The Montana Farm Bureau is applauding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ announcement that there will soon being a rule making to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list. There are more than 5,000 gray wolves in the United States and more than 10 times as many in Canada. The U.S. population of gray wolves far surpasses the recovery targets called for by the Endangered Species Act. 

“This is good news for farmers and ranchers across the country,” noted Montana Farm Bureau President Hans McPherson. “Wolves have been delisted in Montana since 2011 (Idaho and Wyoming have also delisted the gray wolf) and are being managed responsibly and successfully by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Even though we still have conflicts, we are much better off than when they were on the list. The rest of the country should have the chance to manage them similarly.” 

According to the USDA/APHIS Wildlife Services, from 2012-2017, 331 calves/cattle were confirmed wolf kills with another 96 probable wolf kills; sheep/lambs were 205 confirmed kills. (In 2009, wolves killed 120 sheep in Dillon in one incident.) These figures show only what was investigated by APHIS. In 2018, the Montana Livestock Loss Board shows 48 confirmed cattle kills by wolves with 13 probable kills. It’s estimated that about four percent of those with confirmed losses don’t make a claim. 

“People need to realize that most cattle in Montana don’t run on 50-acre pastures; they are out on thousands of acres and by the time you realize your loss by a predator, it’s not reportable,” said McPherson. “In addition, having abundant predators cause cattle as well as other wildlife to become anxious and always on the move, which results in poor body condition and poor breed up.” 

Populations have reached critically high numbers in many states - so high, in fact, that wolves are not just preying on livestock, but pushing elk and deer onto U.S. farms and ranches, which leads to even more destruction. 

According to American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, the agency’s intent to delist the gray wolf is a triumph of common sense we all should herald as a conservation success story. 

“The administration’s decision to de-list the gray wolf is the culmination of a decades’ long battle that has pitted science-based decision making against litigious, environmental activism,” noted Duvall. “The Bush and Obama administrations supported de-listing the gray wolf. Populations have far surpassed the recovery thresholds set forth by recovery plans, but too many environmentalists fail to recognize this success.” 

“A third administration is now moving to delist the gray wolf. The time has come to resolve this issue once and for all and to base that decision on the science and the law,” he concluded.