What should I do if I suspect wolves have killed my livestock?
Recognizing the economic harm wolf depredation can have on domestic livestock, the 1977 Minnesota Legislature authorized the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to reimburse livestock owners for losses caused by wolves. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services provides wolf trapping for cases of verified wolf attacks on domestic animals. To receive trapping services and to be eligible for state reimbursement, farmers and ranchers need to follow specific reporting procedures. It is recommended that suspected wolf kills be reported as soon as possible to allow for the best evidence to conduct an investigation.
Step 1: Carefully examine the kill site and dead livestock. Be cautious not to trample over animal tracks or disturb the site. A USDA trapper or Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer may be able to read subtle clues that you may not recognize. If the examination suggests a wild animal killed your livestock, protect your remaining animals by temporarily moving them to a more secure location, if possible.
Step 2: Preserve the evidence of the suspected wolf kill as much as possible and then report the kill as soon as possible. To be eligible for state compensation, you must report a suspected wolf kill within 48 hours of discovery to a DNR conservation officer or USDA trapper. Make a note of who took your report and the day and time of your report for future reference.
Contact a conservation officer:
An interactive map of officer patrol areas with contact information is available at the DNR website.
Contact the USDA:
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services
34912 U.S. Highway 2
Grand Rapids, MN 55744
Step 3: After reporting the incident, a DNR conservation officer or USDA trapper will investigate and verify the wolf kill for compensation. You will be asked to complete an application for state compensation. Once MDA receives the application it is routed to the University of Minnesota Extension for a determination of the market value of the livestock lost. The completed claim is then eligible for payment by the MDA.
Preserving evidence of a wolf kill
- Secure the area from the entry of livestock. Curious animals or upset mothers can destroy evidence quickly.
- Look for tracks or scat (droppings) that will show a wolf's presence. Cover with plywood or weighted cans.
- Cover livestock carcass or remains with a tarp and weight securely to keep other predators from destroying teeth marks or other evidence.
- Photograph or video tape the evidence. It is helpful to put some common object next to the evidence to document size.
- Do not disturb evidence until the federal trapper or conservation officer can investigate the site.
- Remember that under Board of Animal Health regulations you must properly dispose of carcasses within 48 to 72 hours. You may need to inform the Conservation Officer of this.