Volume 8, Number 1 - March 27, 2008
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Wyoming Wolves Hit Hard In 2007
While there were dramatically fewer total confirmed wolf kills of cattle and sheep in the state in 2007 than 2006, more total wolves were killed under the auspices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), according to a recently released FWS annual report.
Last year, only 73 livestock kills (55 cattle, 16 sheep and two dogs) were confirmed compared to 162 confirmed kills in 2006 (123 cattle, 38 sheep and one “other” animal, according to The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2007 Interagency Annual Report).
Yet the report shows that 63 wolves were killed in Wyoming last year – 19 more than 2006, which saw 44 wolf kills, showing a high ratio of lethal wolf kills in 2007 compared to livestock losses.
As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) coordinator of Northern Rockies’ wolf recovery, Ed Bangs stated Monday that last year, FWS Wyoming program director Mike Jimenez opted to look at an area’s past history of depredation.
“If there were chronic problems and the ‘new’ wolves were starting to cause depredations again and it was fairly certain there would be more large losses (of livestock), he jumped pretty hard on them with lethal control early,” Bangs said.
“So the outcome was more wolves were removed earlier and that reduced overall losses.”
It’s also important to separate cattle depredations from those of sheep, he said.
“Wolves usually kill cattle one or two at a time and sheep, dozens or more at once,” he said. “So just one or two incidents of sheep depredation can jump numbers of livestock killed a lot.”
The report shows that in 2007, 12 cattle were confirmed killed by the Green River wolfpack, eight by the Absaroka pack, seven by the Gooseberry pack, six each by the East Fork and Washakie packs, four by the Beartooth pack, two by the Greybull pack, and one each by the Daniel, Black Butte, Sunlight and South Fork packs.
Twelve sheep were confirmed killed by the LaBarge pack and two dogs were also taken, one each by the Daniel and Buffalo packs.
Population data outside Yellowstone National Park shows a minimum of 188 wolves – pups and adults in packs as well as “lone wolves” – estimated in Wyoming for December 2007. This estimate didn’t include wolves taken in “control actions.”
Besides lethal control kills, wolves also fell to natural, unknown and human causes, and a dozen collared wolves became missing last year.
The success ofWyoming’s wolf recovery program shows in these numbers and make it possible to be more flexible using lethal control to prevent livestock losses, Bangs said this week.
“When you have a lot more wolves around you can be alot more flexible,” he said. “If you manage near minimums, you have already used up your management flexibility and that can result in increased livestock losses by a few wolves.”
The current population allowed managers to ‘tailor” lethal control in problem areas, he added.
“With lots of wolves you can focus removal more just on problem areas and have lots of wolves still, fewer livestock losses and more lethal wolf control earlier.”
Altogether since the first confirmed kills in 1997 (of two cattle and 53 sheep with two wolves taken), the past decade brings total confirmed kills in Wyoming to 391 cattle, 228 sheep, 14 “other” animals and 22 dogs. One wolf was relocated (in 1997) and a total of 213 have been killed though lethal control. In Montana, which has confirmed kills since 1987, the total livestock losses come to 321 cattle, 473 sheep, 30 “other” and 34 dogs with a total of 328 wolves killed. In Idaho, which shows confirmed livestock losses since 1996 of a total 183 cattle, 1077 sheep and 48 dogs, 183 wolves were taken by lethal control.
To read the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2007 Interagency Annual Report, visit www.fws.gov/mountainprairie/species/mammals/wolf/>.
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