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


Date of this Version

January 2004


Published in Sheep & Goat Research Journal volume 19 (2004), pp. 41-46.


With the successful recolonization and reintroduction of wolves (Canis lupus) in parts of the western United States (Bangs and Fritts, 1996; Bangs et al., 1998) and the natural expansion of wolves in the upper Midwest (Fuller et al., 1992; Thiel, 2001), managing conflicts between wolves and livestock is a growing issue for livestock producers, resource professionals, and the general public (Mech, 1996). Unlike the coyote, (Canis latrans) where a great deal is known regarding the biology and ecology of depredation and methods for managing it (Knowlton et al., 1999), very little is known regarding patterns and processes of wolves preying on livestock and effective ways to mitigate this conflict. Understanding the ramifications of growing wolf populations for livestock production and successfully managing these problems will require knowledge of depredation patterns, wolf ecology, livestock husbandry, and the effectiveness of different tools and techniques to manage wolves. As wolf populations expand into more agricultural areas (Mech et al., 2000) such knowledge will become increasingly important.

Here historic records were compared to current data on wolf depredation rates and wolf management techniques relative to the wolf’s status on the endangered species list. The objectives were to synthesize the history of wolf depredation and management, present current data of wolf impacts on livestock, and speculate on the future management of wolves so that producers can consider the ramifications of a growing wolf population and possible mechanisms for decreasing the threat.