From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 10 - June 2, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolf rips dog, feds fail to examine

by Cat Urbigkit

Wolf biologist Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in an interview Tuesday that although USDA Wildlife Services personnel had traps in the area of a domestic sheep lambing ground near Farson last week, the traps were pulled on Sunday with no wolves captured in the effort.

Jimenez said that although Wildlife Services personnel had found a set of tracks, the location of the wolves couldn't be determined. He added that sheepherders have not reported seeing the animals recently and that there have been no sheep depredations that could be attributed to wolves. Jimenez said that coyotes have caused the lamb kills.

When asked, Jimenez said that there had been a livestock guardian dog that reportedly had been torn up by a wolf last week, but he said Wildlife Services "took a look at it and couldn't determine the cause."

Dick Thoman is the owner of the guardian dog and the sheep that are lambing in the area. In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Thoman expressed frustration with federal officials and their handling of the situation and disputed the accuracy of the statements being made.

Thoman said that Wildlife Services personnel did not examine the dog, which is an adult male Great Pyrenees/Akbash cross, bred specifically to guard livestock. Thoman said he reported the dog's injuries and asked Wildlife Services to examine the animal, but federal officials never got it done. The dog is still alive, but suffered trauma to its front legs and neck.

"I know it was a wolf," Thoman said. "That really frustrates me that somebody didn't check it out better."

Thoman also disputed Jimenez's statement that there have been no lamb losses to wolves.

"How could you say that?" Thoman questioned. "Nobody knows."

Thoman explained that wolves wouldn't leave much remains from a newborn lamb carcass, but the lambs would simply disappear. That means that his true losses won't be known until far into the season.

The Thoman family has two lambing bands in the area where a pair of wolves is believed to be denning.

Wildlife Services and FWS personnel have repeatedly visited the area, only to pull their traps and leave until another event is recorded.

Thoman said, "If you're not on top of the problem, you're not going to keep on top of it."

Thoman pointed out that the conflict between wolves and livestock in the Farson area could have been avoided entirely, had FWS committed to protecting wolves in the Yellowstone park area and allowing domestic sheep in the Farson area to be protected, rather than expecting both to inhabit the Farson lambing ground; something was not examined in the documents leading to the wolf reintroduction program.

Thoman maintains wolves should be protected in Yellowstone, but not in Farson.

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