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The Straight Poop! Wolves and Livestock Predation

The German Herald reports that a scientific study of wolf scat (feces) in Germany proves that wolves are not to blame for sheep losses in that country thus debunking the myth that wolves are “sheep-stealing opportunists.”

Wolves are often blamed for livestock losses here in the United States but livestock casualties are often the result of something else. Livestock health issues such as respiratory problems, digestive problems, birthing complications and disease are most significant causes of death. Weather related issues is a large component in livestock deaths too. A very small percentage of deaths are attributed to predators and both coyotes and domestic dogs have been shown to kill more livestock than wolves! Regardless of the numbers, many are quick to accuse wolves.

Author and wildlife biologist, Carter Niemeyer, was a former Wolf Management Specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. For years he conducted wolf depredation investigations in the three Western wolf recovery states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. In a recent interview for, Niemeyer explains that “people are so quick to jump on this anecdotal information, to accuse wolves or even (other) predators of killing livestock ,and I’d go out and look at (investigations into missing or dead livestock) and most of it was not killed by predators.”

As human populations expand, there is a growing need to figure out ways for people and wildlife to coexist.  The Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Coexistence Partnership is doing great work demonstrating ways that conservationists and ranchers can work together to protect livestock and save wolves by avoiding and minimizing conflicts.

To learn about some ranches that are employing nonlethal techniques to avoid conflict with wolves, visit