Wildlife Services plans major Western Idaho wolf removals

You can decide whether this control is warranted based on Bang’s report. The Lick Creek Pack has probably killed a lot of sheep. The others are less clear. They kill a wolf for killing a ewe?

Interestingly, some anonymous person emailed me all the Wildlife Service’s data for the operation. In the interest of letting them know the public is watching, here it is. I like this kind of email. It is what blogs are set up to report.

If you are tired of having our native wildlife killed on our public lands where they run livestock at your taxpayer expense, you would do well to join or donate to the Western Watersheds Project.This is true even if you don’t like wolves. What about the elk that have sheep and cattle chowing down the grass that remains? What about the disease passed from domestic sheep to the much more valuable bighorn sheep?
I would strongly urge folks not to try and interfere with this operation, although I don’t see how anyone could. I deleted the radio codes and the frequencies.
– – – –

Helicopter Wolf Hunt Plan for September 2006 on Payette and Boise National Forests
Day 1 (9/21/06 tentative)

-Begin from New Meadows FS Helipad.
-Notify Payette FS Dispatch (Gary Murphy) where hunt will take place.
-Fly Lick Creek Pack North of New Meadows.
-Notify Payette FS Dispatch (121.725) when WS aircraft exit the area.
-If time permits, fly to Jughandle (East of Donnelly) and work on Gold Fork Pack.
-Notify Payette Dispatch (121.725) when WS aircraft exit the area.
-Land in Cascade

Day 2 (9/22/06 tentative)

-If necessary, return to finish work on Gold Fork Pack.
-If not, proceed to Mt. Home area and notify Boise FS Dispatch that WS aircraft are in the area.
-Work on Danskin Mountain Pack.
-If possible, fly to Trinity Lakes area and notify Boise FS Dispatch
-Work on Steel Mountain Pack.
-Notify Boise FS Dispatch when WS aircraft exit the area.
-Land in Pine.

Day 3 & 4 (9/23 & 25/06 tentative)
-If possible/necessary finish work on Steel Mountain Pack.
-Make sure Boise FS dispatch is notified if operations are going to take place.


WS ASD George Graves (378-5077w/362-5676h)
WS Media Relations Teresa Howes (970-494-7410)
WS Crewmember Kelly Parker
WS Fixed-winged pilot Joe Dory , Radio code [deleted]
WS ground crew for New Meadows area Doug Hansen, Radio code [deleted]
WS ground crew for Jughandle area Justin Mann, Radio code [deleted]
WS ground crew for Danskin and Trinity Lakes areas Jared Hedelius , Radio code [deleted]
Helicopter Pilot Dave Savage
Payette FS Dispatch Gary Murphy
Boise FS Dispatch Chris Miller
IDFG Steve Nadeau
USFWS Law Enforcement Scott Kabasa
WS F/W “Husky” white with red marks. N96186
Bell 47G-3B-1. white and yellow with green marks . N6252N

Radio information:
WS will be operating [I deleted this]
Payette FS dispatch will be operating on [I deleted this]
Boise FS dispatch will be operating on [I deleted this]”

– – – –

I am not totally opposed to Widlife Services. A lot of people would like to see this agency abolished. I think they sometimes are helpful and there a few good people in their numbers, but they need to have the aerial gunning money cut dramatically. How much money does it cost to gun down a couple wolves that killed 5 sheep? Ralph


  1. Erin Anchustegui Avatar

    It breaks my heart to read these facts about terminating and moving wolves. Every year I teach my students that the best solution to this problem is to get cattle off public lands. There would be virtually no problems of this sort with wildlife and it so much of our tax dollars goes to bankrolling cattle ranchers who shouldn’t be at the doorstep of this vast and precious wilderness anyway. Until the federal government and state policymakers begin to see that the wolf is not the enemy here, but rather livestock, this unhappy saga will continue.






  2. Brian Ertz Avatar

    This asault on Idaho’s wolves is barbaric and shameful. The obscene government welfare afforded these ranchers, put to use to destroy a natural species whose contribution to the spirit and ecology of our environment is so critical, represents not just a waste of taxpayer’s money, it is a disgusting abomination. This agency is supposed to represent the greater public on our public land. Instead, it panders to the illegitimate, uncompetitive grazing industry, whose product further degrades our land. Like Ralph mentioned, how much bankroll will taxpayers spend to subsidize a few ewes who were unfortunate enough to be the property of some ranchers who couldn’t take responsibility for their ‘product’.

    It is not the responsibility of public agencies to spend our dime suckling negligent industry

    Don’t kill the wolves!

  3. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    Although there may be better ways, the wolf population in Idaho can’t be allowed to continue to explode, there has to be a balance. If the wolves had been handled properly in the first place, they may not have had to be killed. As for grazing, it’s a part of Idaho, has been, and likely will be for a LONG time, it’s not something likely to be stopped for wolves or any other reason.

