Wildlife Services Seeks "Flexibility" to Kill 26 Idaho Wolf Packs

Ranchers and Wildlife Services are asking for county tax dollars to do it.

Ralph Maughan posted about this recently when it was a big secret, but now it is out in the open. Wildlife Services in Idaho is seeking flexibility to kill wolves several months after depredations have occurred. They have identified 26 packs which they say are “chronically depredating” packs, or packs that have killed at least 3 domestic animals. This definition begs this question; what is the timeframe of the 3 depredations? Could these depredations have occurred over the course of several years and Wildlife Services just wants to settle the score?

This information is confirmed from several sources. The USDA-APHIS IDAHO WILDLIFE SERVICES WOLF ACTIVITY REPORT FISCAL YEAR 2008 states:

If WS efforts to remove depredating wolves during the summer months are unsuccessful, and it may reasonably be expected that depredations will reoccur during the next grazing season, then WS would like to have the flexibility to reinitiate control efforts several months later, during the winter months when implicated wolves may be more vulnerable to removal.

Both the Long Valley Advocate newspaper in Cascade and the Star News in McCall, Idaho published stories this week that report that ranchers and Wildlife Services are asking the counties to make up for State budget shortfalls in funding. Specifically, they asked Valley County commissioners to fork over $5,000 which is twice what they usually contribute to make up for the $10,000 in funding that Governor Otter wants to cut. Note: these local papers are not on-line.

When wolves were under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Carter Niemeyer, livestock producers were required to work proactively before wolves would be killed. There are no such restrictions now under the new 10j [federal] rule. Because livestock operators now lack legal incentive to protect their livestock, it is not surprising that the number killed has increased (and increased more rapidly than the wolf population).

Harry Soulen of Soulen Livestock Company, has received $1,010,401 in subsidies since 1995 (of which $253,986 are called “Conservation Subsidies). According to the Star News in McCall, Idaho, he claims that “if sheepmen must move their flocks into the camp area nightly to protect them, the lambs can lose several pounds each.” There has been no evidence presented to support this and the claim that “wolves seem to reduce the reproduction rates for both the livestock, and also game animals like elk” also reported in the Star News. At any rate, many people believe that the cost of protecting your property on public land should be a cost of doing business.

From the Long Valley Advocate:

Fish and Game says 88 packs are in Idaho. Wildlife Services documented 35 getting in trouble, which is higher than ever; 26 of those packs were involved in three or more depredations each, so they fit the description of chronic depredating pack.

Using the average pack size of 8 this means that 208 wolves could be killed in revenge killings by Wildlife Services.

In addition the Idaho Fish and Game seeks to kill an undetermined number of wolves in northern Idaho.

See: State seeks to kill N. Idaho wolves AP Story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

This is a rehash of the withdrawn 2006 plan to kill wolves in the Clearwater Region.

It remains to be determined whether these plans will proceed since delisting was put on hold by the Obama Administration on January 20th but it is apparent that these plans will proceed if wolves are delisted and management is handed over to the State of Idaho.  Wildlife Services claims that they can proceed with the plan to kill the 26 packs under the current revised 10j rule which is still being litigated. They say they can also get the “Clearwater Plan” carried out if they can get some biologists to sign off on it.






  1. kt Avatar

    plain hammered and pretty much of a wasteland due to grazing damage – and on north through Crane Creek towards McCall and beyond. It costs us 6 times or more the $1.35 per AUM (for 5 sheep) that they pay just to have BLM rubberstamp their grazing permits.

    To make life easy for these big sheepmen, packs of wolves will be “eradicated” as another subsidy.

    And what is a sheep actually worth? A hundred dollars – or less?

  2. kt Avatar

    Whoops – something happened to the first part of my comment above. I was commenting on the Scorched Earth policy for the sake of whining WELFARE sheepmen and cattlemen.

