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KayDee Gilkey OSU Research Shows PTSD-like Symptoms For Cows Witnessing Wolf Attacks
by KayDee Gilkey, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: May 11, 2017

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According to Oregon State University research cows that have witnessed wolf attacks display physical signs associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. This more recent research was built upon a three-year ago study that demonstrated that cows exposed to wolves showed more fearful behavior even when the individual animal had not been attacked. This research confirmed that the cows’ stress response was expressed in certain biomarkers in their blood and brain cells linked to PTSD in humans and other mammals. OSU Animal Scientist Dr. Reinaldo Cooke explains

Cooke: “So that we were able to show that — this isn’t big news — we know how the predator-prey interaction works. It is very heavy trauma in the prey — which is normal in the wildlife. We are just showing this happens on the cattle industry especially with the more frequent interaction between cattle and wolves. We just have to keep that in mind when those predation episodes are frequent where cows develop memories against it. Every time they think that this is going to happen again, they go through a severe stress reaction that not only impacts their productivity but also has a fairly detrimental affect on their welfare.”

The trauma impact can translate into decreased pregnancy rates, lighter calves and a greater likelihood of becoming sick.

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