New research shows wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin are highly localized, and may be predictable. Adrian Treves of UW Madison has worked with UW and Department of Natural Resources researchers on ways to reduce the wolf threat to both people and animals. The research has led to creation of a risk map of wolf attacks on livestock in Wisconsin, which identifies areas of high and low risk throughout the state. “The map actually estimates the risk any particular locality faces of a wolf attack on livestock,” says Treves. The study, co-authored with Adrian Wydeven and Jane Wiedenhoeft of the DNR and Kerry Martin of UW-Madison, appears in the June issue of the journal BioScience.
Treves says the map will be available to any farmer who wants to input their home address. “They can then zoom in to their farm to see the relative risk that they face,” he says. Analysis of 133 documented wolf attacks on livestock between 1999 and 2006 indicated that only about one third of the areas within range of wolf packs are at risk, and only about 10.5 percent are at serious risk. “That is much less than we once thought, and it allows us to target preventive action.”
The study doesn’t make specific recommendations on how farmers can reduce their vulnerability to wolf attacks. “We simply advocate proactive measures, rather than what’s been done for the last thirty years, which are reactive measures,” says Treves. “So we’re advocating proactive measures without making any specific recommendations about which ones should be taken. If a farmer were interested in prevention, there are about a half dozen proactive measures that can be taken to reduce their farm’s vulnerability.”