    Just to make life the smoothest of sailing for 15 or so Idaho Good Old Boy wealthy public lands ranchers like the Soulen operation, Wildlife Services wants to eradicate entire wolf packs. The path of the Soulen operation is some really beat-to-death country on public lands in the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (Sunnyside allotment) – and on north to Crane Creek< McCall and beyond. A huge taxpayer-funded hoofprint on the landscape.

    It is time to get rid of Wildlife Services, and end the Elite Welfare Cow and Sheep men’s lock on wildlife and public lands policy. These leeches take from all of us through public lands grazing that is destroying so much of the West and its wildlife.

  3. Salle Avatar

    And furthermore~to add to kt’s comments, I have serious doubt about which packs are to be “managed” to death.

    For instance, one of the packs slated to be “dealt with” is actually a portion of the Galena pack that got into livestock last summer in the Sawtooth Valley yet the pack has since “split”. A”subgroup” has moved further into the back country where there is no livestock and they have had no depredation history yet WS is aiming to eradicate them since they originated from the Galena pack. For that simple reason, they are attempting to go into a wilderness area to kill woves who are NOT depredating on livestock.

    Also, I observed the Galena pack last summer and found that the livestock they did get into trouble over were;

    a) on small private land areas surrounded by public land where wolves were known to be present

    b) generally unattended – the ranchers were not present the majority of the time, might check on heir cattle once or twice a week if that. (I was present for days at a time and never saw a rancher even drive down the road to take a cursory glance at their livestock that is so precious to them.)

    c) of the livestock animals that were deemed depredations, several were sick animals

    d) much of the livestock present were on private property that was leased – the property owners claimed they only leased out the land because they needed the tax break for doing so and would not have leased for cattle grazing if there were another alternative.

    WS needs to be eradicated, not the wildlife. And the 10(j) rule is not functioning properly so the stakeholders ~ we the people ~ need to make it known that a change in policy is necessary. I would suggest that this be acted upon relentlessly and without delay.

  4. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    the 10(j) rule is functioning exactly as it was designed, it was a rule put into place to kill experimental animals, nothing more, nothing less, yes it needs to be done away with, but please understand, it is doing what it was designed to do…

  5. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And to be honest with you, the folks that wanted wolves re-intorduced were naive, they allowed the 10(j) to actually be part of this, they were duped period, if you believe in wolves, there should have never been a 10(j) allowed. The agencies have as much flexibility because it was allowed..

  6. brian ertz Avatar

    I agree with Save Bears about the 10(j) not being worth it (which may be easy to do in hindsight) but to be perfectly clear, the 10(j) that states & Feds are working with now is not the same 10(j) that was implemented initially. A new rule went through concurrently with the last delisting attemp that gave states much more “flexibilty” to kill wolves – & it’s this new rule that might be interpretted to green-light the massive slaughter proposed if the state is able to demonstrate substantial causation regarding elk populations not meeting state determined (arbitrary really) “objectives”. Before the new rule, the state would have had to show wolves as uniquely ‘responsible’

  7. matt bullard Avatar
    matt bullard

    Brian is exactly right regarding the current 10(j) rule. I don’t believe that the people who brought wolves here in 1995 were duped. The 10(j) rule was a political necessity at the time and it is doubtful that the reintroduction program would have happened without the original provisions. I believe full ESA protection was an option for reintroduction, but that was not going to pass muster from the powers that be. 10(j) was the political compromise. It got us wolves. Ralph, though, has the actual perspective. I’d certainly be curious to hear his take on that part of the reintroduction, given the passage of time.
    – – – –
    I hope I answered your question, Matt. See below

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Interesting concept Matt, it was a political compromise, but people were not duped, so I guess it is a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.

    I was in Yellowstone when the wolves were released and there was nobody happy with the way the program had come together in the scientific field, I was working for FWP at that time…you should have heard the conversations behind closed doors…

    If you don’t think people were duped, then why does WS have so much darn power to kill at will now a days? You got wolves, but you also got Wildlife Services, and they can pretty much kill at will when it comes to wolves..

