To The Editor
Bonner County Daily Bee
The March 31 issue of the Bee carried an article on the so-called “Wolf Kill Bill,” which provides money to ranchers to compensate them for livestock killed by wolves.
Perceptive readers might have noticed that only one million dollars/year were provided for this purpose. In these days of billion dollar bank bailouts, that is chump change, probably not enough to buy a Lake Ponderay McMansion.
Little money was needed because wolves cause almost infinitesimal damage to livestock. You do not have to take my word for it, just read what the Agricultural Statistics Board of the USDA (2004) had to say.
“In any given year, coyotes kill far more sheep than wolves.”
The numbers themselves reveal how wrong perceptions of wolf livestock predation are. According to Idaho Fish & Game’s (IDF&G) Wolf Population Management Plan (2008), there were 8,100 sheep killed by predators in Idaho in 2004. Coyotes killed 7,100 of them. Other predators combined, including mountain lions, bears, wolves, and raptors, accounted for 1,000 sheep.
IDF&G states that wolves killed 170 sheep in 2007. Because the wolf population was smaller four years earlier, I think it is safe to say that the wolf depredations back then were similar or smaller.
In 2006, livestock depredation in our neighbor, Montana, was 12,000, out of which only 200 (1.6% of the total) were killed by wolves.
The next time you hear some rancher carrying on about how wolves have devastated Idaho’s livestock, remember these numbers and the paltry amount put aside in the “Wolf Kill Bill” for compensation.
Ken Fischman, Ph.D.
Sandpoint, ID 83864