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Press Release: Government Report: Less Than 1% of Cattle Killed by Native Carnivores and Domestic Dogs

Contact Congress: Taxpayers Fleeced by Federal Predator-Control Program, WildEarth Guardians, May 17, 2011 (Posted 5/21/11)

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Note: We all have a responsibility to be good stewards and share the land with important wildlife like wolves. The information in the press release below shows that this is not a hard thing to do.

Nonetheless, some politicians, including Rep. Pearce (NM) and Senators Kyl and McCain (AZ), are supporting legislation that would endanger all gray wolves, including the only 50 Mexican gray wolves struggling to survive in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico.

Legislation to reduce or remove their endangered species protections will place Mexican gray wolves, already teetering on the brink of extinction, in even greater peril.

Please contact your members of Congress today, and ask everyone you know to do the same. You can find them here.

Press Release
Denver, CO—Less than a quarter of one percent, 0.23%, of the American cattle inventory was lost to native carnivores and dogs in 2010, according to a Department of Agriculture report released last week.  WildEarth Guardians claims the findings should bring into question the tens of millions per year taxpayers and livestock growers spend on lethal and non-lethal control of native carnivores.

“The real killers of cattle are not a few endangered wolves or other wildlife – it’s illness and weather,” stated Wendy Keefover of WildEarth Guardians. “The predation myth has directly contributed to a federal, 100-year, paramilitary assault on millions of native animals and birds in America.  Despite governmental evidence about miniscule livestock losses, ongoing covert federal wildlife-killing operations are conducted each year on our most treasured wildlands and forests,” she added. 

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), an arm of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), compiled the newest cattle inventory and loss numbers.  In 2010, cattle inventory dipped to 94 million head, down from 104.5 million in 2005—the last time NASS issued its Cattle Death Loss report.  According to the report:

• The top five killers of cattle are respiratory problems (over one million); digestive problems (505,000); complications while calving (494,000); weather (489,000); and “unknown” non-predator causes (435,000).  Non-predator cattle losses totaled nearly four million cattle. Respiratory, digestive, and calving problems and weather issued caused 64% of all cattle mortality.

• In comparison, only 220,000 cattle losses stemmed from livestock predators or 0.23% of the total cattle production over the year. Cattle predators counted by NASS included: coyotes, cougars, bobcats, lynx, dogs, wolves, vultures, bears and “others.”  Predation by native carnivores really only amounted to 170,800.  That is because dogs killed more livestock (21,800)
than any other species except coyotes (116,700).  “Unknown” predators killed 27,300 cattle. Wolves reportedly killed 8,100 cattle, while felids (pumas, bobcats, and lynx) killed 18,900 cattle.

Meanwhile, federal agents associated with the USDA’s Wildlife Services program killed 114,522 mammalian carnivores (including 480 wolves; 82,097 coyotes; and 477 domestic dogs) in 2009. It spent $121 million that year.  

Ironically, the USDA houses both Wildlife Services (a federal, wildlife-killing agency) and NASS (the statistics bureau).

“Wildlife Services has an unending arsenal of poisons, aerial-gunning crafts, and hidden explosive booby traps that have assaulted not only our native wildlife—including a terrible assault on wolves, but also people and their pets. American taxpayers unwittingly foot a portion of this $120 million annual bill – while its sister agency shows that few wildlife actually kill
livestock.”

According to NASS, ranchers and farmers reported that they spent $185 million on non-lethal forms of wildlife control such as guard animals, exclusion fences, and removing calf carcasses. 

“The livestock predation myth is a big lie imposed on the American public. While lethal predator control doesn’t even help the fat cats of agribusiness, it does ensure that the USDA-Wildlife Services stays in business. While the feds assault millions of our native wolves, bears, cougars, and coyotes, the true cattle killers are illness and weather.  The Wildlife Services’ lethal predator control program must end, and the taxpayers, wildlife, and wildlands will reap the benefits,” stated Keefover. 

Contact:  Wendy Keefover | WildEarth Guardians | (303) 573-4898, Ext. 1162 | wendy@wildearthguardians.org

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Please contact your members of Congress today, share this information, and tell them that Mexican wolves are too important to the environment and too critically endangered to lose their endangered species protections on a political whim. Ask them to vote against any and all anti-wolf legislation or riders.

For More Information:

Read the National Agricultural Statistics Service report on Cattle Death Loss, May 12, 2011

View Cattle Death Loss Charts

Revisit numbers of wildlife killed by USDA’s Wildlife Services

See Mammalian Carnivores (i.e. Coyotes) Killed and by Method

Compare with sheep losses