U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

February 2005


Published in Wildlife Society Bulletin 2005, 33(2):517–527.


The natural recolonization of gray wolves (Canis lupus) into parts of their former range in the upper Midwest of the United States has led to wolves establishing territories in semi-agricultural areas containing livestock. As part of a study on wolf–livestock relationships in a northwestern Minnesota agricultural area, we surveyed rural landowners within and outside of wolf range to assess perceptions regarding the risks wolves pose to livestock (mainly cattle). The mean response score for rural landowners to the statement “I think wolves should be allowed to exist in northwest Minnesota” was between neutral and disagree. There was no difference in mean response scores between rural residents living within wolf range and residents living adjacent to but outside of wolf range. The rural residents’ mean response score to the statement “Wolves are causing unacceptable levels of damage to northwest Minnesota’s livestock industry” was between neutral and agree. Although there was a statistical difference in mean response scores of residents living within wolf range and residents living outside of wolf range, the scores were not substantially different from each other. While landowners felt wolves were a threat to their livelihood, other factors (market fluctuations, laws and government, diseases, extreme weather, flooding) were ranked as greater threats to the agricultural community. Rural residents both within and outside of wolf range harbored similar negative attitudes toward wolves, even though residents outside of wolf range have not had a population of wolves in their area for >100 years, indicating little change in cultural attitudes toward wolves.