Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Minn. Agriculture Officials See Wolf Attacks in New Locations

Eric Chaloux

All Photos: KSTP/ Jim O'Connell

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has received wolf attack claims from farmers who have lost livestock in new southern locations in the state.
"The most unique one recently was in Wabasha County—that's south of the cities of course. That is very usual to see a claim that far south," Geir Friisoe, director at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said.

The Minnesota Legislature authorized the Department of Agriculture to reimburse livestock owners for loses caused by wolf attacks.
"Historically it’s the north-central part of the state we have more of our claims," Friisoe said.
In fiscal year 2016 (since July), there have been 72 claims to the state, totaling $142,074 by property owners who lost livestock during that time according to Department of Agriculture data provided to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The department said 16 wolf claims, $42,487 from fiscal year 2015, were recently paid.
State data shows, since 1993, the total number of wolf claims in Minnesota has averaged $78,398.35 per year.
"They're going to continue to eat," Nathan Nelson said of the wolves, "Whether it's deer or our livestock or whatever it is."

A third-generation Hinckley farmer, Nelson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that in April, wolves attacked and killed 10 of his calves.
"You see wolves are impacting more livestock and certainly this year more pets, it doesn't mean there are more wolves—what we know is that the deer numbers are down,” said Peggy Callahan, executive director of the Wildlife Science Center.

Callahan has 60 wolves at her research center in Columbus.
"Wolves are having to work harder for their living—that's when we see them impacting animals—like livestock,” Callahan said.
The 2015 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) survey estimates 2,221 wolves last winter, which is lower than the previous winter’s estimate of 2,423 wolves.

“When prey declines, wolves must eventually re-adjust to the new conditions, which typically means fewer packs and each utilizing a larger territory to meet nutritional demands and sustain a competitive pack size,” according to John Erb, DNR wolf research scientist.
The DNR said there has been no statistically significant change in wolf population size during the past three years, they will conducted a new count by mid-winter.