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Midwest farmers say wolves are a growing problem, urge Washington to act

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — Midwest farmers are blaming gray wolves for attacks on their cattle.

They are howling at D-C to act, and lift tight regulations, so they can fight back.

Minnesota farmer, Joe Wilebski, said of Congress, “It’s so disheartening. They don’t care about us.”

He’s expressing the frustration being felt in Kittson County, Minnesota, where authorities blame wolves for eating livestock, and costing farmers money.

Wilebski said, “I’ve lived with wildlife all my life. There’s a place for everything, but there’s got to be checks and balances.”

Kittson County Sheriff Steve Porter said there are more than 100 missing calves in the county, and believes wolves are to blame.

Locals, in Kittson County and across the western great lakes region, want lawmakers in D-C to lift federal protections, allowing them to shoot the predators.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) wrote a bipartisan bill to do just that.

Johnson said, “There’s a point where science will tell you this is no longer an endangered species, the gray wolf is certainly at that point right now.”

Federal regulators took the gray wolf off the endangered species list in 2011, federal courts blocked that move.

Ecological experts say that doesn’t mean Congress should step in.

Bob Dreher, Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife, said, “Congressmen are among the least qualified people you could imagine to make scientific decisions.”

Dreher said the gray wolf no longer faces extinction in the Great Lakes region, but says there’s more to the equation, and that in order to lift protections, there needs to be a management plan.

Dreher said, “To ensure that they will remain out of danger, that they will remain off the endangered species list.”

While many farmers want to license to kill problem wolves, Dreher says that strategy could backfire, and non-lethal techniques do a better job of saving livestock.

Meanwhile, congress still hasn’t considered Johnson’s bill, almost a full year after introduction.

Dreher said his organization works with farmers to install non-lethal wolf defense tactics, more information can be found on the organization’s website.