowstone National Park.
Wildlife officials confirmed that 111 cattle, 38 sheep,
one horse, and one mule, were all wolf kills. In response
to the chronic depredations, 44 wolves were killed by federal
Montana’s wolf population estimate was for at least
300 wolves in 59 packs and 25 breeding pairs. There were
35 cattle, 133 sheep, four dogs and two llamas confirmed
as wolf kills. In response, 47 wolves were removed.
Idaho had at least 650 wolves in 70 packs and 36 breeding
pairs. For confirmed kills, the state had 24 head of
cattle, 173 sheep and four dogs. In response, 61 wolves
Using dogs to help protect livestock from
2010 Article in Sheep & Goat Research Journal
- by Cat & Jim Urbigkit
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 (8 pages, 1590K)
to know Wildlife Services (6/28/07):In
the counties of Teton, Sublette, Fremont, Sweetwater,
Lincoln, Uinta, Hot Springs and Carbon contact the
Rock Springs Office at 307 362-7238. This is a field
office and personnel here are often in the field.
In all other counties in Wyoming contact the State
in Casper at 307-261-5336.
Wolves on the Ranch (12/18/06):
Rancher's Guide to dealing with wolf predation on
the ranch. By the Wyoming Department of Agriculture
(68K, 4-page PDF)
Control Costs Calculated (3/9/07, By Cat
Urbigkit, Pinedale Online): In the last
fiscal year, Wildlife
Services verified that wolves were responsible for 16
3 injured; 13 adult cows or yearlings killed, 1 injured;
8 ewes and 11 lambs killed; and one mule injured. In
response to these problems, 23 wolves were killed in
Sublette County last year.
Depredation Guide (12/18/06): Rancher's
Guide to Wolf Depredation. By Dr. Jim Knight, Montana
State University Extension Service. (248K, 2-page PDF)