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Manitoba farmers reluctantly demand wolf extermination after attacks significantly impact business profits | CBC news


Trail cameras have captured evidence of wolves killing cattle on Randy and Carla Radford’s ranch, but they say physical evidence is being dragged away.

The ranchers in Roblin, Man., say the situation has made their animals and livelihoods suffer.

“We call it the smorgasbord,” Randy said. “They just invite themselves.

“This is not something new, it just gets worse and worse and worse and last year it exploded and this year I see it exploding even more.”

It’s a problem that the Radfords say costs them thousands of dollars every year. They have pastures near both Riding Mountain National Park and Duck Mountain Provincial Park, known wolf territory.

The Radfords’ ranch is located near Roblin, Man., which is close to the well-known wolf territory in Duck Mountain Provincial Park. (Breaking: images)

“We have very high prices in the cattle cycle, so each calf we lose now costs about $2,000,” Carla said.

Randy captured a trail camera photo of three wolves surrounding a shot bull on their farm last March. The farmers say they’ve tried watchdogs, put up electric fences, and even hired someone to sit in their fields at night with a gun and flashlight, but the wolves keep coming back.

“They’re so smart they just figure out how to get around all these things,” Randy said.

Ranchers can receive compensation through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation, under the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program, for livestock injured or killed by wolves, as well as bears, coyotes, and foxes. According to the website, the program gets about 1,900 claims annually for all predator attacks, with wolves making up about 20 percent of the claims.

“Producers who suspect they have lost livestock to wildlife predation but cannot provide evidence that will allow them access to funding under the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program are encouraged to report their situation to a conservation officer at the local county office. ,” the county says on its website.

The Radfords said 17 of their calves have been killed since May 10, but they were only compensated for two because they couldn’t find the others’ carcasses.

Manitoba farmers reluctantly demand wolf extermination after attacks significantly

Wolf attacks and takes a bite out of the profits of the Manitoba farm

A Manitoba couple who run a farm in Parkland County say they are left for the wolves. They say their cows and their bottom line are suffering from the apex predator’s attacks. A compensation program is available for livestock killed by wild animals, but the burden of proof can be difficult to meet.

Daniel Dupont is a Ph.D. student in wildlife biology and a biology teacher at St. Boniface University. He has spent time studying how wolves interact with prey.

He said wolves usually try to avoid any conflict with humans and anything related to humans, such as cattle, but they can learn how to feed on cows.

“If moose, moose, deer or even beaver populations are depressed, they may be looking for a way to support their family and that may lead them to look elsewhere, such as livestock,” Dupont said.

He said it wouldn’t be an unusual behavior for wolves to drag prey away.

“If they have prey in an area they consider risky, they may drag that prey somewhere where they think it’s less risky for them to consume,” Dupont said. “Even if there are no photos or videos, wolves usually leave signs that they were there and that they killed … even if you don’t find the whole carcass.”

Manitoba Beef Producers general manager Carson Callum said that because animals are raised in the natural landscape, farmers often face predation challenges.

“Unfortunately, it leads to those interactions between livestock, wildlife or predators that we see result in livestock loss,” Callum said, adding that it’s a long-standing problem that appears to be cyclical.

He said it’s a constant challenge and getting compensation can be problematic for ranchers if they don’t have proof their animal was killed by a predator.

“There’s a burden of proof involved,” Callum said. “You have to have some kind of evidence of that loss, whether it’s a carcass of that cattle species or some photographs or something of that nature.”

“Wolves are very efficient predators. They can clean up and use a lot of their kills.”

Shelley Alexander, a University of Calgary professor who specializes in coyotes and wolves, said prevention is key, but farmers cannot be expected to bear the sole burden of wildlife attacks.

“There needs to be an active investigation into some form and form of compensation,” Alexander said.

Several cows are depicted in a grassy field with a forest in the background.
Cattle pictured in a pasture on Randy and Carla Radford’s farm near Roblin, Man. (Submitted by Randy and Carla Radford)

The Radfords said the county is sending a trapper to kill the wolves that are causing trouble on their ranch.

The county did not respond to a request for comment on Radford’s situation within the deadline.

Dupont said lethal methods may only work temporarily, as the rest of the pack can continue to prey on livestock unless the majority of the wolf population is removed from an area.

Manitoba’s program is not aimed at general population reduction.

The Radfords don’t want wolves killed, but they think this is the only solution.

“We’re not the ones who want to exterminate things at all, but why pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed them?” said Carla.

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