Oregon: USFWS issues kill order for 2 Imnaha Pack wolves

Kill order, called “retribution”-

Because there are not many wolves in Oregon, this is a big deal. The pack has 10-14 members.  There was one other wolf pack known on the Oregon/Washington state border in 2010 — the Wenaha Pack. It might have 6 members.  USFWS has ordered capturing and “euthanizing two un-collared sub-adults from the Imnaha pack.”  That wolf pack has killed some cow calves every once and a while over the last year.

Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild said in a statement, “This kill order randomly targets any two wolves of Oregon’s Imnaha Pack. That is not wildlife management, it is retribution.”

My view is that, of course, it is retribution. After watching and writing about wolf depredations of cattle for over 15 years now, I’d say “wolf control” is almost always retribution of a kind. Wolves rarely kill enough livestock in any place to make the dead calf or sheep an economic issue, but it is always a political issue. Wolves killing livestock are treated with the same gravity as human homicides and political assassinations, reflecting the values of those who rule in western rural areas.

Here is the story in Sneak Cat. USFWS issues kill order for 2 Imnaha Pack wolves. May 3, 2011.

Update on Oregon wolf packs (taken from a news story). “Oregon currently has three wolf packs: the Imnaha (10 wolves at latest count), Wenaha (six wolves) and Walla Walla (three wolves). The Walla Walla pack is new and wildlife managers are still trying to determine their range, which could primarily be in Washington State.”

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves

This is a very important case

Judge Molloy has issued a order asking the defendants and plaintiffs why the 10(j) lawsuit “should not be dismissed as moot due to the absence of a population meeting the statutory requirements for 10(j) status.”

If the lawsuit is dismissed wolves in all of the Northern Rockies could lose their status as an experimental, non-essential population or 10(j) status and receive full protection under the Endangered Species Act.  This would be because wolves from the Central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone populations have bred with those in the Northern Idaho/Northwest Montana population which came from Canada on their own and enjoy full protection of the ESA because they are not part of the 10(j) population.  To receive 10(j) status, a population must be “wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species.”.

This would surely heat up the debate about wolves and would make it much more difficult to kill wolves for protection of ungulates and livestock in all areas where wolves exist in the Northern Rockies. This would also change the whole dynamic at play with Wyoming’s intransigence. If wolves remain listed in Wyoming and this lawsuit is dismissed then wolves there would be much more difficult to kill. This would provide ample motivation for Wyoming to come up with a management plan that is acceptable to the USFWS.

As soon as we get a copy of the order we will post it.

Judge’s ruling could threaten state’s ability to kill wolves
Lewiston Morning Tribune.

Judge’s ruling could put new limits on wolf hunts
Associated Press

Oregon ranchers hit by rustlers finding a surprise this winter: returning cows

One of the problems with Christopher Columbus style ranching.

Good animal husbandry by the "original stewards of the land" © Ken Cole

Good animal husbandry by the "original stewards of the land" © Ken Cole

You put them out in the spring then “discover” them in the winter.

Poor animal husbandry in remote areas can lead to all kinds of problems for ranchers, cattle, wildlife, and habitat alike. It’s just one reason that these Great Basin desert areas are unsuitable for cattle grazing in the first place. It’s a desert and cattle grazing requires a huge amount of land just to support one cow. There often isn’t enough water for the cattle and the plants and landscape of the Great Basin did not evolve with large ungulates like bison or cattle so they are easily damaged by the presence of cattle.

Here, the ranchers are complaining about rustlers. This is probably a widespread problem throughout the arid West but, as you can see from the article, the ranchers are reporting sightings of wolves in the area. I’m sure that once any sighting is confirmed the hysteria will quickly focus on wolves rather than rustlers as a cause for their woes.

Oregon ranchers hit by rustlers finding a surprise this winter: returning cows.
By Richard Cockle – The Oregonian

Wildlife Services revises Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment

Drops gassing of pups in their dens and sterilization but continues heavy handed killing of wolves.

Public Comments accepted until January 3, 2011

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

In anticipation of Monday’s federal court hearing of a case brought by Western Watersheds Project, Wildlife Services has revised its Idaho Wolf Environmental Assessment. While the new EA drops gassing of wolf pups in their dens and use of sterilization, the preferred alternative does not consider exhaustive use of non-lethal methods to prevent wolf conflicts by intimating that it would be too expensive for ranchers to use proper animal husbandry techniques to avoid such conflicts.

Wildlife Services [sic], formerly Animal Damage Control, is an agency under the Department of Agriculture which responds to wildlife threats to agriculture. They are not related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is under the Department of Interior and who manages endangered species, enforces the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and manages National Wildlife Refuges.

Read the rest of this entry »

Living with Wolves: An Oregon Field Guide Special

Slow progress for Oregon’s wolves

Oregon Field Guide recently broadcast a special about Oregon’s wolves and how they are dealing with people and how people are dealing with them. It has been a tough road for the wolves there and many wolves have been killed by the government on behalf of livestock interests and by poachers. One of the biggest difficulties faced by the wolves is the presence of livestock and the sense of entitlement felt by ranchers who think they deserve a predator free landscape.

Living with Wolves: An Oregon Field Guide Special
Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape?

George Wuerthner nails it again, questioning the chief assumption that informs livestock-wolf conflict management.

Do ranchers have a right to predator free landscape? – George Wuethner, NewWest

One of the unquestioned and unspoken assumptions heard across the West is that ranchers have a right to a predator free environment. Even environmental groups like Defenders of Wildlife more or less legitimize this perspective by supporting unqualified compensation for livestock losses to bears and wolves.

Only when the answer to George’s question is “yes” do any of the management prescriptions currently taking place, including compensation, “control”/eradication via tax-payer appropriations to Wildlife Services (sic), and other absurd de facto subsidies make any sense at all ~ particularly *but not uniquely* on public lands that belong to all of us.

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. 9-27 through 10-1

Latest report shows NO association between number of wolves in Wyoming and the number of livestock depredations-

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, 2010

Although the report makes no mention of this, the report includes detailed graphs of wolf population and livestock losses to wolves over the years. Look at figure 1 in the report.  If you take out one exceptional data point (a large sheep depredation in the Bighorn Mountains in 2009), there is no association between wolf numbers and depredations numbers since 2006. There was a trend until that time.

This is important because we hear from USFWS and others something like this Ad nauseum, “The good locations for wolves are all taken. As the population of wolves expands, conflicts with livestock will increase and at an accelerating rate.” [note that this not a actual quote, but a summation of many quotes].

Posted in Wolves, Wolves and Livestock, Wyoming, Wyoming wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. 9-27 through 10-1

Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predator

“The solution to stop the livestock killings by wolves is simple: A $50,000 fine given to each livestock owner who allows wolves to kill their livestock.”

Every once in awhile you come across a Letter to the Editor that just really hits it out of the park:

Wolves: Only lazy ranchers blame predatorMissoulian LTE

Defenders ends wolf depredation payments

All Defenders payments for dead livestock ends in September-

It really seemed like a good idea.  Wolves will kill some livestock, but a public spirited conservation group will pay generously for all verified losses and even 50% for unverified, but probable losses to wolves.

Defenders has been paying these claims for well over 15 years now. In my opinion, however, the program did not work if their intent was to generate public support or prevent opposition to wolf restoration. Defenders own studies showed that the program did not build support for wolves among livestock owners.

In retrospect, it is easy to see why it failed.  Livestock owners hatred of wolves is not based on the economic value of their losses.  If the losses were heavier, it might have been welcomed, but in most cases the person who lost stock could pretty easily afford to absorb the loss.  As a result, they could turn down the compensation, or maybe even accept it, but vent their spleen anyway. In a few cases it is clear that owners who welcomed a payment were pressured not to apply for one.

Defender’s program will be replaced by a federal/state compensation program recently set up by law by Senators Tester of Montana and John Barrasso of Wyoming. It is less generous, however. Under the new program there has to be a proven loss and states have to pay 50%. The later won’t be hard to achieve at least in Idaho, the legislature will be happy to cut the benefits of blind old people or those tax-sucking school children to pay for the livestock.

Conservation group ends wolf predation payments. Associated Press (as printed in the Seattle PI)

Reminder: Comments due today on Wildlife Services Idaho Wolf EA.

Wolf management plan examines killing of pups and sterilization of wolves.

The Wildlife Services issued an Environmental Assessment at the beginning of August. Today is the last day to comment on the EA which calls for killing pups which have been orphaned by their control actions, sterilization of wolves, and increased killing of wolves in response to livestock depredations.

Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation have submitted comments on the EA which you can read here:
WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Comments on Gray Wolf Damage Managment in ID Draft EA

Here is the post I made earlier in the month:

Read the rest of this entry »

Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs

Did a cow get your elk?

George Wuerthner has written another great essay about how ranchers are asking us to pay for the protection of their livestock on public lands by killing predators. They are also asking us to give up elk production on public lands when their cattle are using up vast amounts of forage needed to maintain healthy elk herds.

Welfare Ranchers, Wolves, and the Externalization of Costs.
George Wuerthner, NewWest.Net

Lastest WY wolf news from USFWS

August 20, 2010 update

Here is the latest wolf news latest wolf news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Wyoming where the feds still officially manage wolves. There are links to other resources.

I converted their news from .doc to a pdf file in an effort to make it readable here. Unfortunately the table giving livestock depredations in Wyoming did not convert (it is blank). That is too bad because the numbers are so trivial — 17 cattle (mostly calves); 32 sheep.

– – – –

Hysteria about wolves in Idaho and Montana continues to grow, fanned by politicians and long time anti-government activists. I predict that 20 years from now this controversy will be studied as a classic case of how rumor fans social hysteria. For those interested there is a vast literature on this in social psychology under the sub-discipline of collective behavior.

I think the rise of the Internet has made this development easier in that people can spend so much of their time “talking” with those who share their views, while ignoring outside information and trading rumor. Fifty years ago it would be much more difficult for this kind of thingwyom-to spread,

Wildlife Services wants your comments.

Wolf management plan examines killing of pups and sterilization of wolves.

Wildlife Services has issued a draft Environmental Analysis which examines a myriad of ways to kill wolves. Comments on the plan are accepted until August 31, 2010.

Idaho Wolf EA

“Management strategies would be developed for individual situations by applying the WS Decision Model (Slate et al. 1992). When appropriate, farm management practices (animal husbandry), frightening devices and livestock guarding animals would be recommended and utilized to reduce wolf damage to livestock. In other situations, WS might potentially utilize foothold traps, snares, ground shooting, chemical immobilization and euthanasia, and aerial shooting to remove individual problem wolves. An additional potential management method under the Proposed Action would be the infrequent taking of pups in or near the den, in those cases where removal of adult wolves due to chronic depredations on livestock might leave the pups defenseless and subject to starvation. Another potential management method under the Proposed Action, as an alternative to total removal of some chronic depredating wolf packs, would be removal of most or all wolves except the alpha pair from a chronic depredating pack. One (or both if possible) of the alpha animals would concurrently be live-captured, surgically sterilized, radio-collared, and released to maintain and defend their territory against other wolf packs which might be more likely to prey on livestock. This approach would only be considered on a case-by-case basis, and only with the concurrence of IDFG and potentially affected livestock producers.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Kudos to Oregon for Funding Non-Lethal Work to Prevent Wolf-Livestock Conflicts

Oregon Fish and Wildlife hires a rider to keep wolves and livestock apart-

This worked in Idaho and Montana back in the days before state wolf management. The states don’t even try.  Defenders is still doing something a bit like this in Idaho with the Phantom Hill Pack under the grudging toleration of Idaho Fish and Game.

