Study Pins Ranch Losses to Montana Wolves

US – Wolf predation can cost average cattle herds over $6,000 at sale in calf weight loss, according to a study of western Montana ranches.
calendar icon 24 January 2014
clock icon 1 minute read

Pioneering research into the effects of wolves on herds reveals that economic losses are greater than state reimbursement from a killed cow by seven and a half times.

The study, co-authored by Professor Derek Kellenberg from the University of Montana, discovered wolves coexisting with cattle have no herd weight impact until a confirmed wolf kill.

When losses are felt, the economic effects are stark. The study revealed that an average weight loss of 22 pounds across a calf herd costs $6,679 dollars to an average Montana herd.

Mr Kellenberg said: “When you compare that to the direct reimbursement of the cow that was killed – about $900 on average – these indirect costs are about seven-and-a-half times the direct cost of depredation.”

“This study helps quantify some of the indirect costs that have not previously been accounted for,” he added.

However, weather fluctuations were noted as having greater impact on calf-weight variance than wolves.

Satellite-generated climatological data was collected from 1995-2010 and ananlysed alongside ranch husbandry information for 18 ranches with confirmed depradations.

It is hoped that the study informs policymakers and producers on wolf management.

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