From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 22 - August 25, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolves kill sheep near Farson

by Cat Urbigkit

After investigating a case of nearly 30 head of dead domestic sheep near the Prospect Mountains east of Farson, federal wildlife officials confirmed one as a wolf depredation and recorded 14 dead ewes as probable wolf kills. Another 19 head of lambs were too decomposed to make a determination.

Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that since the sheep carcasses had been in place for at least 10 days, it was very difficult to find out whats going on.

USDA Wildlife Services specialists were in the area over the weekend and earlier this week to investigate, according to Jimenez. One of the carcasses was in a creek, so was some what preserved, Jimenez said, allowing the confirmation determination.

The sheep belong to Wyoming Stock Growers Association executive Jim Magagna. He explained that the small herd of sheep, which included late lambers that werent moved to the high country, was in a small fenced pasture consisting of mostly private land. Being in a contained area next to the road, this herd is not tended to by a herder, Magagna said. Rancher workers drive by and can see the herd, and every few weeks enter the pasture to replenish salt.

On Aug. 2, a ranch worker counted 49 head of sheep in the pasture, including 30 ewes and 19 lambs, Magagna said. A week later, the worker drove by and could see the sheep in the pasture and felt everything appeared to be in order.

Then last week, the worker entered the pasture to find most of the sheep dead. He loaded the 16 sheep that were still alive and unharmed and hauled them to the ranch. Magagna entered the pasture Friday, photographing 28 individual dead sheep, most of which were pretty decomposed, he said.

Magagna contacted federal officials, who entered the area to investigate over the weekend, he said.

Magagna suspected wolf depredation. This herd is in the same area where a female wolf gave birth to pups on a domestic sheep lambing ground this spring, only to begin preying on the sheep herd and eventually being killed in a control action. Wildlife Services killed the female wolf and four of her six pups. The two remaining pups, which were too young to survive on their own, were later found dead by another biologist, Jimenez said. The male wolf was not sighted again.

With nearly 30 dead sheep, some with whole quarters moved away from the carcass and completely cleaned, Magagna said, I cant think o fanything else that would have caused that.

Jimenez repeated that it is very difficult to determine if the sheeps deaths were wolf-caused because the carcasses are decomposed. He noted Wildlife Services would soon be returning to the area to continue its investigation.

In other wolf news, a wolf has been confirmed as killing a ewe and lamb in the Hams Fork River area near Kemmerer, Jimenez said. Wildlife Services has been authorized to kill one wolf. The culprit appears to be alone and is not wearing a radio collar, Jimenez said. Wildlife Services personnel will continue to fly both the Hams Fork and Prospect Mountains area, where single wolves will be removed, should the opportunity arise.

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