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In the Press: Are Wolves the Real Killers? Feds Count Livestock Losses Differently in the Northern Rockies

Huffington Post Column July 12, 2011 (posted 7-19-11)

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By Wendy Keefover-Ring, WildEarth Guardians

In her recent Huffington Post column, summarized here, Wendy passionately confronts glaring discrepancies between livestock losses reported by the Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). FWS uses professional, verified, ground-tested reports from agents, while as Wendy points out, NASS regularly relies on unsubstantiated, anecdotal information often provided by the livestock industry itself.

For example, in Idaho:
• Cattle: The FWS verified 75 dead cattle, while NASS reported 2,561 mortalities, representing a 3,415-percent difference (USDA 2011).
• Sheep: The FWS verified 148 sheep losses, compared to the 900 losses reported by NASS, a 508-percent difference (USDA 2011a).

Montana:
• Cattle: The FWS verified 87 losses, while NAAA reported 1,293 losses, representing a 1,486-percent difference (USDA 2011).
• Sheep: The FWS verified 64 losses, while NASS reported 600 losses, representing a 938-percent difference (USDA 2011b).

Wyoming:
• Cattle: The FWS verified 26 losses, while NASS reported 585 losses, a 2,250-percent difference (USDA 2011).
• Sheep: The FWS verified 33 losses, while NASS reported 300 losses, representing 909-percent difference.

Accurate information on the effects of predation on wildlife populations, livestock, and ecological conditions is critical for wolf recovery to proceed. This alarming discrepancy between two federal agencies needs immediate resolution.

To check out Wendy’s full editorial, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-keefoverring.

References:

USDA. 2011. Cattle Death Loss. Released May 12, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS). http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/DocServer/CattleDeathLoss2011.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2011

USDA. 2011a. Idaho Crop and Livestock Producer News. All Sheep and Lambs: Death Loss By Cause, Idaho, 2008-2010. Released February 18, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS).  http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/DocServer/IDSheep2_11.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2011.

USDA. 2011b. Montana Sheep and Lamb Loss. Released February 18, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS).   http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/DocServer/MTSheep2_11.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2011.

USDA. 2011c. Sheep and Lamb Loss. Losses of Sheep by Cause: Wyoming 2009-2010. Released February 18, 2011, by the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS).    http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/DocServer/WYSheep2_11.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2011.

USFWS. 2011. Northern Rocky Mountain Confirmed Wolf Depredations. 1987-2010, By State. http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/annualrpt10/tables/FINAL_2010_DEP_by_STATE_Table_5b_03-02-11_csime.pdf. Accessed July 15, 2011.

WildEarth Guardians. 2011. Livestock Losses. http://www.wildearthguardians.org/site/PageServer?pagename=priorities_wildlife_war_wildlife_livestock_losses. Accessed July 15, 2011.

Photo of Wendy Keefover-Ring courtesy of WildEarth Guardians