On Friday, Ed Bangs reported the following.
On the 17th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the Buffalo Ridge pack killed 2 calves and injured another on private land near Clayton. On the 18th, ID WS confirmed that the wolves killed another calf on the same ranch. There were four or five sets of wolf tracks at the scene and the telemetry signal of one of the collared wolves from the Buffalo Ridge pack showed that he was still in the immediate area. WS has already removed 3 members from this pack in the last 3 months after previous depredations on the same property. Further control efforts are being planned.
They never name the ranch where these events transpire. Federal regulations prevent that, but everyone knows it’s the Broken Wing Ranch near the confluence of the East Fork and the Main Fork of the Salmon River a few miles downstream from the hamlet of Clayton.
Over the years, probably more wolves have been killed due to “depredations” on the Broken Wing Ranch than any in Idaho. Does this mean that the owners are heartless wolf haters? Not at all. That’s the story, and that’s why Idaho state wolf management is so faulty.
The owners of the Broken Wing are not ranchers. They do not manage the ranch. Most likely they have no idea their property is a wolf-killing hot spot in the state. The ranch is for sale. Meanwhile is it rented for pasturage, and on it is pastured a cow/calf operation, which has its cows begin to calf in December!! a month that is very cold in the bottom of this deep canyon. This year has been colder than usual. This means natural mortality of calves will be higher, often much higher than during a reasonable calving time for this country — March or April.
So why does the person who rents the pasture calf in December leaving tiny carcasses about that attract scavengers who then sometimes turn into predators? I can’t read his mind, but this is usually done so that the calves will be much bigger and fetch more money when they are sold at the end of the year. This is a business decision that ignores wolves completely, and this is where state management fails. Good state management would discourage a person from calving like this or using such a pasture to calve at all when everyone in the area knows the place’s history and that wolves are always nearby.
Wolf conservationists, Defenders of Wildlife, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, and private individuals have put a lot of money and untold hours into conserving the Buffalo Ridge Pack, long one of Idaho’s most visible wolf packs. They have done so by monitoring the wolves and keeping them away from livestock, and Buffalo Ridge has had a pretty good track record because of this, but no amount of human effort can overcome livestock operations like this.
Idaho says they are so happy that they can manage the wolves now because they have more management tools. That is true in a technical sense that is not relevant. Let’s suppose a plumber has vast tool chest, but only elects to use a crescent wrench. If the plumber was given more tools, which she would then fail to use, are the new tools of any importance?
Idaho can now kill wolves with impunity. Non-lethal methods that save both livestock and wolves and reduce rather than fuel social conflict have been dropped. The only tool Idaho wants to use (I am overstating slightly) is lethal control of wolves after the damage is done. No one benefits from this except those who want any excuse to kill wolves. This method of wolf mangement is the most expensive method in the ways I listed above, plus it often directly costs more money as well.
Well, what can be done given the state’s one way of wolf management. Someone could buy the Broken Wing and turn it into something other than a cattle operation, especially an early calving operation. Ideally they would manage it for wildlife. That would be a great benefit to wintering elk, deer and wolves. The truth is, however, that as things are now and have been since about 1999, in my mind, this ranch would be better off as a subdivision.
This is a great opportunity for a conservation buyer. Here is the ad for the Broken Wing. The ad shows they are already marketing it for its wildlife and other amenities. I hope I help them sell it.
This is the Broken Wing Ranch. It doesn’t look like a death pit for wolves, and it doesn’t need to be. All it needs is a change in management methods, something Idaho Fish and Game, with “all their new management tools,” could have effected in the past, but didn’t, and won’t in the future.