Wildlife Services 2007 report on wolf control in Idaho

I hadn’t seen one of these before, except a hard copy many years ago before wolves were restored to Idaho. Then it was a general report on control of all “harmful” animals.

It’s fascinating to me. Everyone will view it differently.

My view is all this effort over such a trivial loss of livestock (except for a few instances). Be sure to note how many of the cattle were actually calves, and how a small absolute increase in numbers can be made to appear huge when reported in per cent increase.

Idaho-Wildlife Services-FY2007-wolf-report.pdf



  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    “An area of unique concern arose in July when members of the Phantom Hill pack began killing sheep on grazing allotments in the Sawtooth National Forest near Ketchum. Even though one member of this pack had already been radio-collared by IDFG earlier in the year, WS was requested to radio-collar an additional animal. (Normal protocol would have called for incremental lethal removals to begin). After WS radio-collared a second animal and the pack continued to kill sheep, IDFG was still reluctant to approve any lethal control. IDFG opted for a non-lethal approach because of concerns about the potential reactions from local wolf advocates if lethal control were to be exercised. In an effort to prevent more depredations, WS provided “less than lethal” ammunition training to the herders in the area and provided radio activated guard boxes to the producers to help harass wolves from the sheep. WS also spent considerable time on the ground trying to keep the sheep and the wolves separate. Depredations continued in spite of these nonlethal efforts. While WS recognizes the sensitive position IDFG found itself in, limiting control actions to a strictly non-lethal approach in a situation like this is inconsistent with the intent of the rules under which wolves were reintroduced, and essentially violates a critical promise that was made at the time of the reintroduction. The original (1994) 10j rule clearly stated that all chronic depredating wolves would be removed from the wild (either killed or placed in captivity), and while the current (2005) 10j rule appears not to contain this same explicit language, the 2005 rule was arguably meant to allow even greater latitude in exercising lethal control when wolves attack livestock. Sheep owned by at least 4 different producers were exposed to the Phantom Hill pack’s depredation activity in FY 2007 and predation is expected to continue during the 2008 grazing season. WS recommends that if/when wolves from the Phantom Hill pack commit livestock depredations in the future, the intent of the original reintroduction rules and normal protocols should be followed, providing for lethal removals until the depredation activity has ceased.”

    In other words “WE DON’T LIKE NON-LETHAL EFFORTS, WE WANT TO KILL WOLVES” That’s my take. Did they exhaust non-lethal efforts before they requested lethal control?

    “The suspected group associated with B-327 is occupying an area that both the Orphan and Gold Fork packs used to inhabit before most of them were removed following repeated livestock depredations.”

    This kind of gets to me too. One of the reasons, I believe, for the increase in depredations in this area might be due to the illegal killing of the alpha male of the Orphan Pack by the ranch hand of the Valley County Commissioner. That particular pack was relatively well-behaved until this happened leaving 5 pups to fend for themselves. Essentially they had no parental guidance and got into a lot of trouble shortly afterwards leading to their deaths. Also, this area has seen a drastic decline of elk due to increased logging roads on what used to be Boise Cascade property which is now being sold to developers in areas like Horsetheif Reservoir.

    The report states that most of the livestock lost, if you account for their premise that most depredations on public lands aren’t found, occur on public lands. This gets to me too. Essentially we are subsidizing more conflict with wolves by allowing public lands grazing. I feel that wildlife should take precedence on public lands and that livestock should be removed especially in areas where habitat destruction or wildlife conflicts are a problem.

    I don’t think it is unreasonable for control actions to take place where livestock is lost on PRIVATE lands but I think that there should be due diligence taken by those people to avoid conflicts. There should be some responsibility when dealing with the public’s wildlife and ranchers would have a much better public image if they did make efforts to avoid these kinds of conflicts.

  2. Barb Avatar

    It never ceases to amaze me — the mentality of some who raise livestock in open lands —

    They are INVITING (or BAITING) natural predators by leaving these defenseless animals (cattle, sheep, whatever) unattended for months on end and then complaining when predators get them!

    DUH! What do they expect?

    They expect to be able to:

    1) shoot to kill and
    2) our taxes should pay for it!

    I don’t think so!
    – – – – – – – –

    Although you can’t judge intent, especially if they don’t speak. I think the practical effect is the same a baiting wolves. Ralph Maughan

  3. barbprotectswildlife Avatar

    Yes, exactly. I just don’t think many of them even give it a thought — it’s almost as if they see predators as an aberration of nature.

  4. Scott Hansen Avatar
    Scott Hansen

    I agree, in Italy, a pack that never went near livestock, started attacking sheep once the Alpha male was killed. If left to their own I believe that these livestock depredations would never have occured.

  5. Barb Avatar

    Why is it that the Western U.S. ranchers are so paranoid of natural predators — Canada doesn’t freak out over predators. Learn from your neighbor North of us! Domestic dogs kill far more livestock (and children) than predators combined. Why not “delist” domestic dogs?

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I’ve wrtten many times here, that it is mostly a form of cultural resentment.

    It has a little bit to do with wolves, but mostly because they are a symbol of the federal government and of those people who support wolf recovery, who the ranchers imagine all live somewhere outside the wolf recovery area.

    Pocatello, ID (inside the recovery area)

  7. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    They are not, the only ones you get to hear about are the ones that are..

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save Bears,

    People are defined by what others hear about them. Those who say they speak for them are a major source of what people hear.

    If I am wrong, and I wish I were, those ranchers who are open on this and similar subjects need to speak up publicly.

    I do suspect that the livestock associations, in particular, are more stubborn in their ways than the average ranchers; and folks should be aware that many ranchers do not belong to the livestock associations.


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