Feds Count Livestock Losses Differently in the Northern Rockies
Groups: The Stark Discrepancies Call Institutionalized Wolf Killings into Account
Thursday, July 7, 2011
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.”
# # #
This press release is the result of joint collaboration between Howling For Justice, Friends of the Clearwater, Wolf Warriors, WildEarth Guardians and NIWA.