Kudos to Oregon for Funding Non-Lethal Work to Prevent Wolf-Livestock Conflicts. Matt Skoglund’s Blog. NRDC.

Conservation groups sue feds (Wildlife Services) on Federal Wolf Management Actions in Oregon

Groups argue federal animal killing agency has no business killing 2 of the 13 known wolves in Oregon-

Revenge wolf killing threatens to make its way to Oregon.  In Idaho the attitude is of WS is “their are so many damn wolves who cares if we kill the wrong ones?” “We have lots of leeway to indulge our 16th century urges.”

Oregon is different with just a few wolves. The wolves responsible for killing the livestock have moved well away from the area. There is still a kill order for two of the pack.  Any two will do as long as they have no radio collars. Thus, it is simply revenge killing, not an attempt to solve a problem.

Here is the text of the suit.

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands, (541) 434-1463
Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity, (503) 484-7495
Greg Dyson, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, (541) 963-3950 x 22
Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, (503) 283-6343 x 210

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Federal, State-sanctioned Killing of Endangered Wolves

PORTLAND, Ore.­ Four conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s predator control branch, Wildlife Services, today for its role in killing wolves at the behest of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). The state has issued, and now extended to Aug. 31, a permit to the federal agency to hunt, track and kill two wolves across a 70-square-mile area in eastern Oregon. According to the conservation groups’ lawsuit, Wildlife Services never conducted the environmental analysis required to disclose the impacts of killing a substantial portion of Oregon’s wolves. Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the national Center for Biological Diversity brought the suit, and are also strongly considering suing the state for its role in authorizing the kill permits.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock

More on the recent killing of pups in Wyoming

The USFWS is effectively keeping wolves from dispersing into Colorado and Utah with its heavy-handed approach.

Wolf pups slain after packs kill livestock.
By Angus M. Thuermer Jr. Jackson Hole News & Guide

Eight wolves killed in SW Wyoming because of the death of just one lamb

Two adult wolves and six pups killed by Wildlife Services in an area with just one confirmed wolf depredation, a mere lamb-

The state of Wyoming wants to confine wolves to 13% of the state, and Judge Molloy struck that plan down back in 2008.  Currently under federal wolf management wolves are allowed to inhabit anywhere in Wyoming under federal protection, dependent of course on their behavior.

It seems the wolves have to be very well behaved because in an area northwest of Kemmerer, USFWS told Wildlife Services to kill a lone adult male wolf and a female and all of her pups because one lamb had been confirmed killed by wolves. Other dead sheep (number not released) were found dead in the general area but the cause could not be determined.

Here are some thoughts (1) that is a lot of dead wolves to compensate for a dead lamb, (2) the federal government seems to be carrying out Wyoming’s illegal wolf plan but  in a de facto way, (3) this is an ideal way to make sure wolves never get to Colorado, northern Utah or southeast Idaho.

The story is in the official latest Wyoming weekly wolf report of June 25, 2010. I converted the Microsoft Word report to a pdf file and put emphasis (boldface) to the relevant parts of the story.


Imnaha pack’s breeding pair to be protected in Oregon control action

Wildlife Services authorized to kill only two uncollared wolves after pack kills 5 head of livestock-

The state of Oregon seems to be to be taking a reasonable, measured bit of action after that state’s only confirmed wolf pack killed a handful of livestock in the upper Wallowa Valley.

According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, “The lethal action is aimed at killing wolves that are showing an interest in livestock, not wolves simply in the area, and will be limited to an area where three of the confirmed livestock kills are clustered. Under the terms of the authorization, the wolves can be killed a) only within three miles of three clustered locations with confirmed livestock losses by wolves and b) only on privately-owned pasture currently inhabited by livestock. ODFW’s authorization will be valid until June 11, 2010.”

If Idaho and Montana took this kind of approach, the wolf controversy would be much less.

ODFW authorizes lethal removal of wolves
Breeding pair to be protected

News Release from ODFW

Wildlife Service aims to kill two wolves in the Boise Foothills

Shooting wolves in prime recreation country near Boise, ID-

Although wolves have inhabited the the foothills and mountains north of Boise for a decade now, this is the first time they are known to have killed livestock (8 lambs, 3 ewes). The two wolves are not part of a pack.

Hopefully Wildlife Services is taking precautions not to hit bikers, joggers, etc. in the Hulls Gulch area. The sheep belonged to Frank Shirts of bighorn sheep fame. 😉

Here is the story in the Boise Weekly. Boise Foothills Wolf Hunt Underway. Posted by Nathaniel Hoffman

– – – –

My story on wolves near Boise from way back in 2000. Strong Evidence of Wolves Near Boise, Idaho. Ralph Maughan’s wolf report. Jan. 14, 2000

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated

Big Hole Valley will be empty of wolves after control actions finish.

The rancher who closed his land to public hunting will get his way once all of the wolves in the Big hole Valley are killed.

3 wolf packs in SW Montana to be eliminated.
By Nick Gevock, Montana Standard

The Problem with Wildlife Services

The leaders in the war on wolves

When was the last time you heard about Wildlife Services talking about non-lethal methods of preventing livestock losses to wolves? The only place in Idaho that this is practiced is with the sheep passing through the Wood River Valley each year and by Lava Lake Land and Livestock but nowhere else has it even been talked about.  In their annual reports they talk about how they want greater latitude to kill more wolves rather than try to avoid conflicts in the first place.

The Problem with Wildlife Services.
Switchboard, from NRDC :: Andrew Wetzler

More livestock subsidies by the Federal Government

5-year “demonstration project” to compensate ranchers and fund proactive, non-lethal activities.

The USFWS has announced how it will disperse $1 million annually to the states with wolves for 5 years. This funding was approved in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 which created several wilderness areas such as the Owyhee Wilderness in southern Idaho.

The law specifies that equal amounts of the funding must be used “(1) to assist livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss due to predation by wolves; and (2) to compensate livestock producers for livestock losses due to such predation.”

No doubt there will be pressure to change how the money is spent so that more of it will go towards compensation of ranchers rather than proactive, non-lethal activities.

U.S. grants $1 million for wolf project
Great Falls Tribune

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces $1 Million to States For Wolf Livestock Compensation Project
USFWS Press Release

State Proposed Allocation
MN $100,000
MI $90,000
WI $140,000
ID $140,000
MT $140,000
WY $140,000
AZ $60,000
NM $60,000
OR $15,000
WA $15,000

As feared, the Montana wolf damage mitigation board is just a rancher slush fund

Defenders’ handover to Montana fails to initiate a single proactive project in its first year-

When the wolf was delisted, Defenders of  Wildlife stopped paying compensation for the loss of livestock to wolves in Montana. However, Defenders gave the state $100,000 to get the “Montana Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Board” started. It was to not just pay for losses, but fund preventative measures too. The Fund also received additional private contributions, mostly from conservation groups.

In the first year, the Board simply handed out money to those who lost livestock, and apparently required nothing in return. Now the Fund is a bit short of cash. Can we feel bad about that? Yes, and maybe they got their training from those who insured junk mortgages.

Montana media are running stories with headlines such as this: “Montana livestock board pays for 369 wolf kills in 2009.”  That is not the real story, however. The story is the waste of the money in the fund.

The story above says, “some question whether it is doing enough funding preventative measures.”  It turns out the “some” who question are those who gave the money for the Fund — just a small detail!

The story also fails to say that most of the losses came in a few big sheep killing incidents.

Here is what Montana wrote about the financial status of the fund in the 2009 wolf report:

Read the rest of this entry »

Montana Allows Unfettered Killing of Wolves by Wildlife Services

“Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites.”

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

This is about the worst scenario for wolves of Montana that could be concocted by the state, especially while the decision to delist them is being considered in the courts. This nudges wolves even closer to a condition where the killing by a Federal agency becomes entirely unregulated. These conditions resemble those in place when wolves were eradicated in the first place. For those who think that Montana has a better management plan than the other states, think again.

This sets up a situation whereby Wildlife Services may kill an entire pack of wolves for killing a single sick cow or sheep left out on the landscape, a circumstance often documented by those who are watching. This does, however, put a greater responsibility on the agency that has actually made the call on how these situations are handled. Wildlife Services can no longer claim that FWP made the call on how the situation was handled when things go awry.

At the same time, livestock producers who use public lands have no requirements to do anything to avoid such circumstances.  The removal of livestock carcasses that have died natural deaths, or the removal of sick animals, is not required as part of the authorization to graze on public lands.  Non-lethal methods which have been demonstrated to be effective deterrents against livestock depredations are not required.  These poor livestock husbandry practices will continue and be rewarded by livestock compensation programs in place and being proposed by the government.

Will this action influence Judge Malloy’s decision on whether to remand the decision to delist wolves back to the USFWS?  Will Ed Bangs see this as a reason to change his decision?  Time will tell.

Too many wolves: FWP gives wildlife agents more authority to kill problem predators
By EVE BYRON Helena Independent Record

Mont. giving more authority to kill problem wolves
Associated Press

F&G to get tough on wolves

This story is one outcome of the leaked Feb. 10 memo-

There was no indication Idaho Fish and Game was ever going to release their memo to the media, but thanks to JeffE, who sent it to me, it has moved out into the public beyond this forum.

Story in today’s Times-News. F&G to get tough on wolves. By Nate Poppino – Times-News writer.

Notice how this is all directed to protect the livestock industry.  Is IDF & G now the Idaho Department of Livestock?

These “unacceptable levels” of livestock losses for 2009 in Idaho were 76 cattle (mostly calves) and 295 sheep. Although the Director of Dept. of Fish and Game implies this is an increase, it is an increase only for sheep. In dollar values this was offset by a decline in cattle losses to wolves. In 2008, 104 cattle were killed by wolves. In 2009 that dropped to a mere 76. Sheep losses increased from 215 to 295.  Individual sheep are worth less than cattle.

For some reason, livestock losses to wolves make the news. Much larger losses get almost no media attention. This suggests to me attention to wolf losses shows a hidden agenda at work unrelated to the actual size of loss. To illustrate this, consider the post from April 24, 2009. SE Montana blizzard kills far more livestock in 2 days than Montana wolves in a year. Will the blizzard story last more than a couple days? Looking back, the story lasted just one day in the on-line news.  However, the size of the livestock loss was greater than the loses to wolves in Montana that year. Note: I never got a final count. I read somewhere that with losses in the Dakotas, it was over 7000!

