A group of Alberta farmers who pasture their cattle near Cooking Lake are asking for the province’s help to manage a pack of wolves that are killing their animals.
Farmer Dan Brown sends his herd of 60 cows to a community pasture owned by the province and shared with 22 other farmers from May to October each year.
But this year, within a month of pasturing the cattle, a pack of wolves moved in and started picking them off one by one.
“Probably the biggest frustration with the whole thing is our first kill was the 28th of May, so we’ve been struggling with this all summer,” he said.
In total, Brown says nearly 30 grazing cows were killed by wolves, and many others were traumatized by the attacks.
“We love our cattle, that’s why we are in this business, and it's caused a lot of stress and a lot of heartache, as well as the financial loss,” he said.
“Finally cattle prices are where we can make a few dollars and we’re feeding the wolves instead.”
Brown estimates the wolf attacks have cost farmers about $200,000.
Farmers ask province for help
The group of farmers approached the province about the wolf problem and were given permission shoot six wolves in October, five days before the cattle were scheduled to leave pasture. But by that time Brown said it was “too little, too late.”
Hoping to preserve his own herd, Brown choose to bring his cows home a month early.
“We need to get rid of all or most of the wolves,” he said.
Now, he and other farmers are hoping the province will step in to deal with the problem before next year’s grazing season begins.
“If something drastic doesn't happen between now and next year, most of the people won’t be willing to come back, they will make alternative measures for pasture or sell their cows,” he said.
Brown will meet with other members of the community pasture on Tuesday to discuss their options.