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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Almost every peer reviewed article on Wolf/Cattle interaction surmises that when Wolves are present in a system where domestic cattle graze, Cattle do not birth calves as prolifically as when wolves are not present.......And the Calves that are born to cows that have been subject to predation weigh sigificantly less than normal----Now we hear from U. of Montana biologist Mark Hebblewhite and colleagues who over the 15 year span 1995-2010 across 18 Montana Ranches have found no evidence that wolf packs with home ranges that overlap ranches have any detrimental effects on calf weights as long as these packs do not actually prey on cattle............ Other non-wolf factors, notably climate and individual ranch-specific husbandry practices, explained the majority of the variation in the weight of calves...............Unfortunately, I hear a mixed bag message in this research................ To my mind, unless we can further improve husbandry practices enough that wolf predation on cattle shrinks even further then it's currently is (last year, of the thousands of cattle in the Montana, wolves killed only 58 cattle), Ranchers are going to continue to be the enemy of the wolf.........My old boss used to tell me that "perception is reality"---The ranchers perception is that wolves are the tipping point factor(however small) that sets them back economically to an unacceptable degree(despite all evidence pointing to weather and disease as the economically stifling economic factors in cattle raising)

From: George Wuerthner <>
Date: April 19, 2014, 10:12:45 AM PDT

This is significant because the mere presence of wolves does not apparently affect calf weight gains. However, if there is a depredation it can--but since so few depredations occur (only 58 cattle were killed in Montana last year) this is a small problem). 

Crying Wolf? A Spatial Analysis of Wolf Location and Depredations on Calf Weight

  1. Joseph P. Ramler,
  2. Mark Hebblewhite,
  3. Derek Kellenberg and
  4. Carolyn Sime
+ Author Affiliations
  1. Joseph P. Ramler is a graduate student in the Economics Department, University of Montana. Mark Hebblewhite is an associate professor in the Wildlife Biology Program, Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences, University of Montana. Derek Kellenberg is an associate professor in the Economics Department, University of Montana. Carolyn Sime is a law student in the School of Law, University of Montana.
  1. Correspondence may sent to:
  1. The authors would like to thank The Blackfoot Challenge, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NASA grant #NNX11AO47G, and the Montana Stockgrowers Association for their financial support and data in conducting this project. The authors also thank Greg Neudecker, Shawn Cleveland, John Steuber, Wayne Slaught, David Mannix, Jay Bodner, Kim Baker, Jed Evjene, Ron Carlstrom, Jamie Lannen, Andrea Sarchet, J.P. Tanner, Jodi Pauley, Ed Bangs, Doug Dalenberg, Mike Mitchell, the USDA Wildlife Services, participants at the 2012 Canadian Resource and Environmental Economics Workshop, 2 anonymous referees, the editor, and all of the ranch participants in the study, for their help, advice, data, expertise, and comments on this project.


Combining a novel panel dataset of 18 Montana ranches with spatial data on known wolf pack locations and satellite-generated climatological data from 1995-2010, we estimate the spatial impact of changing wolf pack locations and confirmed wolf depredations on the weight of beef calves. We find no evidence that wolf packs with home ranges that overlap ranches have any detrimental effects on calf weights. Other non-wolf factors, notably climate and individual ranch-specific husbandry practices, explained the majority of the variation in the weight of calves.

However, ranches that experienced a confirmed cattle depredation by wolves had a negative and statistically significant impact of approximately 22 pounds on the average calf weight across their herd, possibly due to inefficient foraging behavior or stress to mother cows.

For ranches experiencing confirmed depredation, the costs of these indirect weight losses are shown to potentially be greater than the costs of direct depredation losses that have, in the past, been the only form of compensation for ranchers who have suffered wolf depredations. These results demonstrate a potentially important and understudied aspect of economic conflict arising from the protection and funding of endangered species recovery programs.


sentientvoice said...

Rick, Thank you for this interesting information. I agree that the "perception" of wolves by ranchers (and hunters)is not often based on the facts. It seems that a minority of ranchers and hunters have control of wolf management in the Rocky Mountain states and it is time for the federal government to take back control and re-list wolves on the federal endangered species list. Julie (

Rick Meril said...

Julie..........thanks for checking in,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and you and I are in lockstep regarding the minority of folks who dictate carnivore management at the state level