Viewpoints differ about the impact of wolves on livestock and pets since wolves were placed back on the endangered species list. Both sides had a chance to weigh in Thursday, on whether or not wolves in the western Great Lakes region should be returned to control of the states.
Karen Laumb lives near the Twin Cities and grew up with farm roots in Chippewa County, Minnesota. At the Great Lakes Wolf Summit in Cumberland, Laumb said she understands both sides, but does not support returning to state wolf management – as the majority of those in attendance did.
“Some are farmers with true concerns about affects on their livestock. That’s real. But there are also some people who just really want to go out and kill wolves,” Laumb said.
AUDIO: Larry Lee reports 1:05
Marathon County dairy farmer Ryan Klussendorf said wolf predation has cost him far more than livestock — animal stress, sheriffs’ calls about loose cattle, and a huge expense.
“We now keep all our calves up in the barns, close to buildings,” Klussendorf said, adding that the annual tab for safety measures comes to $31,000.
Mark Liebaert is the Douglas County Board chairman and a Wisconsin Farmers Union Board member. Liebaert said he’s seen firsthand how a federal judge’s decision to place wolves back on the Endangered Species List has endangered animal agriculture. He described a wolf killing a calf on his farm.
“That wolf weighed 85 pounds. It carried my calf, which was about 125 pounds, off the field in its mouth. It broke its back with one shake.”
Ted Lyon, a retired Texas state senator and author of the book “The Real Wolf,” said he hopes those attending the summit will bring pleasure on elected officials to restore the wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to state control.
“We hope to raise political awareness, so that it becomes an issue,” Lyon said. “Go camp out in the Speaker’s office. If the Speaker of the House of Representatives wanted this to pass, it could pass.”
AUDIO: Michael J. Duncan reports :60
Republican Representatives Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming introduced legislation more than a year ago, that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The bill has not advanced in the House.
More than 3700 gray wolves are now believed to inhabit Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, a population second only to that in Alaska. The Great Lakes Wolf Summit was convened by a pair of Republican state legislators from Wisconsin, Senator Tom Tiffany and Representative Adam Jarchow.
Brownfield Ag News and WJMC contributed to this report