The Livestock Depredation Payment Gravy Train and Wolves as Scapegoats

21 Jun

Photo by Cgoodwin, via Wikimedia Commons

“Do you know what a beef cow costs?” Livestock owner Werner Haas of Hixton said. “If you want to keep the timberwolf in Wisconsin, you had better treat the cattle producer decent.”

This quote is from from a recent news article in the LaCrosse Tribune about the DNR wolf kill plan and how “depredation victims” will be reimbursed. Reading between the lines this sure sounds like a threat that “cattle producers” like Hass will partake in poaching gray wolves. This statement was made at a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hearing about the upcoming wolf killing plan that starts in October. This is the  arrogant mindset of many ranchers and hunters who think that when it comes to the gray wolf they need to be paid off or they will illegally kill them. This statement was made right in front of the DNR officials conducting the hearing. So much for the “rule of law” that farmers and many rural people claim are so vital to their “conservative values.”

After reading the quote from Hass and seeing comments online from several anti-wolf trolls claiming that wolves were responsible for over $200,000 in “depredations” just for 2012 I decided to look further into the issue, and what I found was shocking. Here is the report from the DNR about wolf “depredation” claims since 1985:

Since 1985 a total of $1,449,420.05 has been paid out to farmers, pet owners, and hounders for alleged “wolf depredations.” Of this total $447,685 went to hunting dog, mostly bear hounder, owners. This total is far more than for any other type of “depredation.” Then there is the absurd number of $55,000 for six deer in 2010 and $20,000 for TWO deer in 2011. That is $10,000 per deer paid by the state for allegedly being killed by wolves. What?

When I looked into the numbers for 2012 I found something that caught my eye. In 2012 the DNR paid out a total of $214,794.16 for alleged wolf depredations. Of this number an astounding figure of $190,702 were paid out for 257 missing calves. Last year there were only 25 “missing calves.” So apparently in just one year wolves suddenly became responsible for 232 more “missing” calves. Remember these calves are “missing.” There was ZERO trace of them. But of course these were automatically blamed on wolves because all the rancher had to have is ONE confirmed wolf depredation during the grazing season and “evidence” of wolf activity near their operation. So by just seeing or hearing a wolf the rancher can have any “losses” blamed on wolves and be reimbursed by the state. I was astounded by this so I sought out official comment from the Wisconsin DNR about what their reimbursement policy is. What I found was even more astounding. Here is the official “missing” calf policy from the DNR:

Missing Calf Policy

There must be at least one calf verified as wolf kill during the grazing season by the department, and there must be evidence that wolves continued to be present on the property.

Reimbursement would be provided for calves that are lost above the normal loss rate for a beef cow-calf operation.  The normal loss of 2.3% would be used, unless research in Wisconsin has determined that another figure is more reasonable for the specific operation.  If all the conditions listed above are met, the department will reimburse for missing calves that exceed the normal 2.3% level.

You read that right. Any losses over the normal 2.3% will automatically be blamed on wolves if there was ONE confirmed calf killed by wolves and if there is “evidence” of wolves on the property. So conveniently 257 wolves end up “missing” and they all get blamed on wolves, with no remains, and ZERO evidence that wolves “took” them. We also were told by a retired DNR wolf biologist that over $90,000 of the $190,702 claimed for “missing” calves went to one operation. The DNR told us that they could not confirm this without checking with their lawyers because they didn’t know if it was “public record.” That’s right this is not public record. If you signed the Walker recall petition your name, address, and personal information is out there for ALL to see, but the records of those who received government money for “missing” calves is confidential. When questioned about why the “missing” calf numbers skyrocketed this year this is the response that we received from Davin Lopez of the DNR via e-mail:

“It is hard to say why missing calf claims jumped this last year…it may due to better reporting, increased number of “depredating packs” due to no lethal controls in those areas for several years, or something else.”

