Press Release: Feds Count Livestock Losses Differently in the Northern Rockies

Feds Count Livestock Losses Differently in the Northern Rockies 
Groups: The Stark Discrepancies Call Institutionalized Wolf Killings into Account

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gary Macfarlane | Friends of the Clearwater | 208.882.9755 |
Wendy Keefover | WildEarth Guardians | 303.573.4898, Ext. 1162 |
Moscow, ID – Today, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians call into question how two different federal agencies count livestock losses attributed to wolves in the States of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.  The livestock death losses figures are reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) show a remarkable magnitude of disparity from the ones reported by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).
The FWS uses professional, field-verified reports from field agents, while NASS uses unverified reports from the livestock industry.
“Not only is the accounting between the agencies wildly varied,” said Gary Macfarlane, Ecosystem Defense Director for Friends of the Clearwater, “but the differences between the three Northern Rockies’ states show a remarkable distinction, with Idaho producers telling the best ‘fish-tale’ whoppers.”
v In Idaho:

o   Cattle:  The FWS verified 75 dead cattle, while NASS reported 2,561 unverified cattle losses, which represents a 3,415% difference, and discrepancy of 2,486 head.

o   Sheep:  The FWS verified 148 sheep losses, compared to NASS’s unverified 1,900 losses, which represents a 1,284% difference and a discrepancy of 1,752 head.

v In Montana:

o   Cattle: The FWS verified 87 losses, while NASS reported 1,293 sheep losses, which represents 1,486% difference and a discrepancy of 1,206 head.

o   Sheep:  The FWS verified 64 losses, while NASS reported 600 sheep losses, which represents a 938% difference and a discrepancy of 536 head.

v In Wyoming:

o   Cattle: The FWS verified 26 losses, while NASS reported 585 cattle losses, which represents a 2,250% difference and a discrepancy of 559 head.

o   Sheep: The FWS verified 33 losses, while NASS reported 300 losses, which represents a 909% difference and a discrepancy of 267 head.

“The livestock producers of the Northern Rockies have long wooden Pinocchio noses,” stated Wendy Keefover, Director of WildEarth Guardians’ Carnivores Protection Program, “the gross exaggerations involving wolf and livestock interactions are simply mythic and have little connection with reality.”
She added, “The real killers of cattle and sheep are illness, birthing problems, weather, and disease – but not native carnivores such as wolves.”
According to NASS, the total cattle (2010) and sheep (2009) inventory in the United States equals 99,628,200.  Of that number, 467,100 sheep and cattle, or 0.5% of the inventory, were killed by native carnivores such as coyotes, but also by domestic dogs.  Far more died from other non-wildlife causes.
While NASS’s livestock loss numbers lack credibility, even the agency’s inflated numbers show that the Northern Rockies wolves account for about 2% of alleged livestock losses.
“The predation myth represents a big fat lie imposed on the American public. It exists so that the cattle and sheep industrialists can justify their savage, paramilitary war on wildlife,” stated Keefover. “Worse, they even have Congress in their back pocket.”
On June 16th, the House overwhelmingly voted (287 to 132) against the Campbell-DeFazio Amendment that would have cut funds for the federal government’s predator control program, a special interest boondoggle for agribusiness, by $11 million.  207 Republicans and 80 Democrats voted against this taxpayer-savings measure.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Wildlife Services” program spends over $100 million each year exterminating the public’s wildlife purportedly to “benefit” agribusiness — even when livestock predation is less than one percent.
“The Wildlife Services program is a special interest subsidy that actually benefits few, if any, against the wildlife conservation interests of the majority, and to the detriment of wildlife,” stated Keefover.
Macfarlane concluded, “Wolves provide the essential thread in the fabric of life.  Studies from Yellowstone have shown how vegetation and the numbers of other species have rebounded since wolves came back. The West would be a much less enticing place if the howl of wolves were to again disappear from our shared home.”
# # #
View the NASS’s Livestock Losses Here
View the FWS’s Livestock Losses Numbers Here
View the 6/16/11 Campbell-DeFazio Congressional Amendment to Limit Lethal Predator Control
See the Role Call for the Campbell-DeFazio Amendment
View Groups Allied Against the Cost-Saving, Campbell-DeFazio Amendment

This press release is the result of joint collaboration between Howling For Justice, Friends of the Clearwater, Wolf Warriors,  WildEarth Guardians and NIWA.

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow, I just discovered this blog a few days ago and I am so grateful for it. I stayed up late last night reading so much interesting material and couldn’t sleep. Thank you so much for your effort!


