The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has given the OK for the killing of three gray wolves from the Little Wood pack following confirmation that the pack was responsible for the deaths of 30 sheep north of Carey on Monday, Aug. 31.
The pack raided a Flat Top Sheep Co. herd again last Friday afternoon, killing six more animals before being driven off by a herder.
"They'd have probably killed more, but the herder shot at them," Flat Top owner John Peavey said.
Peavey said he's now lost 45 sheep to wolves in the last few weeks from a herd grazing near the headwaters of the Little Wood River about 40 miles north of Carey. He lost nine animals and a guard dog a few weeks ago. He said the sheep, including orphaned lambs that may die later, are worth about $175 each.
Todd Grimm, Western District supervisor of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, said investigation has confirmed that wolves were responsible for the 30 Flat Top sheep killed last week. Twenty-three were killed outright and seven injured animals died later.
Grimm said he learned of last Friday's attack on Saturday and that Wildlife Services was still investigating Tuesday to determine if the Little Wood pack was responsible.
"We haven't been able to confirm it yet," he said. "The herder said he saw seven wolves come in and attack the sheep."
He said permission has been given by Fish and Game to kill any three members of the pack, excluding the only wolf in the pack that is wearing a radio collar.
Peavey was pessimistic that killing only three wolves would deter the pack from further depredation on his sheep.
"No, I don't think it will solve the problem," Peavey said. "I think they'll be back. It would be nice if they've move into a new area, but then they'd just cause someone else problems.
"When wolves kill 23 sheep it's not because they're hungry."
Idaho wolf hunt
Meanwhile, Fish and Game reported Tuesday that Idaho's wolf hunt tally remained at three animals, all of which were killed on opening day, Sept. 1.
"We've had the season open for a week and we've only had three taken," said Jon Rachael, Fish and Game state wildlife manager. "The masses and hordes of hunters that people predicted would flood into the woods has not happened."
Two of the wolves were killed in the Lolo wolf zone in north-central Idaho and the third was shot in the Sawtooth zone northwest of Stanley.
However, the number of wolf tags sold in Idaho continues to climb. Rachael said 13,797 tags had been sold as of Monday.
Rachael said would-be wolf hunters likely purchased tags that they'll try to use when elk and deer seasons open.
"I think the huge majority are doing just that," he said. "It's been very, very quiet, and as far as that's concerned, it's a good thing. We're still getting e-mails from all over and many of them have been critical of us for having a hunt."
In Idaho, hunters will be allowed to kill up to 220 wolves this season out of the state's estimated population of about 1,000. The Nez Perce Indian Tribe in north-central Idaho will be allowed to kill an additional 35 wolves.
Hunting in the Southern Mountains wolf zone, home range of both the Little Wood and Phantom Hill packs, won't start until Oct. 1. The Phantom Hill pack resides mainly in the Wood River Valley.
Terry Smith: email@example.com