PBS program on wolves, bears, bison and the ESA

This is a good national television treatment of the issue-

Salle put this link on the “have run across any good stories” page, but it should be a full post.

Hunting Wolves, Saving Wolves. PBS

Salle. I know you tried to call me about this, but I was out in the hills most of the day. Ralph

Additional info on wolves, etc. from PBS. I have to wonder about some of it like “On a calm night, howls can be heard from as far as 120 miles away.” They must have meant twelve miles.

The 2009 Idaho Wildlife Services Report

From Mark Collinge

“The attached report summarizes information regarding wolf management activities conducted by the Idaho Wildlife Services (WS) program in Federal fiscal year 2009, covering the period from October1, 2008 – September 30, 2009. If you have questions regarding any of the information in this report, please contact the Idaho WS State Office.”

ID WS FY 2009 Wolf Report.pdf

Mark Collinge
State Director
APHIS Wildlife Services
9134 W. Blackeagle Drive
Boise, ID 83709
Phone (208) 378-5077
Fax (208) 378-5349

Montana Wolf Attacks Spike in ‘09, Sparking Backlash

There might be a backlash, but it is doubtful related to a spike in wolf attacks on livestock-

Matthew Brown from AP wrote this story. It has some good facts in it and a lot of wild anger from livestock owners.

I think what sparks backlashes are not the number of livestock killed. It is the number of news stories about it.

I think if someone did a content analysis of the news about wolves and livestock and compared it to the number of wolf-killed livestock each year since the reintroduction, there would be no relationship.

Matthew Brown points out that “The sharp increase over 2008 livestock losses, reported Thursday by state officials, was fueled largely by a wolf pack ravaging 148 sheep in southwestern Montana near Dillon in August.”

This single story got a lot of media attention, and I never read a single good account from the media or the Montana government giving the details of how this happened. At the time on this blog, I complained day after day about the lack of facts, except that a lot of sheep were dead.

As far increasing the hunt quota next because of the perception of large livestock losses, Montana FWP’s report was very clear that the hunt removed far fewer wolves in areas with livestock than they hoped, and more in livestock-free parts of the backcountry.  Therefore, increasing the quota would be purely a political move unrelated to wolf depredations in fact.

Wolf supporters have got to win the delisting case, as the state wildlife agencies are nothing but political pawns. I am sick to death and furious!

– – – – – – – –

The statement that there are 8 dead livestock by wolves for every one found is often repeated as in this story. It seems to me they used to say “1 in 5,” but at any rate in checking, this all seems to come from one small study by John Oakleaf.  The area studied was hardly representative — a remote section of public land leased for grazing that was  known to have a high density of wolves. No doubt in less rugged and accessible country the number not found would be less.

If you think about it, the broad statement is absurd. The percentage of livestock killed by wolves and not found would vary everywhere. Every season cattle and sheep are simply missed (not rounded-up). They linger and die of the cold. They are also lost to accidental injury, sickness, poison plants, and other predators. Most carcasses would be scavenged by many scavengers, including wolves.

To sum it up, this “one in eight” figure appears to be an effort to inflate a relatively small problem for political purposes, and is based on a single unrepresentative study.

WWP & Wolf Recovery Foundation Litigates Big to Protect Wolves in Central Idaho

~ by Jon Marvel

Jon Marvel
On December 31, 2009 Western Watersheds Project and the Wolf Recovery Foundation welcomed the New Year by filing litigation in federal court challenging the federal government’s mismanagement of public lands and wolves in Central Idaho.

Read the Associated Press article :

Groups Sue to End Idaho wilderness copter landings – John Miller, AP 1/06/10

Sawtooth Mountains, photo: Lynne Stone

Sawtooth Mountains - Sawtooth National Recreation Area © Lynne Stone

This important litigation aims to protect Idaho wolves by asking a federal court to halt mismanagement in three key ways :

Read the rest of this entry »

Latest, Dec. 31, official Wyoming wolf report

Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report. USFWS-

I notice livestock predation by wolves in Wyoming in 2009 was really trivial. Of the dead sheep, which was up in ’09, “three packs (Big Horn, Black Butte, and Dog Creek) were responsible for all of the195 confirmed sheep depredations. The Big Horn Pack consisted of 3 adults male wolves and all 3 wolves were removed in control actions. The Black Butte Pack consisted of 2 adults and 6 pups. Both adult wolves and 4 pups were removed. Six adult wolves and 6 pups made up the Dog Creek Pack. Five adults were removed.”

Too bad about the Dog Creek Pack. They could have sent more wolves into Eastern Idaho. They were a border pack.

WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- Dec 21 through Dec 31, 2009.

More about the Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre of the Basin Butte Pack

Alpha female’s body retrieved

Last week I received a fundraising email from Living With Wolves, a 501c3 non-profit group run by Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who’s mission is “dedicated to raising awareness about the social nature of wolves, their importance to healthy ecosystems, threats to their survival and the essential actions people can take to help save wolves”. In the email was a story about the massacre of the Basin Butte Pack over Thanksgiving which shed some light on the aftermath of the incident. I asked them to put this on their website so that I could post it here.

Warning there are graphic images of a dead wolf.

The Thanksgiving Wolf Massacre
Living With Wolves

Update: Lynne Stone writes this:

I was part of the “recovery” team on Dec. 11th that found B171 Alpha Fe in Goat Creek Meadows in the Sawtooth Wilderness. I put my wolf tag on her, hoping that one less wolf would be killed in the Sawtooth Zone. I phoned the IDFG wolf kill number and reported it. Several days later I called local IDFG to “process her”.

Unfortunately, IDFG took her away from me, saying that any wolf killed by Wildlife Services is property of the state. IDFG has not heard the end of this yet. Alpha Fe is in Jerome. I am filing state records request every few days to know what IDFG has planned for her … if I can’t get her back (lawyers are being consulted since WS left her in the woods, not wanting her), then maybe eventually she will go to auction. She was a magnificent, beautiful wolf, even when the life had gone out of her. I am so heartsick over this. I tried for four years to keep this pack alive and it’s a miracle they lasted as long as they did – due to the hatred of wolves of Challis ranchers who run a sloppy cattle business near Stanley from June to Nov. Read the rest of this entry »

Three-state wolf death tally passes 500 for year

Majority have been killed for livestock losses-

Despite controversy over the wolf hunt, about 60% of those killed were because the wolves killed livestock, usually just one or two animals. The large majority of the livestock retribution killing was done by Wildlife Services, not by the owners of the livestock.  I would like to see how many of these depredation incidents were on public lands where livestock are grazed almost for free under the theory that their owners suffer loses from predators and bother from recreationists.

Wolf death tally passes 500. By Matthew Brown and John Miller.  Associated Press writers.

At the end of 2008, the official wolf count in the 3 states was 1650.

The writers data on the Basin Butte Pack is wrong if you believe Lynne Stone. It is good that they acknowledge this.

Federal agents hunt for wolves from 5 Montana packs

Up to 22 wolves could be killed in Montana

“Carolyn Sime with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says it is unusual to have so many livestock attacks this late in the year.”

This couldn’t be what happens when you disrupt pack structure with a hunt could it? These questions need to be asked of wolf managers.

See: Wolf hunt information and effects that need to be collected

Federal agents hunt for wolves from 5 packs. Associated Press – Idaho Statesman

So far this year 91 Montana wolves were killed by livestock owners directly or Wildlife Services (mostly WS). 112 were killed in the hunt, natural causes, etc. This is a total of 203 dead wolves. If this action is carried out the dead wolf total for the year could reach 225, or 45% of the state’s wolf population. The rule of thumb, meaning it isn’t a hard and fast percentage, is that somewhat over 30% of the wolves in a state can die during a year with no decline in the wolf population.

Facts revealed on the killing of the Basin Butte Pack

Idaho Fish and Game lists the facts behind the kill order-

There are a small number of livestock owners that run most of the cattle in the Stanley area, and not surprisingly it was because of losses of their cattle. All told, ten wolves were shot in the Basin Butte Pack over the course of the year.  Some say there might be a couple left.

The Piva family lost 3-4 cows and maybe 1 calf. Jay Neider lost one calf. Jay Neider is closely related to Nate Helm, head of Idaho’s Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife. 2 wolves were shot in response to Neider’s cow calf.

– – – – –
There is a rumor that the uproar over the killing of Basin Butte Pack has caused WS and IDF & G to back off on their plans to kill 20 or so so-called “chronic depredating wolf packs” this winter.
– – – – –

Addition on 12-18

I got most of this information above from a spreadsheet Idaho Fish and Game sent. Here are the owner’s names and dates of the “wolf depredations.” The information is below and was put into a more reader friendly form by Lynne Stone.

8/3/09  one cow, 1 mile north of Stanley, Julian Piva
8/4/09  one calf, 1/2 south of Stanley, Jay Neider Arrow A Ranch
10/5/09 One cow, 1/2 mile south of Stanley, Bob Piva; one probable cow or calf (report doesn’t say)
11/3/09 One cow, 1/2 mile south of Stanley, Bob Piva

Wyoming wolf numbers increase and offset the decline in Yellowstone Park

YNP Park wolves are down another 6 % this year, but there was a 12% increase outside the Park in ’09-

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.

There are 4 full-time packs in Jackson Hole and one part-time pack.

The year’s population results appear to be a small increase in wolves in Wyoming. Everyone should recognize that those 20% increase years in any of the 3 states are gone. There will probably be about 375 305 wolves as the official figure for Wyoming at the end of this year.

It’s good to see a recognition that well established packs are less of a threat to livestock than new packs.  One should note that this is some evidence that hunting wolves at random may be counterproductive in terms of livestock losses. Of course, livestock losses to wolves are so small in the big scheme of things it probably doesn’t matter.

Wolf pack killed by government on Senator Baucus ranch

Vicious beasts kill 2 goats and 3 or 4 guard dogs over a year’s time-

I saw this story Dec. 8, but it said the Mitchell Mountain Pack had over the space of several years killed two goats and a guard dog here and there at the “Sieben Ranch.” I just figured that was a typical wolf overreaction story that hardly merited reporting.

Then I learned maybe there is a reason this massive 125,000 acre ranch is just called the Sieben Ranch. It is owned by Montana Senator Max Baucus.

FWP plans to take out entire Mitchell Mountain wolf pack. By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record.

Oh yes, this was done by Wildlife Services at taxpayer’s expense.

Feds kill 7 wolves near Stanley

Here is the longer story from the Mountain Express about the killing of the Basin Butte Pack near Stanley.

Basin Butte Wolf Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Basin Butte Wolf just across the river from Stanley, Spring 2006 © Ken Cole

Livestock do not winter in the Sawtooth Valley so there was no imminent danger of livestock losses. This was a revenge killing.

