From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 2, Number 20 - August 15, 2002
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Rancher granted kill permit

by Cat Urbigkit

Two grizzlies removed from Upper Green.

Scott Stanko of the Fish Creek Cattle Company in Kelly has been granted a 45-day permit allowing him to kill up to two wolves in the act of attacking livestock on his Bridger-Teton National Forest grazing allotments in the Gros Ventre area.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs activated the permit Monday, Aug. 12. The permit allows Stanko, his immediate family or his current employees to take lethal action against wolves attacking livestock on the allotments. Attacking is defined as killing, wounding or biting.

The permit action came after federal wildlife officials confirmed that wolves killed three calves and a yearling belonging to the cattle company the week of Aug. 4. Although efforts were made to trap wolves in the area, no wolves were captured and control efforts were discontinued last weekend.

The special rule for the Yellowstone experimental wolf population allows the FWS to issue a 45-day kill permit to a livestock grazing permittee with public-land grazing allotments, allowing the taking of a wolf in the act of attacking livestock, but only after wildlife officials confirm that livestock losses were caused by wolves and agency efforts to resolve the problem have failed or are complete.

According to the permit letter written by Bangs, radio telemetry data indicate the livestock kills are being done by members of the Gros Ventre pack, which currently has no radio-collared members.

Stanko is the cattleman who took Bangs to task last month for Bangs' inaccurate and critical comments about Stanko's livestock operation, with Bangs eventually issuing an apology for the statement.

The service may attempt to capture a member of that pack, radio-collar and release on-site as conditions permit, according to Bangs' letter, but no further federal control efforts are planned unless additional livestock are killed.

According to the permit letter to Stanko: "Additional control, including lethal removal of wolves, may be authorized depending upon the pack's size and breeding status. The area of U.S.D.A. Forest Service public land where your cattle will be grazed is remote and has difficult access. No other agency control is being considered at this time other than radio-collaring and releasing wolves on site, unless further livestock depredations occur, so agency control (removal) efforts have been completed for the time being. The area is being searched for any missing radio collars and we will notify you if we find any collared wolves with functioning radios in the area. This permit is being issued to allow immediate removal of wolves seen attacking your livestock on your Forest Service grazing allotments."

Merrill Nelson of U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services reported that he confirmed another kill involving Stanko's cattle. Nelson said on Sunday morning he confirmed wolves had killed a cow.

Nelson also reported that his agency removed two grizzly bears from the Thoman family's domestic sheep allotment in the Upper Green River region of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Both bears were adult males and were removed last Friday, from capture sites about a quarter-mile apart, Nelson said. One of the bears was humanely euthanized, while the other was transported to the Cody area, Nelson said, at the direction of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Nelson reported that one of the Thoman sheepherders came out of the mountains last Thursday night to report that a grizzly had been entering the sheep herd to kill, but the herder and his dogs had chased the bear out.

Nelson said this was a smart male bear that had been caught killing cattle in the Meeteetse area and relocated by WG&F to the boundary of Yellowstone National Park after its first livestock depredation. The roughly 400-pound bear made his way from his release site to the Thoman flocks, and Nelson said he found this bear's tracks at the kill sites. This bear was euthanized.

Later that day, a second adult male grizzly was caught in a blind set, Nelson said. WG&F's Mark Bruscino said this bear was released in a livestock-free area east of Yellowstone National Park. The evidence implicating this bear in the sheep kills was pretty sketchy, Bruscino said, adding that the bear was about 10 years old.

A total of 17 sheep have been confirmed as being killed by grizzlies, including four ewes, with the remainder being lambs, Nelson said.

Bruscino also said that members of the Upper Green River Cattle Association have been experiencing some bear kills over the last few weeks, with two more losses confirmed on Friday. Resolving any future problems involving cattle and grizzlies in the Upper Green has moved to the top of the WG&F priority list, Bruscino said Tuesday.

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