The establishment of Gray wolves in California is not an event celebrated by livestock producers.
Gray wolves are dangerous predators. An analysis of livestock lost to predators in Idaho, conducted by U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, showed an individual wolf was 10 times more likely to kill livestock than individual mountain lions, 20 times more likely to kill than a coyote, and 50 times more likely to kill than a black bear.
California’s livestock producers are (As a livestock producer I am) concerned about the impacts wolves will have on their (my) livestock. Livestock producers need the ability to protect their livestock and prevent livestock losses from wolves.
There are very few tools that will protect livestock from wolves and the few tools that are available don’t work in many ranching situations. Putting up with wolves, in addition to all the predators already killing livestock, is a lot to ask of ranchers.
Farm Bureau asked that the Department develop a management plan for wolves. However, the plan we see today is very thin on actual management of wolves. The Department needs to commit to doing more than just watching as wolves expand into California.
The Department needs to provide ranchers with tools to protect their livestock from wolves. The first step is collaring wolves in the Shasta pack and telling the ranchers where they are, so they can try to protect their livestock. The Department also needs to make allowances for the taking of wolves that repeatedly kill livestock and allow livestock producers to protect their livestock from attacking wolves.
The plan should incorporate a commitment to partner with Wildlife Services to help with livestock loss investigations and outreach to producers on tools to prevent livestock loss.
California’s elk and deer herds are nowhere near as large as those in other western states. The Department needs to commit to establishing baseline population figures of our ungulate herds and then manage wolves if they lead to significant population declines of our ungulates.