Numerous wolves shot for killing cow calves in Sublette County, WY

Sublette County, WY — Pinedale, Cora, Boulder, Daniel, Big Piney — is the biggest wolf death black hole in the West.

This formerly scenic area in the upper Green River, now with polluted air and and wide open spaces ripped up by the natural gas drillers, has seen the death of 14 wolves this year. There are with more to come — to be shot by the federal government as were those dead already.

All this has been in response to the scattered deaths of calves by wolves trying to migrate south and set up territories. The wolves pick off 1-4 cow calves here the there. To read the news stories, you are often left to believe that these were full grown cattle. In fact wolves only occasionally take adult cattle because 1. wolves are imprinted to see deer and elk as prey, but not cattle. 2. Cattle don’t act prey. They often just look up and give the canines that bored bovine stare (unlike elk and deer who know what is up). 3. Calves, on the other hand, are more likely to run (an indication to wolves that they are prey animals).

One should always note that these livestock losses are compensated by the group, Defenders of Wildlife, which wants to promote acceptance of the wolf. Possible losses also get half compensation. Livestock producers also get paid fall value for spring and summer calves. In Idaho, the state government on top of this, compensates for livestock that are missing.

Reporter for the Casper Star Tribune, Cat Urbigkit, is no friend of wolves — in the livestock business herself– but her story is basically accurate. I don’t like the tone. That’s why I have a blog. For her story “Wolves kill dozens of Sublette cattle,” click here







  1. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    Are ranchers expected to just say, “Oh well, my cow’s dead, too bad for me,” then go on? It says something that “Defenders” pay in addition to any government reimbursement, does it not?

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    Erin Miller seems to forget, or deny, the extraordinary damage livestock grazing has done to wildlife and land over the last century. Wolves are doing their part to restore wildlife and land.

    Wolves were returned to this part of the country for good ecological reasons, and wolves are now part of the cost of doing business in livestock country. Period.

  3. Interested Avatar

    Well wolves have killed a great deal more than 1 to 4 cows, they killed a dozen in about one week if I remember the stories and FWS report correctly.
    The loss of one uncompensated cow costs the rancher about a thousand dollars, so the ranchers are paying a pretty hefty price for the entertainment of wolf proponents.
    The wolves do not differentiate between private and public land by the way, and many of the kills occur on private land. It does seem unamerican to harrass and endanger folks in their own homes then charge them for it.

    “Interested” is Marion Dickinson. She is spamming (posting under more than one name). She is hereby banned from this group.   Ralph 

  4. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    “Wolves are doing their part to restore wildlife and land.” Hah! how could a predator thats a subspecies not native to this area possibly “restore” wildlife?! Wolves are definitele “a cost,” but in far more ways than just “doing business in livestock country…” Who’s thinking of the interest of these wolves? They’re being hated and illegally killed, totally unnecessarily in that they were brought out of their NATURAL environment and placed here, thus being exploited by fools wanting to politically influence such things as grazing! As for grazing damage, that’ll be used for it’s past damages for interests such as yours, the perfect example being your statement about it. When will I be banned from here for not agreeing?? I only need to use my real name and that only to state facts conveniently ignored here.

  5. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    I am so tired of hearing about the non-native species we have “planted” here. could you (Erin) please direct me (and i am sure many others) to the proof that they are non-native. Canis lupus is canis lupus. It is not as if we brought Mexican wolves up here…now they are a subspecies.

  6. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    Do you not know how to use an encyclopedia?? They’re named CANADIAN wolves for a reason. There are SEVERAL subspecies. Ralph Maughan himself had info on the size differences on his site! You’re welcome to practice what you preach and direct ME to proof the wolves brought to Idaho ARE a native type!

