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Carnivore Depredation
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Frequently Asked Questions for Livestock Owners



How do we keep wolves from eating livestock?

Wolves in some areas learn that livestock can be prey. Proactive measures can be taken to help protect livestock, including guarding and herding the animals, use of range riders, wolf-targeted fencing, night penning and removing livestock carcasses from the herd. Especially when used in combination, these tools may temporarily succeed in reducing the vulnerability of livestock to wolf depredation, but are not usually considered permanent solutions.

These measures are encouraged under the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, which provides state technical assistance and allowances for non-lethal harassment of wolves. The plan also authorizes WDFW to use lethal measures to control wolves that cause chronic problems for livestock producers. WDFW may also provide compensation for livestock losses from wolf depredation. For more information see the ”Non-Lethal Control Methods" portion of this website.

Overall, confirmed wolf depredation on livestock is lower than losses from other predators like coyotes, weather, and disease, but impacts to individual livestock producers can be significant. Some wolf packs that live near livestock prey on them, while some do not.

What is done when wolves kill or injure livestock?

When livestock owners report suspected wolf-caused injuries or losses of livestock to WDFW, a depredation investigation team of agency staff respond to the scene to determine if wolves were involved. Other local, state and federal authorities might also be called in to assist with the investigation.

Livestock or livestock carcasses are thoroughly examined, sometimes including full field necropsies, to help determine what kind of predator attacked or killed the animal. (Bears, cougars, wolves and other predators kill in different ways and leave different “signatures” on their prey.)

When wolves are determined to be the cause of injury or death, livestock owners are eligible to receive compensation for their losses, and/or caught-in-the-act wolf kill permits to avoid repeated depredations, depending on the situation. In repeated wolf depredation cases, wolves can be lethally removed to alleviate the problem. See the Dangerous Wildlife Incident Reports website for up-to-date listings on dangerous wildlife investigations.

What is done when wolves kill or injure livestock herding or guarding dogs?

Livestock herding dogs (Border collies, Australian shepherds,etc.) or guarding dogs (Great Pyreness, Anatolian shepherds, etc.) are considered “livestock,” for the intents and purposes of managing wolf-livestock conflicts. The same depredation investigation process is used in the case of injury or loss of such dogs. When wolves are determined to be the cause of injury or death, owners are eligible to receive compensation for their losses, and/or caught-in-the-act wolf kill permits to avoid repeated depredations, depending on the situation. In repeated wolf depredation cases, wolves can be lethally removed to alleviate the problem. See the Dangerous Wildlife Incident Reports website for up-to-date listings on dangerous wildlife investigations.

What land use restrictions come with wolves?

None, other than protecting active den sites from disturbance during the denning period. Wolves are habitat “generalists,” meaning they can adapt to living in a variety of habitats. Wolves basically need two things to thrive: 1) prey and 2) a management approach that prohibits indiscriminate killing. Wolf den sites, where pups are born, are protected by law from disturbance when occupied, just like songbird nests.

But land use restrictions, used to protect some endangered species that depend on specific habitat, are not necessary for wolves. These types of restrictions have never been implemented in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming to protect wolves and there are no plans to do so in Washington.