By Myers Reece, 12-22-10 Flathead Beacon

At the request of the Montana Cattlemen’s Association, the USDA Wildlife Services bureau recently released statistics that show a huge increase in the number of livestock killed by all of Montana’s major predators, from coyotes to black bears to wolves.

But the report has drawn skeptics, including a former Wildlife Services supervisor who says the numbers are misleading and come at a pivotal time in wolf politics, with several bills circulating in Congress to remove the animal’s federal protections.

John Steuber, Montana’s Wildlife Services director, blames wolves for the across-the-board depredation increases. His bureau investigates, documents and tries to prevent livestock attacks in Montana. He said wolves have hamstrung his agency by requiring too many resources and limiting what kinds of deterrents – such as a certain pesticide – can be used due to federal protections.

The result, Steuber said, is that predators other than wolves now have more opportunities at livestock, which he said is reflected in the report.<<<Read the Rest>>>