Outdoors

Study: Wolves eat into ranch profits by making cattle nervous

In this photo taken on Nov. 26, 2012 near Friant, Calif., herd manager Logan Page pushes cattle grazing on the Finegold Creek Preserve toward another pasture. The preserve is owned by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a Fresno-area land trust that's raising its own beef herd to benefit the environment and to improve its bottom line. (Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press)
In this photo taken on Nov. 26, 2012 near Friant, Calif., herd manager Logan Page pushes cattle grazing on the Finegold Creek Preserve toward another pasture. The preserve is owned by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a Fresno-area land trust that's raising its own beef herd to benefit the environment and to improve its bottom line. (Gosia Wozniacka / Associated Press)

PREDATORS — I guess the old line can be revised based on the latest research:  

Montana — where men are men, women are scarce and livestock is nervous, if there's a wolf pack in the neighborhood.

U. of Montana researchers track cost of wolf predation for ranchers
Wolves can impact a rancher's bottom line beyond sheep and cattle the predators actually kill, according to University of Montana researchers. Using livestock sales records from 18 ranches in Western Montana, as well as data on wolf-tracking and climate between 1995 and 2010, the team found that, in herds where wolves had killed livestock, the weight of the calves that year decreased some 22 pounds per calf.  With herds averaging 264 calves sold that year, the cost to the rancher in underweight calves was $6,679.

On the other hand,  the study also found that annual precipitation and temperature played a much larger role than wolves in affecting cattle weight.

But it all adds up.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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