Myth vs Fact

MYTH: Wolves are responsible for the decline in the moose and deer populations.
FACT: Wolves and moose have coexisted for thousands of years. As a predator species, they are controlled by their food source and are dependent on a stable prey population to survive. Nature is cyclic. As prey species go up, so do predator species, but as prey species start to decline due to competition with each other, other species, disease, or other factors, the predator species soon declines too.

Moose are in decline all over, in places where there are no wolves (New Hampshire) and moose are on the rise or holding steady in places where there are wolves. There is no evidence that wolves are the reason for a declining moose population. Studies and experts point to climate change, parasites, and deer spread disease as causes for the decline in moose. As far as deer are concerned, deer were at their highest numbers when wolves were at their highest numbers in the early 2000’s. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials state that deer populations have been reduced through liberal hunting policies and harsh winters.

Here is a story from November of last year in the Star Tribune that explains more.

MYTH: Recreational wolf hunting and trapping decreases wolf-livestock conflicts.
FACT: Recreational wolf hunting and trapping causes unpredictable effects on wolf-livestock conflicts, including increases in conflicts. The killing of wolves, either in a recreational hunt or for livestock conflict, can cause unstable packs or lead to more packs of younger wolves. A scientific study by Washington State University published in December of 2014 found that killing wolves resulted in an increase in predations on livestock by wolves in the following year. Nonlethal methods such as the use of guard animals and carcass removal, can effectively reduce wolf-livestock conflicts.

MYTH: Wolf-livestock conflicts are very high in Minnesota.
FACT: Wolf-livestock conflicts are actually low in Minnesota. In 2017, there were 89 verified complaints of wolves at 76 sites in the state. Out of this, 76 calves/cattle were verified to be killed by wolves on farms in Minnesota. There were 199 wolves killed in response. Howling For Wolves In a Crookston Times report in 2017, Gary Nohrenberg, State Director of the USDA said “While Minnesota’s wolf population is up, there hasn’t been a surge in complaints about attacks. The 10-year average is about 175 complaints a year. There were 157 last year, he said, and this year’s total will be a little below the average.” Additional data can be found here tabulated from USDA reports by the International Wolf Center. http://www.wolf.org/…/united…/minnesota/depredation2/

MYTH: With their federal Endangered Species Act protections, wolves can’t be killed.
FACT: As of December 2014, Minnesota wolves are considered a “threatened” species, and are killed by government agents if livestock is alleged to be killed by a wolf. Lethal methods have been available for use in wolf-livestock conflicts since 1978.

MYTH: Snares and traps are foolproof ways to hunt wolves and other animals.
FACT: Leg-hold traps are metal jawed devices that painfully snap shut around the wolf’s lower leg. They commonly trap unintended animals, including moose, bald eagles, and domestic dogs. Snares are a wire loop that act like a noose to choke or immobilize animals. Wolves’ thick neck muscles often prevent their suffocation; instead they suffer painful brain bleeds. 66 percent of Minnesota voters oppose the use of traps and snares to hunt wolves.

MYTH: Minnesotans want a wolf hunt.
FACT: A vast majority of Minnesotans value wolves and do not want them hunted. 79 percent of DNR survey respondents said “no” to wolf hunting. They also bring significant economic value to the state of Minnesota. A 1996 study showed the economic boost from wolves was $33 million per year just for Ely, Minnesota. Further, a 2011 United State Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) report highlights Minnesotans spent $621 million on wildlife viewing. The wolf offers Minnesota an opportunity to distinguish our state as a home to a truly wild wilderness. Furthermore, the USFWS reports that less than 5% of Americans hunt and that number is declining every year. This means that conservation and state wildlife programs need to find a new funding model.

MYTH: Wolves are dangerous to people.
FACT: Wolves naturally fear humans and tend to shy away from human contact. There have been only two wolf related human deaths in North America in the past 100 years. To put this into perspective, domestic dogs kill between 20 and 30 people in the United States every year, and injure far more, even when looked at in a manner of proportion.

MYTH: Wolves are threats to pets.
FACT: Wolves are territorial and naturally compete with dogs. However, wolves naturally fear humans and generally will not approach pets in the presence of humans.

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