Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Handling
Overview of Damage Prevention and Control Methods
- Net wire fences
- Electric fences
- Proper disposal of dead livestock carcasses
- Do not allow calving or lambing on remote, wooded pastures
- Pen small flocks of sheep at night or bring near buildings
- Livestock guarding dogs
- Flashing lights and siren devices.
- None are registered
- No. 4, 14, 114, or 4 1/2 Newhouse leghold traps, No. 4 or 7 McBride traps, Braun wolf trap.
- Thompson 4xx or 5xx snares, Gregerson No. 14 wolf snare.
- Trapping seasons for legal fur harvest
- Use predator calls or voice howling to lure wolves into rifle range
- Aerial hunting from a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft
- Hunting seasons for legal fur harvest
- Use a dart gun to chemically immobilize wolves from a helicopter
- Long-range land-use planning should take into account potential conflicts between wolves and livestock
Damage Prevention and Control Methods
Livestock carcasses left in or near pastures may attract wolves and other predators to the area and increase the chances of depredation. Remove and properly dispose of all dead livestock by rendering, burying, or burning.
Calves and lambs are particularly vulnerable to predators, and cows are vulnerable while giving birth. Confine cows and ewes to barnyard areas during calving and lambing season if possible or maintain them near farm buildings. Hold young livestock near farm buildings for 2 weeks or longer, before moving them with the herd to pastures or rangeland. As newborns mature, they are better able to stay with their mothers and the herd or flock, and are less likely to be killed by wolves.
Nighttime losses of sheep to wolves can be reduced by herding the sheep close to farm buildings at night or putting them in pens where possible.
If wolf depredation is suspected, livestock producers should observe their livestock as often as possible. Frequent observation may be difficult in large wooded pastures or on large tracts of open rangeland. The more often livestock are checked, however, the more likely that predation will be discovered. Frequent checks will also help the operator determine if any natural mortality is occurring in the herd or flock, and if any livestock thought to be pregnant are barren and not producing. The presence of humans near herds and flocks also tends to decrease damage problems.
Fences may help prevent livestock losses to wolves. Exclude wolves with well-maintained woven-wire fences that are 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) high. Install electrically charged wires along the bottom and top of woven-wire fences to increase their effectiveness. Several anti-predator fencing designs are available (Thompson 1979, Dorrance and Bourne 1980, Linhart et al. 1984).
Livestock guarding dogs have been used for centuries in Europe and Asia to protect sheep and other types of livestock. The dogs are bonded socially to a particular type of livestock. They stay with the livestock without harming them and either passively repel predators by their presence or chase predators away. Livestock guarding dogs are currently being used by producers in the western US to protect sheep and other livestock from coyotes and bears. They have been used in Minnesota to protect sheep from coyotes and cattle from wolves.
The most common breeds of dogs used in the United States are the Anatolian shepherd, Great Pyrennees, Komondor, Akbash dogs, Kuvasz, Maremma, and Shar Plainintez. Livestock guarding dogs should be viewed as a supplement to other forms of predator control. They usually do not provide an immediate solution to a predator problem because time must be spent raising puppies or bonding the dogs to the livestock they protect. Green et al. (1984) and Green and Woodruff (1990) discuss proper methods for selecting and training livestock guarding dogs and reasonable expectations for effectiveness of guarding dogs against predators. Consult with USDA-APHIS-ADC personnel for additional information.
Strobe light/siren devices (Electronic Guard [USDA-APHIS-ADC]) may be used to reduce livestock depredation up to 4 months. Such devices are prob ably most effective in small, open pastures, around penned livestock, or in situations where other lethal methods may not be acceptable. They can also provide short-term protection from wolves while other control methods are initiated.
None are registered for wolves in the US.
None are registered for wolves in the US.
Where legal, local wolf populations can be reduced by shooting. Call wolves into rifle range using a predator call or by voice howling. Aerial hunting by helicopter or fixed wing aircraft is one of the most efficient canid control techniques available where it is legal and acceptable to the general public. Aerial hunting can be economically feasible when losses are high and the wolves responsible for depredation can be taken quickly. When a pack of wolves is causing damage, it may be worthwhile to trap one or two members of the pack, outfit them with collars containing radio transmitters and release them. Wolves are highly social and by periodically locating the radio-tagged wolves with a radio receiver, other members of the pack may be found and shot. The wolves wearing radio collars can then be located and shot. This technique has been used effectively by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Control of damage caused by wolves is best accomplished through selective trapping of depredating wolves. Another method is to classify wolves as furbearers and/or game animals and encourage sport harvest to hold wolf populations at acceptable levels. The Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division has used this approach successfully in Canada, where gray wolves are classified as furbearers. A similar approach was proposed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in 1980 and 1982 to help control the expanding wolf population in Minnesota, but it was ruled illegal because of the wolf’s “threatened” status in Minnesota.
Steel leghold traps, Nos. 4, 14, 114, and 4 1/2 Newhouse or Nos. 4 and 7 McBride are recommended for capturing wolves. Nos. 4 and 14 Newhouse traps and the No. 4 McBride trap are routinely used for research and depredation-control trapping of wolves in Minnesota. Some wolf trappers feel that Nos. 4 and 14 Newhouse traps are too small for wolves. Where larger subspecies of the gray wolf exist, use the No. 4 1/2 Newhouse, No. 7 McBride, or the Braun wolf trap.
Set traps at natural scent posts where wolves urinate and/or defecate along their travel routes. Make artificial scent posts by placing a small quantity of wolf urine, lure, or bait on weeds, clumps of grass, low bushes, log ends, or bones located along wolf travel routes. Place traps near the carcasses of animals killed or scavenged by wolves, at trail junctions, or at water holes on open range. Set snares (Thompson 4xx or 5xx, Gregerson No. 14) at holes in or under fences where wolves enter livestock confinement areas, or where wolves create trails in heavy cover.
Use traps and snares that are clean and free of foreign odor. Remove grease and oil from new traps and snares, set them outside until slightly rusted, and then boil them in a solution of water and logwood trap dye. Wear gloves when handling traps and snares to minimize human odor. While constructing the set, squat or kneel on a clean canvas “setting cloth” to minimize human odor and disturbance at the site. Traps may be either staked or attached to a draghook. A trap that is staked should have about 4 feet (1.2 m) of chain attached to it. A trap with a draghook should have 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) of chain attached.
In situations where lethal control of depredating wolves may not be authorized (USFWS 1987), aerial hunting by helicopter can be used to dart and chemically immobilize depredating wolves so that they can be relocated from problem areas. Some recent wolf control actions in Montana have used this technique.
Long-range land-use planning should solve most conflicts between livestock producers and wolves. When wolves are present in the vicinity of livestock, predation problems are likely to develop. Therefore, care should be taken in selecting areas for reestablishing wolf populations to assure that livestock production will not be threatened by wolves.