One of the toughest thing about being a wolf in the mid-west is all the bad press you get. The way the news articles are typically written make it seem as if blood thirsty wolves are constantly mauling and killing at a frenzied pace and if you don't stop them now in a matter of weeks they will start on your family after they have finished with all the available animals in the region. Defenders and other pro-wolf advocates have worked hard to dispel this myth, since the wolves re-introduction, as the fear mongering it is with science and real data. Below are two reports/news articles that use actual numbers and science to tell the real story of wolf/animal relationships in the mid-west.
1. The first story talks about the numbers of sheep and cattle killed in one recent storm in Montana. As you can see from the data below, this far exceeds the number of cattle and sheep killed by wolves in an an entire year. This is interesting because the public hears so much about wolves killing livestock, when in reality wolf-livestock depredation pales in comparison to the number of livestock killed by weather.
This particular storm just killed 1,759 calves in Montana (compared with 77 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008) and 501 sheep (compared with 111 confirmed wolf kills in the state for all of 2008 in the state). Please note that wolf depredation rates for the state of Montana can be found on the first two pages of this year's Montana Annual Wolf Report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
The story, by the Billings Gazette, is titled,"Ranchers count up losses to weather."
2. The second story come from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary right now. There's been a lot of chatter about wolf packs decimating elk herds in the region, yet RMEF's own data show that elk herds have, on average, increased 44% in the last 25 years. In the Rocky Mountain region, for example:
Montana: 1984 - 90,595; 2009: 150,000. 25-year change: +66%
Idaho: 1984 - 110,000 2009: 115,000. 25-year change: +5%
Wyoming: 1984 - 70,352 2009: 95,000. 25-year change: +35%
State-by-state breakdown of elk population numbers from 1984 to 2009