From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 18 - July 31, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Killing continues

by Cat Urbigkit

Federally protected predators continue to prey on and attack cattle on Bridger-Teton National Forest grazing allotments in the Upper Green River region.

As the Examiner went to press last week, it appeared the killing was quieting down, but appearances were deceiving, with a flurry of kills in the last week, caused by both grizzly bears and gray wolves.

Two weeks ago, federal wildlife officials destroyed a male wolf that had been confirmed as killing cattle on several occasions in the last two years. At the time, FWS explained that the Green River pack, which consisted of a gray and a black pair with four pups (one black and three grays), had attacked and killed two calves in the Upper Green. This radio-collared wolf pair had been involved in depredations the year before as well, so the adult male wolf was killed on July 17. FWS pledged to kill the female wolf and capture the pups if the problems continued.

Wolves have killed two more calves since then, but no control action was taken.

Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday afternoon that although there were more kills, the Green River female wasn't killed because "it looks like more wolves were in there than just one" and that he's not sure that the Green River female was involved in the most recent depredations.

With the most recent kill, Jimenez said, "The cell phone connection was non-existent there. Had communication been better, we would have had Wildlife Services trap and take out whatever came back to the kill.

"That will be the plan for if and when that happens again," Jimenez said. Wildlife Services is the federal agency in charge of animal damage control activities under contract with other wildlife agencies.

Upper Green River Cattle Association President Albert Sommers said as far as he knows, every pack of wolves known to use the Upper Green has been involved in livestock depredations, "so I don't understand why that carcass wasn't trapped on.

"We don't get very many wolf-trapping opportunities," Sommers said. "There simply aren't that many carcasses that are found."

That there was a communication problem Sommers doesn't doubt, he said, adding that the protocol should have been worked out beforehand.

Sommers said the cattle association is very satisfied with the control efforts and response put forward in dealing with grizzly bear depredations this year, which now total 13 this month alone. For comparison, there were 12 confirmed kills in last year's entire grazing season.

One of the kills that happened over the weekend involved three calves within about 250 yards of each other. One of the three calves was still alive and had to be destroyed.

An adult male grizzly was captured and removed from the area Sunday, according to WG&F's Mark Bruscino, who added that the bear was released in an area of Park County that is adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and the Washakie Wilderness. This is the second adult male grizzly removed from the Upper Green in the last few weeks.

Bruscino said the incident with the three calves was unusual.

"We rarely, rarely see what's called surplus killing with bears, except with sheep,' Bruscino said. "That was unusual. I have seen it only once or twice before in my whole career."

On Tuesday morning, another calf that had been killed by a grizzly was reportedly discovered, so as this issue went to press, wildlife and livestock officials continued to be busy in reacting to depredations. At least two other grizzlies had been seen in the area of the latest kill.

Livestock producers did get a bit of good news this week though. Bruscino said at Tuesday's WG&F Commission meeting, the commission voted to compensate producers for livestock killed by grizzly bears at a ratio of 1:3.5 for missing calves and missing sheep, regardless of age class. For adult and yearling cattle, the commission voted to continue a 1:1 ratio.

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