Wolf-Livestock Conflict Truths

The Truth About Wolf-Livestock Conflicts

Separating Myth from Reality by Putting Conflicts in Context


In 2015, the US Department of Agriculture division APHIS (Animal and Plant Health 40477629_1850133835055407_3075804536556748800_nInspection Service) published a research report entitled, “Death Loss in US Cattle and Calves due to Predator and Nonpredator Causes, 2015). The following data was compiled from that report.

Cattle and Calf Population of Minnesota

In 2015, there were 2,710,000 heads of cattle in Minnesota. 45,000 heads of cattle died, 99% of which were from nonpredator causes. Of the 1% that were predator caused, only 0.18% (84) were from wolves—or 0.003% of MN’s total cattle population.

Mortalities Across all MN Operations

  • Only 36.8 % of operations dealt with cattle deaths in 2015. 99% of those operations faced losses due to nonpredator issues, whereas only 1% were predator related.
  • Out of the total  number of adult cattle head in MN, 2.3% died due to nonpredator causes and 0% to predator causes. Out of the total calf crop in MN, 10.5% died due to nonpredator causes and 0.6% due to predator causes.

Leading Causes of Death in MN

As the data shows, predator related deaths rank nowhere near leading causes of death in MN livestock:

  • The top 3 leading causes of cattle death are respiratory illness, lameness or injury, and Mastitis; in calves, the top 3 leading causes of calf death are respiratory illness, digestive illness, and calving

Operations with predator caused losses

In MN during 2015, only 4.5 % of cattle operations dealt with predator related losses.
Only 12.6% of MN operations had any form of nonlethal method strategies and tools implemented.

2017 Update

In 2017, USDA-Wildlife Service killed 199 wolves (6.97% of estimated wolves) across 23 MN counties in response to 89 verified complaints at 76 sites with 76 cattle (cow and calf) losses. (0.002804% of MN’s cattle population)

Source: USDA. 2015. “Cattle and Calves Death Loss in the United States Due to Predator and Nonpredator Causes, 2015” USDA–APHIS–VS–CEAH. Fort Collins, CO #745.1217

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