  7. Jeff Avatar

    Wolves use to cover virtually the entire continent. All gray wolves dispersed and interbred. Like all mammals the further north one goes, the larger the animals tend to be for survival purposes related to body mass and heat. That said the old classification of 20 some sub-species was reclassified to five sub-species because the taxonomy was incomplete based on a few random samples that weren’t indidcative of the species overall. There is no genetic difference between the wolves brought down from Alberta and B.C. and those that naturally recolonized Glacier N.P from Alberta and B.C. The timber wolf in MN, WI, and MI tend to be on average very close in size to wolves in WY, MT and ID. The anti-wolf crowd always grabs the extreme example of the 130lb wolf with a bloated gut from a recent gourging and tries to extend this one example to the entire population. Anyone who has done research knows that one sample of anything is rarely indicative of the greater population as a whole. Furthermore, what about the frequently captued lean 80-90 lb wolves…These seem to be conveniently overlooked as they don’t support the misnomer of the “Canadian Wolf”. By the way I tell my students that encyclopedias are good sources of information for elementary students, but not for anyone looking for in-depth specific information on any topic. Anyone can cherry pick statistics and research to justify a cause, but if one evaluates wolf size and descriptors as a whole one will clearly see that there is an insignificant difference in wolf size throughout North America with the exception of the skinny desert Mexican Wolf (like the skinny desert Bighorn) and the Red Wolf (which is a seperate species). Sorry for the long post, but I thought it might be beneficial to clariy this for those stuck on the idea that the wolves reintroduced to YNP and ID were drastically differenent than the exterminated natives.

  8. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    “Anyone can cherry pick statistics and research to justify a cause…”


  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    In the late winter or early spring of every year, I have put up a story on the weight of the wolves captured for radio-collaring.

    There have never been any of those 150 to 175 pound wolves, anti-wolf folks like to talk about.

    Anyone can go to my old web site and find these stories and see for yourself. I didn’t cherry pack the data. I put up the weight of all the wolves that were weighed.

  10. Jeff Avatar

    Thanks, Ralph those reports you posted via the USFWS and NPS are exactly what I was referring to. People must look at current data over time and look at the whole picture. This is what the ant-wolf crowd deons’t like as the data simply doesn’t support their rhetoric, therefore they are forced to come up with conspiracy theories including the 150lb wolf, numbers far exceeding USFWS reports etc…

  11. michelle Avatar

    wolves are NOT non-native animals to that region. They always used to live there untill ignorant people killed all of them off in 1926. Bringing them back to where they belong was a good decision. There have been many good effects of the wolves coming back- like other animals gaining in population, and plants being able to grow more since the elk don’t graze all of them away.

  12. Laird Bean Avatar
    Laird Bean

    I commented several times in a previous blog (Wildlife services kills 2 wolves, maimes 3 others) and was told by Ralph that $1000 loss for a cow or about $700 for a calf is hardly relevant (surely he does not care about the livestock owner receiving adequate compensation for their losses). These are close to todays market value prices. Suppose that a livestock owner had proof that 5 cattle were lost. This would total approximately $3500 to $5000. Of course, the wolf advocate will still claim that this is hardly relevant and the livestock owner may be lucky to reclaim half of this amount from Defenders of Wildlife and other agencies. In no circumstances that I know of has a livestock owner been compensated at market value prices for confirmed proven kills and I know severeal of them who have been compensated for confirmed wolf kills at marginal prices.

    Also, the wolf advocates claim the ranchers leave their livestock out on public lands for months on end without ever checking on them. Again, that is totally ridiculous as the livestock owner is in business to make money and he is not going to leave them out without checking on them regularly. Anyone who can show me documentation or evidence contrary to this, send me the source of that scientific study. I have asked for this before but no one seems to be able to provide this much important data. Since it is so important to the wolf advocate then I would have expected it to have been studied and documented so they could use it as another resource to snicker and point fingers at the ‘bad’ practices of the livestock industry. Otherwise, quit making the livestock owner the bad guy when it comes to the reintroduction of wolves. He is only protecting his assets much like you or anyone else would do.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Wolves usually don’t kill adult cattle, not cows, bulls, steers, or heifers. They kill calves.

    Defenders pays fall prices for all calves whether they were early February calves or a 500 pound calf of October.

    It’s the younger calves that wolves usually get, so one could argue the ranchers are being overcompensated.

    I’ve pointed out in the past, that whether the kill happens on public land or private land makes a big difference to most people, you have never addressed that issue.