On public lands allotments there are no mandatory terms and conditions requiring livestock permittees to do anything proactive to protect their livestock. There are several non-lethal methods of avoiding conflict with wolves on public lands but there are no requirements to do so. Cracker rounds, turbo fladry, guard dogs, more herders, and better management of livestock are effective ways but they are resisted because of cost. It appears that ranchers would rather have the taxpayers pay to shoot livestock from the air.

Maybe it would be better for the taxpayer if livestock grazing on public lands ended, especially where there is a history of conflict due to the presence of livestock in wolf habitat.

Feds kill 7 wolves near Stanley
Jon Duval – Idaho Mountain Express

Turbo fladry © Ken Cole

Turbo fladry © Ken Cole

Shooting Wolves in a Barrel

About the shooting of the Basin Butte Pack.

Wildlife Services Helicopter

Wildlife Services Helicopter

Todd Grimm from Wildlife Services and Suzanne Stone from Defenders of Wildlife were interviewed for a segment on BSU Radio.

“One of the main concerns we had is that a hunter may take a collared wolf from this pack. If that happened we would no longer be able to find the wolf responsible if we waited longer. So we knew which wolves were involved in the depredations and we needed to remove as many of them as we could.”

“The number of depredations in the state of Idaho have increased to an almost unmanageable level. Our argument has been that if we can reduce the wolf population in Idaho there will be fewer depredations, there will be fewer ranchers that have wolf problems and there will be fewer wolves that have to be killed after the depredations.” Todd Grimm APHIS Wildlife Services.

This is the future of wolf management in Idaho. It now seems certain that those 26 “chronically depredating” wolf packs will be targeted this winter in Idaho long after livestock leave many of the areas they inhabit.

Shooting Wolves in a Barrel
Adam Cotterell – BSU radio

More on Interior Appropriations as it applies to Montana

There are numerous items. The largest goes for complicated land transactions near the Blackfoot River-

One of the items we need to find more about is Jon Tester’s addition of $1-million to pay livestock owners for livestock killed for wolves. It also provides funds for  projects keeping wolves away from livestock. The later could be of great benefit, but is it just window dressing?

Story:  $8.4 million appropriated for Blackfoot Community Project, finalizing purchase of 89,000 acres. By Rob Chaney, Missoulian.

Several days ago. Stories on “goodies” in the Interior Appropriations bill

Posted in politics, public lands, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Tags: , . Comments Off on More on Interior Appropriations as it applies to Montana

Washington State wolf plan out for public review*

Plan contemplates a possible large state wolf population-

Plan contemplates floor of 15 breeding pairs. Wolves to be distributed all around the state. AP

The preferred alternative sounds like an advanced plan with a much better distribution pattern of wolves than we find in Idaho, and especially better than Montana or Wyoming. Currently the state has two wolf packs. One, near Twisp, falls fully under protection of the Endangered Species Act and consists of wolves that migrated in, not from the Rockies, but from the B.C. Coastal ranges.

Here is the plan. 4.5mb pdf

– – – – – –

*Whoever wrote the headline in the PI story didn’t seem to sense the real story in the story.

Idaho again wants to land choppers in wilderness

Landing helicopters in wilderness violates the Wilderness Act

This article contains more information about something I posted a while back.

I don’t think the rational behind this plan is to kill wolves inside the wilderness but rather to document the minimum number of 150 wolves the state thinks is required so that they can kill more OUTSIDE of the wilderness.

Jon Marvel has the same perspective.

Idaho could use information gleaned from wilderness helicopter missions to accelerate wolf killing where conflicts with ranchers and hunters are more common, he said.

“If all of those breeding pairs are found inside the Frank Church, then you can kill all the wolves outside the wilderness with impunity,” Marvel said.

Idaho again wants to land choppers in wilderness
John Miller Associated Press

Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky

Idaho Department of Game declines to prosecute.

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Aerial gunning of wolves by private individuals is strictly forbidden under the Airborne Hunting Act of 1956. Even though states are allowed to issue permits to individuals to shoot coyotes and foxes from aircraft there are no permits which allow the shooting of wolves.

In Idaho, the Idaho Sheep Commission, which acts under the Idaho Department of Agriculture, issues aerial hunting permits to ranchers. The Executive Secretary of the Idaho Sheep Commission is Stan Boyd who also is listed as the Executive Director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, an industry group. Robert Ball, who is part owner of Ball Brother’s Sheep Inc, as is Carl Ball, is also listed as a commissioner for the Idaho Sheep Commission as well as a member of the board of directors of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

The incident happened over the lands, and under the authority, of Idaho State Senator Jeff Siddoway who is the sponsor of the Bighorn Sheep Kill Bill 1232. The Siddoway Sheep Company Incorporated, which is partially owned by the Senator, received $865,952 in agricultural subsidies between the years 1995-2006.

It would seem that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game should prosecute issue citation[s] in this case and, from my understanding, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can prosecute issue citation[s] in this case as well since Federal law is involved.

Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky
John Miller Associated Press

UPDATE: Here is the report. acrobat pdf

Latest wolf news from USFWS [Ed Bangs]

The interesting part is this — data on wolf control in Wyoming for the year to date: “Based on preliminary reports through September 2009, a total of 17 cattle and 177 sheep were recorded as confirmed wolf kills, and 28 wolves were killed in subsequent control actions in Wyoming.”

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To:                   Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado

From:               USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY

Subject:           Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- Sept 21 through Sept 25, 2009

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov . Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html and Idaho Department of Fish and Game website http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose.  Please distribute as you see fit.

Annual Reports

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available at: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Delisting Litigation Status

A hearing of the preliminary injunction request was held in Federal Court in Missoula, MT on August 31. Oral arguments were heard from the plaintiffs, U.S. Department of Interior, Montana, and Idaho. On September 8, the Federal Court denied the preliminary injunction motion filed by Defenders of Wildlife and others to stop the 2009 regulated gray wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.  However, in issuing his order, the judge indicated that his preliminary review of the overall delisting case raised questions about Service’s approach of conferring ESA protections to a “significant portion of the range” of a species, as opposed to designating the entire species as a threatened or endangered species. The Service will carefully evaluate the court’s order and confer with the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice to determine any appropriate next steps.


Idaho: Wolf hunting season is open in parts of Idaho with a statewide quota of 220 wolves. The IDFG website that summarizes wolf hunting in Idaho can be viewed at  http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/wolf/quota.cfm

Montana: Wolf hunting season opened in parts of Montana on September 15 with a total quota of 75 wolves. FWP’s website that tracks wolf hunting in Montana can be viewed at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/planahunt/wolfStatus.html

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County commits $20,000 for predator control

Two Oregon counties commit $40,000 taxpayer dollars but ranchers want more.

Ranchers ask for more subsidies in Oregon and receive taxpayer dollars to kill wildlife. Rather than adapting to a changing circumstance by doing more to proactively protect their livestock from predators they ask for the Federal Government to step in with funding while two counties divert $40,000 to hire a wildlife executioner who will spend their days killing coyotes, bears and cougars until the comparatively rare wolf depredation occurs.

Witness the beginning of another welfare ranching subsidy which turns into a system that asks for more and more taxpayer dollars and kills more and more wildlife.

County commits $20,000 for predator control.
Baker City Herald

Kill order placed on Ore. wolves killing livestock

This would be the first “control” of wolves in Oregon.

There are only two breeding packs in Oregon, one of them has been implicated in 5 incidents of livestock predation, two wolves are slated to be killed.

Kill order placed on Ore. wolves killing livestock
Associated Press

Kill order out on Phantom Hill Pack

Some of pack apparently killed 12 totally unguarded sheep-

I may not have a update until late today, but apparently Idaho’s one semi-protected wolf pack killed 12 sheep of an Idaho nobleman. Defenders of Wildlife has had a major project to keep the wolves and the annual invasion of sheep apart in the general area of the upper Wood River.

Earlier I didn’t have time to post the news story in the media. I had to go visit another area where I suspected cattle or sheep growers were poaching the public’s grass. They didn’t disappoint me. They were.

Here is the story.  Wolves kill 12 sheep. Phantom Hill wolf pack could be targeted by F&G. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. The sheep were on public land in Baker Creek.

♣ Related story posted August 14. This is very interesting story in the way the news is framed

Gooding sheep rancher backs off of wolf kill after herd attacked. Phantom Hill pack took dozen sheep this week. By Karen Bossick. Times-News correspondent

Extreme heat in Nebraska kills far more livestock in a couple days than western wolves in a year

In April, Ralph contrasted the disproportionate media hysteria that takes place when a wolf kills a cow or sheep versus when any number of other natural events result in vastly more significant livestock loss.  The example that he used :

SE Montana blizzard kills far more livestock in 2 days than Montana wolves in a year :

cattle losses to wolves in Montana in 2008 totaled just 77 dead with a couple dozen more “probables.”

Another more recent example of the glaring disparity of livestock loss to wolves & environment versus the weather is aptly illustrated on the other end of the weather spectrum :

Extreme heat kills hundreds of cattle in Nebraska – AP

In southeastern Nebraska’s Hamilton County, temperatures in the 90s and high humidity contributed to the deaths of roughly 600 cattle.

That’s one county.

Washington wolves and cows

For quite some time news of wolves moving into Washington state has excited many wolf supporters and Washington residents.  A couple photos of the Washington wolves.

As is usually the case, news of Washington wolves has also prompted local ranchers’ to kick up controversy and concern that their livelihood won’t be able to compete with these conditions of the natural world – on our public land. Recently, a dead cow was found near Twisp, Washington – and although wolves almost certainly had nothing to do with the kill, invariably – that’s where local media put the attention first.

What are managers doing to protect the Lookout wolf pack ?

The “Lookout pack” resides on the Wenatchee-Okanogan National  Forest.  These wolves migrated from Canada, they are not dispersers from Idaho. One (or more)  Washington wolves has already been killed by a poacher, a local hobby rancher whose family was allegedly caught trying to ship the wolf hide to Canada for tanning into a rug – the mail was identified as suspicious when the wolf’s blood began leaking from the package in transit. That violation of the ESA is still “under investigation” by US Fish & Wildlife Service. Wolves in Washington are still protected under the Endangered Species Act, and are fully protected, not being subject to the 10(j) Rule that allowed for liberal killing of wolves in the Northern Rockies “Distinct Population”.  Conviction of killing a fully protected endangered species (as are the wolves in Washington state) could result in a $100,000 fine.

While individuals may be prosecuted for illegal take of a fully federally protected Washington wolf after the fact, managers whose legal obligation it is to protect wolves and manage public land-use to avoid potential conflict remain largely unwilling to make meaningful changes in lieu of the altered circumstances given the Lookout pack’s recent presence on the landscape.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oregon Cattle Association whines over lost lambs, but gets little sympathy from the Oregonian

Oregon Cattlemen’s Association wants to shoot wolves on sight-

Wolves: Ranchers deserve to protect their property. By Bill Moore, guest opinion. Oregonian. Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

The howls over wolves. By The Oregonian Editorial Board

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Why the Cattle Association is worried about sheep is hard to say. As usual they fail to mention that the 23 lost lambs will be paid for. This “oversight” serves to make the financial loss appear much larger than it will be. Bill Moore also didn’t mention that the Oregon State wolf plan was adopted after much deliberation by a panel that included ranchers.

