Report: Predators Killing More Montana Livestock

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The number of livestock killed by coyotes, grizzly bears, black bears and mountain lions in Montana has increased dramatically in recent years, according to a report by the state bureau of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

The report released Saturday shows sharp increases in the number of calves, lambs and adult sheep killed by those predators between 2006 and 2010.

The bureau’s director said the increases are due to the agency focusing on wolves, and that the presence of federally protected wolves limits the ways officials can deal with other large predators.

“It’s not just the time spent dealing with wolves, but the restrictions because of having to deal with wolves,” John Stueber told the Independent Record. “And now grizzly bear populations are large enough that they’re moving back onto the plains, which puts them into the middle of livestock.”

According to the report, coyotes killed 1,348 calves in 2010, up from 111 calves in 2006. Coyotes killed 698 lambs and 135 adult sheep in 2006, and 2,488 lambs and 422 adult sheep this year.

The numbers are from fiscal years running from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.

Mountain lions killed nine lambs and 14 adult sheep in 2006, and 91 lambs and 36 adult sheep this year.

The report said grizzly bears killed five calves in 2006 and 32 in 2010. In 2006, grizzlies killed no lambs and two adult sheep, but took down 12 lambs and 29 adult sheep in 2010.

Wolves killed 51 calves in 2006 and 454 in 2010. Wolves killed 48 lambs and 728 adult sheep this year, up from six lambs and 22 adult sheep in 2006, according to the report.

Sen. Greg Hinkle, R-Thompson Falls, asked for the numbers from Stueber’s office after a discussion with Kim Baker, president of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association.

“Our wildlife control people spend so much time with wolves that they’re being taken away from the other predators, and our ranching industry is getting hammered,” Hinkle said.

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