In the news this week, the USFWS and MTFWP will be coordinating efforts to kill wolves accused of depredating on livestock. Wolves often get blamed for killing livestock, when in fact, they are not the culprit.
While driving along a Forest Service road in the Madison District, I watched a herd of cows grazing on our public lands. I then noticed a dead cow with its belly split open. After investigating the dead cow, it was found that the cow likely died of bloat. Bloat can kill a cow in less than an hour. There was no sign of a predator attack.
There was not a rancher or any responsible party to contact about their dead cow, and no one was there to remove the dead cow, a certain attractant to predators. Campers are told not to leave any food out for fear of attracting and habituating wildlife to human food, yet it’s OK for ranchers to leave a dead cow?
Wolves will naturally feed on a dead cow. If seen by a human, it will be naturally assumed that the wolf killed the cow.
Unfortunately, this innocent wolf devleops a taste for beef, which may increase the likelihood of its predation on livestock. Tragically, this wolf or any wolf who happens to live on these public lands, guilty or not, will be subjected to being gunned down, maybe aerially or trapped, indiscriminately, at taxpayers’ expense.
So many injustices, all because a rancher is allowed to graze livestock on public lands, at a minimal fee, while taking no responsibility to monitor the herd and remove dead animals immediately.
Next time you hear about a rancher seeing a predator eating a dead cow, consider the possibility that the wolf is innocent, and the rancher is guilty.
Mary Fay, Helena