Montana ranch favored by conservation groups gets cited for upleasant kind of wolf killing

The email and phone lines have been buzzing about this one.

Last July a ranch hand at the Sun Ranch ran down and ran repeated ran over an injured female wolf, the alpha of the pack. The Sun Ranch on the east side of the Madison Valley has long been favored by many conservation groups as one place where they are trying to do it right. Because the wolf had not chased or attacked the cattle and was in fact moving away from them, they were cited for a violation, an “illegal wolf take” under the current 10j rule.

The 10j rule states that the wolf must be attacking, or actively molesting, harassing or chasing livestock before it can be killed. The method used stirred controversy. The ranch hand did not have a gun. Wolves can also be legally shot for molesting or attacking livestock guard or herding dogs.

Here is the most recent story about it in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Sun Ranch issued citation for wolf killing. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

There was a similiar incident this summer NW of Stanley, Idaho when a range rider shot a member of the well behaved Basin Butte Pack after she had crossed private property near cattle, but ignored them. The range rider shot when the wolf had left the private property and was up on the hill on public land. He was fined $275 dollars.

It is not a violation for a wolf to be near or among livestock. Wolf packs pass through livestock all of the time, and they generally ignore the livestock completely. This is considered by most to be good wolf behavior.

The summer before last the Sun Ranch shot several members of the Wedge Pack that had been killing their livestock. I posted their news release about it with favorable comments about the ranch.

This time I will remain neutral.

Here is another story. This one is from a right-wing, fundamentalist, religious-orientated web site. Rancher Kills Wolf to Save Cattle, Violates Endangered Species Act. Randy Hall. Staff Writer/Editor. The employee is turned into the rancher, and they assume the wolf must have been feeding on the Sun Ranch’s cattle.

Lang, the actual rancher, does sound like an OK guy, IMO



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  1. Wolfy Avatar

    How about someone run over that worthless cowpoke and see how he likes it? He must be from Fremont county.

  2. Jay Avatar

    I’ve always found the term “humane” an odd derivation of the word human, considering the fact that our species has no rival in the level of cruelty that we are capable of.

  3. Trish Avatar

    If Sun Ranch’s owner is sincere, then how is it that he has so poorly communicated his stated purposes, goals, and/or philosophies to his employees?

  4. kim kaiser Avatar

    what makes a person qualified to be a “range rider”!??
    also,,, is there any so called “training” that will be administered to these people, so they cant just interpret this 10j law anyway they see fit to meet there needs,,,,or is this just gonna be a bunch of yahoos out there doing there own thing….

    seems to me that this shoud be a prime example of how unenforeable this thing is,,
    did he say somehting like he chased the wounded animal for a half mile or so until he wore her down,,, i would personally put that right up there with Micheal Vick,,,,total disreagard for life,,

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This is what people worried about when the 10j rule was last changed from allowing a rancher to shoot a wolf when it was attacking to when it was just harassing the livestock, namely that it would be wrongly interpreted to mean any wolf near livestock could be argued to be molesting or harassing the livestock.

    Now we have two citations on this, and who knows how many “legal” killings where the wolf was just near the livestock?

  6. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    He should be cited for animal cruelty as well as the illegal killing. Sick %^($(

  7. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    I belive these guys are doing this kind of thing because the enforcement agencies are gutless and their basically getting away with it. The penalties have been nothing more than small fines which most of them will gladly pay to kill a wolf. Tim Sundles ring a bell? Does anyone know if he even got sentenced?

  8. Sally Roberts Avatar
    Sally Roberts

    i read something that said the reason the alpha female was injured is that her leg was shot off by a ranch hand earlier…not sure if this is true.

  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Wyoming’s definition of predator means that the wolf could be killed at any time, by any means, by anyone. No license would be required. Fire at will. Wyoming Statute 23-3-103(a) states “predatory animals and predacious birds may be taken without a license in any manner and at any time.” Wolves, where classified as “predators”, could be poisoned, trapped and then tortured to death, shot from planes, or run over by snowmobiles or ATVs. Their pups, still in their dens, could legally be burned alive. So much for the “fair chase ethic” promoted by Wyoming Game and Fish.

    A Wyoming law that has not garnered any attention and desperately needs some light shed on it is W.S. 23-3-103(b). It states the Game and Fish Commission can designate areas where “specified trophy animals may be taken in the same manner as predatory animals without a license.” In other words, where the wolf would be managed as a trophy animal, the Game and Fish Commission could, at its sole discretion, allow those wolves to be killed without a license, in any manner, by anyone, at any time.

