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MN House: wolf-management hearing, 1/28/2014, non-lethal

posted Feb 14, 2014, 12:23 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Feb 15, 2014, 4:53 PM ]
MN House: wolf-management hearing, 1/28/2014, non-lethal Q & A #1.

In this brief excerpt from the 1/28/2014 hearing, Rep. Jason Isaacson (DFL-42B) asks and MN DNR Large-Carnivore Specialist Dan Stark tries to answer the question "What is the MN DNR doing to support non-lethal depredation control as called for by the Minnesota Wolf Management Plan?" Hint: it takes a long time to get the answer out, and it ends up to be the equivalent of "Nothing significant."

Here's a citation to the depredation study that Dan Stark mentioned in answer to Rep. Isaacson's question about non-lethal control:

    Assessing Factors That May Predispose Minnesota Farms to Wolf Depredations on Cattle
    Author(s): L. David Mech, Elizabeth K. Harper, Thomas J. Meier and William J. Paul.
    Source: Wildlife Society Bulletin 28(3):623-629. Autumn 2000. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
    URL: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/mnfarms/

Stark summarized the findings of this study as follows: "they really weren't able to find anything that was clear for them to implement [as best-management practices or BMPs]." Stark's summary apparently reflected the authors' own second-guessing of their findings. In fact, they found that depredation was lower on cattle farms with smaller herds, and where cattle were pastured nearer to human habitation. They didn't look into anti-predator fencing, hazing, or guard animals. So where's the follow-up study? There isn't one. The MN Legislature, MN Dept. of Agriculture (MDA), and MN DNR just left it at that, and wrote it into the 2001 livestock BMPs and MN Wolf Management Plan. As of 2/12/2014, the MDA livestock BMPs still haven't been updated to reflect the 2012 ESA delisting, still don't say a word about fencing or hazing, and continue to misquote the 1999 depredation study (it did not, in fact, examine the relationship between lethal control and depredation).

Of course, more questions and complaints were made on this point at the hearing, because 1) the MN Wolf Management Plan clearly calls for the research, development, and encouragement of non-lethal methods of depredation control on Minnesota cattle farms and ranches, and 2) neither the MDA nor the MN DNR have done a significant amount of that research, development, or encouragement of non-lethal depredation control.

Other organizations, though, have done significantly more.

One of the good BMPs that was not mentioned during this hearing, but probably should have been, is the 2008 white paper "Livestock and Wolves: a Guide to Nonlethal Tools and Methods to Reduce Conflicts" by Defenders of Wildlife.

Maureen Hackett, President and Founder of the wolf-advocacy organization Howling for Wolves, used part of her three-minute testimony to describe her organization's plan for a Minnesota research & development program to fulfill this part of the MN Wolf Management Plan: "Wolf/Livestock Conflict Reduction Using Cost-Effective Non-Lethal Prevention."


Links:

* MN House video of the full hearing: http://youtu.be/-HBu893R5sQ

* My 30-minute video of excerpts from the hearing: http://youtu.be/aKFCxqUTOyE


Dan Stark, MN DNR