Depredation by wolves on livestock or pets has been a rare event since the return of wolves to Wisconsin in the mid 1970's. These depredations will continue to be infrequent events, but will increase somewhat as the wolf population expands.
Wolf depredations have generally been handled by U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Wisconsin DNR (WDNR), or USDA-Wildlife Service.. Complaints were generally investigated by USFWS and WDNR in the 1970's and 1980's, and since 1990 have mostly been investigated by USDA-WS. The WDNR has provided payments for losses caused by state endangered and threatened species since 1984, using moneys from the Endangered Resources Check-Off Funds. Live trapping of depredating wolves has been done by WDNR and USDA-WS. Under federal endangered status, euthanizing of depredating wolves was not allowed in Wisconsin, and live-captured wolves were relocated from depredating sites.
Table A1 lists all known cases of wolf depredation on pets and livestock in Wisconsin from 1976 through 1998. Most of these cases represent confirmed depredations, but a few also represent probable depredation where strong circumstantial evidence existed of wolf depredation. Fifty-four cases of wolf depredation occurred in Wisconsin during the 23 year period including 45 calves, 11 sheep, 140 turkeys, and 27 dogs killed and 9 dogs injured. (See Table A1) Payments on wolf depredations totaled $55,574.91 including $13,269.75 payments on livestock and $42,305.16 payments on dogs. Depredation on dogs represented 76% of reimbursement payments provided by the WDNR.
Total Wolf Depredation on Pets and Livestock
Time Period: 1976-1998
|Animals Lost||Number of Farms/Homesites||
* Payments not completed
Wolf Depredation on Livestock and Pets in Wisconsin
Time Period: 1976-1998
Year No. Cases Animals Lost
Other Action 1976 1 1 Calf $0.00 wolf illegally shot 1985 1 2 Sheep $200.00 1986 1 1 Dog $2,500.00 1989 2 1 Dog $2,500.00 1 Calf $400.00 1990 1 2 Dogs injured $187.55 1991 2 1 Sheep $44.00 115 Turkeys $851.00 1 wolf & translocated 1992 3 8 Sheep $340.00 1 Calf 2 Dogs $1,3000.00 1993 3 25 Turkeys $225.00 1 trapping attempt 1 Calf injured $9.75 2 Chickens $0.00 1994 2 2 Dogs $5,000.00 1995 4 11 Calves $2,650.00 1 trapping attempt 1996 6 1 Calf $290.00 1 trapping attempt 5 Dogs $9,500.00 2 Dogs injured $175.45 1997 6 10 Calf $3,600.00 * 2 wolves trapped, 1 translocated
>4 mi. and 1 local relocation
21 missing 5 Dogs killed $8,250.00 1 Dog injured $318.15 1998 22 20 Calves killed $4,660.00 * 3 wolves trapped, 2 translocated
>40 mi. and 1 local relocation
21 missing 11 Dogs killed $11,950.00 * 4 Dogs injured $624.01 4+ deer pending * 1 wolf trapped, died Cases Stock Affected Payments Actions Taken Totals: 54 197 livestock
$13,269.75 7 wolves trapped
4 wolves translocated >40 mi.
2 wolves relocated <10 mi.
1 wolf trapped and died
1 wolf illegally killed
35 dogs killed of injured $42,305.16 4+ deer from deer farms
During the 23 year period at least 130 wolf complaints were investigated by agency personnel, but only 54 were confirmed as probable wolf depredation. Many depredations were caused by coyotes or other animals. Depredations occurred on livestock and poultry on 19 different farms in northern Wisconsin. Wolf depredation on livestock occurred on 7 farms in Douglas County, two in Burnett, one in Oneida, three in Price, two in Taylor, one in Washburn, one in Bayfield and one in Rusk counties. The 14 counties of northern Wisconsin that included wolf pack territories in the period 1990-1998, contained 4,900 farms with 167,200 cattle and 4,400 sheep. Therefore wolf depredation has affected only 0.4% of farms in the area. Live trapping was used on 7 occasions and 6 wolves were translocated from farms (4 long distance moves of 40+ miles and 2 local relocation of less than 10 miles).
Thirty-six cases of depredation on dogs were documented in Wisconsin including death of 27 dogs and injury on 9 dogs. Of these 36 dogs, 28 were attacked while being used for hunting or training on predators, 4 for hunting hares, 2 were non-hunting dogs roaming in wildland areas and 2 were attacked near homesteads. Payments for dogs were 76% of payments.
Seventeen dog depredations occurred while hunting or training on bear. Most wolf attacks occurred on free-roaming dogs. Many wolf attacks occurred when dogs approached den, rendezvous sites, or kills (prey) being defended by wolves.
Some expansion of wolf depredation will likely occur in the future. Once wolves are reclassified to a federally threatened species, euthanization of depredating wolves will be permitted in Wisconsin. Generally only wolves that are habitual depredators on livestock would be euthanized. New funds will need to be located to provided reimbursement payments for wolf depredation on livestock and pets once wolves are delisted in Wisconsin.
Hunter education may be necessary to reduce wolf depredation on dogs. Hunters need to become familiarized with wolf sign, and avoid sending hounds into areas where wolf activity is concentrated. Careful documentation needs to be made of wolf depredations on dogs so that circumstances under which such depredations occur can be better understood and recommendations for reducing losses can be developed.