Story of Buffalo Ridge Pack is told in word and photo

According to Ed Bangs and observations on the ground, probably all of the Buffalo Ridge wolf pack near Clayton, Idaho have been now been shot for repeatedly picking off a few tiny cow calves born in the bone chilling winter and pastured next to the vast central Idaho wilderness.

Lynne Stone of the Boulder White Clouds Council has created a photo essay on this predictable but avoidable tragedy. It’s truly disheartening for those who might think these matters can be solved proactively in a way that keeps both wolves and livestock alive rather than opt for dead wolves, dead livestock, and bruised feelings.

Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Under Siege. Sunday, Feb. 24 2008. By Lynne Stone.

Stone updated the story today (see her explanation among the comments below on this post). Five Wolves are “Lethally Controlled”
By Lynne Stone. Feb. 26 -28.

For a long time this wolf pack was the easiest one to see in Idaho. This backwards direction of Idaho’s newly found wolf management and Wildlife Services, the federal agency that seems determined to lock the states into 1920s style thinking about predators, is likely to be repeated many times in the near future.

– – – – – –

My earlier story on this. Buffalo Ridge Pack to be wiped out, classic example of what’s wrong with Idaho state wolf management.



  1. kim kaiser Avatar

    looks like really pretty country over there

  2. Izabelam Avatar

    I thought that there was a waiting period before Idaho Wolf Killing team gets their hands bloody.
    This is sad and I can’t do nothing.
    Or can I???

    I don’t have 4 millions.

  3. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    My Buffalo Ridge Pack story was updated this afternoon with photos. Ralph is correct – the pack is wiped out. So, what do we do to prevent this from happening to more packs? There are some suggestions in the story.

    I wrote the tribute to the Buffalo Ridge wolves so that they might be remembered. And also hoping to inspire people to help in whatever way they can. A lot of other packs are at risk, and that risk will magnify 1000-fold come the arrival of sheep and cattle in mid-May. There are volunteer tasks that could be done.

  4. dbaileyhill Avatar

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photos. This is all so heartbreaking. Just know that there many of us who share in your sorrow.

  5. Catbestland Avatar

    How excrutiatingly painful it is to watch the biginning of the RE-extirpation of the wolf in the West. I am afraid that Lynne is correct about so many more packs that destined for the same fate. It is especially hard to accept when this particular pack could have been an ambasador for the wolf viewing industry in Idaho.

  6. jerry b Avatar
    jerry b

    Lynne….Will you be at Chico in April? If so, I hope you’ll talk about the “volunteer tasks that could be done”.

  7. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    No, Jerry. I won’t be there. Hoped to go but some stuff has come up. Have Ralph give you my e-mail.

  8. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    As the shock wears off from losing the Buffalo Ridge Pack, there’s a thought that keeps going through my mind. Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are intent on launching a WAR ON WOLVES and it’s well on the way.

    I think of a song my schoolmates and I used to sing on long bus rides through Eastern Oregon backroads: “Same song, 2nd verse, can’t get better and it’s gonna get worse.”

    And my thoughts turn to the Phantom Hill Pack near Ketchum/Sun Valley Idaho as being next up in the cross hairs of Wildlife Services. Read about the black Phantom wolves at: http.//

    Now, WS has claimed in their 2007 report, that the Phantoms got special treatment and didn’t get shot after nabbing a few lambs. Of course, WS doesn’t mention all the special treatment sheepmen have gotten over the past 100 years.

    The Feb. 22, 2008 Idaho Mt. Express wrote about it: “Death Sentence for Phantom Hill wolves”:

    Wolf supporters will likely have to be on the ground, day and night, keeping tabs of the one band of sheep that had problems with the Phantoms last year. The sheep graze on public land — YOUR public land, on the Sawtooth National Forest, and pay $1.35 per month for five ewes and their lambs.

    More details of how the Phantoms might be saved with the help of wolf supporters will be forthcoming.

  9. Jason Rasco Avatar
    Jason Rasco


    I am a frequent reader of this blog, but seldom participate in the discussion. I did however write a brief summary of my wolf viewing success in Stanley during the end of March last year Both my wife and I are teachers in Portland, but will be visiting family and friends in Boise at the end of March again and I hope to spend a few days in the Stanley area snowshoeing and hopefully seeing some wolves. Any recommendations on were to stay and spend my money? Also, I would love to meet up with anyone in the Stanley area that would like to talk wolves and possibly head out
    to a few areas. I know there has been a lot of snow this year. Is it even worth while to visit the area? Is there still a pack in and around Stanley? Any suggestions or advice would be much appreciated.

  10. Peter Kiermeier Avatar

    Thank you Lynne for documenting the sad fate of these animals on the web. Not so easy to do I´m sure. I think quite a few readers will – like me – quietly close the browser, lean back and pause for a moment or two, especially when you come down to that “last tracks” picture.

  11. Maska Avatar

    Lynne, thank you for your deeply moving essay on the Buffalo Ridge wolves.

    I completely agree that we are seeing a “War on Wolves,” not only in the Northern Rockies, but even in the Southwest. Last year Wildlife Services shot three critically imperiled Mexican wolves and the project removed sixteen more (including two entire packs) to captivity for conflicts with livestock. In a tiny population of only 52 lobos (as documented in the end-of-year count), removing these animals from the wild population is the functional equivalent of lethal control. With the population down for the third time in four years, project managers are clearly failing in their duty to conserve the species.

    As in the case of the Phantom Hill Pack, these nineteen removals were all for depredations on livestock belonging to public lands grazing permittees. The project operates under a draconian standard operating procedure (NOT required by the 10j rule) that requires the removal of any Mexican wolf that kills three head of livestock in 365 days. This rigid SOP does not take into account the reproductive status or genetic value of the lobos to be removed.

    When asked how low the population would be allowed to fall before the SOP was rescinded, the USFWS Regional Director has refused to set a floor under the population. The War on Lobos is already underway in the Southwest.

    I’ll be interested to read your ideas on ways to save packs like Phantom Hill. The problem down here is that livestock owners have little incentive to accept proactive assistance. They merely need to wait, collect their compensation from Defenders of Wildlife, and the wolves are eventually removed. In fact, as reported in the High Country News (12/24/07 issue), there is actually a strong incentive to bait the lobos, so they get that third depredation and are taken out.

  12. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Jason – visit and use it to contact me via e-mail. I think it’s definitely worth coming to Central Idaho to see wolves.

    Maska – I’ve read of the sad plight of wolves in your area. My heart goes out to you and the wolves. All wolves, all predators are in my thoughts wherever they might be world wide.

    Is there is any way possible to have wolf supporters go out and monitor/document what’s going on with the “baiting”, and where feasible, try and haze the wolves away?

    There may be NM laws to consider such as no one can try to scare a wolf w/o reporting it to authorities. And, are there road killed wildlife that could be placed for a struggling alpha female and pups? Again, some states prohibit roadkills from being picked up.

  13. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    Maska – it was the Buffalo Ridge pack that was removed. For now, the Phantom Hill wolves near Ketchum are still alive and many folks have seen them this past winter. In June thousands of sheep will descend into the mountains where the six black wolves now live. I’ve heard that there are some efforts underway to try and keep the Phantoms away from John Faulkner’s band of sheep on the Baker Creek Allotment, where the Phantoms were blamed for several depredations last season.

    Seems odd that a rag tag group of wolves like the Phantoms (one crippled alpha female, an older alpha male and one yearling female plus their pups) could kill and eat all the sheep they were blamed for last summer. The wolves were also blamed for killing two large sheep dogs. Something just doesn’t smell right here.


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