    • lohena….So glad you found us and welcome to the pack. We are serious wolf advocates that are in the battle to save wolves in the Northern Rockies and the rest of the country. HOWLS!!!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  2. Reason 1: Without wolves and other large predators, ecosystems can go haywire. A 2001 study (PDF) found that when wolves went extinct in Yellowstone, for example, the moose population ballooned to five times its normal size and demolished woody vegetation where birds nested. As a result, several bird species were eliminated in the park.

    Reason 2: Scavengers thrive when wolves are around. The species that help themselves to wolves’ leftovers include (PDF) ravens, magpies, wolverines, bald eagles, golden eagles, three weasel species, mink, lynx, cougar, grizzly bear, chickadees, masked shrew, great gray owl, and more than 445 species of beetle.

    Reason 3: Wolf kills are also good for the soil. A 2009 study in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park found that wolf-killed elk carcasses dramatically enhanced levels of nitrogen and other nutrients.

    Reason 4: Wolf kills feed more animals than hunting by humans, since wolves scatter their carrion over the landscape. Wolf kills benefit (PDF) three times more species than human hunting kills. The carcass above was a bull elk killed by a pack of eight wolves in Agate Creek, Yellowstone. The skeleton was picked clean by wolves and scavengers in less than five days.

    Reason 5: When wolves disappeared from Yellowstone, coyotes preyed on pronghorn almost to the point of no return. But since wolves have returned, the pronghorn have come back. In fact, pronghorns tend to give birth near wolf dens, since coyotes steer clear of those areas.

    Reason 6: Deer and elk congregate in smaller groups (PDF) when wolves are around. This helps reduce the transmission of illnesses like Chronic Wasting Disease.

    Reason 7: Chronic Wasting Disease is a major threat to elk and deer in the West. Wolves can help by reducing sick animals’ lifespans, in turn limiting the amount of time they can spread infections.

    Reason 8: Yellowstone elk are less likely to overgraze near rivers and streams—damaging fragile ecosystems—when wolves are in the neighborhood.

    Reason 9: Wolves help protect against climate change. A 2005 UC Berkeley study in Yellowstone concluded that milder winters, a product of climate change, have led to fewer elk deaths. This left scavengers like coyotes and ravens scrambling for food, but the problem was far less pervasive in areas where wolves were around to hunt elk.

    Reason 10: Wolf tourism is an economic boon (PDF). Restoration of wolves in Yellowstone has cost about $30 million, but it’s brought in $35.5 million annual net benefit to the area surrounding the park.


    • Excellent Sherrill.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  3. Right now I am gathering my strength for it has been a very dishearting day for me, for the wolves in wyoming are on the shoot on sight.Salazar came to an agreement with wyoming.One can not trust the government especially if when one group within the government calls it apples and the other calls it oranges.When one party just consisting of stockgrowers and hunters are allowed to disscuss about the fate of wolves in Wyoming while other are excluded and only allowed in only after the deal was already set. This is like having a prosecuter there in the courthouse with a judge and not allowing a defense lawyer there to defend his client’s( wild life advocates/wolves) rights,but only to be told what is going to happen like it or not… no judical review once again. I am mad,but the fight continues.


    • I am sorry if I mis-spelled words and didn’t capitalize .I get emotional.


      • not worry about spelling errors, it’s getting so horrific for our wildlife it’s a wonder we’ve all been able to stay sane. Its mind blowing what is happening.



    • Oh the irony Rita. We had the huge court battle because USFWS wouldn’t accept the despicable Wyoming wolf kill plan and now all of a sudden Salazar is making deals with Wyoming to accept this now? They are going to have “flex zones” where wolves can go in two counties? Do they know anything about wolf ecology? Wolves have territories they defend, they don’t all go running into another packs territory to safe home base. These people are are nuts. Where is the science, where is common sense? My head is going to explode.



  4. I knew there was a certain amount of “fibbing” in the numbers – But these (deliberate?) discrepancies are astounding!

    It’s always the person that does the adding that decides the numbers. With a particular agenda in mind – We can see why the stats go the way they do. What a sad commentary on accountability and truth. 😦


    • This is a huge story beaelliott. HUGE. Those ranchers basically fudged on the numbers and got away with it and not ONE NEWS OUTLET even bothered to notice. If there was one, someone please write to me and tell me who they were. They reported on those NASS numbers and never had the intellectual curiosity to even wonder why the USFWS numbers, which are confirmed, were so different. Now you can see why wolves are in so much trouble. The local media reports on every single depredation like it was headline news or something but barely mention the thousands upon thousands of cows that die from non predation. The whole think would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious for wolves.



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