Study: Killing Wolves May Actually Increase Attacks on Livestock

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A study out of Washington State University caught more than a few people by surprise Wednesday, when it revealed that a 25-year analysis of records across several states concluded that killing wolves to reduce their impact on livestock mostly doesn't work. In fact, the analysis says killing the wolves may make matters worse as wolf packs adapt and increase their reproduction rates and kill even more livestock.  

WSU professors Rob Wielgus and Kaylie Peebles studied wolf mortality and livestock depredations in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from 1987 to 2012. 

Wielgus’s study is partly funded by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The work is the first phase of an $80,000, two-year research project paid for by WSU and the agency. The study’s second phase will focus on preventing wolf attacks on livestock.

Meanwhile, a chief wildlife scientist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told The New York Times that he reviewed the paper, which he said offered "a fascinating glimpse into large-scale wolf management," but given the strong emotions surrounding anything wolf-related, he said the analysis "has a potential to stir the pot."