    Like wolves or hate them, Erin, the wildlife, like elk at least, should have priority in a fire season, not sheep. The sheep should go home. Ralph

  4. Kate Tyler Avatar
    Kate Tyler

    Every fall scores of sheep are left behind as bands leave grazing allotments on the public lands of the West. Ewes, lambs and rams may have strayed from the main herd and in the mountainous areas they can be hard to find.

    Sheepmen can simply turn in these missing animals as depredations by predators and receive compensation from the state (or federal gov’t). Even if hikers and hunters report seeing sheep astray in the high country, the sheep rancher will likely not make the effort to try and recover the animals.

    But – when wolves kill one sheep or a few, or more — the airforce of Wildlife Services springs into action and spends thousands of dollars to gun down wolves (or coyotes or whatever predator is judged guilty).

    Right now many wolves in Idaho are living their last few days among packmates — pups with parents, aunts and uncles — as starting on the 21st, many will be killed to appease the livestock industry.

    I urge people to write letters to local, state and national newspapers to try to put an end to the barbaric practice of gunning down wildlife on OUR public lands. Wildlife Services needs to be held accountable for the thousands of innocent animals they put to death each year so that some lazy humans won’t be inconvenienced and actually have to start trying to keep their livestock tended and safe.

    _ _ _ _

    I know there is great variation in the quality of herding of both cattle and sheep from operation to operation. If Wildlife Services was in fact more than an excuse to kill predators, they would control only those predators who break through good herding practices. For those who use the “Christopher Columbus” method of herding (turn them out early in the season and “discover” them again in the fall) Wildife Services should say, “dummy, what did you expect? “Time to get out of the bar and do some cowboying.” Ralph

  5. John Avatar

    With Bush and his idiots in office I am surprised something more drastic isn’t happening to the wolves. I never thought I could be so pessimistic but watching him for 6 years makes me as sick as wildlife services.
    Bush’s motto: Let’s do everything that defies commonsense and cover it up. At least the fools from WS are only going after wolves that killed sheep, albeit on OUR public lands. Maybe someone with integrity will force good husbandy practices or they are on their own.

  6. Joan Timchak Avatar
    Joan Timchak

    Notice they are releasing collared wolves so they can easily track them for future pack destruction.

  7. John Avatar

    It’s hard to believe how close minded and ignorant some people can be when it comes protecting your precious wolves. You should be thanking Idaho’s ranching community for the incredible success of the wolf reintroduction process. From 35 to 600 in ten years is an incredible success story. If you continue to spew this hatred toward ranchers, while many of you wear leather and wool and eat beet and lamb, the ranching community could very well go back to practicing the three S’s of wolf management. Is that what you want?

    The feds in charge said right from the start that if wolves cause problems they would be removed. Why is it such a shocking event when it happens? Grow up and quit acting like a bunch of spoiled children.

    You are behind the curve in your knowledge of wolf management rules. Ranchers in Idaho now have full right to shoot any wolf that is harassing their livestock. No permit is needed. No gov’t crew of gunners is needed.

    – – – –

    Much of my complaint in the original post is about spending $5000 to $20,000 for a helicopter and gunners to kill a wolf that did maybe a thousand dollars damage.

    Wolves are prolific, and if they have an adequate prey base they can withstand 30% mortality a year. Threats of the “three Ss” ring hollow, especially so because much of my complaint is that the cattle are just not herded. There is no one with them to shoot wolves if they were so inclined. Most of the illegal take of wolves is likely from rednecks who just see a wolf and take the opportunity.

    Most of the sheep herders are aliens, probably undocumented, who certainly don’t get a lecture on rules and regulations before they are plopped out in the middle of Idaho backcountry with no transportation, to work as indentured servants for the summer.

    Some of us have been around long enough to know all the holes in the arguments put forth on behalf of the traditional ranchers (who are, by the way, perhaps 25% of those who hold public land grazing permits. They rest are hobby owners and corporate ranches). Ralph

  8. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Thank the ranchers for what, spoiling the wilderness. As if they don’t practice the three S’s now. A few weeks ago I went camping in one of my favorite spots near Stanley only to share my weekend with several hundred sheep. It started early when I turned off Highway 21 headed toward Beaver Creek, they had the road jammed. After waiting about 30 minutes for the herder to clear them I drove on and after a few minutes my truck and trailer were covered in the sheep crap that now coated the road. It continued all weekend, you couln’t walk anywhere without stepping in it. That area is full of wolves, I have heard them many times, bringing sheep in there is just silly. It’s long past time to take away this ranching welfare program and get livestock off public lands.