    Wyoming Statute 23-1-304 determines the classification of wolves in Wyoming. In subsection (d), it states anyone who harvests a wolf has ten days to report the “number or nature” of wolves killed to the Game and Fish Department. It goes on to say “information identifying any person legally harvesting a wolf…is solely for the use of the department…and is not a public record.” I was unable to find anything in Wyoming Statue that offers this same protection to elk hunters or deer hunters. The statute suggests its purpose is for wolf population monitoring, but why the secrecy?

    This is nothing more than legalizing the old “shoot, shovel, and shut up” policy. A hunter can turn in 5 dead wolf pups he blew up inside a den and his name and how he killed the wolves will not become public knowledge.

    In America, no government agency, at any level, should operate in secrecy while conducting the business of the public.

    Wyoming continues to offer 19th century solutions to 21st century challenges.

  10. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    that is great information and will or should be a keystone component of the legal challenge to the ongoing subversion of the ESA by the state of Wyoming and by extension the Wyoming farm bureau and the Wyoming stock growers association.

  11. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    not to mention (but I will) the Sportsmen for (some) fish and (some) wildlife.

  12. elkhunter Avatar

    Did you hear about the drought problem in NV in the desert, seems all the guzzlers and natural water sources were very very low, non-native burro’s stress it alot, anyways, the FNWS organized and transported over 30,000 gallons of water to the hundreds of different guzzlers throughout the desert to help out the bighorns. Not to mention all other wild animals that may drink water. All on donations from hunters! Imagine that, we should of hit up DOW for some cash, but it was probably tied up in some litigation for a woodpecker or a praire dog. Its those damn hunting groups again saving game-animals. Jeff E you know very well that these big-game groups do a helluva lot more than DOW or any other activist group ever would. All they do is sue it seems, I did see on their site that they donated some money to build a bats nest in the aftermath of Katrina. Job well done.

  13. Teresa Lewis Watts Avatar

    To Mack P. Bray: Thank you for your insights & source material; it is greatly appreciated…the “management” plan being proposed should be retitled “extermination” plan. Tourism is the second biggest money-maker in WY, & people around the country who love nature & wildlife are going to be horrified if this plan is carried out to its gruesome potential. And in response to “Wolfy”, your pithy comment is only too true, unfortunately; the residents in Fremont County who hate the wolves are quite proud of their disdain, & all too happy to tell you about it: they actually believe that the return of this natural predator is usurping the “pristine” quality of their predatory rites directed every fall toward the elk, deer, antelope—and that unlike drought & other environmental factors yet to be fully studied, the wolves are to blame for everything negative! I must add, I am not against hunting per se; however, I am totally against the wholesale slaughter of wolves because their presence isn’t “convenient”. Some people just want any excuse to kill other living things. Others of our species have a justifiable query for such people: Are you sociopathic?

  14. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Just a guess but that guy that tortured that wolf with his ATV was probably an activist hunter.

  15. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    By the way elkhunter, who funded the construction of the bats nest in your skull where your brain is suppose to be?

  16. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I’ll bet non- native casinos in Las Vegas stress it way more than non-native burros. Okay, try this Sportsmen for(we’ll pick and choose) fish and (we’ll pick and choose) wildlife.

  17. Cordell Avatar

    Tim Z,

    Just curious. What do you do to help wildlife and habitat?
    Other than make asinine comments like this:

    “Just a guess but that guy that tortured that wolf with his ATV was probably an activist hunter.”

    Seems to me helping wildlife/saving habitat is a good thing if it’s the Nature Conservancy, DOW, or “activist hunters”. If more people could just get past their extremism and meet in the middle maybe a whole lot more could get done.

  18. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    Cordell, just a guess but not to many people who donate to your above mentioned charities would torture any animal to death as this guy did. How much money have you to bet he is a hunter. Take out a second mortgage on your trailer if you have to to cover your big mouth.

  19. Cordell Avatar

    Tim Z,

    Wow, what ‘s with all the hostility? Thanks for proving my point about extremism. Good one.
    The guy who did this to the wolf is a scumbag. No argument there at all. My question to you, tough guy, is what does this a@@hole torturing an animal have to do with hunting?
    Creative remark about the trailer, I take it you assume I’m a redneck. It’s amusing when someone trys to control a conversation by slinging sh@t instead of answering a question put to them.