Something else? Perhaps fraud? So if a rancher just happens to “lose” or illegally sell these calves they can blame it on wolves and get a nice fat check from the DNR. Can you say gravy train? Here are the DNR’s “fair market” cattle prices:

2012 Beef Cattle Market Values

2012 Dairy Cattle Market Values

Then there is the issue of the captive deer claims of $10,000 for each. this is what Mr. Lopez said about this:

“Through 2011 captive cervids depredated by wolves were paid the same as other livestock with a case by case maximum established based on some loose market info. Again, until 2010, we had never regularly had many claims nor many high amount claims. In 2010 that changed with a claim settlements totaling $55,000 for six animals and $20,000 for two animals in 2011. Based on the fact that the claims coming in for similar bucks were not only very high but also very different between claims for similar animals (mostly large bucks) that I recommended and got approval to set claim caps for white-tailed deer as well. Current white tail deer prices are attached. They were established in consult with a panel and with the help of an appraiser of captive deer. They are still high but far lower than the claims we were getting.”

2012 White Tailed Deer Market Values

You read that right too. Canned hunting operations are also getting reimbursed for alleged wolf depredations to the tune of $10,000 per deer.

Finally we have an explanation from Mr. Lopez why hounders get $2500 for dogs allegedly killed by wolves:

“Hound payment caps were set in rule by the Natural Resources Board and Administration in the mid 2000’s at $2500. In most people’s opinion, there is no quantitative way to assess the “value” of a given dog since much of a dog’s value as a hunting dog is training and personality. Therefore, in most cases, claims submitted are for the cap or higher (often $5000 to $10,000) and they almost always then get $2500. We are the only state that reimburses for hounds/hunting dogs that are killed by wolves while those dogs are off leash in pursuit of game.”

Of course now these very same hounders who fretted over the loss of their dogs to wolves, will be pitting packs of those very same dogs up against wolves for fights to the death. Yet, the hounders always claim that they “love” their dogs. Of course so do those who illegally fight pit bulls. The difference is what Wisconsin is allowing to happen is perfectly legal dog fighting.

If this “reimbursement” program is not the scam of the century, it is pretty close. All we heard from the proponents of the wolf kill bill was how the DNR were making record payments for wolf depredations and that was why we needed to have an “emergency” wolf hunting season. When you look at the numbers things aren’t quite so clear cut. Does anyone else find it a little convenient that the “missing” calf numbers go from 25 in 2011 to 257 in 2012 when the anti-wolf factions are pushing for a killing season? How can the DNR justify blaming ANY loss of livestock over 2.3% on wolves with no evidence? Basically their policy is that if livestock dies of ANY cause over 2.3% wolves get the blame for it if there was ONE confirmed wolf depredation. This is the perfect propaganda for anti-wolf groups, individuals, and legislatures to justify their upcoming mass slaughter. “See, wolves cost us $200,000 this year, so we have to kill them” I guess wolves are even more amazing than I thought. I didn’t know that they had the ability to make 257 calves just disappear without a trace.

Wisconsin you should be ashamed of yourself. Anyone who cares about wolves and other wildlife should boycott Wisconsin products and tourism immediately. Please contact the DNR and make it very clear to them that you will not be spending money as a tourist or buying Wisconsin products as long as they up this war on wolves and other wildlife. Also contact the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and tell them the same thing:

Wisconsin Department of Tourism
201 West Washington Avenue
PO Box 8690
Madison WI 53708-8690
1-800-432-8747 or 608/266-2161


Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Wisconsin Insanity, Wolves


28 responses to “The Livestock Depredation Payment Gravy Train and Wolves as Scapegoats

  1. Diane

    June 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    This blows my mind! I have to read this several times more to fully absorb the magnitude of this. This is big time fraud. Many heads should roll.

  2. rali74

    June 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I had to go over the information several times as well to believe what I was seeing before I wrote about it. This crap has been going on for years, but it really ramped up over the past year. How the DNR can justify blaming “missing” calves on wolves when there is no evidence is obscene. How can they call these “wolf” depredations on official documents when there is ZERO evidence that wolves had anything to do with it? Did the wolves eat all the bones and every remnant of these 257 “missing” animals? The DNR should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this. We were told that the majority of these “missing” calf claims came from one operation near the MN border, but the DNR said that info is not public record. Am I the only one that thinks this screams fraud? Talk about “welfare ranching.” And by paying out these ridiculous claims the DNR gave the bear hounders, George Meyer, and every other anti-wolf zealot all of the ammunition they needed to try and turn public opinion against the wolf. Maybe this was the DNR’s plan all along.