  9. John Avatar

    Thank the ranchers for not shooting more wolves. We wouldn’t have 600 wolves in Idaho today if not for support from ranchers. Thank the ranchers for producing the food you eat and the clothes you wear. Thank the ranchers for establishing the economy that allowed this state to come into existence. Don’t lose sight of the fact that they were the first people to settle here with incentive from our government in the form of the Homestead Act. Remember Tim, if you choose to camp with sheep you may step in sheep crap. Don’t cry about it, next time turn around and go up Alturas, or Smiley Creek, or one of a hundred others. LIke I said in my previous post, grow up, gain some perspective, then you can shoot your mouth off with some intelligence behind it.

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Just a note on the posters to avoid confusion. There are three posts by “John” above.

    They are not all the same “John.” The first post is from a “John” I don’t know. The last two are from “John” at the Farm Bureau.

  11. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    John it’s folks like who just leave me shaking my head, wondering what so polluted your gene pool. Perhaps it was your families relationship wiith sheep 😉

  12. Jean Ossorio Avatar
    Jean Ossorio

    Thank the ranchers for NOT committing the criminal act of shooting an endangered species? There’s a novel idea.

    Here in the Southwest, we’ve heard the same sort of threats that absent draconian “control” of the critically imperiled Mexican wolves, the locals will return to “shoot, shovel, and shut up.” It’s thinly disguised extortion.

    (Note: Since 1998 there have been at least 22 illegal killings of Mexican wolves, only two of them solved, thus government wolf “control” apparently hasn’t stopped lawbreakers.)

  13. Kate Tyler Avatar
    Kate Tyler

    To whichever John it applies — if “problem” wolves are shot, why don’t agencies shoot problem sheep or cattle that trespass or overgraze? Maybe ranchers that abuse our public lands should be radio collared and tracked? Maybe they’d take better care of of OUR public lands?

    It’s probably hard for someone at the Farm Bureau to grasp that a lot of us don’t eat beef or lamb. And I do wear footwear that has some leather (not much) but could probably go totally synthetic.

    There are some great livestock folks who are leanrning to live with predators. But not enough and the bad apples are pretty bad. I sympathize with Tim who tried to camp in the Sawtooth Valley where the sheep were.

  14. Erin Miller Avatar
    Erin Miller

    What do you all propose these ranchers do?? Sell out and hope they can find another career that’ll just take off for them?? You know, there are bad ranchers just as there are bad self-proclaimed “conservationists.” So I guess there should just be no more sheep or cattle except in private pasture. Good luck with that. You poor camper who couldn’t camp, please! I’ve been hunting and camping all summer in central and southern Idaho and the grass is tall, only a few cattle to be seen, and just as it has been my entire life. How about a group of people attack your lifestyle and livelyhood and expect you to change it all? That wouldn’t fly, now would it. I come here to read news articles about wildlife and this part of the country. It seems like too many of you simply want to bash and bash and bash; your idea of conservations is really something. Talk about shaking heads at this. If someone ran around screaming “KILL THE WOLVES” they’d be devils, you run around screaming “DON’T KILL THE WOLVES” and it makes you a conservationist of some sort????????????????

  15. BE Avatar

    If government didn’t pick up the externality costs associated with public lands grazing it would have been out of business long ago. It’s a venture that’s just not competitive. That’s not even the big bad conservationists’ fault. The sad irony is that the welfare queens in this case usually make six figures or more, or should I say that the tax payers too make much of it for them. If there is a qualm with folks who threaten the ranching “lifestyle” or standard of living talk to the mega-rancher (ex: Simplot) who uses his leverage to drive away the independent competition. See: These Interesting Facts Also, the idea that we’d be hungry and naked without public lands ranchers is is a bit of a stretch… scratch that: It’s a whopper!! Most leather and beef doesn’t come from the exploitation of public lands. The percentage is in the low single digits.

    Killing Wolves Doesn’t Work

    The Public Doesn’t Want To Get Rid of Them

    And after all, it is the public land… or are some/few folks more public than others?

  16. Kate Tyler Avatar
    Kate Tyler

    To Erin –

    The name of this website is wolves.wordpress.com so it should be obvious that a lot of the content is about wolves. And the readers are wolf supporters. Maybe you would be more comfortable reading and following the Farm Bureau or Ron Gillett’s anti-wolf coalition.

    Why is so much discussion about wolves mention livestock? One big threat to wolves are conflicts with livestock. Wolves die because livestock are driven on to den sites and rendezvous sites. Wolves die because they attack sheep dogs when flocks invade the wolves territory.

    But it’s not only wolves that the livestock industry harms — the list is long including fish, birds, coyotes, fox, bear plus aspens, willows and many native plants.

    Eventually public lands grazing will end and more people will see that eating beef is not a healthy diet.

    I grew up on a ranch by the way and thinking back to what I saw done to predators makes me very sad.

