From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 38 - December 16, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolves return to yard

by Cat Urbigkit

If Ron Sherbrook wasn't absolutely sick and tired of wolves coming into his yard near Marbleton before, he was after wolves killed his housecat early last Sunday morning.

Sherbrook lives in the Greenwood Subdivision, which is about five miles north of Marbleton.

Wolves have been to his residence once or twice a week over the last couple of months, Sherbrook said, once within three feet of his back door. The number of wolves has varied, with up to five present at one time.

He's not a livestock producer, but does have a horse on his property. This fall, the horse got its hind legs tangled in barbwire and was cut up. Sherbrook can't prove the wolves were responsible, but does wonder if the federally protected canids caused the incident.

The situation had gotten uncomfortable enough last month that Sherbrook called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. FWS's Mike Jimenez visited the Sherbrooks just before Thanksgiving Day, and had given Sherbrook rubber bullets to shoot at the wolves, should they return. Trapping for wolves wasn't deemed much of an option, for fear neighbor's dogs would be caught instead.

Sherbrook and his wife were away from home last Saturday night, but his 25-year old son stayed at the house, only to be awakened at 4 a.m. by a ruckus outside. He saw one wolf run out of the woodshed on the property. Sunrise revealed that the wolf or wolves involved had chased the housecat under a pickup truck in the driveway, tried to get underneath the truck to get the cat, and finally ended up killing the cat in the woodshed. Blood and tracks told the story, and the cat's carcass was found in the shed.

Killing a pet doesn't really count as an offense against a wolf: things would be different if the wolves had killed livestock.

"I think a person should be able to shoot them if they are on your property," Sherbrook said. "We've got to do something. What I'd like to see is to give us the okay to kill them."

FWS does issue permits to kill wolves in certain circumstances. Jimenez said in an interview Monday that the shoot-on-sight permits can only be granted to relieve livestock predation problems.

"That's what we're stuck with, or that's the rules that we're functioning under," Jimenez said.

"It scares me," Sherbrook said. "I also have grandkids who come here from time to time. That's what scares me."

Although FWS has rejected Wyoming's wolf plan, leaving Wyoming operating under the federal 10(j) rules for a reintroduced, non-essential experimental wolf population, Idaho and Montana have things a little better. In these neighboring states, FWS has accepted their wolf plans and "relaxed" the 10(j) rules so that state officials have added flexibility to respond to incidents such as this one.

The good news for Sherbrook is that USDA Wildlife Services personnel was in the air attempting to find the Daniel wolf pack, which Jimenez believes is responsible for the problems at Sherbrook's. Wildlife Services was authorized to kill two of the wolves, which it accomplished Monday. Two black wolves, one male and one female, were killed about 15 miles west of Big Piney, Jimenez said.

Monday's wolf control wasn't taken in response to Sherbrook's problems. FWS had authorized the killing of two wolves months ago in response to repeated livestock depredations. Reports from the public and good weather conditions Monday lined up to allow Wildlife Services to find the pack and take action.

The two wolves were shot from a pack of nine, so the Daniel pack lives on. Federal wildlife officials will be setting traps at the Sherbrook place this week. Their hope is to capture wolves to place radio collars on them, not to kill them.

So far this year, 15 wolves have been killed in Sublette County by federal wildlife officials responding to livestock depredation problems.

Anyone seeing wolves should call FWS's Lander office at 307-332-7789, or Jimenez's cell phone at 307-330-5620.

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