Idaho Department of Game declines to prosecute.

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

Aerial gunning of wolves by private individuals is strictly forbidden under the Airborne Hunting Act of 1956. Even though states are allowed to issue permits to individuals to shoot coyotes and foxes from aircraft there are no permits which allow the shooting of wolves.

In Idaho, the Idaho Sheep Commission, which acts under the Idaho Department of Agriculture, issues aerial hunting permits to ranchers. The Executive Secretary of the Idaho Sheep Commission is Stan Boyd who also is listed as the Executive Director of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, an industry group. Robert Ball, who is part owner of Ball Brother’s Sheep Inc, as is Carl Ball, is also listed as a commissioner for the Idaho Sheep Commission as well as a member of the board of directors of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

Wolf © Ken Cole

Wolf © Ken Cole

The incident happened over the lands, and under the authority, of Idaho State Senator Jeff Siddoway who is the sponsor of the Bighorn Sheep Kill Bill 1232. The Siddoway Sheep Company Incorporated, which is partially owned by the Senator, received $865,952 in agricultural subsidies between the years 1995-2006.

It would seem that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game should prosecute issue citation[s] in this case and, from my understanding, the US Fish and Wildlife Service can prosecute issue citation[s] in this case as well since Federal law is involved.

Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky
John Miller Associated Press

UPDATE:Here is the Report.acrobat pdf

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Western Watershed Project’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Coordinator, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is also serves as a member of the board of directors for Buffalo Field Campaign and as a member of the Sierra Club Grazing Core Team.

41 Responses to Idaho man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky

  1. avatar kt says:

    Did you read Siddoway’s quote? These arrogant interbred Idaho sheep ranchers now own the sky, too!

    They think they are above the law.

    What is it with eastern Idaho? Wasn’t Roy Moulton, an Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner from Driggs or Rexburg or somewhere -reported to have been reported by neighbors for aerially gunning coyotes on the neighbors private land?

    AND while IDFG is prosecuting the cabal of balloonists and aerial trikers (and maybe Siddoway if he or someone working for him happened to have maybe buried the wolf and the collar … or something) – I wonder if they will find time to look into the six dead/poisoned wolf pups found dead on Ditto Flat north of Fairfield – something else the agency has been avoiding …

  2. avatar JB says:

    “Four years ago, then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho’s congressional delegation and sheep ranchers persuaded Federal Aviation Administration officials to allow licensed pilots to shoot coyotes and other wild predators while flying overhead in ultralight flying machines…

    But state Sen. Jeff Siddoway…said Ball called him that morning from a cell phone while circling above the wolves with his gun loaded with No. 4 shot. Siddoway, in turn, contacted big game manager Brad Compton of the Fish and Game Department and contends he was told shooting a wolf from a powered parachute was allowed under a valid aerial gunning permit…

    ‘He said, ‘Go ahead,” Siddoway recalled. ‘We do it at our leisure for coyotes. This was just the first time we did it for a wolf.'”

    Truly unbelievable. Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

  3. avatar Lynne Stone says:

    Yes, unbelievable.

  4. KT,

    They are above the law. Siddoway is a state senator.

    That’s why I call them noblemen. The rest of us are somewhat similar to peasants, and Western American politics has strong elements of feudalism instead of democracy. Rural politics remains pre-modern.

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Rural politics remains pre-modern.

    You got that right!

  6. avatar kt says:

    There has long been concern, too, that ranchers and SFW types might get the frequencies of radio collars from IDFG or Wildlife Services. I wonder if this bizarro-world scene of frothed-up sick sheep ranchers (this must be what prions and the initial stages of CWD from eating mutton sanctified as a-ok by the University of Idaho Caine Vet lab will do to you) including an elected Idaho official might have all been occasioned by the No 4-shot loaded-up balloonist (or is that leaded up – which just led me to think of a certain Zeppelin group and certainly I think memories of a Graf Zeppelin occurrence are well in order here) honing in on a frequency? Just one of many possibilities.

    Ya know – something fishy about a twice shot wolf evaporating into thin air in what must be a beat-to-death landscape if it is a big corral – and on Siddoway’s sheep ranch and canned elk farm to boot. And, like, aren’t there 6 or 8 foot elk-escape-proof fences on that place, too?

