According to a new study published on December 3 by PLOS One, killing wolves might lead to wolves attacking and killing more livestock.

Shooting wolves is largely practiced to help ranchers protect their livestock. Rob Wielgus, a Washington State University ecologist and the study's lead author, started researching the impact of shooting cougars on livestock in 2008. He found that by killing the mature adults, more inexperienced cougars would prey on livestock, which, in turn, did more damage, Warren Cornwall reported for National Geographic.

After wolves were removed from federal protection under the Endanger Species Act in 2011, he decided to look at the same impact with wolves. He found that when a wolf was killed, the chance of cattle getting killed the next year was raised by five to six percent. He also found that with each wolf killed, the cattle killed the next year continued to increase.

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