Increasing wolf numbers worry Manitoba producers

Predation a concern | Cattle producers call for better control

GRUNTHAL, Man. — John Meda went to check his cattle one day and found a shocking sight:

“A calf’s bleeding? What the hell?” he thought.

The calf’s tail had been torn off; all that remained was a bloody stump.

He knew what did it.

“It was a wolf,” said Meda, who has farmed in the Lonesand area of southeastern Manitoba for more than half a century.

That was two months ago.

He has seen wolf numbers grow in recent years in his woody area near the Ontario and Minnesota borders.

Now he regularly sees groups of two to three wolves prowling the forest fringes near his cattle. Giving them a good scare has been enough to ward off more injuries.

“Every once in a while, when we know they’re there, we go shoot into the bush and they’ll stay away for a while,” Meda said.

However, he’s worried about what will happen if wolf numbers keep growing and the once-feared predators become a serious problem.

That’s a common concern across Manitoba’s farm country, Manitoba Beef Producers manager Melinda German found out during a province-wide round of district meetings the organization has been conducting.

“It’s a huge issue,” she said during the southeastern regional meeting in Grunthal.

“I expected the water issue (with flooding) to be the big one … this year, but actually it is the wolf issue.”

German said MBP, the provincial ministries of agriculture and conservation and Agriculture Canada formed a working group last year to deal with predator problems, but it has mostly monitored the situation and made modest changes to regulations.

The provincial government appears to realize problems are growing, German said.

“They’re looking at the tables and charts and seeing that there is an increase in the numbers of predators and kills and damage,” she said.

However, she said increased trapping and trapping support workshops are mostly occurring in areas such as Swan River, which aren’t facing the worst problems. The Interlake, Dauphin and the southeast are the hardest hit but aren’t seeing much help.

Meda said four government-supported trappers used to keep wolf numbers in control, but the support is no longer there.

Minnesota has worked hard to reintroduce wolves to the state, and he thinks some of them are now crossing into Manitoba.

Better monitoring, trapping and control are needed to stop wolves becoming a menace again, Meda said. He lost a calf to wolves seven years ago, and he doesn’t want to see that happen again.

“I’ve only lost one calf and I’ve been there more than 50 years.”

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