Once again for the sake of comparison. In Oregon, annual sheep and lamb losses to predators in the most recent NASS annual report were

Coyotes = 5,700
Cougar = 1,200
Dogs = 700
Eagles = 200
Bears = 100

Wolves nail some lambs in Oregon

First confirmed loss of livestock in Oregon has livestock association upset-

Although no wolf packs are confirmed yet in Oregon, it looks like at least one is present despite years of reports and illegal shootings of lone wolves. The usual suspects are agitating for the removal of these wolves.

Wolves kill 23 lambs on Oregon ranch. By Mark Furman KVAL.com Staff
Update. I see that the Associated Press has decided to caption the photo in the link above as “Camera captures wolves killing lambs in Oregon.” But that’s not what the photo shows. It clearly shows one wolf gingerly sniffing a dead lamb.

Ranchers cry for wolf hearings. AP
Ranchers say ‘rogue’ wolves must go. By Ed Merriman. Baker City Herald.

Once again private compensation for losses to wolves is not good enough. They want to reach in the taxpayer’s pockert for their losses. The truth is they don’t like to ask a conservation organization, no matter how willing they are to pay; and they especially don’t like to ask a woman.

In Oregon, sheep and lamb losses to predators in the most recent NASS annual report are as follows:

This is for one year.

Coyotes = 5,700
Cougar = 1,200
Dogs = 700
Eagles = 200
Bears = 100

IDFG’s plans to manage wolves includes killing 26 packs as well as 80% or 100 wolves in the Lolo

250 to 300 Idaho wolves could be killed if delisting occurs.

On May 2nd wolves will be delisted leaving a window of at least 30 days before the decision could be enjoined by a judge. During this time, assuming an injunction, a number of things could happen at the hands of the Idaho Fish and Game Department and Wildlife Services.

Based on what is in the written record it appears that anywhere from 250 to 300 wolves could be killed in a very short period of time through means other than hunting by individual hunters. Earlier I reported that Wildlife Services was seeking the flexibility to kill 26 packs for “chronic” depredations and now it appears that Idaho Fish and Game is on board with this plan. In the event of delisting, these plans will likely go forward and the result will be the death of 30% to 35% of Idaho’s 846 wolves.

From: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/about/commission/2009/jan27.pdf

To develop and aggressively utilize all available tools and methods to control wolf-caused depredation of domestic livestock.

• Staff have worked with Wildlife Services to identify 25 wolf pack territories with chronic livestock conflicts (>3 occurrences in 2008)

• Staff will implement aggressive and efficient control measures, including entire pack removal, for wolf packs with chronic histories of livestock depredation

• Staff will work with the Office of Species Conservation to request a Department of Interior Solicitor’s opinion on the 45-day window

Idaho Fish and Game Department commonly states that it will manage wolves in the same way that it manages bears and mountain lions but this seems to be a falsehood. There are no plans underway to reduce the number of Idaho’s 3000 mountain lions or 20,000 bears by a third nor is there the hysteria surrounding those species. The State legislature has not stepped in with crazy legislation regarding bears and mountain lions either, and the director of the Idaho Fish and Game has not attended meetings where illegal activities are promoted to exterminate wolves from the state as happened this weekend.

The Idaho Fish and Game also continues to perpetuate false information. In this video you will see that IDFG claims that the growth rate of the wolf population in Idaho is 20%. This is incorrect. Their own report shows that the rate is actually 16%, which is higher than last year’s 9%, but in line with trends showing that the growth rate is declining. This is a strong indication that wolves have filled the available habitat and natural regulation is taking place as anyone with a biology background would expect.

Read the rest of this entry »

The new lands bill has compensation for losses from wolves

Little discussed amendment to bill would pay livestock owners for losses, but also give grants to be proactive and use non-lethal measures-

Livestock operators are always getting new subsidies from the government, but this amendment could be positive because it is more than just paying people for their losses to wolves. It also provides grants to states to use non-lethal methods to prevent losses from happening.  Idaho has pretty much abandoned asking livestock operators from doing anything to prevent losses. Hopefully this amendment will change things.

Lands bill offers wolf-kill money. By The Associated Press.

Tester: Passage of ‘Wolf Kill Bill’ Was Common Sense. Montana Senator says, “… the Wolf Kill Bill isn’t just about repaying ranchers.” By Jon Tester, U.S. Senate, Guest Writer. New West.

Why We Need Wolves In Our Parks

. . . and about “the Ripple Effect.”

Why We Need Wolves In Our Parks. Todd Palmer and Rob Pringle. The Huffington Post.

“Elusive, destructive wolf killed”

If this is as bad as it gets, wolves are not much of a problem-

Over a number of months a pair or wolves killed $5-6 thousand worth of sheep and goats owned by farmer near Reeds Point, Montana. The story is mostly interesting because it was so hard for Wildlife Services to get these wolves even with all of their high tech.

I suppose this was a serious matter in a state where the wildlife agency sees it acceptable to kill a pack of 27 wolves because they killed a handful of livestock, some of them sick.

How much did Wildlife Services spend to kill these two wolves, the last one of which was shot from a helicopter last Friday?

How much did you lose in your retirement account last year?

How much do you owe on your overpriced student loan(s)?

How much did your health insurance not pay on your serious, or even not so serious illness (assuming you have any health insurance)?

How much are you out because you lost your job?

Has the news media done a story on your personal struggles?

Why does the government waste money on things like this, and not help you?

News story in the Billings Gazette. Elusive, destructive wolf killed. By Brett French.

Livestock as four legged picnic baskets

George Wuerthner wrote a letter to the editor making a great point about the double-standard regarding livestock/wolf conflicts – especially on public lands :

In our national parks it’s illegal to leave out picnic baskets because it will lead to human-bear conflicts. To save bears, humans are fined if they fail to put away food.

But when it comes to ranchers, we have the exact opposite approach. Instead of fining them for leaving four legged picnic baskets scattered all over the landscape — including most of our public lands — we hold the wolves accountable [for] any losses that are largely due to the livestock industry’s poor management.

The whole letter :

Livestock as four legged picnic basketsWuerthner on the Environment

Killing of Hog Heaven pack draws cries of protest

Fortunately the Hog Heaven Pack’s slaughter is not going away. You can bet more of this is planned-

Killing of Pack Draws Cries of Protest. By Jim Mann. Northwest Montana Daily InterLake.

In the article, it reads “Laudon [of MT Fish, Wildlife, Parks] said he can imagine what it would be like if the state completely ignored the concerns of livestock owners and the costs they incur due to wolves.

” ‘There would be a hell of a do-it-yourself club out there,’ he said. ‘We can’t have that. Now that would be a trigger-happy Wild West.’ ”

In fact, without their radio collars and aircraft, a do-it-yourself-club would be far less lethal than Wildlife Services. The problem is Wildlife Services and their “toys.” These need to be taken away from them.

This level of livestock loss is trivial, and would be of no public interest at all were it not wolves.

I have it from a pretty good source that slaughter of this pack (assuming it even was just one huge pack) was a trial run. More will be in order and soon, including Idaho if they get away with this.

With all of the truly bad news out there, what looks like an impending depression, they might think there is enough noise in the news that their actions won’t be noticed.

– – – – –

Related. Wolf kills rise in Rockies. Bush administration set to remove gray wolves from endangered species list [again]. By MATTHEW BROWN. AP

Montana wolf news. Massacre by the Wildlife Services

Montana FWP oversees wiping out a pack of 27 wolves-

Wildlife Services has killed 19 members of the Hog Heaven Pack over a three day period. The news reports said the pack originally had 27 members. Now it is gone.

This is 8 per cent of Montana’s wolves for scattered killings over the year. I’ve seen no complete tally as to numbers, ages, whether the owners had attractants. It seems the dead livestock were cattle (mostly calves) and 3 llamas.

Montana has also killed off other large numbers of wolves this year, eliminating them from entire areas of the state.

This is doubly significant because Montana claims to have an enlightened wolf management plan, but even Wyoming doesn’t kill wolves at this rate.

According to a story in the Daily InterLake (Kalispell), “Over the last few months, the pack was involved in eight separate incidents of depredation on livestock. In the latest incident on Nov. 18, the pack killed a 2-year-old bull. Hog Heaven wolves also were believed to be responsible for killing three llamas on Aug. 6, a calf on Sept. 16, two breeding-stock heifers on Sept. 23, a calf on Sept. 25 and another calf on Oct. 8.”  Entire story (you can add your comments)

Here’s what you can do, go to change.gov and suggest that Wildlife Services is an agency that needs to be eliminated or changed so that it only engages in non-lethal actions with  domestic vertebrate wildlife. All lethal control should be redirected to foreign animals that do significant harm — invasive species like nutria and feral hogs.

In other words, they can kill non-native pests like starlings and English sparrows.

More specifically, ask them for reform by  1. Supporting committee report language in the FY 2010 Agriculture appropriations bill that reads: “the Committee expects that Wildlife Services will make use of the non-lethal methods developed by the National Wildlife Research Center, and will make non-lethal controls the near exlusive method of choice, and will resort to lethal means only as a last resort.” Ask them to nominate a person who is committed to this policy for the position of  USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
2. Support passage of wolf/livestock legislation S. 2875 (Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act of 2008) with an amendment to make funding come from USDA not the Department of the Interior and pass companion House language.
3. Prohibit all aerial gunning of domestic wildlife.

Questions arise over tallies of wolf depredation figures in Montana

Claim is that more are killed than reported-

Yes, and given Wildlife Services’ seeming intent to reduce wolf populations by control after “depredations”, it seems just as likely the depredation figures are inflated.

At any rate, the cost is small. Many people as individuals have lost far more in the decline of their retirement funds, stock portfolios, etc., than the cost of entire wolf depredation in the state of Montana. Of course, the 120,000 dollar losses to many John Does in Missoula somehow is not news, but the loss of a $1000 heifer somewhere in rural Montana is news.

How about equal time?

Questions arise over tallies of depredation figures. By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record

Idaho wolf update Sept. 13– Sept. 26, 2008

As most of you are aware, this is produced by Idaho Fish and Game Dept. There is more actual news in this one, including a new population estimate that shows Idaho’s wolf population up slightly compared to last year’s “end of the year” — official — report.

In this report and others, it is becoming clear the department is concerned about the connectivity of the Idaho wolf population to the Greater Yellowstone, the key to Judge Molloy’s injunction on the delisting. Idaho Fish and Game may be gearing up to let wolves flourish along the Idaho-Montana border, not just between Salmon, Idaho and Missoula, Montana and north, as they have, but although the Continental Divide (Idaho/Montana border) from Salmon to the Park area. In the past the wolves in this area have suffered heavy “control.”

The research component is interesting, and the our organization, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, is putting considerable financial resources into it.

In the report below, the boldface was added by me.

