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Using dogs to help protect livestock from predators
2010 Article in Sheep & Goat Research Journal - by Cat & Jim Urbigkit
Expanding large carnivore populations pose new challenges for livestock owners to protect their herds from predators while abiding to the laws that protect some of these predator species which are under federal protection. Some sheep ranchers have used specially-bred livestock protection dogs as a non-lethal tool to help protect their herds from wolf predation. Cat and Jim Urbigkit, ranchers in Big Piney, have co-authored a paper on the use of livestock protection dogs (LPDs), which was recently published in Sheep & Goat Research Journal. “The number of LPDs killed by large predators is increasing,” they wrote. “We conducted a literature review to identify LPD breeds that may be more suited for use around large carnivores, such as gray wolves.” Click on this link for the PDF of this article


Sublette County 2006 - Wolves killed in agency control work
(chronic problem wolves involved in livestock depredations)
March 3: 2 wolves, Cora
March 17: 4 wolves, Cora
April 14: 3 wolves, Boulder/Muddy
July: I adult, 2 pups, Upper Green
August 1: 1 old female, Upper Green
August 1: young of year, Upper Green
August 26: 1 adult male, Upper Green
August 30: 3 wolves, Cora/Black Butte
August 30: 1 adult, Upper Green
August 31: 1 adult, Prospect/Farson
September 5: 2 wolves, Upper Green
October 27: 1 adult male, Prospect/Muddy

Wolves killed Wyoming in control actions: Wyoming
2005: 41
2004: 29
2003: 18
2002: 6

Wolves killed in control actions in the Northern Rockies
(Montana, Idaho and Wyoming)
1995: 0
1996: 6
1997: 21
1998: 7
1999: 23
2000: 20
2001: 19
2002: 46
2003: 59
2004: 86
2005: 103
Total: 396

Comparing control
With wolves granted federal protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, livestock producers are limited in what actions they may take when wolves prey on their herds.

But with federal management comes responsibility, and under the federal rules in effect throughout the entire state of Wyoming, when a livestock producer has a problem, it’s FWS’s responsibility to resolve the conflict.

FWS contracts with USDA Wildlife Services to control/kill problem wolves. It’s a program that has worked very effectively in Wyoming. Neighboring states should be so lucky.

For example, in 2005, Idaho had 20 confirmed cattle deaths and 184 confirmed sheep deaths due to wolves (with the state’s minimum wolf population of 512). Only 27 wolves were killed in response to depredations.

Compare that to Wyoming, in the same year. With total confirmed kills of 54 cattle and 27 sheep, federal officials responded by killing 41 wolves (the state’s minimum population was 252).

Although state officials in Montana and Idaho were granted day-to-day responsibilities for wolf management in 2005 and 2006, the states are only allowed to implement portions of their state management plans that are consistent with federal regulations governing the experimental population, and FWS retains all law enforcement authority. There is little difference to the livestock producer. While regulations seem to allow more liberal “take” of wolves, wolves must still be “caught in the act” of attacking before a property owner can react on his own. What is eliminated is the FWS responsibility to take care of the problem.

Federal rule allows limited control of wolves
The following is the portion of the federal rule for the Yellowstone region’s non-essential, experimental population of wolves. This rule applies within the entire state of Wyoming.

