Wolves: Vicious Killers? or Just Misunderstood?

You don’t have to look far to see exactly how debated the topic of wolf hunting is. With many articles being titled in a way to deliberately pander to their audience.

Why Anti-Hunters are Dead Wrong About Wolves

Stop Shooting Wolves, you Maniacs

It makes the whole situation look like the two sides don’t actually want to partake meaningful discourse. Calling one side “Anti-Hunters” or the other side “Maniacs” isn’t helping anything.

Name calling

In order to actually see who is spouting the least bullshit, and who is most probably right. You need to look at the anchor points of the arguments on both sides.

The good thing is that their arguments aren’t exactly “out there”. By proving a point on one side, you disprove the other side’s claim.

I want to go topic by topic and see who comes out on top. Do both sides have good points? Or is one side going to get hit by an avalanche of facts?

Lets see where this goes

Lets start by looking to see if wolves are more like this

cute right?

Or more like this

not so cute

How dangerous are wolves to people? Well I looked into it, and found

“A 2002 report prepared for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game found no human deaths in North America attributed to wild, healthy wolves since at least 1900.”

Pretty cut and dry to me.

Wolf advocates in the lead

Now on to the claim of wolves killing livestock.

Honestly, there’s no doubt that they do kill some livestock (They are predators). The real question is if they kill a statistically significant number and to compare that number to other common causes of death.

I did some digging and found data on the wolves killing livestock, namely sheep and cattle, in the Northern Rockies.

More information at www.NorthernRockiesWolves.org

Now if you do the math and go off the current prices of Cattle (roughly $1000 for a weaned calf) and Sheep (roughly $100 per sheep), what you find is that the losses total to about $77,000 per year. Now I’d probably hate wolves too if I was losing that much per year. However, if you put it into perspective and look at what the losses are from just other predators, you see that the losses total to…

$5,210,000 per year

Only about 67 times more lost.

And that doesn’t even mention that predation accounts for only 55% of sheep deaths and even less for cattle with only 10%.

Looking at these statistics I really just can’t see wolves as statistically significant when it comes to livestock predation, but we can go even further. Wolf activists claim that hunting wolves actually leads to the death of more livestock.

“Wielgus found that when a wolf was killed, the chances of livestock getting killed increased the following year in that state — by 5 to 6 percent for cattle and 4 percent for sheep. With each additional wolf killed, the chance of livestock attacks rose further. The trend didn’t reverse until more than a quarter of the wolves in the state were killed in a single year. Then livestock losses started to decline.”
You can find the study here

So not only do wolves not kill a significant number of livestock, killing wolves actually makes livestock predation go up.

Not looking good for our hunters here

Lets see if hunters can get on the scoreboard with their claims of overpopulation and sustainability.

When it comes to overpopulation, it’s a bit more opinionated. It’s undeniable that wolves have exceeded federal and state recovery goals.

To guarantee Minnesota wolf survival, the state has a goal of keeping the wolf population above 1,600 individuals, which is well above the Federal government suggestion of 1,251–1,400 individuals. Even with the 220 wolves that will be hunted this year and the 200 wolves that will be eliminated due to cases of property damage, the state of Minnesota will still have enough wolves to maintain a healthy population.

With a population of over 2,000 wolves(in Minnesota), it doesn’t look like the wolves are going anywhere. Even with state mandated wolf hunts.

But

Minnesota has the highest population of wolves in the lower 48 and no other state comes even close.

While hunter definitely have a point with Minnesota, wolf activists claim that even Minnesota’s Numbers don’t come close to when wolves were plentiful throughout the entire lower 48. It’s also possible that wolf hunts in more populated areas could damage attempts to expand the range of wild wolves.

I think the Hunters have a point here though, but only in regards to Minnesota.

Since there is a valid question about the overpopulation and sustainability of the wolf population in Minnesota, the hunters get a point here. But… Wolf activists win with the other lower 47 states, so they each get a point.

Conclusion

Claims of wolves being dangerous to people are unfounded with no records of healthy wolves killing a person in the last 100 years. In addition, wolves have very little impact on property loss, totaling less that 1% of livestock loss. Hunting wolves actually raises the rate of livestock predation, contrary to what you would think. And while wolves could be considered overpopulated in one state, that doesn’t pertain to most of the united states. Overall there is no reason to hunt wolves except for sport, and you generally don’t hunt species for sport that were in danger of extinction only 30 years ago.