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Wolf Depredation on Livestock in Minnesota

GIF -- A picture of cattle in Minnesota

by
Steven H. Fritts1
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Laurel, Maryland 20708


Abstract

Depredation by wolves (Canis lupus) on cattle, sheep, and other livestock in Minnesota currently is a minor problem except to a few individual farmers. Indices to the seriousness of the problem are available only from recent years, so historical trends cannot be detected. From 1976 through 1980 the number of farms in the wolf range suffering verified losses to wolves ranged from 9 to 19 (mean of x = 13) per year out of about 12,230. From 1977 through 1980, the highest cattle losses claimed by farmers were 0.45 per 1,000 cattle available in 1979; the highest sheep losses claimed were 1.18 per 1,000 available in 1980. Many claims of losses (especially of calves) are based on missing animals, and few wolves are involved in the verified losses. Most losses occur in summer when livestock are released to graze in open and wooded pasture. Herd management practices, such as calving in forested or brushy pastures and disposal of carcasses in or near pastures, are responsible for many instances of wolf depredation. Failure to distinguish wolves from coyotes (Canis latrans) has contributed to an exaggerated view of the importance of wolves as livestock predators. Recently the number of wolves killed in depredation control has declined, whereas the number of livestock killed has remained fairly stable. Results of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's depredation- control program in 1979 and 1980 suggest that highly restricted trapping, coupled with other management methods, has potential for reducing both livestock losses and the number of wolves that need to be killed.
This resource is based on the following source:
Fritts, Steven H.  1982.  Wolf depredation on livestock in Minnesota.  U.S. Fish
     and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.  Resource Publication 145. 11 pp.
This resource should be cited as:
Fritts, Steven H.  1982.  Wolf depredation on livestock in Minnesota.  U.S. Fish
     and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C.  Resource Publication 145.
     Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. 
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/minnwolf/index.htm
     (Version 03JUN98).

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1Present address: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Central Experiment Station, University of Minnesota, Grand Rapids, Minnesota 55744.
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