A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection
In response to Wolves, Cowboys, and the Truth authored by Rob
Edward and Wendy Keefover-Ring; perhaps it would be useful to actually talk about the
truth. It has been said that if someone
repeats a lie often enough, it will end up sounding like the truth. The two Sinapu employees stated, Wild
carnivores and domestic dogs take a larger bite out of
Fact: Other wild carnivores and domestic dogs do kill more sheep than wolves.
Deliberate Lie: Stating that sheep are killed because of lackadaisical husbandry practices including turning bands of unguarded sheep out on the open range.
Fact: Western range producers guard their bands of sheep 24 hours/day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year using shepherds and guard dogs because sheep do not have any natural defenses.
It is easy to make a compelling argument when you ONLY tell one side of the story; or choose to cherry-pick information while ignoring data that doesnt support your agenda.
In 2003, the
United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) peer-reviewed
Rob and Wendy accuse the
Rob and Wendy generously toss out some statistics to bolster their viewpoint, but under closer scrutiny one can find many chinks in their armor. Wolf advocates go to great lengths to water down any damages caused by wolves and the federal recovery program. Additionally, the federal government needs to provide statistics for the number of livestock killed, injured, and lost due to wolf depredation in the context of number of livestock located in wolf recovery areas. Instead, they couch the depredation numbers in total head of livestock statewide, which significantly reduces the depredation rate and grossly misrepresents the actual impacts of wolves killing livestock. Depredation numbers would be much higher and more reflective of the actual damage caused if the numbers were published in a more accurate and useful format. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to compare the number of livestock killed by wolves to other losses in the livestock industry. Sheep and cattle ranchers diligently work to minimize any losses due to other predators, health issues, weather, etc. The federal government doesnt tie your hands behind your back and tell you that you cant vaccinate, feed, water or otherwise manage for your animals well-being. However, the Endangered Species Act and current wolf recovery program takes away a ranchers ability to effectively protect his livestock against wolf attacks. The ESA can instantly turn a rancher into a criminal if he instinctively tries to protect his livestock from wolves without first jumping through days and weeks of regulatory hoops.
Mr. Edward and Ms. Keefover-Ring also fail to mention another reason that wolf depredation seems really low. The federal government has been somewhat pro-active in removing depredating wolves. This is to say that if wolves are killing livestock, then the wolves may be lethally removed at some point. Without this management tool, depredation rates would be much higher; and Sinapu is a staunch advocate of taking away all of our management tools and making it impossible for ranchers to co-exist on the landscape.
In Wolves, Cowboys, and the Truth the authors conveniently omit any reference to additional hardships the federal wolf recovery program has created on ranchers that have wolves in proximity of their livestock. Because of the vast acreages utilized in an effective rotational grazing program, it is difficult to find carcasses that have been almost completely consumed by wolves and get government agents on-site to confirm wolf attacks. Wolf attacks cause injuries and stray loss due to harassment. It is generally accepted that when wolves attack, for every 1 confirmed head of livestock killed there are probably at least another 5 head missing. Wolves kill guard dogs, herding dogs, hunting dogs, and family pets. Wolves in proximity of livestock often run the frightened animals through fences and down timber. Ranchers incur additional fuel, labor, and veterinary costs as the result of having wolves near their ranching operations. Their time is diverted away from other ranch management activities such as putting up hay or managing their rotational grazing program, as they are forced to increase herd monitoring and attend meetings in town as a result of having wolves in proximity of their livestock. Perhaps this is what Edward and Keefover-Ring refer to as relatively minor damage.
In Wolves, Cowboys, and the Truth the authors disdain for the
livestock industry is readily apparent. Their
utter disrespect and disregard for our industry and ancestors continues to amaze me. Sheep were one of the earliest domesticated
animals, and provided mankind with a source of nutrition and fiber that enabled our
earliest ancestors to survive. Domesticated
sheep have always required a shepherd; a quick historical reference check would be to read
the Bible. Hardy pioneers ancestors from a
century ago settled the West and enabled the
The ranchers of western
If the truth be known, carnivore advocates need to stop their temper tantrums and deliberate campaigns of misinformation. Its long overdue for everyone to set aside the emotional rhetoric and deal with the facts. I say, Go Wyoming!!
Bonnie Kline, Executive Director
November 1, 2006