Volume 5, Number 1 - March 31, 2005
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Daniel pack strikes again, five wolves killed
Last week brought not just a snowstorm to Sublette County, but also brought some unwelcome visitors to Gene and Stella Taylor's ranch near Merna. A pack of wolves entered the Taylors' cattle herd under the cover of darkness, resulting in the deaths of two cows. One of the cows had its hindquarters consumed, but was still alive, so had to be put down. Both of the cows were due to give birth, as calving in the herd has already began, doubling the losses for the ranch.
Stella Taylor said in an interview that she believes the wolves entered the herd early in the morning, before daybreak, with the downed cows discovered in the early morning check. The rest of the herd had milled together, staying in one big bunch. The kills occurred not far from the ranch house.
The wolves moved on, proceeding to the Bar W Bar ranch, to kill a yearling cow, according to ranch manager Merrill Dana.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services confirmed the kills, all of which occurred on private land. FWS issued shoot-on-site permits to three ranches and authorized Wildlife Services to kill the entire wolf pack.
FWS's Mike Jimenez said that on Monday, March 28, Wildlife Services flew the area of the last confirmed kill, spotted a pack of five wolves and was able to shoot and kill all five.
Of the five wolves killed, two were females. Three were black in color, while the others were grays. One was sporting a non-functioning radiocollar. The wolves were in good physical condition with no mange, Jimenez said. One was a yearling, while the others were three- and four-year old adults.
Jimenez said that with this control action on the Daniel pack, the shoot-on-site permits are now cancelled and control actions concluded.
Jimenez noted that although the Daniel pack has been in the news recently because of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department's concerns with the pack harassing elk on elk feedgrounds, control actions were undertaken based solely on the pack's livestock depredations.
FWS reported, "Five wolves were removed from the pack last year during a series of control actions on a still ongoing chronic pattern of livestock depredations, 13 confirmed depredations last year."
Jimenez added that since 2000, the Daniel pack has been confirmed as being involved in killing at least 21 head of livestock.
Stella Taylor said she and other local ranchers believe there are more wolves in the area.
"They are hanging in here," Taylor said. "There could still be more in here."
Dana agreed: "They only got about a third of them. We all know there are more than five wolves in the Daniel pack."
Dana said he believes there were 10-15 wolves in the Daniel pack prior to the five being killed earlier this week.
Dana said last week was the third occasion in which elk from a nearby feedground arrived on the ranch with a pack of wolves in tow.
"Every time the elk leave the feedground and come down here - every time - the next night, you're going to get the wolves in on you," Dana said.
Gary Hornberger of WG&F said, "That particular pack was working the Jewett elk feedground pretty hard in late February and March."
Wolves killed 10 elk on the feedground in March, five in February, one in January and one in December, for a total of 17 confirmed kills, Hornberger said. From tracks in the snow, it appeared that five to seven wolves were involved.
The wolves would harass the elk so much, the entire 678-head of elk repeatedly fled the feedground. Hornberger said this happened "frequently," with the herd "balling up" and running together.
"They were hitting them nightly," Hornberger said.
If the elk fled to the north, there wasn't much problem, according to Hornberger. But if the elk ran to the south, they ran to the private lands of Bar W Bar, increasing the possibility of elk transmitting brucellosis to cattle should commingling occur, in addition to bringing a pack of wolves to the cattle herd.
Aggressive action by the ranch kept the cattle and elk separated, and Hornberger added that WG&F pushed the elk back to the feedground on several occasions as well.
Wolves have made their presence known on other elk feedgrounds in the county as well. Two wolves have used the Muddy Creek feedground, killing four elk, including two bulls and two cows. Three or four wolves have been using the Soda Lake feedground, pushing the elk off the feedground to the north on several occasions. Four wolves are often seen at the Green River Lakes feedground, Hornberger said. Elk have been pressured by wolves on the Finnegan and North Piney feedgrounds this winter also.
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