(3) No person may take this species in the wild in an experimental population area except as provided in paragraphs (i) (3), (7), and (8) of this section.
(i) Landowners on their private land and livestock producers (i.e., producers of cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service) that are legally using public land   (Federal land and any other public lands designated in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service) may harass any wolf in an opportunistic (the wolf cannot be purposely attracted, tracked, waited for, or searched out, then harassed) and noninjurious (no temporary or permanent physical damage may result) manner at any time, Provided that such harassment is non- lethal or is not physically injurious to the gray wolf and is reported within 7 days to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service.
(ii) Any livestock producers on their private land may take (including to kill or injure) a wolf in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service),
  Provided that such incidents are to be immediately reported within 24 hours to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service, and livestock freshly (less than 24 hours) wounded (torn flesh and bleeding) or killed by wolves must be evident. Service or other Service authorized agencies will confirm if livestock were wounded or killed by wolves. The taking of any wolf without such evidence may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(iii) Any livestock producer or permittee with livestock grazing allotments on public land may receive a written permit, valid for up to 45 days, from the Service or other agencies designated by the Service, to take (including to kill or injure) a wolf that is in the act of killing, wounding, or biting livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules or as defined in State and tribal wolf management plans as approved by the Service), Provided that six or more breeding pairs of wolves have been documented in the experimental population area and the Service or other agencies authorized by the Service has confirmed that the livestock losses were caused by wolves and have completed agency efforts to resolve the problem. Such take must be reported immediately within 24 hours to the Service project leader for wolf reintroduction or agency representative designated by the Service.
  There must be evidence of freshly wounded or killed livestock by wolves. Service or other agencies, authorized by the Service, will investigate and determine if the livestock were wounded or killed by wolves. The taking of any wolf without such evidence may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(iv) Potentially affected States and tribes may capture and translocate wolves to other areas within an experimental population area as described in paragraph (i)(7), Provided the level of wolf predation is negatively impacting localized ungulate populations at an unacceptable level. Such translocations cannot inhibit wolf population recovery. The States and tribes will define such unacceptable impacts, how they would be measured, and identify other possible mitigation in their State or tribal wolf management plans. These plans must be approved by the Service before such movement of wolves may be conducted.
(v) The Service, or agencies authorized by the Service, may promptly remove (place in captivity or kill) any wolf the Service or agency authorized by the Service determines to present a threat to human life or safety.
(vi) Any person may harass or take (kill or injure) a wolf in self defense or in defense of others, Provided that such take is reported immediately (within 24 hours) to the Service reintroduction project leader or Service designated agent. The taking of a wolf without an immediate and direct threat to human life may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.
(vii) The Service or agencies designated by the Service may take wolves that are determined to be "problem" wolves. Problem wolves are defined as: wolves that in a calendar year attack livestock (cattle, sheep, horses, and mules) or as defined by State and tribal wolf management plans approved by the Service, or wolves that twice in a calendar year attack domestic animals (all domestic animals other than livestock). Authorized take includes, but is not limited to non-lethal measures such as: aversive conditioning,nonlethal control, and/or translocating wolves. Such taking may be implemented when five or fewer breeding pairs are established in a experimental population area. If the take results in a wolfmortality, then evidence that the mortality was nondeliberate, nonnegligent, accidental, and unavoidable must be provided. When six or more breeding pairs are established in the experimental population area, lethal control of problem wolves or permanent placement in captivity will be authorized but only after other methods to resolve livestock depredations have been exhausted.
  Depredations occurring on Federal lands or other public lands identified in State or tribal wolf management plans and prior to six breeding pairs becoming established in an experimental population area, may result in capture and release of the female wolf with pups, and her pups at or near the site of capture prior to October 1. All wolves on private land, including female wolves with pups, may be relocated or moved to other areas within the experimental population area if continued depredation occurs. Wolves attacking domestic animals other than livestock, including pets on private land, two or more times in a calendar year will be relocated. All chronic problem wolves (wolves that depredate on domestic animals after being moved once for previous domestic animal depredations) will be removed from the wild (killed or placed in captivity). The following three criteria will be used in determining the status of problem wolves within the nonessential experimental population area:
(A) There must be evidence of wounded livestock or partial remains of a livestock carcass that clearly shows that the injury or death was caused by wolves. Such evidence is essential since wolves may feed on carrion which they found and did not kill. There must be reason to believe that additional livestock losses would occur if no control action is taken.
(B) There must be no evidence of artificial or intentional feeding of wolves. Improperly disposed of livestock carcasses in the area of depredation will be considered attractants. Livestock carrion or carcasses on public land, not being used as bait under an agency authorized control action, must be removed or otherwise disposed of so that it will not attract wolves.
(C) On public lands, animal husbandry practices previously identified in existing approved allotment plans and annual operating plans for allotments must have been followed.
(viii) Any person may take a gray wolf found in an area defined in paragraph (i)(7), Provided that the take is incidental to an otherwise lawful activity, accidental, unavoidable, unintentional, not resulting from negligent conduct lacking reasonable due care, and due care was exercised to avoid taking a gray wolf. Such taking is to be reported within 24 hours to a Service or Service-designated authority. Take that does not conform with such provisions may be referred to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.


Who do I call if I’ve got a problem with wolves?

Mike Jimenez
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

• It’s a good idea to let Jimenez know when you’ve got wolves in your area, so that he becomes familiar with the situation and can react promptly when there is a problem. It is Jimenez who can authorize USDA Wildlife Services personnel to control problem wolves in your area.
• If you need a law enforcement officer on the scene immediately, dial 911 or your local sheriff’’s office.
• A word of caution: Do not call the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for a wolf problem. That state agency has no authority or responsibility for wolves at this time. Wolves are a federally protected and managed species in Wyoming.

Note: Official agency maps never include wolf packs in Sublette County because these packs always become involved in livestock depredations and are then killed in control actions. Any wolves that remain are too elusive to document.


In 2005, 41 wolves (which is 22 percent of the wolf population outside Yellowstone National Park) were lethally removed in control actions in response to livestock depredations.

In areas where conflicts with humans and livestock are most prevalent, wolf packs are typically smaller.


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