  20. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    “My question to you, tough guy, is what does this a@@hole torturing an animal have to do with hunting?”

    Ask elkhunter, you two probably have a lot in common, as he is the one who brought up how benevolent hunters are on this thread. If you call being disgusted by someone torturing an animal to death “extremism” I guess I qualify as an extremist and happily so.

  21. Cordell Avatar

    Tim Z,

    I’m starting to wonder if you even read the posts that you reply to. Let me break it down for you because it seems you need a little help.

    “Just a guess but that guy that tortured that wolf with his ATV was probably an activist hunter.”
    Again I ask you, what does torturing a wolf have to do with hunting?

    You: “By the way elkhunter, who funded the construction of the bats nest in your skull where your brain is suppose to be?”
    A little bit of an “extreme” reply to someone who was giving an example of some good that hunters do. And again I ask you what do you do to help wildlife and habitat?

    You: “How much money have you to bet he is a hunter. Take out a second mortgage on your trailer if you have to to cover your big mouth.”
    Again with the hunter/torturer scenario. And a cute little quip thrown in for good measure.

    Me: “My question to you, tough guy, is what does this a@@hole torturing an animal have to do with hunting?”

    You: “Ask elkhunter, you two probably have a lot in common, as he is the one who brought up how benevolent hunters are on this thread. ”
    Oops there it is again. Lumping hunters together with some lowlife who tortured a wolf to death.

    You: “If you call being disgusted by someone torturing an animal to death “extremism” I guess I qualify as an extremist and happily so.”
    I never did as I’m thouroghly disgusted by it too. I’d say your quotes that I listed above qualify you for that. Why don’t you just be intellectually honest and come out as an extreme anti-hunter? Instead you attach your anti-hunting agenda to this thread about the torture and killing of a wolf.
    How about you try following the thread of conversation. I’ll help you out: Mack made a comment > Jeff E made a comment in reply to Mack > Elkhunter made a comment in reply to Jeff E > You jump in here with your rhetoric that has nothing to do with the conversation. I call you on it and you sling more empty jive. Keep it up, it’s entertaining.

  22. Tim Z. Avatar
    Tim Z.

    I’ll never forget what an old wildlife biology professor once told me, “never engage in discussions about conservation with someone whose IQ is obviously a smaller number than the size of their shoes.” Cordell I think that applies here so you will here nothing further from me.

  23. Cordell Avatar

    Tim Z

    Bravo to your professor. I totally agree. It’s funny though. Not one thing you have said throughout this entire thread was about conservation. You have not answered one question put to you. Your empty replys have mainly been room temp IQ insults meant to stop the conversation. So as you pat yourself on the back for a job well done, you may consider strapping on a pair, exhibit a wee bit of maturity and engage in a discussion.

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Knock it off. These insults spoil the thread


  25. Cordell Avatar


    I couldn’t agree more.

  26. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    About people who “jump at the chance to kill anything”, and torture; The hostility towards wolves is very disturbing and this free-for-all slaughter is just wrong. But equally if not a bit more disturbing, is what is the person’s problem who do these things to animals. Both the wolves and bison are on the receiving end of a serious amount of hostility. The people who say, “the only good wolf or bison is a dead one”. Is there something more there than the history of myths and crazy beliefs behind this behavior? I just don’t get it. I am not anti-hunting. Originally from Ohio but spent a few years in West Virginia, I grew up around hunting for food. There are also a lot of very poor people who hunt out of season so they can eat. {those situations get overlooked if happened upon}. Being brutal and violent is unacceptable and wrong, and its sickening that they are allowed and encouraged to to this to certain species. Is it that they get permission and that makes it okay to be a complete nut-job? What else would these people do, if they could get away with it?
    Half asleep, hope my rambling makes sense.

  27. Gina O. Avatar

    As a right-winged, christian I can honestly say I am appauled by the article at CROSSWALK. It is so slanted, it is hardly believable! I think it is important to note that there are wolf supporters from all walks of life. Our family has it’s beliefs and political affiliations, but we are doing our part to educate and get the word out within our social circles. But, after packing up and leaving a high-paying job to live closer to Yellowstone I can tell you that the ones needing education are the ranchers. We live in the middle of wolf-haters country! But, instead of flinging insults here…time is better spent educating the folks that will really bring change to the way wolves and other species are treated!

  28. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Time to end this thread.



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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