Just The Facts

Predator versus Non-Predator Cattle Losses

If you listen to the anti-wolf folks talking one might think that if only they could be rid of the "Big Bad Wolf", cattle would be fat and happy and life would be good.

The facts say different. If you total predator and non-predator cattle losses together (taken from the information below), wolves rank 19 out of 20. (Behind even "Other Predators")

Listening to the virulent rantings and ravings of the very vocal anti-wolf folks, one might be forgiven for mistakenly believing wolves are the biggest, most dangerous threat to the U.S. cattle industry since MacDonalds® and Burger King®.

However, actually reading the facts (not an easy thing to do since this information is not easy to find) presents a much different picture.

The following information is gathered from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). (Released May 12, 2011. This report is released every five years as a cooperative effort between the National Statistics Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Wildlife Services and Veterinary Services.)

Wolves account for less cattle losses than almost every other predator (only 3.7% of the total cattle lost to predators. Only bears kill less.) 

Be sure to have these facts on hand the next time you have to deal with someone screaming about wolves killing all the cattle in the Southwest. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." 

Here are your facts!

Number of Head of Cattle and Calf Death Loss by Cause: United States 2010


  • Coyotes: 116,700 (Number of head); 53.1 (Percent of total)
  • Unknown predators: 27,300 (Number of head); 12.4 (Percent of total)
  • Dogs: 21,800 (Number of head); 9.9 (Percent of total)
  • Mountain lions and bobcats: 18,900 (Number of head); 8.6 (Percent of total)
  • Other predators: 12,400 (Number of head); 5.6 (Percent of total)
  • Vultures: 11,900 (Number of head); 5.4 (Percent of total)
  • Wolves: 8,100 (Number of head); 3.7 (Percent of total)
  • Bears: 2,800 (Number of head); 1.3 (Percent of total)

Total Predator: 219,900 (Number of head); 100.0 (Percent of total)


  • Respiratory problems: 1,055,000 (Number of head); 28.0 (Percent of total)
  • Digestive problems: 505,000 (Number of head); 13.4 (Percent of total)
  • Calving problems: 494,000 (Number of head); 13.1 (Percent of total)
  • Weather related: 489,000 (Number of head); 13.0 (Percent of total)
  • Unknown non-predator: 435,000 (Number of head); 11.5 (Percent of total)
  • Other non-predator: 301,600 (Number of head); 8.0 (Percent of total)
  • Other diseases: 179,500 (Number of head); 4.8 (Percent of total)
  • Lameness/injury: 140,900 (Number of head); 3.7 (Percent of total)
  • Mastitis: 62,000 (Number of head); 1.6 (Percent of total)
  • Metabolic problems: 59,800 (Number of head); 1.6 (Percent of total)
  • Poisoning: 36,100 (Number of head); 0.9 (Percent of total)
  • Theft: 15,100 (Number of head); 0.4 (Percent of total)
  • Total Non-predator: 3,773,000 (Number of head); 100.0 (Percent of total)

Number of Head Cattle and Calf Death Loss Combined: United States 2010

  • Respiratory problems: 1,055,000 (Number of head)
  • Digestive problems: 505,000 (Number of head)
  • Calving problems: 494,000 (Number of head)
  • Weather related: 489,000 (Number of head)
  • Unknown non-predator: 435,000 (Number of head)
  • Other non-predator: 301,600 (Number of head)
  • Other diseases: 179,500 (Number of head)
  • Lameness/injury: 140,900 (Number of head)
  • Coyotes: 116,700 (Number of head)
  • Mastitis: 62,000 (Number of head)
  • Metabolic problems: 59,800 (Number of head)
  • Unknown predators: 27,300 (Number of head)
  • Poisoning: 36,100 (Number of head)
  • Dogs: 21,800 (Number of head)
  • Mountain lions and bobcats: 18,900 (Number of head)
  • Theft: 15,100 (Number of head)
  • Other predators: 12,400 (Number of head)
  • Vultures: 11,900 (Number of head)
  • Wolves: 8,100 (Number of head)
  • Bears: 2,800 (Number of head)


Wolves account for less cattle losses than almost every other predator (only 3.7% of the total cattle lost to predators. Only bears kill less.) 

Respiratory problems, Digestive problems, Calving problems, Weather related, Unknown non-predator, Other non-predator, Other diseases, Lameness/injury, Coyotes, Mastitis, Metabolic problems, Poisoning, Dogs, Mountain lions and bobcats, Theft, Other predators and Vultures INDIVIDUALLY CAUSE MORE CATTLE DEATHS THAN WOLVES!

You must ask yourself (or the anti-wolf people, more exactly) what is it that causes such violent, out-of-control, out-of-proportion response against the reintroduction of the Mexican Gray Wolf back into the environment it so rightly belongs. Remember, we are talking about an environment in which Bos taurus is the invasive, non-native species.
Which begs the next question: The next time you're out enjoying the Southwest's magnificent landscape, look around and ask yourself this…Which animal causes more harm to our environment?

For a complete copy of this report, you can download it here.