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Why don't we have the livestock depredation-control BMPs we asked for? Why are we asking again?

posted Mar 10, 2014, 11:28 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated Apr 17, 2014, 4:39 PM ]
Minnesota citizens and legislators are asking again (Hawj et al. 2014) for the livestock BMPs that we were supposed to have beginning in 1999 (MN Statutes 3.737: Livestock Depredation 2013).

All we have is a very incomplete document (on a simple web page) that doesn't even mention fencing as a way to protect livestock (“MN Guide for Farmers & Ranchers Living in Wolf Territory” 2014). We're certainly not getting updates from the continuing research & development that was called for by the Minnesota Wolf Management Plan (MN Statutes 97B.646: Wolf Management Plan 2013) (“MN Wolf Management Plan” 2001).

Minnesota does have federal standards for power fences (“Minnesota Technical Note for Fence Installation” 2012). So does the State of Montana.

Minnesota and Montana both have cattle, wolves, and the need to keep them separate. But while the State of Minnesota has been ignoring fencing as a method of depredation control (except for the MN handbook on deer-exclusion fencing to protect vulnerable vegetation from deer:
MN DNR, Reindl, and Koelbl-Crews 2011). The State of Montana has been integrating fencing methods into their livestock and wildlife BMPs (Paige 2012; Sowka 2013), and providing technical assistance and state and federal matching grants to help put those BMPs into practice.

Why has the State of Minnesota been ignoring fencing as an effective means of depredation control? Nobody's saying, but the actions of Minnesota legislators and wildlife and agriculture officials tell the story.

Rather than doing its legally-mandated research on livestock BMPs, rather than asking Minnesota cattle farmers how they use fences to protect their livestock (in the single Minnesota study that was commissioned for the purpose: Mech et al. 2000), the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) simply focused on their lethal-control program--even while wolves were federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. Then in January 2012, when the gray wolf was delisted in the great lakes states, the MN Legislature called for recreational wolf hunting and trapping seasons, and the MN DNR obliged. Although some unofficial and unsubstantiated statements from these organizations have incorrectly claimed that the seasons were necessary for wolf management, the MN DNR has admitted correctly, when pressed, that the primary purpose of the seasons was to provide recreational hunting and trapping opportunities--without affecting wolf-population size (Landwehr and Hackett 2012).

So that's why we're asking again (Hawj et al. 2014). And this time, we're tracking the progress (see "Advisory Task Force").



Ed Boggess, Director, MN DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife
Ed Boggess, Director of the MN DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife: "the DNR is fully staffed and funded for wolf-management operations, and is not seeking additional funding"


References (in order cited)


Hawj, Foung, Chris Eaton, John Marty, Jason Isaacson, Susan Allen, Paul Rosenthal, Yvonne Selcer, and Raymond Dehn. MN 2014 SF 2256 / HF 2680: Wolf Management Provisions Modifications, 2014. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/bill.php?b=senate&f=SF2256&ssn=0&y=2014.

MN Statutes 3.737: Livestock Depredation. 2013. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=3.737.

“MN Guide for Farmers & Ranchers Living in Wolf Territory.” 2014. MN Department of Agriculture. http://www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/disaster/wolf.aspx.

MN Statutes 97B.646: Wolf Management Plan, 2013. https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=97B.646.

“MN Wolf Management Plan.” 2001. MN DNR. http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/natural_resources/animals/mammals/wolves/wolfplan.pdf.

“Minnesota Technical Note for Fence Installation.” 2012. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS). http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/MN/mn382TechNote.pdf.

MN DNR, Wildlife Section, Nick Reindl, and Kathleen Koelbl-Crews. 2011. “Energized Fencing Handbook for High-Tensile Deer Exclusion Fence”. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR). http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/assistance/backyard/livingwith_wildlife/energized_fences/high-tensile.pdf.

Paige, Christine. Landowner’s Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fences. State wildlife agency. Helena, MT, USA: Private Land Technical Assistance Program, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Helena, MT, 2012. http://fwpiis.mt.gov/content/getItem.aspx?id=34461.

Sowka, Patricia. Practical Electric Fencing Resource Guide: Controlling Predators. BMP. Living with Predators Resource Guides. Condon, MT, USA: Living With Wildlife Foundation in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 2013. http://www.lwwf.org/index.php/resource-guides.

Mech, L. David, Elizabeth K. Harper, Thomas J. Meier, and William Paul. 2000. “Assessing Factors That May Predispose Minnesota Farms to Wolf Depredation on Cattle.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 28 (3): 623–29. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/mammals/mnfarms/

Landwehr, Tom, and Maureen Hackett. 2012. “Howling for Wolves Petition Denied: Stop the MN Wolf Hunting and Trapping Season.”, October 2. http://www.howlingforwolves.org/sites/default/files/DNR_petition_response.pdf.





Illustrated References (in order cited)



Minnesota Legislature 2014 Bill SF 2256 / HF 2680: Wolf Management Plan
Hawj, Foung, Chris Eaton, John Marty, Jason Isaacson, Susan Allen, Paul Rosenthal, Yvonne Selcer, and Raymond Dehn. MN 2014 SF 2256 / HF 2680: Wolf Management Provisions Modifications, 2014.




Minnesota livestock BMPs in Minnesota Statute:
MN Statutes 3.737: Livestock Depredation. 2013.

   

Minnesota livestock BMPs currently available (not much there)
“MN Guide for Farmers & Ranchers Living in Wolf Territory.” 2014. MN Department of Agriculture.




Minnesota Wolf Management Plan mandated in Minnesota Statute (excerpt on depredation control):
MN Statutes 97B.646: Wolf Management Plan, 2013.





What we asked for:
research is "critical" (PDF p. 50), and BMPs are "required" (PDF p. 51).
Minnesota Wolf Management Plan (excerpts on non-lethal control):
“MN Wolf Management Plan.” 2001. MN DNR.





What we got: research is "desirable" (PDF p. 33) and BMPs "will be developed" (PDF p. 4).
Minnesota Wolf Management Plan (excerpts on non-lethal control):
“MN Wolf Management Plan.” 2001. MN DNR.




Minnesota's NRCS power fence specifications (including predator-deterrent fencing):
“Minnesota Technical Note for Fence Installation.” 2012. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).





Montana's NRCS predator-deterrent fence specifications (figure from p. 51).
Paige, Christine. Landowner’s Guide to Wildlife Friendly Fences. State wildlife agency. Helena, MT, USA: Private Land Technical Assistance Program, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Helena, MT, 2012.




Montana's guide to Living with Predators (figure from p. 3-59, PDF page 105).
The guide not only describes how to build this fence, but how to pay for it with help from the federal Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).
Sowka, Patricia. Practical Electric Fencing Resource Guide: Controlling Predators. BMP. Living with Predators Resource Guides. Condon, MT, USA: Living With Wildlife Foundation in cooperation with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 2013.




Minnesota's one, flawed study (didn't ask about fencing):
Mech, L. David, Elizabeth K. Harper, Thomas J. Meier, and William Paul. 2000. “Assessing Factors That May Predispose Minnesota Farms to Wolf Depredation on Cattle.” Wildlife Society Bulletin 28 (3): 623–29.




Howling for Wolves petition and MN DNR response (no expected effect on the current stability of the wolf population size).
Landwehr, Tom, and Maureen Hackett. 2012. “Howling for Wolves Petition Denied: Stop the MN Wolf Hunting and Trapping Season.”, October 2.