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All the News That Isn't Fit to Print

Posted by Rob Klavins at Nov 01, 2012 07:30 AM |
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Putting wolves and the livestock industry in context.

A number of recent non-wolf news stories prompted us to think about the total lack of context that tends to accompany news coverage of livestock losses to wolves.

Here are some headlines you probably didn't see...but they're all true:

  • 95 sheep died last week from eating poisoned grass in Idaho after their owner illegally grazed his herd in an abandoned mine (link).
  • Earlier this month domestic dogs killed 44 sheep in Wyoming in a single incident. That's about the number killed in the entire state by wolves last year (link).
  • 44 unattended cows were killed by trucks near Madras when they broke through a fence in September. The trucks didn't come out of it well either (link).
  • Last year an Amtrak train killed 24 cows that broke through an unmaintained fence near Klamath Falls. The rancher felt entitled to compensation (link).
  • Over 1,200 cows have been stolen by human thieves in Malheur County alone from 2006 - 2009 (link).
  • A single storm in Montana killed over 2,250 livestock (link). 
  • In 2002, 600 cows died in Harney County after eating bad hay. (link)



cow standing in a stream Oregon is home to over 1.3 million cows. In 2010 (the year for which statistics are most recently available), 55,000 died from weather, disease, poison, and all sorts of other causes before they made it to the slaughterhouse (link and commentary). ODFW confirmed less than one-tenth of one percent of that number fell to wolves since 2008 (ODFW page).

However, wolves are so politicized and sensationalized that the agency charged with conserving wildlife for all Oregonians is compelled to issue a press release any time wolves are even suspected of killing, injuring, or chasing livestock.

Such non-news recently prompted the Onion-esque headline "Calf Found Dead, Not Killed By Wolves" in the La Grande Observer, and fuels anti-wolf hysteria amongst those who still fear wolves. Worse yet, for most Oregonians it gives false credibility to the myth that wolves are terrorizing the livestock industry (wolf myths).  

Context matters and it simply isn't being provided. So the next time ODFW or the livestock industry issues a press release or statement about how wolves are to blame for the loss of livestock, we hope you'll keep this piece in mind.




    Posted by Kitty Smith at Nov 01, 2012 10:11 AM
    I agree that so many blamed on wolves more than weather, poison food, loose from open gate or broke fence, grazing public land and wolves territory and far away from the ranchers home! It's easy get the money only wolves from the government pay to them than others none to pay for it.. That's not right.. Need to change the law! I know some people still on myths and hatred the wolves much. Stay safe and in the wild.. Awwwwoooo!!!

    wolves, not big bad

    Posted by Marceline Gearry at Nov 05, 2012 10:40 AM
    I have spent 15 years talking about wolf biology and wolf behavior as an Oregon Zoo Guide- Animal Talker. The points in this article are exactly what I have endeavored to explain to folks about wolves. Yes yes, the press whether printed or spoken should be informing the public about the real facts. Since we have no more wolves at Zoo now, I will have little opportunity to talk to small groups or individuals the real story of wolves.Hopefully Oregon Wild can bring some pressure on news media.GO GET EM!

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