Volume 6, Number 29 - October 12, 2006
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Prospect wolves strike again
The wolves roaming in the area from Boulder along the Wind River front south toward Farson struck again last week, this time being confirmed as killing five lambs from a herd of replacement ewe lambs grazing near Buckskin Crossing.
Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that although USDA Wildlife Services personnel flew the area, no wolves were located. This Prospect wolf pack has eluded control efforts for months, despite repeated depredations including about 20 beef calves in addition to the sheep kills.
Jimenez said a herder saw two wolves, while other reports indicate there is a pack of four roaming the area. Jimenez said there are a lot of hunters in the area, and this traffic can stir animals up, pushing the wolves back into the timber.
Jimenez said Wildlife Services will still go after the Prospect pack to kill the wolves, but probably won’t be able to do much until hunting season is over.
Meanwhile, the livestock producer with the lambs is trying to get his livestock moved from the area, which includes a mixture of public and private land, but has concerns about ongoing predation when he takes his animals back to his ranch in the spring if the wolves are still present.
Jimenez said that because this is a chronic predation problem, Wildlife Services has a somewhat open authorization to take out the wolves. But that doesn’t mean control will continue. Jimenez said his agency usually puts a timeframe on control actions in response to depredations: that timeframe generally expires 45 days from the date of the last confirmed kill. If the depredation stops, control stops. If more kills are made, control action would once again be initiated, he said.
“The control program is not a wolf extermination program,” Jimenez said, adding that chronic problem situations provide a good argument for the need for state management of wolves. Jimenez said his agency wants Wyoming to get an acceptable management plan in place so wolves could be de-listed and turned over to state wildlife officials. That way, wolves could be hunted and livestock owners would be able to protect their herds, he said.
“That’s the real push to de-list,” he said.
While livestock producers await relief from wolf depredations in western Wyoming, environmental groups in Utah and Colorado are urging U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to shut down predator control activities that could result in the incidental take of wolves in states neighboring Wyoming. The letter was signed by representatives of Forest Guardians, Western Wildlife Conservancy and Sinapu. They noted the “presence or occasional occurrence” of wolves and Canada lynx within Colorado and Utah, and urged FWS “to institute adequate regulatory measures to prevent all forms of take of these two species by federal, state, county, or private predator control programs.”
The letter noted, “This action is imperative to determine if further measures should be put in place to ensure that such activities do not hinder the ability of wolves and Canada lynx to expand their range into other suitable habitat.”
The letter stated: “Presently, predator control activities within the historic range of these species pose a significant impediment to their continued recovery, as illustrated by the recent trapping-related death of a wolf in Utah, as well as another wolf-related trapping incident a few years ago and the spring 2006 poisoning of two dogs in Utah on public lands.”
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