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How Much Of A Threat Are Those Big Bad Wolves? - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Dec 20, 2012

How Much Of A Threat Are Those Big Bad Wolves?

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list last August, the state promptly put them on the hunting list. In Idaho, hunters have the option to kill wolves year-round. And when hunters in Montana failed to kill enough wolves in 2011, state wildlife commissioners allowed wolf trapping as well. These efforts are motivated, in large part, by the belief among ranchers that wild wolves are a major threat to livestock. But looking at 2010 data, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that wolves accounted for just 0.2 percent of "unintended [i.e., pre-slaughterhouse] cattle losses"--fewer than are lost to theft, domestic dogs, or vultures.

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Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

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PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.

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