The fact that some district livestock fall prey to wolves each summer isn’t out of the ordinary.
But when those numbers start to climb, as they have in Alberton Township, farmers should be keep an eye out, advised Peter Spuzak, the township’s livestock valuer.
He has the job of identifying wolf-related kills reported from farmers within his township.
“Usually there’s two or three each year [in Alberton] but it’s up to six already. That’s a big increase, in a sense,” said Spuzak.
Reports kept by the townships of Lavallee show three cattle kills so far, with Chapple at two, and Morley with one.
“It is more than we’ve had in the past,” confirmed Alberton clerk Faye Flatt.
Spuzak also has noticed more cattle nestled up against fencing close to the road, a sign he said is indicative of animals wary of predators.
“When I drive along the back roads I’ve noticed them gathered right up next to the fences,” he said.
“I think they are being tested by wolf families,” he added.
Spuzak said wolves leave tell-tale wounds on the leg and stomach portions of cattle they kill.
“They usually grab the animal by the hind quarter and wound them there. They hamstring the muscle so [the livestock] can’t walk,” he explained.
“I’ve seen quite a few [cattle kills]. It’s a gory sight, but that happens in nature,” Spuzak added.
Farmers can apply for compensation for livestock killed by predators, but only if the dead animal can be found and identified as such by a valuer.
“A few animals out there every year get killed [and dragged off] that you can’t make a determination on,” Spuzak explained. “If an animal isn’t found a farmer can’t get paid.”
Although a cow and her calf succumbed to a wolf attack this year in Alberton, Spuzak said in most cases wolves pick only calves because they are easy prey.
Spuzak also believes predator kills are more predominant in the early part of the summer because adult wolves have their young to feed and educate.
“These things occur all about the same time each year,” he said. “Livestock is not their number one choice [but] wolves are feeding their young now and perhaps giving the young the experience of taking down prey.”
Although Spuzak suggested farmers should keep aware of situations where a predator may be involved, he did not propose farmers take extraordinary precautions to protect their livestock.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs district representative Gary Sliworsky could not be reached for comment.