NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Wolves Making a Comeback

March 31, 2004

While the Endangered Species Act of 1973 has offered some protection for wolves, forest regeneration and changes in human attitudes over the past 25 years have also contributed to their return:

  • Minnesota now has more than 3,000 wolves -- with many packs crossing state lines into Michigan and Wisconsin.
  • Many of Wisconsin's 350 wolves are breeding on private land and making use of federal and states lands that are heavily frequented by recreationalists
  • The federal government has downgraded Wisconsin's wolves from "endangered" to "threatened."

The resurgence of wolves, however, is creating some problems for livestock farmers and hunters, because wolves kill cows, sheep, hunting dogs and the like:

  • Over 25 years, there have been 975 incidents of wolf predation (human and animal conflicts with wolves) in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as wolves have colonized and expanded into areas where people are not used to dealing with them.
  • In Wisconsin, a state fund is set up to compensate ranchers for calves that are killed by wolves, which is based on fair market value ($602 per head in 2002); owners of purebred hunting hounds are paid up to $2,500 per hound in compensation, although some feel the payment is not enough.

Adrien Treves, a biologist with the Conservation Society of New York, has studied the pattern and location of predation and has discovered that areas with large deer populations and a mix of pasture and wild forests drew wolves near. The hope is that his findings will enable wildlife management officials to better concentrate resources.

Source: James Gorman, "Wolves Come Back On Their Terms," New York Times, March 16, 2004 and Adrian Treves et al., "Predicting Human-Carnivore Conflict: a Spatial Model Derived from 25 Years of Data on Wolf Predation on Livestock," Conservation Biology, Vol. 18, Issue 1, February 2004.


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