Wolf depredations continue in Montana
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
August 15, 2008
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials report that it's been a busy summer with wolf depredations in that state. Here's the latest:
On the Aug. 3, a lessee reported seeing a wolf packing off a 50 pound lamb on private land in the Bitterroot Valley near Lolo. The lessee shot at the wolf, but did not injure or kill it. On the 4th, Wildlife Services confirmed that a wolf had killed the lamb. The sheep are being night penned and 6 guard dogs are present. FWP authorized Wildlife Services to kill one wolf if it returns to the area where the sheep are grazing based on physical evidence at the scene and the report of a lone wolf seen in the immediate area. FWP has not been able to determine whether it is a member of the Welcome Creek pack traveling by itself or a dispersing lone wolf. The sheep will be leaving this area in a few days.
On Aug. 6, as part of an ongoing control action on the Brooks Creek pack, Wildlife Services killed the collared male when it was found on private and near horses and cattle in the Bitterroot Valley southwest of Florence. He was known to be involved in the earlier llama and cattle depredations. Control is ongoing to remove one more wolf from this pack. Efforts will also be made to collar another wolf in the pack when opportunities arise.
On Aug. 6, Wildlife Services confirmed wolves had killed 3 llamas near Niarada. Traps were set and two days later, a control specialist removed a large gray male. Control is complete at this time.
Also on the 6th, Wildlife Services confirmed 9 dead lambs and 1 dead ewe south of Dillon in the Blacktail Mountains on state school trust land. The incident likely happened on the 4th or 5th. Tracks of a single wolf (possibly another) were found. This is not likely to be the Freezeout pack as it is not known to travel that far to the southwest. Wildlife Services was asked to collar and release a wolf in the area so that we can determine whether there is a new pair / pack in the area. The sheep operation uses night pens, herding dogs, a propane cannon, and a light/siren device. On the 7th when sheep were let out of the night pen, 3 additional injured lambs were found and had to be euthanized.
On the night of the 8th, the dogs woke the owner when a wolf came back. The wolf was run off but not before a ewe was injured. Wildlife Services confirmed it on the 9th and the ewe had to be euthanized.
Total confirmed losses are 12 lambs and 2 ewes. Efforts to place a collar are ongoing, but Wildlife Services has been authorized to kill any wolves caught in the sheep and the owner is aware of the federal regulations that allow hazing, harassing, or killing a wolf caught attacking livestock in the experimental area.