Ralph Maughan

– – – – – – – – –

To: Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators

From: IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management, Weeks of Sept. 13– Sept. 26, 2008.

New: FWS – Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Status (WY, MT, ID): The U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, July 18, 2008, that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain DPS pending final resolution of the case. This includes all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of

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Idaho Fish and Game rules on two of three recent wolf killings

Under Idaho’s you-can-shoot-a-wolf-for-worrying-your-cow-dog-or-whatever law, Idaho Fish and Game has ruled that 2 of 3 shootings were justified.

It says a third is still under investigation.


According to rumors in Stanley, the third was a shooting of a Basin Butte wolf that came down to where the pack regularly hunted ground squirrels only to find the pasture filled with trucked in cattle. The wolf was shot while standing in the vicinity of the cattle.

There has also been a kill order out for another Stanley area pack, the Galena Pack, for allegedly killing a cow calf. This pack too stays low under later in the summer so it can hunt ground squirrels. The Idaho Fish and Game regional manager ordered one wolf taken.

I called him and suggested that instead the pack should have been hazed to its summer range in the higher elevations of the White Cloud Mountains.

After spending several days trying to trap a wolf, our observers noted WS has left the area. Whether they got a wolf is unknown. They may be coming back with aircraft gunships. The cost for the revenge killing of one calf??

Decisions on wolf killing in Idaho have been devolved from the state’s large carnivoire manager, Steve Nadeau to the F & G regional managers; although I get the impression that the federal agency Wildlife Services [as in wildlife killing] makes the call and the regional managers probably rubberstamps WS’s decision.

[Mexican] Wolf recovery can succeed

Mexican Gray WolfBenjamin Tuggle, Southwest regional director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has published an Op-Ed in the Arizona Republic:

Wolf recovery can succeed

The Op-Ed is released, likely to smooth things over, amidst recent controversy in response to inaction on the part of FWS including at least 2 lawsuits and a recent poll demonstrating southwesterners [overwhelmingly] want wolves (77 percent of Arizonans and 69 percent of New Mexicans support wolf reintroduction on public lands).

The Mexican gray wolf is considered by scientists as the most endangered mammal in North America and efforts at restoration have been stymied, the greatest threat to Mexican wolves being predator control actions enforced on behalf of the livestock industry.

Phantom Hill Pack wolf project off to a dramatic start

Phantom Hill Pack wolf project off to a dramatic start. Idaho Mountain Express.

“Last minute reroute of sheep band helps avert ‘train wreck’

Moving a sheep herd onto a pack’s rendezvous site almost always results in dead sheep.

Project [Phantom Hill wolf pack] seeks peace among sheep and wolves

Project seeks peace among sheep and wolves. Diverse group says collaboration could be a model for other wolf-occupied areas. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

This high profile project is a semi-official attempt to keep both sheep and the very popular Phantom Hill wolf pack alive. The pack’s territory is mostly in the headwaters area of the Big Wood River inside the Sawtooth National Recreation area.

While I am usually very critical of Wildlife Services, Wildlife Services wolf management specialist Rick Williamson gets a lot of credit as one of the people setting this up. The same true with Carter Niemeyer, who so successfully managed wolves in Idaho when the federal government was running the show.

Credit goes to Defenders of Wildlife who is putting money on the ground and volunteers into this.

Last year this pack did get some short time help (the deterence in the midst of lots of sheep) both formally and informally.

In their official year end report, the Idaho division of Wildlife Services was very negative on this pack, saying it had gotten too many chances, but this project shows what local political support can do.

One reason there is public support for this pack is because, as in Yellowstone, it is visible.

Coverage of Jerome IDFG Meeting & wolves as “terrorists”

The Times-News covers an Idaho Department of Fish & Game open house on the upcoming wolf hunt. Unlike the meeting in Boise, an area that enjoys wolf support, it appears that the Jerome meeting was attended by many of the commissioners themselves. Additionally, unlike in Boise, it appears that the public was given the opportunity to make comments in “hearing” format – a format which enjoys the attention of all in attendance – including the commissioners themselves. Blaine County residents did not enjoy the opportunity to attend any such meeting.

Who’s tired of the big, bad wolf? – Times-News

The coverage includes video in the top right corner in which members demand widespread removal of wolves and in which one likens wolves to “terrorists”.

The Idaho Statesman notes that hunters are pushing hard to reduce wolf numbers:

Hunters push Fish and Game commission to reduce wolf population to protect big game industry

Read the rest of this entry »

Mexican Wolf – Wolf Managers Turn Down Governor and Scientists on Wolf Rule

For Immediate Release, May 16, 2008

Contacts:        Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360
Stephen Capra, (505) 843-8696
Greta Anderson, (520) 623-1878

Wolf Managers Turn Down Governor and Scientists on Wolf Rule,
17 Conservation Groups Write to Oppose Anti-Wolf Policy

SILVER CITY, N.M.— This week, the interagency Mexican wolf reintroduction team refused New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s request to suspend and ultimately change the controversial wolf removal policy known as SOP 13, the rule that requires the permanent removal from the wild of any wolf involved in three fatal livestock depredation incidents over a one-year period.

These trappings and shootings disrupt the wolves’ highly structured family groups, separate mated pairs, and can leave pups without parents. They also reduce the genetic diversity of a population based on only seven founding animals.
Read the rest of this entry »

Blaine county committs to non-lethal predator management projects

Good News ! With the rest of the state of Idaho focused primarily on lethal measures of ‘control’ for wolves, Blaine County has decided to take initiative and work with federal managers who have proposed to study the success of non-lethal methods of reducing conflict between wolves and livestock – the county is going so far as to contribute local dollars to the projects !

Could Wolf Management Plan Become a Model ? Idaho Mountain Express

As engaged as the Blaine County community has been with wolves, especially with as many wolves in the area, it remains a shame that the IDFG has chosen not to scheduled a public forum with which to gather face to face input on the impending wolf hunt rules.

Cambridge Wolf Kill

From what I understand, agencies discourage the photography of permitted ‘control’ actions – especially among private individuals permitted to kill the predators. As we see here and from what we have seen in the past, it appears that sometimes folk just can’t help themselves.

WWPblog has posted these photos of a wolf apparently legally killed near Cambridge Idaho.

Gray Wolf Livestock Loss Mitigation Act

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) have introduced federal legislation to line the pockets of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana in their efforts at compensating livestock producers for animals probably maybe killed by wolves.

Senators seek to compensate owners for livestock killed by wolves

Read the rest of this entry »

Rancher claims wolves harass cattle gets permit to kill 4 wolves in Wyoming’s “protected” zone

Two more take permits have been issued for probems near Dubois.

Here’s the other side of Wyoming’s new kill-a lot-of-wolves policy. Generous killing of wolves where they are supposed to be protected because of minor or vague wolf problems with livestock — kill permits in the wolves are “trophy game” zone.

Cody rancher receives first ‘kill’ permit. Cody Enterprise.

Given the relative numbers, killing 6 wolves in Wyoming (where there are 150 outside the national parks) is like killing about 26 wolves in Idaho.

Montana State Pins Hopes for Wolves on Compensation

The Great Falls Tribure explains how Montana is resting its hope for tolerance of wolves on its state compensation program following delisting. 100% compensation will be distributed for both confirmed and probable losses and the state hopes to expand the program to include compensation for “broken fences” attributed to wolves in the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho State Legislature Passes Bill To Kill Wildlife/Wolves “Molesting” Domestic Animals

Some people tend to forget that state management of wolves isn’t a responsibility exclusively reserved to the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, a department that’s allegedly insulated from politicization. I slip “allegedly” in there because anyone who’s been paying attention to wildlife issues in the state has a good idea that the Livestock lobby pretty much holds its will over the head of even our good ol’ boy governor “Butch” Otter, let alone the IDF&G (See: Idaho Interim Bighorn Management Plan). The lobby exercises its authority most prominently in the legislature, where last week House lawmakers passed SENATE BILL NO. 1374. The bill sets the bar for “disposal” of wolves, which we’ll see below the fold, but for this space we’ll set the mood with with a characteristic sampling of the mentality behind the governing body that will hold authority over “managing” wolves in the state of Idaho come Friday.

The bill starts :

10 […]any person may control, trap, and/or remove any
11 wild animals or birds or may destroy the houses, dams, or other structures of
12 furbearing animals for the purpose of protecting property from the
13 depredations thereof as hereinafter provided.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cost of controlling Buffalo Ridge Pack revealed

The killing of the Buffalo Ridge Pack in Idaho prompted an inquiry bringing forth some interesting information about the cost of wolf control.

The information is in a letter by Gloria Carlton in the most recent Idaho Mountain Express.

I wonder what the dollar loss of livestock to the rancher (said to be Wayne Baker) was and the cost of measures that would have made the pasture less attractive to wolves?*

I imagine direct expenditures by conservation groups to keep this wolf pack out of trouble plus volunteer time was easily $50,000.  The efforts were mostly in Squaw Creek where the pack denned each year and was quite easy to see in the winter until about the end of May.

– – – – –

* Note it was never proven the Buffalo Ridge pack killed the several small calves that were confirmed to be killed by wolf. The East Pass Creek pack is in the area and their are other scattered wolves.

Posted in Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Tags: , . Comments Off on Cost of controlling Buffalo Ridge Pack revealed

State wildlife agencies wait to take over wolves. 2007 also saw record number of wolves killed in the region

State wildlife agencies wait to take over wolves. 2007 also saw record number of wolves killed in the region. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.

The record number of wolves killed did seem to reduce reduce, or was at least associated, with fewer losses of livestock in Wyoming. Sheep are more likely to be killed than cattle. Of course they are smaller are worth less. Stories rarely mention that a high percentage of the dead cattle are calves, and usually late winter, spring and early summer calves — small or smallish.

I need to calculate the rates, but my perception is that in Idaho the livestock losses per wolf are consistently lower than in Wyoming and Montana, probably due to the larger cow-free backcountry.

Except for an occasional large sheep kill, I must admit my perception is that wolf losses are trivial and the perception of high losses is an opinion artifact created by the livestock industry and politicians. They can tell me 75 cows is a lot of cows, but then I know they were mostly calves and Western Montana is a huge place, but if you report each lost calf and a tearful livestock operator (at least while the video is recording) . . . “how I loved that little gal. Now she’s hamburger (Ooops, I mean she was viciously hamstrung),” it will have the desired effect.

Wyoming budgets $2.5 million for wolf management

It’s just amazing from a benefit/cost standpoint (assuming wolves have no benefits).

Wolves do maybe $200,000 damage and state appropriates more than ten times that to monitor them, collar them and kill them, and of course give oh so generous reimbursement (7x) to livestock operators who are lucky enough to have a wolf kill a lamb or a calf in the trophy game area in the NW corner of the state.

Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.  By Cory Hatch.

Hailey resident questions the economics of killing of the Buffalo Ridge Pack

This open letter to Cal Groen, director of Idaho Fish and Game, was published in the Challis Messenger today.