    Then there are these reports:

    Click to access 2012_WolfDepredationReport.pdf

    They list “wolf harassment” under the Wolf Depredation Report. Are they going to get reimbursed for this “harassment” too? Then a large number of the “depredations” were found to not even have been wolves, but are still listed under “Wolf Depredation.” Wisconsin has declared war on this animal and the “evidence” to back it up is as flimsy as what Bush and Cheney used to justify the Iraq war. I am ashamed to be a citizen of this state.

  3. Bobette Traul

    June 21, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    After watching MSNBC tonight on the Republican tricks and games, I’m not surprised. What are you going to do with this?

    • Chris

      June 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      My friend, it was Mr Barack Hussein Obama who had the delisting done, he did it so that certain western state democrats could run against those “republicans” and say, HELL NO, I’M NOT SOFT ON KILLING WOLVES!

      Both political parties, both of them, are equally corrupt, and not your friend, but it was the democratic party that got the gray wolf delisted by attaching a rider to the back of a budgetary bill!…Don’t you forget that, ever! Organize, get in their faces, take their names, addresses, publish them, and boycott the badger state!

      • rali74

        June 21, 2012 at 11:47 pm

        I am coordinating with national wildlife advocates so that we can call for a national boycott of Wisconsin tourism and products. You are right about the Democrats as well. I was sickened at the number of them who voted for this monstrosity of a bill. The fact that the 9th Circuit upheld that disgusting rider is shameful. How can the legislative branch tell the judicial branch that they cannot review a law? How can the legislative branch tell American citizens that we cannot challenge an unethical law in the courts? The 9th Circuit cut off their nose to spite their face. Now Congress can make other laws except from court challenges. So much for democracy.

    • rali74

      June 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      The local and national media need to pick up on this. All of this money came from the Endangered Species Fund and it has been nothing more than welfare for greedy and irresponsible hounders and ranchers. Everyone who purchased an “Endangered Species” wolf license plate who thought that they were helping wolves were only contributing to the reimbursement of bear hounders, ranchers, and canned hunting operations. I am beyond furious about this obvious scam. There needs to be accountability as to why the DNR paid for 257 “missing” calves and blamed them all on wolves. What other business is protected from any loss like this?

    • rachel

      October 15, 2012 at 1:26 am

      Ahh we should make one on the Dems tricks and games. b/c it’s all politicians buddy. wake up! and smash the 2 party system. what kind of free country is this when we only have two choices? WE should make the choice.. not the 2 party system. what a joke! and how ignorant and lost people are!

  4. Chris

    June 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    The gravy train goes far far beyond depredation reimbursements…

    Wisconsin farmers/ranchers are/were the 15th most subsidized in the nation! For those of you that don’t understand, that translates to WELFARE payments courtesy of you, the taxpayer! These are the scumbags that bought themselves a congress and got the gray wolf delisted, courtesy of Mr Barack Hussein Obama, and Ken Salazaar. Then they bought themselves the state of WI legislature, who then mandated a five month season, with dog packs, total darkness penetrating weapon mounted thermal optics(designed for warfare), and trapping!

    And you paid for every dime of their conquest….

    Do you understand? If it comes from a Wisconsin farm, don’t buy it, if it is manufactured in Wisconsin, do not purchase it! Organize, contact wealthy celebrities, campus organizations, PETA, ect.. and push back HARD!!!!

    You must hurt them, badly!

  5. Bobette Traul

    June 22, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Chris, I agree with you. The Republicans are dirty rats and the Dems. spineless wimps. I’m just amazed at the tactics being used to bring the President down and the country is going with it. Our wildlife and parks are amendments and riders to bills so the politicians can keep their jobs and appease the rich. I want a revolution and I guarantee you it will happen because people can be pushed so far. I hate to say it but Palin is right. The Prez is a city boy with social cares and knows nothing about swamps and mountains and God’s other ceatures. Look at the Farm Bill. Egads- Where is the Tea Party on that one. Rali can Pat write all your info up and publish it? I would send something to Eau Claire or Chippewa Falls. They deserve to know this.

    • rali74

      June 22, 2012 at 12:16 am

      I agree that Obama has been horrible for the environment, but what is the alternative? Romney is even more out of though than Obama is. The anti-enviornment garbage that the republicans are trying to put in that farm bill is just revolting. They want to completely pillage every last part of our wilderness for the benefit of people like the Koch brothers and the major hunting groups fall right in line behind them no matter how much damage is done. I have been encouraged though at the number of ethical hunters who are speaking out against this garbage. They can see that the goal of SCI and the NRA is to turn our wilderness into giant game farms so that rich slob hunters can get their trophy with no effort. Opening up wilderness to vehicles so that “recreational” hunting is easier? Give me a break. People need to wake up and fight these bastards tooth and nail before they get total control of everything. Wisconsin was just a test case and they now see that this can go nationwide.