    The wolves in question are not really endangered, they are an experimental population that can be wiped out at will by those in control…which is really why, those against wolves don’t worry when they kill one, all they have to do is claim attack or threaten and they will get off, at worst, they may get a fine, but not much more..heck just look at what Montana has done this last year! that should paint a pretty clear picture for you and those who think there is respect for the re-introduction of wolves…

  9. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And if you think I am wrong, look up the definition of:




    Might give you a pretty good idea..

    What the public saw was, hey its cool, we have wolves again, what many in the know saw, was if this don’t work out, we can get rid of them without fear of reprisal…

    And now with the states doing what they have been doing, heck lets just wipe out this 27 member pack, so what, people will cry, but they can’t do anything about it, and now Idaho wants to wipe out 26 packs! Yikes, sounds like we have no fear and will kill the damn things when we want..

    They need to classify them with full protection, get rid of the 10(j) rule and manage for a sustained and viable population..

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This the third version of the 10j rule. The current version is much different from the first two, and a lawsuit was quickly filed against it. It is sitting there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is action now.

    The current 10j is purely the product of the Bush Administration (actually Kempthorne). Kempthorne became governor of Idaho in 1995 just as the wolves were reintroduced. He hated them, and so eleven years later when he moved up to DOI, it isn’t surprising he put in such a bad rule.

  11. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save Bears,

    I think what you suggest is not possible politically. It never was.

  12. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Come on Ralph,

    Not political? you have to be kidding, I was still working in the field when the re-introduction happened and I was working for FWP..it was very political and still is..

    Now please correct me, if I am mis-understanding your meaning…

  13. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    And anyone that don’t think it is possible, really is not paying attention to the behind closed door deals, it happens all the time, and is still going on, even with the new administration..

  14. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Three deprivations is chronic? That’s utterly pathetic.
    Where’s that backbone of the rural farmer these folks brag about? Where’s that legendary fortitude?

    It seems IDWS wants to get their maximum of 10 breeding pairs (or less) any way they can. Seeing as they can’t hunt them they ask for ‘flexibility’ – heck next thing you know it’ll be legal to kill a wolf for farting in the wrong direction.

  15. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    correction: depredations

  16. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Actually John D.

    I think you might not be to far off base with the farting in the wind statement, I feel it is going to get a whole lot worse before we ever see anything getting better!

  17. Salle Avatar

    I was referring to the current 10(j) rule. I do know that it was a compromise from the start and even defenders, who helped with the agreement was happy with it for some time. The problem I see is that the recent revisions make it impossible for wolves to sustain any real protection from anywhere which is why it isn’t working and requires stakeholders to demand a change.

    Personally, I would prefer full ESA protection and not the Experimental/Non-essential status which I feel is totally bogus. I’ve said that in previous posts and I stand by it. The way it stands now, Save Bears and John d. is as you point out. I am not naive about it and have been quite involved for some time myself, from the political perspective, I get it and I object.

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save Bears,

    A few comments up when you asked if you misunderstood me . . . yes, you did misunderstand.

    Your option is the best and was the best, but I’m saying it is, and it was, NOT politically feasible.

  19. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Okay Ralph,

    No need to yell, I think you and I are on the same page!

  20. JB Avatar

    I’ve seen both Wildlife Services and federally-funded research blasted quite a bit on this blog of late. This morning I ran across the research priorities set out by the Jack H. Berryman institute, which is now a sort of funding arm for research conducted for Wildlife Services. I think folks here will be surprised to see their priorities regarding predator research, which seem to conflict drastically with most people’s perceptions of Wildlife Services.

