MN Farmers believe wolves are attacking their cattle

KITTSON COUNTY, Minn. (Valley News Live) Wolves are hunting down cattle in northern Minnesota and it's costing small communities hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some environmentalists say it's not a problem at all. It's a rebounding wolf population.

Others say the problem is due to big government regulations in Washington D.C. and Minnesota farmers, are saying something's got to change.

Joe Wilebski has been farming on land in northern Minnesota his entire life. But The last few years, his cattle have struggled.

"It's so disheartening. They don't care about us." Said Wilebski.

Farmers in Kittson County feel the federal government has left them behind.

Wolves in Minnesota were once on the endangered species list, but protective laws helped them rebound. So much so there was even a hunting season on wolves, but in 2014 a federal judge ended that. Farmers can't even legally shoot wolves, unless they themselves feel threatened. As a result their bottom line is feeling threatened.

Kittson County Sheriff Steve Porter says, "It's basically a thief stealing from them, stealing right out of their pocket."

Now, the crime scenes county cops are investigating are whether or not wolves are responsible for missing livestock.

"Farmers are honest hard working people trying to make living, they have a huge problem and our federal government's kind of quiet." Said Porter.

Sheriffs say Minnesota has 600 thousand tax dollars put a side for farmers who get calves picked off by wolves. If they can prove it.

"But, our best guess is there's 118 missing calves. So, those 118 missing calves there's no compensation for them." Said Porter.

That's 118 thousand dollars that literally disappears from farmers in this one county. Locals feel the wolf numbers should be regulated by local government or the DNR.

"If they were in my boots, and come here and when I go out into the pasture and find that dead calf." Said Wilebski. "I think if they had anything upstairs at all, they'd change their mind in a hell of hurry."

An emotional issue farmers want to see something done to address the issue.

Not everyone thinks increased wolf numbers is a bad thing. According to the Howling for Wolves organization a healthy wolf population is vital for healthy ecosystem.

Wolf numbers in Minnesota are up 25 percent this year to over 2800 wolves.

According the Star Tribune wolf numbers are well above the target population number, but whether or not hunting resumes is more dependent on federal restrictions than numbers.

There is currently a bill in congress that would return wolf regulating back to state control.