    Sounds like: Mordor most vile … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramble_On

    I am betting there may be several “buried bodies” to be unearthed/facts brought to light/parties brought to the scales of justice …

  7. avatar kt says:

    I wonder what the area looks like from Google Earth? Where might a wounded wolf go – to scape or die or be buried by the ranch ‘Dozer b/4 IDFG gets there? I understood from a few years back that Siddoway had fenced in some BLM land with his canned elk operation, and no one was doing anything about it. WHERE is this sheep corral?

  8. avatar timz says:

    I told you, these aerial gunners need to crash a few times maybe they’ll quit.

  9. avatar timz says:

    What is the status of the PAWS Act? Suppose to stop this crap. Judge Molloy you reading this?

    “Meanwhile, Siddoway is planning to introduce a bill in the Idaho Legislature next year to expand animals covered by the aerial permits to include wolves, too.”

  10. avatar kt says:

    Another thing I wonder is: Just how much has Wildlife Services in eastern Idaho essentially become one with the cabal of ranchers – are the ranchers acting beyond even the limits of the very weak ID laws -and the lead laden balloonists, trikers, and zeppelinists a kind of mercenary force receiving special info from WS???

  11. They clearly are what is called a “captured agency.” This has been faily common over time in the area of natural resources. Rescuing a captured agency is very difficult and sometimes the agency dies in the process.

    This is one reason why Western land politics has always been controversial — it has long been a battle between those who speak for the public interest (or at least an interest not part of buddy/buddy process) and parochial interests who, because it is in their advantage, usually argue in favor of “state’s rights.”

    It is not an honest, principled argument, however. It has always been, as I believe Wallace Stegner wrote, “send us your money [meaning the federal government], and leave us alone.”

  12. avatar JEFF E says:

    On a related note.
    http://www.idahostatesman.com/531/story/922578.html
    The B.S. never ends

  13. avatar pointswest says:

    Here is a Google Earth kmz file placemark showing where Siddoway’s land is. The wolf was probaby very near this placemark.

    http://www.points-west.com/Temp/Siddoway-Land.kmz

    Historically, this was never good wolf habbitat. There was not very much game at all until the land was irrigated. There wasgame in the river bottom to the south but not where Siddoways land was.

    What will happen if wolves move into southern Idaho near Twin Falls and Burley. That area had no game until after the Minidoka Project brought irrigation to the area.

  14. avatar Ken Cole says:

    Siddoway also owns land far to the north as well. County records show he and his family own a lot of land near Sand Creek WMA. Unless you have different information than I do, I think this is where the incident occurred rather than the area that pointswest indicates.

    I’ve posted the report http://wolves.wordpress.com/files/2009/10/redacted-report.pdf

  15. avatar pointswest says:

    “John d. Says:

    When mankind changed the land into a place suitable for his use he moved in and forced wildlife out to make way for his own. So when all is said and done, the settlers are still the interlopers, not the wildlife.”

    But they didn’t force wildlife out. The wildlife was not there before irrigation. The wildlife moved in to these irrigated areas and proliferated. The wolves, in particular, move in only because they can prey upon the settler’s livestock. If left unchecked, their numbers might end up being 10 or 20 times what they were before settlers in some areas.

  16. avatar pointswest says:

    “Siddoway also owns land far to the north as well. ”

    Yes…you’re right. The F&G report said it was “on Sand Creek.” The Stateman article said near St. Anthony and somewhere I read the Egin-Hammer area. Hmmm….

    There is more than one Siddoway, also. But this link below is probably where it is. It is the Siddoway Sheep Compnay land and is the only Siddoway land I can find that is on Sand Creek. You can see some things in Google Earth that look like a sheep pen.

    The canyons to the northeast are very rugged, rocky and brushy. I think it would be very hard to find a dead wolf there.

    http://www.points-west.com/Temp/Siddoway.kmz

    This area is mostly public land…BLM and Forrest Service. It is largely a wild country and probably always was good wolf habbitat. There are many elk in the hills to the northeast and there are deer all around.

  17. avatar pointswest says:

    “They think they are above the law.

    What is it with eastern Idaho? Wasn’t Roy Moulton, an Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner from Driggs or Rexburg or somewhere -reported to have been reported by neighbors for aerially gunning coyotes on the neighbors private land?”

    This attitude dates at least as far back as when Federal Marshal Dubois imprisoned nearly half the men in Rexburg for polygamy.

  18. avatar gline says:

    What is the timeline for the court action? It was printed here once I believe.

