Year of the wolf: 2007 could be decisive year in long-running debate

Year of the wolf: 2007 could be decisive year in long-running debate.” By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter.

It should be noted that Turnell, much quoted in the article, does not own the Pitchfork Ranch. He is the ranch manager. I understand the owners are out-of-state. The Pitchfork Ranch is not a typical ranch, but a very large and rich ranch that made its money off of oil. The ranch has wildlife all over it, and keeping wolves in the adjacent mountains is like keeping ants from crossing a line you draw on piece of paper.

There has been a big increase in wolves in the area in recent years, probably due to an overabundance of deer. This is a likely corridor for the introduction of chronic wasting disease into the Greater Yellowstone, and by killing weak deer, the wolves may be the only ones in  Wyoming doing anything on-the-ground to stop the dread disease.




  1. Dave Avatar

    Compare the results of this study with the wolf hysteria in WY, MT, and ID.

    Chavez, A. S. , Gese, E. M.
    Landscape use and movements of wolves in relation to livestock in a wildland-agriculture matrix
    2006 Journal of Wildlife Management 70: 1079-1086

    Wolves (Canis lupus) have expanded their distribution into areas of the midwest United States that have not had wolves for several decades. With recolonization of wolves into agricultural areas, there is increasing concern of wolf-livestock conflicts. To assess the risk wolves may pose to livestock, we initiated a 3-year study investigating the activity patterns, movements, habitat use, visitation to livestock pastures by wolves, and the occurrence of depredation events in an agricultural-wildland matrix in northwestern Minnesota, USA. From June 1997 to November 1999, we captured 23 wolves, including pups, from 3 packs; we radiocollared 16 of these wolves. We tracked radioed wolves intensively on a 24-hour basis during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1998 and 1999. We found wolves passed directly through a pasture containing cattle on 28% of the nights of tracking; 58% and 95% of the wolf locations were 1 km and 5 km from a pasture, respectively. Space use of wolves showed that while they visited livestock pastures during the 24-hour tracking sessions, they apparently were passing through these pastures with cattle and not preying on livestock. When compared to random simulations of movements, wolves appeared to encounter livestock pastures randomly. Thirty percent of random movements passed directly through a pasture; 65% and 95% of random movements were within 1 km and 5 km of a pasture, respectively. Wolves were more active at night than during the day. Wolves avoided pastures during the day and visited pastures at night when depredations were most likely (i.e., human presence was low). Visitation of livestock pastures was not related to any discernible characteristics of the pastures (i.e., pasture size, cattle density, distance to human habitation, percent forest cover, index of deer abundance). However, pastures in which livestock were killed by wolves contained more cattle than pastures without depredations, but in 1998 only. While the risk of wolf predation on livestock was potentially high (wolves were within 1 km of a pasture on 58% of nights), few livestock were actually killed. During the 3-year study, only 8 animals (all young or vulnerable livestock) were depredated by wolves. Maintaining healthy wild prey populations, removing offending wolves that kill livestock, and encouraging effective and proper husbandry practices (e.g., disposal of carcasses) among livestock producers, should allow for the persistence of wolves in northwestern Minnesota, USA, while minimizing their impact to farmers in this agriculture-wlldland matrix.


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.

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Ralph Maughan