From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 50 - March 10, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Nine of 10 wolf packs kill livestock

by Cat Urbigkit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its annual gray wolf recovery report for 2004. Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2004 were 452 wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, 324 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area and 59 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area, for a total of 835 wolves. By state boundaries, there were an estimated 422 wolves in Idaho, 260 in Wyoming and 153 in Montana. Of approximately 110 packs (groups of two or more wolves), 66 packs met the definition of "breeding pair," defined as an adult male and female raising two or more pups until Dec. 31. This made 2004 the fifth year in which 30 or more breeding pairs were documented within the three-state area. Recovery criteria have been met for removing Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from the Endangered Species list.

Approximately 39 of 110 known wolf packs were involved in confirmed livestock depredations, according to the report. In response, 85 wolves were lethally removed within the three-state area.

None of the 31 wolves that were originally reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 were alive by the end of 2004., according to the report.

"We estimated that at least 89 wolves inhabited western Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park in 2004," the report stated. Nine packs, totaling 72 wolves, produced pups, with pack size averaging eight wolves.

In 2004, a total of 36 wolves (29 percent of the total population) were known to have died in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone park, including 17 males and 12 females that were lethally removal in control actions.

Nine of 10 wolf packs in Wyoming outside Yellowstone park were involved in at least one livestock depredation and were responsible for at least 122 livestock and two dogs depredated by wolves (including 94 confirmed and 30 probable depredations). The total number of depredations in 2004 increased approximately 42 percent from 2003, when 86 livestock were lost to wolves (51 confirmed and 35 probable depredations).

U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services documented that 58 percent of all depredations on public grazing allotments and 42 percent occurred on private property.

In 2004, 29 wolves (approximately 23 percent of the wolf population in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park) were lethally removed in control actions. A total of 36 wolves were killed (control actions, illegal mortalities, incidental take and unknown), and these 36 mortalities represent 25 percent of the wolf population in Wyoming outside Yellowstone park. Fifteen wolves were killed in control actions in Sublette County.

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