  19. avatar pointswest says:

    “Here is a link to a map of the lands owned by SIDDOWAY JEFFERY C and SIDDOWAY SHEEP CO INC in Fremont County, Idaho:”

    The F&G report said the land was on Sand Creek. The parcel I linked with the Google Earth kmz file is the only one on Sand Creek. It has to be it.

    I found it on the same Fremont County map server as you linked.

  20. avatar John d. says:

    “But they didn’t force wildlife out. The wildlife was not there before irrigation. The wildlife moved in to these irrigated areas and proliferated. The wolves, in particular, move in only because they can prey upon the settler’s livestock. If left unchecked, their numbers might end up being 10 or 20 times what they were before settlers in some areas.”

    Last time I checked up on history there was a wolf extermination campaign during the late 1800-early 1900s for the benefit of livestock and hunting interests.

    Regardless, livestock losses are extremely low and can be quelled by using preventative measures. Wolves, as apex predators, breed to the number of prey available. Also, wolves are not the only things to prey on livestock, yet for some reason its a crying shame when -a- cow is lost to them.

  21. avatar Jay says:

    Idaho Fish and Game doesn’t “prosecute”–that is the job of the court sytem’s prosecutor. Also, it’s a federal violation, not state, so the Feds are the ones that will or will not follow up on the legality of this incident.

  22. avatar Ken Cole says:

    You’re right Jay,

    The IDFG should issue citations to the individual[s] involved.

  23. avatar pointswest says:

    “Regardless, livestock losses are extremely low and can be quelled by using preventative measures. Wolves, as apex predators, breed to the number of prey available. Also, wolves are not the only things to prey on livestock, yet for some reason its a crying shame when -a- cow is lost to them.”

    I think my point is being missed. I have read that there are more whitetail deer, more coyotes, and more foxes in the US today than in pre-Columbian times. This is because cultivation of the land has improved the habitat for these species.

    In eastern Idaho, today, we have raccoons and pheasants. Neither of these species is native to the area and if irrigation and cultivation ceased in Idaho, both of these species would nearly vanish. Irrigation and cultivation add habitat for certain types of wildlife in certain areas.

    There are many areas in southern Idaho that were parched dry desert with almost no wildlife and very few, if any, wolves. The settlers came and irrigated tens of thousands of acres and turning vast areas of the desert green. This settlement created habitat for many species that was not there before settlement. Many of these species are prey species for wolves. The settlers also brought livestock into areas where there were no large quadrupeds before. The wolves, today, are beginning to move into these areas…areas where they have never been before and into habitat created by irrigation and cultivation. If the irrigation and cultivation ceased, the area would revert back to desert and all preditors, included wolves, would also die out.

    You cannot argue that wolves belong in these man-made habitats. And when you let wolves prey on cows, you are unaturally feeding them and causing their numbers to artificially increase in an area where there were never wolves before.

    You cannot argue that wolves have some inherent rights in the man-made habitats created by irrigation and cultivation.

  24. avatar Jay says:

    It’s sitting on the fed’s desk–they will be the one to issue a citation for violating a federal law. Just like when wolves were listed, IDFG was not the agency responsible for going after violators of the ESA, that was the USFWS.

  25. avatar Ken Cole says:

    The IDFG could have issued a citation for shooting the wolf after it left the sheep though. That’s not a Federal issue. Just because they didn’t have a carcass doesn’t mean they don’t have a case. He clearly stated he thought he hit and killed the wolf. That, in a fair court, could probably be enough to convict. It should be noted that this is the same county where a man chased down and killed a wolf or wolves with his snowmobile last year shortly after delisting. The prosecutor failed to prosecute that case as well.

  26. avatar John d. says:

    The situation does not void the farmer’s responsibility to practice proper husbandry of their livestock. I am not saying that farmers should just sit back and allow predation to happen, rather seek to be good ‘stewards’ as they proclaim to be and not simply grab their gun as soon as setting sight on a critter they do not want around.

  27. avatar John d. says:

    Also: from what I’ve seen the only colour livestock production turns the ground into is brown.

  28. avatar Jay says:

    I don’t think that’s a prosecutable offense Ken. Even stating he thought he hit it, a defense lawyer would shred that argument. No prosecutor would take that case.