Cost of control. By Gloria Carlton

Wildlife Services 2007 report on wolf control in Idaho

I hadn’t seen one of these before, except a hard copy many years ago before wolves were restored to Idaho. Then it was a general report on control of all “harmful” animals.

It’s fascinating to me. Everyone will view it differently.

My view is all this effort over such a trivial loss of livestock (except for a few instances). Be sure to note how many of the cattle were actually calves, and how a small absolute increase in numbers can be made to appear huge when reported in per cent increase.

Idaho-Wildlife Services-FY2007-wolf-report.pdf

13 years on, wolves [in Idaho] have changed friends and foes alike

This is a great story, emphasizing the positive changes for wolves in Idaho since they were reintroduced, but of particular interest it tells about one of our regular posters, Lynne Stone, a women who really does run with wolves, or at least after them — her efforts to keep them alive by keeping them out of livestock.

Rocky Baker’s story tells what she has been up to in the Stanley Basin, Sawtooth Valley, and Marsh Creek area the last several years.

I’d say Lynne’s incredible dedication has saved at least 3 wolf packs from “lethal control,” and also kept a large number of sheep and cattle alive. Her example and interaction with local folks have also played an important part in changing the opinions about wolves in the Stanley area from one of mostly hostility to neutrality and favorability.

Barker also writes about the changes in attitude of two other people. Curt Hurless, in particular, is well known, and I wrote many stories about him when he was trying to raise cattle a few miles downstream from Clayton, on the Salmon River.

Barker believes the changes reflected by the three people he writes about, Stone, Hurless, and Branson, bodes well for delisting. I hope so.

13 years on, wolves have changed friends and foes alike. Hunters, ranchers and wolf advocates look ahead to delisting. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Confirmed wolf predations in Wyoming decline in 2007

Confirmed wolf predations decline. Wolf Management in Wyoming. By Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!

Confirmed livestock losses to wolves dropped by over 55% from 2006. 55 cattle (mostly calves) and 16 sheep we confirmed lost to wolves. For this 60 wolves were shot, mostly by Wildlife Services.

Of course there were some livestock killed, but not found, but we also have to assume that Wildlife Services did not cheat in counting the confirmed losses. The Wyoming wolf plan calls for paying sheep growers 700% the value of a lost sheep if it is a confirmed wolf kill. The justification is that there are 7 dead sheep for every one found. If this rate of unconfirmed loss was really true, Wyoming sheep operations would probably be the most sloppy on the planet. In fact, sheep are herded much more closely than cattle, and losses of sheep to predators are more likely, rather than less likely to be detected.

These are data then, about which the governor, state legislators and some of media act so hysterical.

Idaho legislators moan and groan on Wolves

Idaho state legislators just don’t believe the numbers on wolves and big game and they’re more than willing to be loud about it.

Wolf population grows
F&G director briefs lawmakers on species
By Jared S. Hopkins

This is the kind of political pressure and anecdotal hearsay  that makes the state not ready for delisting.

Posted in Delisting, Idaho wolves, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Idaho legislators moan and groan on Wolves

NPR: Government Revisits Contested Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan

On National Public Radio, this is mostly audio, Government Revisits Contested [Mexican] Wolf Recovery Plan. By Ted Robbins.

For those who like it by ear, this is an overview of the current controversy, government efforts for a better plan, and the incipient failure of the Mexican wolf restoration.

Posted in Mexican wolves, politics, Wolf dispersal, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on NPR: Government Revisits Contested Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan

Western Watersheds Project’s comments on Idaho wolf population management plan

Many folks will like to read this, find a lot of good information and see how thoroughly political, rather than scientific the plan is. There is great information placing wolf caused livestock mortality into context with other kinds of losses.

The due date for comments was Dec. 31, 2007.

This  is an 8 page pdf document written by Debra Ellers, WWPs Western Idaho Director.
The comments.

Arizona Republic says concern for cows has been too much in the Mexican wolf recovery

This is exactly what I think needs to be said. Finally someone realized that preventing extinction of this small wolf is more important than the cows, whose owners lose little if anything.

Let wolves prosper. Editorial. Arizona Republic.

Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

I didn’t write a report on all of the wolf population management plan meetings. I didn’t get news about some of them.

These are Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker’s impressions on the Boise meeting where wolf supporters predominated.

More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting.

It is absolutely true that the wolf issue is as the meeting moderator said,  “social,” that is,  in my view a culture clash, having little to do with wolves, which are but a symbol for reaction to change in the West.

Posted in Delisting, Idaho wolves, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Rocky Barker: More laughter than anger at Fish and Game wolf meeting [in Boise]

Resisting Delisting – Idaho Wolves & Livestock’s Influence

Wolves in the fold: Ranchers struggle to co-exist with an old Montana predator

This story appeared Oct. 6 and is fairly moderate in tone, despite the headline — “their struggle” isn’t much compared to the multitude of other things that kill cattle and sheep.

Montana’s Department of Fish and Wildife and Parks, which does just about all on-the-ground decision making about wolves today, is also moderate. Montana’s Department and its commissioners are much more inclusive, willing to try new things, and open to the public than Idaho. I won’t even talk about Wyoming’s Game and Fish Commission where total darkness reigns.

The odd thing is this, despite Idaho’s harsh rhetoric, and backward ranchers with political pull, Idaho has far more wolves than Montana, kills fewer wolves than Montana, and in many years has fewer so-called “depredations” on cattle and sheep (note that I am being conscious of George Wuerthner’s article on language that I posted today).

So I am puzzled.

Wolves in the fold: Ranchers struggle to co-exist with an old Montana predator. By Kim Briggeman. The Missoulian

Related story. Wyoming wolf conflicts decline: Aggressive control actions limit livestock kills. By Whitney Royster, Casper Star Tribune. When you factor out the large number of wolves in Yellowstone Park, a much higher percentage of wolves are killed in Wyoming than in Montana or Idaho by the government — in this case the federal government.

Another puzzle, does killing a lot of wolves improve the political situation with ranchers? Are they going to be more pleasant in Wyoming now, or does that kind of management just raise their expectation level? The question needs to be asked and answered, and wolf conservation groups decide their tone in the future on the basis of the answer.

Montana ranch favored by conservation groups gets cited for upleasant kind of wolf killing

The email and phone lines have been buzzing about this one.

Last July a ranch hand at the Sun Ranch ran down and ran repeated ran over an injured female wolf, the alpha of the pack. The Sun Ranch on the east side of the Madison Valley has long been favored by many conservation groups as one place where they are trying to do it right. Because the wolf had not chased or attacked the cattle and was in fact moving away from them, they were cited for a violation, an “illegal wolf take” under the current 10j rule.

The 10j rule states that the wolf must be attacking, or actively molesting, harassing or chasing livestock before it can be killed. The method used stirred controversy. The ranch hand did not have a gun. Wolves can also be legally shot for molesting or attacking livestock guard or herding dogs.

Here is the most recent story about it in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Sun Ranch issued citation for wolf killing. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Officials have killed 5 wolves in 2 days

Wildlife services has killed five wolves in the past 2 days in Montana. The language of the article is interesting to note . 5 wolves for 2 calves, four were gunned down from a helicopter.

– – – –

Update from RM Sept. 29. Ed Bangs has sent out the Grey Wolf Recovery Weekly Progress Report from USFWS, and there are more new “controls” in Montana. Bangs writes:

On the 20th, MT WS and CSKT confirmed that wolves had killed a steer calf near Ravalli, MT. Wolves were heard howling immediately above kill site and on the 21st the collared female was located immediately above kill site within a 1/2 mile. Control to remove the remainder of this pack is ongoing. On the 25th, MT WS shot 4 of 5 members of the Hewolf Mountain Pack from a helicopter. Three animals were recovered but the fourth wasn’t found. The remaining radio-collared female will be removed at a later date.

On Sept. 24th, MT WS used a helicopter to shoot 4 wolves from the Sapphire pack southwest of Philipsburg, MT in response to a confirmed calf depredation on the 21st. An adult female and 3 female pups were removed near the ranch where the depredation occurred. Up to 11 wolves remain in the pack. Control is now finished.

On Sept 24th, MT WS killed the collared adult female in the Fleecer Mtn pack, completing the removal of this pack. A 4th uncollared gray wolf either dispersed or was killed unknowingly last week during control operations. The SOS permit issued to the affected landowner was cancelled.

On Sept. 25th, MT WS used a helicopter to shoot the collared alpha female of the depredating Bearmouth pack, completing the removal of the pack.

A yellow lab was reported killed on private land in the Ninemile Valley, MT on the 26th. MFWP investigated and confirmed wolves had killed the dog. The incident occurred around 8 am in a small field about 80 yards from the house. The Ninemile pack consists of at least 4 adult wolves and 2 pups and is currently uncollared.

– – – –

I should add that the Ninemile Pack isn’t just any old wolf pack, but the oldest pack in the Northern Rockies, originated from native wolves that migrated down from Canada into NW Montana and eventually the Ninemile Valley. RM

Northern Rockies wolf numbers rise while livestock depredations falls

Ed Bangs has released the mid-year estimate of wolf numbers. The final estimate is made for Jan. 1, and, of course, it has to be lower because the pups are born each April or May..

The wolf population continues to grow, most strongly in per cent terms in Montana, although in absolute numbers in Idaho which has the largest base population of wolves. There are a number of newspaper stories about this now, and a major point of confusion is due to the fact that the 2006 figures Bangs cites below are year end and 2007 figures are mid-year. Therefore, a story in a newspaper on Sept. 22 that says the population growth rate is 19% is wrongly overstated growth because wolves will die between mid-2007 and the end of 2007. Comparisons of wolves killed and livestock killed are also hard to directly compare with 2006 because more will come.

I didn’t realize this either, thinking at first it was mid-2006 compared with mid-2007.

Below are the data and an analysis by Ed Bangs.

rough mid-year wolf population estimate for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains [NRM].
There are no known wolf packs in the NRM outside of Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming. Our
official interagency estimates in our 2007 annual report will certainly be different and much
more accurate than these because of better wolf monitoring conditions in fall/winter and
increased levels of wolf mortality and dispersal later in the year. These figures do give some
insight into the likely trend of the wolf population, conflicts, and control relative to last year.
Overall, the NRM wolf population in 2007 will be higher, wolf control about the same, and
confirmed livestock depredations lower than that documented in 2006.


State    Year    # Wolves         Packs   B pairs     Cattle killed  Sheep    Dogs     Other    Wolves


MT      2006    316                      60          21                        32                        4            4            2          53

MT      2007    394                      71          37                        48                        19          1            1          50


ID       2006    673                      69          40                        29                        205        4            0          45

ID       2007    788                      75          41                        36                        150        7            0          40


WY     2006    311                      40          25                        123                      38          0            1          44

WY     2007    362                      33          27                        28                        16          2            0          45


Total   2006    1300                    172        86                        184                      247        8            3            142

            2007    1545                    179        105                      111                      185        10          1            134


Wyoming heating up

The AP has written a story about federal wildlife managers more aggressive wolf controls in Wyoming:

Although the livestock deaths are dramatically lower so far, Jimenez said the same number of wolves has been removed because federal agents have “taken out more wolves quicker in shorter time frame to not allow packs to keep killing.”