  17. Buffaloed Avatar

    “Don’t lose sight of the fact that they were the first people to settle here with incentive from our government in the form of the Homestead Act.”

    I’m sorry John, but I beg to differ with your assessment in this regard. Even if ranchers were the first to “settle here with incentive from our government in the form of the Homestead Act” they did so at the expense of all of the wildlife that was present here and at the expense of the economy that once existed here for centuries beforehand. I am tired of this argument that totally leaves out the existence of the Native American economy that had some semblance of sustainability and utilized the tools that were here when they arrived without trying to change the whole landscape into the European ideal of fenced in lands with peacefully grazing sheep and cattle.

    Look at what has happened to the keystone species of buffalo, bighorn sheep (yes they were as or more predominant than deer presently are), salmon and many others due to this warped ideal. These species were the tools that were here and the land was accustomed to them, unlike the cattle and sheep that replaced them and impacted their habitat or infected them with their disease. We will never go back to that state but we should try to put things back to a better balance where those species could thrive. We, and they, would be better for it.

    The cattle economy doesn’t work out west without the subsidies provided by the taxpayers. Wildlife can do it on its own and thrive if it, or its habitat, weren’t being constantly destroyed for the sake of the livestock and other extractive and destructive industries that are being propped up with our tax dollars. These industries wouldn’t survive in the “free market” if the market were truly free and were also governed by the consent of those affected by them or concerned about them.

    A healthy environment is an asset to all of us, not a threat to us. A healthy environment includes wolves and the species that increase the fitness of those that they depend on. It would be more advisable that we understand that we could have a better impact on the environment if we were more responsible about how we impact it and also how we benefit from it.

    When it comes down to it, we will pay for the destruction we wreak through a less productive and less life-sustaining environment that will be less enjoyable to live in. I am not particularly enjoying the knowledge that the human population is increasing and increasingly destroying its own life support system and that of other species at the rapid rate that it is. I am not necessarily saying that I think that humans will cease to exist on earth but I do think that there will possibly be a lot of discomfort for us in the future and it may be sooner than we might like.

    As far as people attacking lifestyles, Erin seems to think that the ranching “lifestyle” isn’t protected by government subsidies or that it is okay that it is. You must admit that many of the ranchers out west do depend on the public lands to maintain their lifestyle and seem to think that it is a right rather than a privilege that it is this way. There are several ranches that may own vast stretches of land but without the surrounding public lands they would probably not be able to make a living. They also pay much less than market value for the use of those lands and refuse to acknowledge that one of the reasons they once used was because of the higher predation sustained on those lands. Now they want it both ways. They want cheap grazing and predator control.

  18. Buffaloed Avatar

    BTW another thing that bothers me about the arguments made by the “browns” seems to center on the idea that people that didn’t grow up on a ranch, or in a small town, or in Idaho don’t have valid opinions or points of view. Get over it. I didn’t grow up on a ranch but I am a 4th generation Idahoan and I live in a small mountain town with a small working class population. Nobody is protecting my lifestyle either. I could lose my way of life just for the things I say or believe at any moment and have to change my line of work. Public lands ranchers seem to think they should be exempt from that.

  19. Laird Bean Avatar
    Laird Bean

    I am an avid hunter who has lived and worked on a farm/ranch for about 20-years and have not been involved with the farm/ranch for the past 15-years. So, I think I can see both points of view….those who want to remove livestock from our public lands and those who want to remove the wolves. However, if livestock did not use our public lands then there would probably be more fires due to the tall grasses that do not grazed off by livestock. And if you think that paying for beef from the store is already expensive then wait until all the livestock are removed from our public lands…most of us probably would not buy it then because it would be so expensive. On the other hand, wolves do have a place in our ecosystem also but there has to be a happy medium somewhere and that is where the difficulty lies.

  20. Buffaloed Avatar

    I like to eat beef but I don’t because I can’t support an industry that has become so destructive in its practices either through ruining the effectiveness of our antibiotics or feeding them hormones or the countless other practices done only to increase profits. There are consequences to eating beef and I don’t want to feel responsible for them.

    That being said, public lands grazing does not neccesarily reduce fire danger any more than native wildlife would. In fact, public lands grazing promotes the growth and increases the range of noxious weeds which reduce the productivity of the land for both livestock and wildlife. These arguments commonly used to support public lands grazing are a real stretch and the argument that livestock reduces fire risk is bogus in many of the areas except for those that are over grazed where there is nothing left to burn.

    When was the last time you heard of a grass fire in Hayden Valley or the Lamar Valley?

    When was the last time you heard about a grass fire in an area infested with cheat grass?

    – – – –

    Because it is so long, I am now closing this thread. The cause of range and forest fires is very important and interesting. Maybe I can create a discussion further up in this blog web site.

    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