  29. avatar Jay Barr says:

    It shouldn’t even matter that there is no wolf carcass. The act itself, firing from an airborne craft at a wolf (or any big game), is illegal. That was admitted to and should be prosecuted without question.

    John d.: How much more husbandry would you like? In this instance the wolves were inside his fenced pen. I’m not defending the pursuit of the wolves outside of the enclosure and the airborne hunting, but to insinuate that there was a lack of husbandry here is not accurate.

  30. avatar pointswest says:

    “It should be noted that this is the same county where a man chased down and killed a wolf or wolves with his snowmobile last year shortly after delisting. The prosecutor failed to prosecute that case as well.”

    The only reason we or the IDFG know about these shootings is because the shooters believed the were within the ever-changing law and reported the shootings to the IDFG. I think it would be a mistake to hang these honest citizens. I can almost guarantee that there have been dozens of unreported shootings in Fremont County and if you start punishing the honest, it could get worse.

  31. avatar Jay says:

    Jay Barr, that’s what I’ve been saying, but it’s not IDFG’s authority to do so.

  32. avatar pointswest says:

    “The situation does not void the farmer’s responsibility to practice proper husbandry of their livestock.

    Also: from what I’ve seen the only colour livestock production turns the ground into is brown.”

    John…have you ever even been in Idaho? …or ever touched a cow?

  33. avatar John d. says:

    “John…have you ever even been in Idaho? …or ever touched a cow?”
    I love this game. Actually I’m from Australia, in a state that resembles Idaho particularly when it comes to certain ‘customs’.

    I’ve seen my share of livestock and what they have done to the landscape, flora and fauna. Not to mention what happens when livestock and hunting lobbies take control of environmental issues. Shall I list their shortcomings?

  34. avatar pointswest says:

    Man illegally shot at wolf pack from the sky
    JOHN MILLER
    Associated Press Writer

    BOISE — A shotgun-wielding motorized parachutist fired on a pack of wolves earlier this year from the eastern Idaho sky, something forbidden even under a state permit that allows aerial gunning of foxes and coyotes.

    Carl Ball, a sheep rancher, was flying his aircraft June 5 near St. Anthony above a 160-acre sheep pen when he saw at least four wolves, according to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game law enforcement report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

    Ball reported he shot at the wolves after they’d already left the pen and said he believed one animal outfitted with a radio collar had been killed, though state and federal wildlife officials who arrived hours later never found a wolf carcass.

    “He shot the wolf at least two times on subsequent flyovers. He believed the wolf had crawled under some brush and died,” regional conservation officer John Hanson wrote in his report. “He has a hunting license, pilot’s license and an aerial gunning permit from the Department of Agriculture.”

    Four years ago, then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho’s congressional delegation and sheep ranchers persuaded Federal Aviation Administration officials to allow licensed pilots to shoot coyotes and other wild predators while flying overhead in ultralight flying machines.

    Rif le- and pistol-packing pilots of dirigibles, balloons, gliders, flying trikes, gyroplanes and powered parachutes can take a few hours of instruction and get an Idaho Sheep Commissionissued permit to shoot varmints from the heavens.

    But even though the federal government earlier this year lifted Endangered Species Act protections from more than 1,000 wolves in Idaho and Montana, and both states have legal hunting seasons, that’s only for people shooting from the ground or trees.

    Blasting wolves from the sky remains off limits because state wildlife managers consider them big game animals, not predators.

    Ball didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

    But state Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican from Terreton who owns the 160-acre sheep pen where the incident occurred, said Ball called him that morning from a cell phone while circling above the wolves with his gun loaded with No. 4 shot. Siddoway, in turn, contacted big game manager Brad Compton of the Fish and Game Department and contends he was told shooting a wolf from a powered parachute was allowed under a valid aerial gunning permit.

    “He said, ‘Go ahead,’” Siddoway recalled. “We do it at our leisure for coyotes. This was just the first time we did it for a wolf.”

    It wasn’t until later in the day, Siddoway maintains, that another state official informed him the permit didn’t cover aerial wolf gunning.

    Compton didn’t immediately return a phone call, but Jim Unsworth, Fish and Game’s deputy director, said his agency most certainly didn’t give Siddoway the green light to shoot wolves from the sky.

    “Brad or I probably told him he could legally protect his livestock,” Unsworth said. “But I don’t think anybody told him to shoot it out of a powered parachute.”

    The state agency investigated the incident, Unsworth said, but opted to drop the case, in part because no dead wolf was ever found.

