Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Fig. 2. Estimated numbers (x 1,000) of cattle and sheep on farms within the Minnesota wolf range in summer, 1975-86. Numbers are not shown for 1982-84 because county estimates were not made by the Minnesota Crop and Livestock Reporting Service in those years.
In winter, cattle, sheep, and other large livestock are in or near farm buildings where they are fed; movements elsewhere are discouraged by snow and lack of forage. In late April or May, most are released to graze in open and wooded pasture where they remain until about October (Fritts 1982). Within this period they are vulnerable to depredation by wolves. Young are usually with adults during summer; this is especially true of beef cattle, which calve mostly in March and April in northern Minnesota (R. L. Arthaud, personal communication) and whose young usually are not marketed until fall. Some livestock, especially late-birthing cattle, give birth in remote, often wooded pastures where they, and especially their young, are vulnerable to predators. Birthing and marketing schedules of dairy cattle and sheep are more variable than those of beef cattle, although lambing peaks in April. Turkey flocks are moved outdoors in June, and birds remain outdoors until final marketing in September or October. Flocks typically consist of 10,000-30,000 birds. Most flocks are contained by fencing except that an unfenced woods or brushline may form one boundary of the pasture. Dairy cattle, feeder cattle, and swine are more often confined and thus less subject to depredation than beef cattle.
Kellert (1985) found a strong positive perception of the wolf among Minnesotans, although a lower proportion of farmers held positive attitudes. Fritts (1982) believed that perception of the depredation problem in Minnesota exceeded the actual problem, because the term "wolf" was often used for both coyotes (Canis latrans) and wolves in Minnesota.