Sheriff Steve Porter (right) and Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Vig made a video to post on Facebook (facebook.com/Kittson County Sheriff’s Office) about the issue of wolves in Kittson County. (Photo taken from a portion of the Facebook Video)
By Linda Andersen
During a late December 2017 interview, Kittson County Sheriff Steve Porter indicated that a wolf video the department has posted on Facebook is “getting a lot of attention,” adding that, to date, it had 160,000 views.
Porter was anticipating a visit from Minnesota Public Radio the next day and was pleased that Valley News Live and Brad Dokken of the Grand Forks Herald had already featured the wolf issue in their news stories.
Brad Dokken’s article begins, “There’s a lot of ‘I seen it on the Internet’ misinformation of fake news floating around out there these days, but a Facebook video post from the Kittson County Sheriff’s Office in far northwest Minnesota caught my attention Friday morning. There’s nothing fake about it.”
Porter indicated that the video has also caught the attention of some groups that are sympathetic to the wolf. Their response to the video is to blame humans. An article at a “Friends of the Wolf” site is titled, “Mn Farmers believe wolves are attacking their cattle but is it Rustlers?” Porter responded to such notions by saying that proofs of wolves’ involvement, such as their tracks in the areas of killings and cattle hair in feces found in the area, definitely implicate the carnivores.
Porter said he wants to be a “voice for the farmers” and prevent the possible scenario of a desperate and frustrated farmer getting in trouble for shooting a wolf that has been preying on his animals. (Getting in trouble for shooting a wolf is a real possibility. A Minnesota DNR website states, “Effective December 19, 2014, Minnesotans can no longer legally kill a wolf except in the defense of human life”).
The video features Sheriff Porter and Chief Deputy Matt Vig, who stand in front of a map of Kittson County. In the video, Porter explains that, at one time, game wardens were solely responsible for investigating wolf kills so that farmers could receive compensation for their losses. In 2010, however, the law was changed to allow the sheriff’s department to also investigate such kills. Porter explains that the game wardens were doing a “fine” job, but says, “We wanted to add a service and availability for our livestock producers to have a little easier route.”
Porter goes on to say that he assigned Vig the task of contacting Kittson County cattle farmers to learn of the extent of their problems with wolves. Throughout the video, Porter and Vig discuss the data that Vig gleaned from his 2017 investigation. Some of that data is as follows:
• Twenty-one cattle were confirmed to have been killed by wolves.
• An additional 15 cattle were likely killed by wolves, but the farmers, not being familiar with the reporting procedure, did not report the killings.
• One hundred eighteen cattle are missing.
Some additional information shown on the map is the following:
• Two wolves were trapped just outside the city limits of Karlstad.
• Just two miles west of Karlstad, four wolves were trapped, two wolf kills were confirmed, and as Porter says, “There are missing calves all over the place.”
• One farm by Lancaster experienced two confirmed wolf kills, one trapped wolf, and six missing calves. (Porter points out that the farmer received no compensation for the six missing calves).
Porter and Vig discuss a farm by Lake Bronson where 69 wolves have been trapped in the last six years.
Vig explains Kittson County’s ranks in the state in a couple of wolf related areas. “As far as wolves trapped, Kittson County ranks number two. As far as cattle killed, we rank number one.”
Porter comments, “They (the farmers) work so hard; they work long hours… We’ve got a thief coming in and stealing their calves and there’s really not much we can do.”
Porter goes on to say that the data shows that wolves were responsible for the loss of about 154 calves in the county in 2017. If the value of an average calf is $1,000.00, that totals $154,000.00 in lost revenue in the county.
An interview with Porter and Vig about the video touched on a couple of other topics. First, they clarified that it is the timber or gray wolf that is protected under the Endangered Species Act and which is the current concern of farmers. Farmers are allowed to shoot and trap the wolf’s much smaller relative, the coyote.
Porter complimented Byron, the retiring federal trapper who has worked in Kittson County. “They (the farmers) almost worship this guy,” he commented.
Porter and Vig expressed the idea, though, that it’s much more expensive to pay a federal trapper to control the wolf population than it would be to control the population with a hunting season. The latter would actually bring revenue to the state.
One of Porter’s concluding remarks on the Facebook video sums up his and his department’s convictions on the wolf issue. “I believe this wolf situation should be handled by our state DNR. Let them regulate these wolves and they’ll do a good job. Right now, under federal protection, the farmers’ hands are tied.”
Readers who have not yet seen the video may do so by going to Facebook.com and searching for Kittson County Sheriff’s Office.
A SERIES OF PHOTOS were caught on Joel Andersen’s Trail Camera of a pack of wolves taking down a deer. Twenty-once cattle have been confirmed killed by wolves with a total of 128 cattle missing. Watch the video made by Sheriff Porter and Deputy Sheriff Vig on facebook under the Kittson County Sheriff’s site. (Photos courtesy of Joel Andersen)