    Fe d e r a l Av i a t i o n Administration spokesman Mike Fergus in Renton, Wash., said his agency wasn’t aware of the incident.

    Wildlife activists said the confusion over whether wolves are legitimate aerial gunning targets underscores the absurdity of allowing people to use kit-built and experimental flying contraptions to kill animals.

    “The fact that wolves have been delisted, people probably believe they can just go after them now,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, the Denver-based coordinator of a national coalition of environmental groups aiming to halt aerial shooting. “We have the confluence of two bad policies coming together: the new allowances (for airborne hunting) and also the delisting of wolves under the Endangered Species Act.”

    Meanwhile, Siddoway is planning to introduce a bill in the Idaho Legislature next year to expand animals covered by the aerial permits to include wolves, too. The wolves didn’t kill any of his rams that June morning, Siddoway concedes, but more than 100 of his roughly 18,000 ewes, lambs and rams in Idaho and Wyoming have been killed by the big predators this year.

    “It’s insane that I would have to ask for permission over my own ground,” he said.

  35. avatar frank says:

    The insane part is that idiots are flying around with parachutes and loaded guns.

  36. avatar pointswest says:

    “The insane part is that idiots are flying around with parachutes and loaded guns.”

    You could not get me in one of those contraptions…especially not in that area. It is all lava flows with piles of basalt sticking up everwhere. It is too rocky to cultivate. If you ever had a forced landing, you would crash into a lava pile and die.

    That should give you an idea, however, about how strongly those ranchers feel about there sheep being killed by wolves.

  37. avatar SR25Stoner says:

    JEFF E left this link above and I was reading the comments there and found this, has anyone heard of this crime before? If it is true the USFS pilot must have hiked in and unbolted this engine and later landed and picked it up with the USFS Helicopter. How crazy is that ! The comment is October 2 09…

    http://www.idahostatesman.com/531/story/922578.html

    “In 2002, a contract helicopter pilot for the USFS, stole an aircraft engine from a state of Idho plane that had crashed in the wilderness area.
    After being caught, he pled guilty, in federal court to, “picking up and dropping off,” in a wilderness area, a misdemeanor. He paid a $2000 fine and walked. He had parted out the engine and sold the parts for thousands of dollars, many times over than what his fine was. The state of Idaho has never pursued theft or any other charges against this person, nor have they recouped any compensation from this individual for the theft of state property. These parts were sold throughout the U.S. and in Canada, risking lives of unsuspecting pilots.
    Since the state evidently feels that what this pilot did, was not wrong, they must feel that they can also land in the wilderness area without permission.”

  38. avatar bob jackson says:

    In the late 70’s one of the Park (Yellowstone) helicopter pilots and helitac crews landed their helicopter in the well off the road western plateau (N. of Beechler) area of the Park to “salvage” some of the WW11 B21? flying fortress that had crashed there in the 40’s. They recovered an intact 50 caliber machine gun (overlooked by the troops sent in make non functional these weapons) aviators watch, smaller weapons etc.

    In the 80’s my boss and I hiked to the same spot while on a search for a lost hunter, whom they thought might have wandered into the Park. We gathered up a bunch of 50 caliber bandilers full of rounds….. and brought out a bit of the really thick glass to keep for ourselves as a momento. The rest of the fifties had the barrels cut in two. but still a lot of parts were good.

    During the ’88 fires, with use of helicopters still around for mop up, helitac slung out the rest of that plane (wheels and all). I really doubt those 50 cals made it to the dumps.

    We had other “special” spots to go to in Yellowstone. One crash had the bones in the shoe still there to see 50 years later.

    Don’t know what it is but seeing these remnants of the past in its different forms so far away from anything seems to stir up the blood in most of us. The pilot may have tried to make some money off his venture to justify his “work” but I bet if it was a plane wreck from many years before he had a lot of memories stirring in that head of his flying over this scene…but then again maybe he was just a soldier of fortune.

  39. avatar Layton says:

    Aren’t there some salvage laws that allow people to claim property that has been abandoned for over 90 (?) days?

  40. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    From the update report it is interesting “That the law allows lethal removal of wolves if they are in the process of hunting/attacking their sheep or if they are molesting the sheep without a permit.'” I wasn’t aware that wolves could molest sheep if they had a permit. Who issues these permits IDFG or WS? ; – )

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