    So here you go…

    Predators (Livestock)

    * Develop predator management programs that include state-of-the-art technology and cutting edge science.
    * Assess strategies and programs and develop methods to manage coyote predation on livestock.
    * Evaluate sheep losses to coyotes in areas with and without operational control.
    * Develop both non lethal and lethal tools to selectively target and remove specific predators whose territories overlap sheep pastures in an economic, efficient, and humane manner.
    * Develop lethal or non lethal control methods that are effective against territorial, dominant coyotes (alphas) who have previously been exposed to control.
    * Continue to develop alternative predator capture devices, with a focus on decreasing injury rates.
    * Develop new, effective, non-lethal capture techniques and management strategies for predators (e.g., coyotes, wolves, fox, bear and mountain lions).
    * Re-evaluate the capture efficiency and non-target impacts of the foothold traps and snares currently being used to capture coyotes, foxes, and raccoons.
    * Develop new technologies to address 24 hour trap check requirements.
    * Develop live traps for larger mammals such as coyotes, lions, and bobcats.
    * Develop techniques for remote triggering of coyote calling devices.
    * Develop new predator management tools to replace traps and toxicants on public lands.
    * Evaluate damage management methods for established wolf populations.
    * Determine the population dynamics of expanding cougar populations.

    From: http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/research/priorities.html

  21. JimT Avatar

    Actions speak louder than some statement of priorities by some funding arm, JB. Wildlife Services is in the business of killing predators; their entire history supports such an observation.

  22. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    As you know the first incarnation of Wildlife Services was long-ago Biological Survey.

    In order to secure money for research they allowed predator control to be grafted onto the agency, but it quickly became the tail that waged the dog.

    This is good research, but you can bet that the WS agents don’t read much of it because they don’t care about the results. It would take new leadership in the agency to make them care.

  23. JimT Avatar

    Or dissolving it and starting over. Sometimes, Ralph, it is hard or impossible to erase an organization’s culture and history after it is absorbed by the personnel over time and seen as a “mission”.

  24. JimT Avatar

    I also think it would help to get that group out of Agriculture and into Interior….

  25. JB Avatar

    You’re right in suggesting that predator control has been the tail that wags the dog (especially in the West), and certainly WS is in dire need of some of Obama’s “change.” However, what’s important to recognize is that these research priorities were generated–at least in part–by the “higher-ups” with WS. I think they’re beginning to see the writing on the wall. There are a lot of directions they could go that would be fruitful (e.g. research, prevention of disease transmission, focus on education and outreach to prevent human-wildlife conflict, to name a few. But I don’t see that happening until they’re out from under the thumb of agriculture and the good ol’ boys retire.

  26. tr Avatar

    If the wolves are killing livestock then they need to be done away with. Ranchers point of view. Any of you from Idaho?

  27. Lynne Stone Avatar

    tr – yes I am from Idaho for the past 28 years, right in the middle of wolf country, and before that, grew up on a ranch in Eastern Oregon.

    Wolves are not the problem. Public lands livestock grazing is the problem. We have problem ranchers, not problem wolves (or coyotes, or fox, or badgers, or squirrels – or anything else that breathes or flies that inconvenience ranchers).

    Can’t protect your livestock? Than get off my public lands.

  28. Lynne Stone Avatar

    JB – re. Feb 4th comment – Wildlife Services in Idaho is always pushing to kill entire packs. State record requests document this. Where is the non-lethal effort? One pack, the Phantom Hill, near Ketchum, has been given extra effort to keep them alive and out of sheep. But, only the Idaho wolf hunt now underway in the Sawtooth Zone is keeping the Phantoms from being nailed hard by WS after the pack took four sheep and two guard dogs in late August in the upper Sawtooth Valley (Sawtooth zone). They killed another sheep on August 28th.

    No requirement at all by USFS that governs public land grazing around here, that sheep be bedded near sheep wagon, that a night pen be put up, or that dogs be trained to stay near flock or wagon, and not run for miles out into the night to intercept a pack of wolves. No encouragement by WS (except for the Phantoms and only when they are near Ketchum) for ranchers/herders to protect livestock.

    Am hoping that in the years to come, under the Obama administration, that USFS and WS will change, but officials tell me that it’s going to take a long time for change to trickle down to public lands livestock grazing and predator issues.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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