  14. Laird Bean Avatar
    Laird Bean

    Like I said earlier, my family owns a ranch with 800 plus cattle and I personally know ranchers who have had adult cattle and even calves killed at MARGINAL prices. Believe what you want there are a fair portion of adult cattle killed also. Of course, you can say what you want so the wolf proponents will believe you. I am only stating fact from what I know and not heresay from defenders of wildlife. I can now say that your argument is hardly relevant.

  15. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    The reintroduction of wolves was the best thing that could have happened to ranchers. Wolves were already returning naturally to northern Montana and it was only a matter of time until they found their way to Yellowstone. A naturally recolonizing population would have had the full protection of the ESA and wolf control would not have been legal no matter how many cattle were killed. In fact, if I remember right, it was the environmentalists who were trying to stop the reintroduction because they believed wolves were already dispersing naturally to Yellowstone (although I think the confirmed sightings were lone wolves). With the reintroduction came the experimental population designation that allowed for control actions. I do feel sorry for those ranchers that are locally impacted by wolves, but things could have been a lot worse.

  16. scott Avatar

    When you are dealing with greed (people’s push to make every possible penny regardless of how it affects other people or the earth) you cannot expect those who are greedy to listen to reason. It’s funny that the cattleman expects us to care, support, and protect his profits while he cares little about how his business affects the rest of us or our world! We should ignore the wanton destruction of most wildlife brought on by cattle men and their associations but we should also support this destruction with our tax dollars! Wow. What a racket! Can we all sign up for this government sponsored welfare and destruction?

  17. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    I have often heard it said that the way to end up with a million dollars after a lifetime of ranching is to start with two million. Ranchers work very hard for very little. Most ranchers care very much how their business affects the rest of the world, in fact several ranchers that I know are setting aside historic grazing lands so that it can support local wildlife. But those aren’t the kind of stories that sell newspapers.

    As long as people demand beef in the market place, there will be ranchers.

  18. Laird Bean Avatar
    Laird Bean

    I think I’m beating on a dead horse here but I will try again to make my statement more clear about the livestock industry.. The wolf advocate is always putting blame on the livestock industry for the destruction of our public lands, the killing of the wolves by WS, etc. However, you folks need to be pointing your fingers at the root cause or source of the problem which is not the livestock producer. It is the very government that you pay your taxes to. They made the rules and regulations for the grazing of livestock on public lands. The rancher only abides by the regulations set forth. It seems like you should all be whining to your congressmen, the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, etc. If stricter rules about grazing livestock on public lands were put in place, the rancher would only abide by those stricter rules. How clear can that be.

    Do not blame the livestock producer, blame government. Remember, the government you support removed wolves almost a century ago. It was also the government who decided to reintroduce them knowing all along that livestock have been grazing on public lands for centuries. So, I guess your tax dollars are being wasted because the government use it to maintain public land and allow for the grazing of livestock. I suppose in reality, the government should be reimbursing the livestock owner for his losses and not defenders of wildlife. Then you would really be angry because your tax dollars are beiing reimbursed to the livestock producer.

    And Scott is also very confused in item #16. The livestock producer (land owner) has created much needed habitat for the Elk and Deer to forage on his ground. Many of the wildlife would not live through our harsh winters if the livestock producer did allow them to forage on his private ground. Just last week end there were over 100 head of Elk grazing in an alfalfa field at an undisclosed location I will not reveal. I wonder how come the land owners I know support the wildlife by watching them graze in their alfalfa fields all year? They would much rather be in an alfalfa field then on the public land eating natural grass. So, again, the wolf advocates are mislead to believe that the livestock producer (land owner) destroys wildlife habit when in reality they create a much needed habitat for the Elk and Deer.

    And to address Ralphs item #13. To the livestock producer, it does not matter whether the kill happened on private or public ground as long as he is compensated adequately for proven/documented kills. As far as I know the price of a calf on public ground is no different than the price of a calf of private ground – in other words a wolf kill is a wolf kill.

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Just a guess here, Laird, but I think you might get more support if you talked about the horrors of CAFOs for the animals kept there, the potential for disease creation for humans, and the advantages of grass fed organic beef.

    This is the end of this thread. Before anyone gets upset, I am going to try something. So watch for a post on ranchers, farmers and beef safety.
    That might provoke more relevant discussion.
    Ralph Maughan


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan