When humans interfere with nature the results are rarely good and such is the case with culling wolf populations. According to a recent study, more livestock are killed after wolves are culled than when populations are left alone. Treehugger reports that Washington State University researchers combed through 25 years worth of data and uncovered that for each wolf killed, the odds of a sheep dying goes up by four percent and the likelihood of cattle getting killed jumps by five to six percent. The reason for this seemingly upside-down conclusion? According to the research, wolf pack stability is key when it comes to controlling the impact of wolves on livestock and culling them disrupts the packs, leading to more breeding.
The research flies in the face of those advocating for the wolf cull. One pro-culling group, Washington Residents Against Wolves, recently launched a series of billboard ads in eastern Washington State. Group spokesperson Jamie Henneman told the New York Times that the recent research “was not clean science” and was done with a pro-wolf bias due to sponsorship by the State Legislature, which she says has supported a big increase in wolf populations. “Frankly, it’s a bit shameful,” Henneman told the New York Times, speaking on behalf of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.
Rob Wielgus is the lead author of the study and an associate professor of wildlife ecology at WSU. He also directs the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at the university. Wielgus stated that he believes anti-wolf forces in the state don’t really care about proper wolf management. “They just want to get rid of wolves,” Wielgus told the New York Times. “Livestock lobbyists are pretty much vehemently opposed to my research. But in terms of hard science, it stood the test.”
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