The Cost of Coexisting with Wolves

October 29, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF


By Jamie Keyes, Utah State University Extension 

Ranchers are attempting to live with wolves in the Western United States. An example of this effort is the Mexican Wolf/Livestock Coexistence Council created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011. This council uses funding as an incentive for ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico to become accustomed to the wolves living in the area. Many people have shared their opinion concerning the difficult wolf situation, below are a few of their stories.  

A ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho went the extra mile trying to prevent wolf attacks. The couple surrounded their herd of horses with eight Akbash guard dogs and a pet coyote for quick detection of wolves. Even after implementing these tedious precautions, in February 2014 their prized colt was killed by a single wolf attack. The slain colt was the last stud colt of a community famous stallion. To read the full story visit The Real Cost of Wolves in Idaho

The price of an animal cannot be determined in a numeric or money value. This concept makes it very difficult for the government to compensate ranchers for loss of herd bloodlines or years of genetics due to wolf attacks.

“We have selectively bred for generations, and every cow is unique. You can’t just go to market and ‘buy a new one’ if a cow dies. Besides genetics, if you have cows, you know they’re not just ‘a unit.’ My cows know me, they know their range, and they know each other. Putting a new cow out there and asking her to survive would be like dropping me off on a street corner in New York City," said Arizona rancher Wink Crigler in the Western Livestock Journal article What “coexisting” with wolves means from a rancher’s perspective. 

The wolf population continues to fluctuate, but the relationship between wolves and the general public has stayed the same. The National Public Radio created a multi-media piece that portrays the potential future of the wolf population and how it can affect ranchers and the human population. Find it here Wolves At The Door.

Photo by tengen / CC BY

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.