For every one wolf killed, the odds of depredation in the following year increase by 4 per cent for sheep and as much as 6 per cent for cattle, according to the study.
"When you kill the alpha male or alpha female you can fragment the pack and get increased breeding pairs," study co-author Rob Wielgus told NBCNews.com. That can increase depredation as the new pairs stay close to one area and are unable to hunt wild ungulates – they can turn to another, nearby food source, such as livestock.
The study examined a whopping 25 years of data from Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and was published on PLOS ONE.
This is not news to many wildlife advocates, but does add a causal link between lethal action and depredation increases. It should also strengthen the case for education, funding and policy in regards to non-lethal tools such as Livestock Guardian Dogs, light/sound systems and even patrols.
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