  6. Bobette Traul

    June 22, 2012 at 12:46 am

    rali-just read in the Missoulian that Tester’s hunting rider was rejected by the senate. That’s excellent. He wanted more hunting rights on public lands. Also, sounds like Montana Fish and Game are getting tired of this wolf stuff. They could just turn everything back to the Feds.

  7. Maureen

    June 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Bobette, would you mind posting the link to that article in the Missoulian?

  8. Sandra McGee

    June 22, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    All of those payments sound to me like a bunch of BULL SHIT. My god … does it ever end???
    Jon Tester & Mikes Simpson are the assholes who put that rider into the budget bill last April & all but 3 or 4 Democrats signed it – then Obama signed it. To my surprize, there were more Republicans who didn’t sign that bill it than did. (Delisting the poor wolf)

    Wisconsin – what do you want when you have a f_cking idiot for a Gov.

    • rali74

      June 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      You will certainly not receive any argument from me about Walker. I didn’t vote for him either time and I am so ashamed that so many in my state bought into his lies. I wonder who they will blame when their hero comes crashing to earth? John Doe, anyone?

  9. Bobette Traul

    June 23, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Maureen I just bing The Missoulian and the newspaper comes up. The Idaho Statesman might have it also. I suppose you can google the newspapers too. I’m not computer savy. Montana F&G can’t babysit all the trappers to make sure they check the traps every 48hs.

  10. creekwaterwoman

    June 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    After a fb friend posted about the WI wolf hunt I did a quick search and ended up here. She wanted people to email this person, NRB Liaison Laurie Ross, Anyway, Great information here. Thank you.
    Not only does the wolf hunt concern me, but my thoughts were the amount of money going out for reimbursments. First, I assume WI DNR is mostly funded via federal dollars, so even though I’m in Oklahoma it is also my business. Secondly, ranches are businesses, correct? We know the answer, so why are they being reimbursed for losses? What other businesses get reimbursed for losses? Oh yeah, the canned hunting operations….to the tune of 10K/deer. Do you and I get reimbursed from the state/feds for business losses? Lastly, I am thoroughly p’o’d that the WI DNR is not addressing the massive jump in claims of missing calves; 25 to 257 in one year. The fish and wildlife guys at WI DNR know that is a statistical outliers. Someone is lying, and they are being paid handsomely for it.

    • rali74

      June 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      Unfortunately, most of the DNR funding comes from the killing licenses that they sell. That is much of the reason why non-hunters/trappers are shut out of the process. The reimbursement money came from the Endangered Resource Fund which is funded by the sale of the “Endangered Resources” license plate and people making a contribution when they file their taxes. The DNR has been complaining for years about how there are fewer people contributing to the fund each year and they just cannot understand why. When many people who purchased the Endangered Resources license plate found out that they were paying for the reimbursement of bear hounder dogs killed by wolves they did not renew their plates and stopped contributing tho the fund. Now they will continue to pay reimbursements, but the money is coming from the wolf killing licenses that they plan to sell. Bear hounders and ranchers will continue to ride the reimbursement gravy train until someone in this state has the guts to stop it.

      As for the ridiculous “missing” calf claims I am also of the opinion that there is some major fraud going on here. If I hit a deer on the highway, Wisconsin does not reimburse me. I have to carry insurance for that. So why don’t ranchers have to carry insurance rather than expecting the state to pay for their losses? What other business is subsidized in the way that ranching and other forms of agriculture are? Thanks for commenting. I am glad that people are starting to find out what is happening here and are spreading the word.

  11. Beckie Elgin, Freelance Writer

    July 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks for this excellent expose. I’m posting it on my blog and FB page

    • rali74

      July 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you so much. This really needs to be spread but it isn’t getting much traction.

  12. Save Americas Wolves

    June 1, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Reblogged this on saveamericaswolves.

  13. kim wood

    June 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Well – . An “eye opener” (…but not really; and I didn’t know that cows don’t “produce” themselves….) *Contacting & Boycotting. ~ Very informative. Thank You.


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