“Not allow packs” is more like it.

State-side, Sinapu’s Wild Again ! notes that WY pumps up the war chest in anticipation of wolf management.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (sic) weigh’s in on Wyoming’s annual $2 million budget request for state management in the Casper Star-Tribune article referenced at Wild Again !:

Bob Wharff, executive director of the Wyoming chapter of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, said he wasn’t surprised by the budget.

“That is a lot of money, but that’s what it would take to do the job,” he said.

Both Rob Edward of Sinapu and Susan Stone of Defenders of Wildlife note that with that kind of money the state could compensate ranchers well over market for all livestock lost to wolves – market value is what they’ve been getting from Defenders. But Wyoming is making it clearer and clearer that this is not about maintaining economic security for ranchers ~ Wyoming is willing to spend $2 million dollars a year on gassing up helicopters and related costs to aerially gun down as many wild wolves as it can.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain.
~ Aldo Leopold

    A Sand Coutny Almanac

Wolves back in Washington

Officials are reporting the presence of a wolf in Washington. This from the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A calf in northeastern Washington was killed by a wolf, proving the endangered species is once again within the borders of Washington after being killed off decades ago, wildlife officials said Friday.

Opinion: Voluntary buyout programs should phase out sheep in Western Idaho wolf country

This link to the WWP Blog is to a piece is by Debra K. Ellers, Western Idaho Director of Western Watersheds Project. She wrote in response to a story in the McCall, Idaho newspaper that was complaining about wolves making it hard to raise sheep in the mountains of the area (actually, wildfires in recent years have greatly increased the forage for sheep and elk).

Idaho wolf pack of nine killed by government, west of Fairfield.

Wolf pack west of Fairfield eradicated. By Trey Spaulding. For the Times-News.

“Nadeau [the state’s large carninovore manage] said we are going to see more and more of these scenarios since the prime wolf habitat in Idaho is now all occupied by other packs.”

This prediction has in fact been made several times by past wolf managers in Idaho (as when the federal government was managing them). It didn’t happen. The rate of wolf “control” did not increase more than proportionately than the number of wolves, nor did the number of “depredations.”

August 27. The Times-News has taken down their story and the link above doesn’t work, but Idaho Fish and Game just released their own story. Here it is: wolf report: wolf pack removed

Sheep rancher [Mike Stevens] seeks peace with wolves

Sheep rancher seeks peace with wolves. Lava Lake Land and Livestock uses non-lethal measures to protect herds. By Jason Kaufmann. Idaho Mountain Express.

If there are a lot of wolves around your sheep bands, you are going lose quite a few sheep, right? And so every so often you have to have the government kill a bunch of wolves?

Lava Lake Land and Livestock which runs sheep on over 700,000 acres of central Idaho wolf country has proven this to be wrong. Their magic method is don’t respond to wolves in the traditional rancher fashion.

IDFG considering whether to kill off Phantom Hill wolf pack

This wolf pack has become a favorite for folks traveling up and down Idaho Highway 75 between Galena Summit and North Fork because they are seen near by the highway.

On one side of the road is the grazing allotment of Lava Lake Sheep and Livestock, run by Mike Stevens, a very progressive outfit that elected not to put sheep in the area this summer once the wolf pack was discovered. On the other side of the highway are the sheep of Gooding-based Faulkner Land and Livestock Co., who is beginning to see losses to the Phantom Hill wolf pack which was first discovered this year, but has apparently had pups before this year’s litter.

Volunteer Cindi Hillemeyer has been working for the Idaho Fish and Game Department trying to keep the sheep and wolves apart. Although the article doesn’t say it, Hillemeyer is about to return to school for the year.

There are some local efforts to find volunteers to replace her. Support from local elected officials (Sun Valley/Ketchum) could help save this pack which could probably be moved away from the sheep by a good hazing by several individuals.

Story by Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

Boise (10j rule) hearing to be webcast live – tonight

The Boise (10j rule) hearing will be webcast live tonight barring difficulties encountered at the venue. Unfortunately, wordpress.com does not support streaming embeds so I am unable to embed the video on this post. If you would like to watch the live video and/or participate in the public comment, you can do so by visiting one of these links from 6pm MST to 9pm MST :

The live video stream – Western Watersheds has youtubed the Idaho official’s comments thus far

The forum for live participation

We are going to attempt to have volunteers read the comments posted to the live forum/blog in the meeting as demonstration that there are people who wished to attend but were unable to given the timeframe, geographical restraints, etc. Remember… Read the rest of this entry »

Dead and Dying Cattle Litter Gila Region, Drawing Mexican Wolves

This is a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity.

Dead and Dying Cattle Litter Gila Region, Drawing Mexican Wolves

After looking at the central Idaho range and mountains, it is obvious to me that cattle in Idaho are going to die this summer for lack of water, forage, and neglect. No doubt scavenging wolves will be blamed in those cases where they think the blame can be shifted.

Update. In response to “KT’s” comment (see the comments), here is a classic example from this June 29 in the Horse Heaven country on the backside of the Lost River Range — a herd of cattle with nothing to drink but filthy fecal water. The trickle flowing from the dying spring (which came out of a small hose) wasn’t even connected to the water trough!

This is NOT the Gila Region, where things are probably much worse. This is in east central Idaho

Photo by Ralph Maughan. June 29, 2007. A mile or two north of Mahogany Creek

More photos below-
Read the rest of this entry »

Basin Butte Pack thrives near Stanley, Idaho despite an illegal killing and thousands of cattle and sheep

In June 2006 the new Basin Butte wolf pack killed a cow calf near Cow Camp road north of Stanley, Idaho. I didn’t give it much of a chance; but today it consists of 3 adult wolves, 4 yearlings (5 until the other day) and 5 new pups. It has left the numerous summertime sheep and cattle in the area alone, and has been a source of great pleasure for many local folks near Stanley and elsewhere.

The pack begin in the late winter of 2005 when a dispersing female wolf from the Galena Pack to the south and a big male from parts unknown got together. Sometime later they were joined by another male who is today referred to by locals as “the uncle.” In April 2006 they had a litter of 5 pups somewhere near Basin Butte, a prominent ridge (but not noticed by most tourists) on the east side of Valley Creek. Tourists are looking at the Sawtooths to the west.

I learned about this well behaved pack, doing what it should — eating ground squirrels, killing elk (but not livestock) and eating the abundant road kill — by reading stories in the Idaho Statesman, Mountain Express, reports by Ed Bangs, a local resident of Cow Camp road area, the Western Watersheds Project, and Scott Bragoner of USFWS Law Enforcement.

Despite the grumblings of local anti-wolf activists Ron Gillet and a few of his pals and ranchers, I sense a growing level of support among Stanley residents. A resident of Cow Camp road described how pleased he and his spouse were when the pack killed an elk on their property and they were able to watch it slowly disappear as the wolves dismantled all of it except the stomach, which they strictly avoided (but other scavengers took it). Apparently numerous residents are looking out for the pack and scaring them off if they are near cattle. This type of community effort could represent a bright spot in a state where the governor and the Fish and Game Commission hold attitudes that should have died off decades ago.

Amazingly the only mortality the pack has suffered was the other day when “range rider” George Gilbert illegally shot a yearling female who (according to the federal complaint) was minding her business. Gilbert has been charged with a class B offense. Although it hasn’t been adjudicated, Scott Bragoner of USFWS in Idaho Falls told me the likely outcome would be a $275 fine.

With thousands of cattle pouring into the area, and soon sheep, which will turn the beautiful meadows to dust by the end of the summer, let’s hope the good luck of this pack will continue.

Wolf 313F, “Angel.” Photo courtesy of Lynne Stone. Copyright. 313F was illegally shot.

post 1234

Idaho wolf gets free lunch at elk farm

Rocky Barker reports in his blog that an Idaho wolf entered one of those controversial elk farms in Idaho and killed an elk. Folks may be surprised, but in the case of the elk farm the onus is on the elk farmer, not the wolf.

The elk farmers are supposed to keep wildlife from leaving or entering their “farms,” but, of course, they are hardly secure as this free lunch for the wolf once again shows.

The recent Idaho Legislature refused to enact legislation to make these operations secure or to stop what many think is the odious practice of shooting elk in a pen.

Barker’s blog.

Deal [with Wyoming] removes obstacle to wolf delisting

I’m not sure what it means, but if it actually means wolves will be protected only in Yellowstone and Grand Teton Parks, and adjoining Wilderness areas. This really means wolves will be protected ONLY inside Yellowstone Park, and then only as long as they don’t step outside unless it is into a designated Wilderness. No packs live full time inside Grand Teton. In addition, Not a single wolf pack has its territory totally inside a Wyoming Wilderness area, much less those Wilderness areas adjacent to Yellowstone. Therefore, even Mollies Pack, the Bechler Pack, and even the Druids might be subject to being shot for fun because they sometimes leave the Park, and they leave in areas where a wilderness does not adjoin.

On the upside, this “deal” probably makes the delisting to contrary to law and the regulations that following, included changes in them that were procedural violations, that a federal judge has an increased change of slapping this down.

Story in the Idaho Statesman by Rocky Barker on the Deal.

Here is a link to a pdf map of the Greater Yellowstone wolf packs. Do you see a pack that lives entirely inside a designated wilderness area? Do you think that a judge will notice that there is no safe spot for wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone Park?

Update (May 27): Here’s a report on the latest view from Wyoming’s agricultural political eliteState eyes ‘ultimate’ predator. By Whitney Royster and Jeff Gearino. Casper Star Tribune.

The number of wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park jumped by 31 percent in 2006, going from 134 to 175. With that increase, 123 cattle were reportedly killed by wolves, more than has ever been recorded in Wyoming since wolf reintroduction. In response, 44 wolves were killed, which is also a record for that time period

All the “ultimate predator” could do was kill 123 cattle?

This is unsaid, most of “the cattle” were calves and almost all reimbursed. Recall that in recent weeks too, the supposed decimation of Wyoming wildlife has suddenly turned into a big surplus of elk. As a  result the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission wants to increase the take by human hunters.

Absence of losses to grizzlies prompts Defenders to spend more on proactive measures

Because loss of livestock to grizzly bears has been so low, Defenders of Wildlife has free money to go further and act proactively. Here is a news release announcing this.

Defenders of Wildlife Expands Proactive Predator Conflict Prevention Program. Grizzly compensation funds reallocated to minimize grizzly-related conflicts before they occur

Statement by Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife

“In light of the successful recovery of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population and its subsequent removal from the endangered species list, Defenders of Wildlife will be shifting its focus in the Yellowstone ecoregion to the prevention of grizzly-livestock conflicts and will be devoting our resources towards more proactive projects to prevent livestock depredations.

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