Over the years, many cattle producers’ herds have fallen prey to the gray wolf. However, with the population of the gray wolves rising, the species has been taken off the Endangered Species Act list, a much awaited announcement for northern Minnesota cattle producers.
“This announcement will definitely impact a lot of the northern cattle producers. Across the whole northern portion of Minnesota, we have seen the gray wolf population grow and continue to grow. As the population has come out of the endangered species limit, more of the cow calf producers are seeing more wolves on their property and seeing wolf attacks on their livestock as well,” said Allison Vanderwal, executive director of Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association.
The species of wolves had been protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than four decades, making it illegal for cattle producers to take action against the predators when they would attack their livestock. The gray wolf attacks were worse for cattle producers in the northern part of the state.
“This ruling gives the ability to farmers and ranchers to protect our livestock. This gives us the ability if we see wolves out attacking or stalking cattle, we can protect them. We have suffered livestock losses for over the past 20 years because of the wolves and that has been a huge not only emotional strain on us, but also financial burden. So, it's a huge win for us,” said Miles Kuschel, a Minnesota cattle rancher.
In addition, cattle producers are not the only ones who suffered due to these attacks.
“This isn't just an issue for the cattle producers. We have heard of a lot of attacks from sheep producers as well,” Vanderwal said.
However, Minnesota producers are still dedicated to ensuring the safety of the gray wolf and hope to see the species population numbers stay above the endangered species line.
“We know that we want to maintain the wolf population, but also wolf management practices to protect our livestock. The cattle producers are the last ones that want to have the gray wolf on the Endangered Species Act,” Vanderwal said.
In the past, some producers put up defense mechanisms on their farm or ranch in an effort to keep the gray wolves from attacking their livestock. However, this additional cost hurt their bottom line.
A management plan is in the works for producers. The plan would help ensure that the gray wolf population and the livestock in the region could coexist with one another. A comment period on the management plan is now open for producers until Nov. 20. For more information, visit https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/wolves/index.html.