Four wolves—one near Carey and three in the Sawtooth Valley—have been killed in recent weeks due to depredation on cattle and sheep. All were killed by Idaho Wildlife Services on private land.
According to the agency’s state director, Todd Grimm, a female wolf was trapped and killed May 29 on the Flat Top Ranch following a complaint by ranch owner John Peavey that he had lost more than two dozen lambs and ewes. Peavey said he protects the bands with people, spotlights and guard dogs, but he was criticized by wolf advocates for allowing his ewes to give birth on the range rather than in sheds.
Grimm said the wolf had had pups this spring, but was not lactating at the time she was trapped and killed.
“Either the pups were no longer nursing or they had already died,” he said.
Grimm said three male wolves were trapped and killed on Decker Flat, on the west side of the Sawtooth Valley near Obsidian, on May 30 and 31 and June 10. He said the wolves were killed upon direction from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as is the case in all the lethal actions taken by Wildlife Services, an agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He said the order came following the death of a calf on May 28.
Grimm said two of the wolves were yearlings and were wearing radio collars placed on them by the Department of Fish and Game. He said Wildlife Services sometimes refrains from killing wolves with collars, depending on their value to scientists studying them.
“In this case, we didn’t realize the wolves were
radio-collared until after the fact,” he said.
Grimm said he did not know of any nonlethal deterrent actions taken before the kill order was issued, a situation criticized by pro-wolf activists. When requested, the Idaho Wolf Project, organized by nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, provides ranchers with volunteer night guards, portable fencing, air horns and other deterrent methods.
“Here we have people willing to help with proven nonlethal methods and we’re spending taxpayer dollars to kill wolves,” said Lynne Stone, director of the Boulder-White Clouds Council.
But Grimm said nonlethal deterrents don’t work well with cattle, which stay much more spread out at night than do sheep.
He said the three wolf kills ended the control order in the Sawtooth Valley.
Grimm said a kill order has also been issued for two wolves in the Silver Creek area south of Bellevue after a calf was confirmed to have been killed there on June 8. However, he said, “the wolves haven’t shown back up, so I don’t know if we’ll be able to do anything there.”