Phantom Hill wolf pack hunts near Hailey, Idaho

Should the pack be hazed?

This is a no-brainer. Of course, the pack should be hazed. They are not afraid of people because they have not had an experience that tells them to be.

Hazing will do the local people even more good. Wolves close by worry many folks, and they are a threat to their pet dogs. They are also a temptation for some foolish person who might decide to feed them.

Hazing them doesn’t hurt the wolves, and the Wood River Valley’s much loved local wolf pack will be much safer if they are told to keep a distance.

Story: Wolf pack hunts near central Idaho town. AP

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Update 3/16/09:
Intense footage of a Phantom approaching dogs last Thursday, March 12. Video via PlumTV

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2225392&w=425&h=350&]
The Malamutes owner had been previously warned of the Phantoms presence, despite the warning, the Malamutes were a distance from their owners home in a field next to Greenhorn Road and were barking. The member of the Phantom Hill wolf pack is believed to be the 2-year old male. The wolf came off the steep mountainside onto the road, looked at the dogs and incredibly jumped over the wooden fence. Within a couple of seconds, the wolf took off. 2 Photographers from the local Plum TV station happened to be there. Greenhorn road is a public access through private property in a large canyon between Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho. Homeowners of the Golden Eagle subdivision, an upscale development at the mouth of Greenhorn Gulch, have been feeding hay to 150 head of elk all winter. It was just a matter of time before the Phantom Hill wolves, or another pack, discovered the tamed elk.
Another video via Channel 11 News

~ be

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Earlier post. March 2, 2009. Photos: Phantom Hill wolf pack takes a mountain lion.






  1. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Billy Ward, quoted in the article, is a fool who spouted off the standard anti-wolf rhetoric about “what a waste” the elk-kill was when the Phantom Hills ran from it upon people approaching – the kill was consumed, presumably by the Phantoms, the next day. He also got all huffy puffy about how good it was that many wolves are going to die thanks to proper “management” and gloated about his intention to contribute to that fact.

    additionally, seems to me the article kind of misses an important point about what needs managed – there’s a tendency for valley residents to feed the elk herd up Timber Gulch, and in a lot of places in the valley. The herd was up Greenhorn Gulch the next day – and it’s a big herd – i presume they’re fed there as well. If people are worried about the fact that the Phantoms have been making kills so close to homes the first thing that needs to happen is they need to stop bringing the elk herd in by allowing valley residents to set out feed. That’s the problem.

    It’s upsetting that this stuff is left out of articles and people are led to believe that the Phantoms are doing something wrong.

  2. Aaron Clausman Avatar
    Aaron Clausman

    Of course, when it comes to anything with the wolf they try to hype it up as something horrible. And then of course, people are bringing elk closer to them; therefore, the wolves make there kills closer to humans, it does not mean they are not afraid of humans because they eat within a hundred yards of you. Wolves don’t know you can hurt them from that range, so they probably will not run away from you at that range. All you have to do is haze the pack if you do not want them near you. With the article there are a few Anti-Wolf commenters who do not study wolf behavior and would just want to see the wolves all die. They have to learn a appreciate the wolf before they can learn about the wolf.

    Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Guy E. Connolly drily notes in The Big Game of North America that a sufficiently selective review of literature can reinforce any desired view on the subject of predation.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I’ve written this so many times . . . . If you start feeding birds, don’t surprised when a hawk shows up. The same is true for feeding and concentrating any kind of prey.

  4. DB Avatar

    No doubt feeding is wrong for a number of reasons. But if people insist on building homes on traditional elk winter ranges, we have a problem that can’t be solved without a drastic reduction in elk numbers. It doesn’t seem hazing would help unless wolves can find game away from human development. Management may involve hazing elk and wolves (feed elk somewhere else?). I bet that would go over big with the ranchers further down Wood River. I think these wolves are lucky to be near Ketchum and not a few of the towns I can think of on the St Maries, Clearwater or Salmon.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The location and feeding of the wintering elk is a continuing controversy in the Wood River Valley.

    Cougar and other wolves have been picking off the wintering elk and deer in the urban area for some years now. The only difference is the Phantom Hill Pack is now ten members strong, and was the focus of a large effort to keep the pack and the domestic sheep apart on the summer range in the Wood River’s headwaters on the national forest.

    The wolves are lucky to be in the Wood River Valley compared to other mountain places in Idaho.

  6. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    OK, after seeing the video, I’d say those wolves need to be hazed and quick.

    There is no excuse not to do it. Fish and Game/Wildlife Services has radio location of the wolves. They can have shotguns with cracker shells (safe) there in an hour.

    I hope the owner of the dogs was impressed by the video. There is no barrier at all between the developed and wild.

    The next time, the lone wolf could come down the hill with 2, 3, or even 9 packmates.

    1. Brian Ertz Avatar

      from what i understand there was mention of bringing a helicopter in to haze them, which seems like it’d be less of an associative lesson than for a human to walk up to the base of the hill. it rained all day so there was no effort to haze the wolves today. the video was taken last Thursday, the Phantoms were back today, the elk herd remained – as they will so long as the hay is there (which rumor has it a hay-truck stops by daily !)- no doubt. there’s been no hazing, but there’s still rumor of it within the next couple of days.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    OK, after seeing the video, I’d say those wolves need to be hazed and quick.

    There is no excuse not to do it. Fish and Game/Wildlife Services has radio location of the wolves. They can have shotguns with cracker shells (safe) there in an hour.

    I hope the owner of the dogs was impressed by the video. There is no barrier at all between the developed and wild.

    The next time, the lone wolf could come down the hill with 2, 3, or even 9 packmates.

    The elk feeding needs to stop too.

  8. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    So how much of this nonsense is Idaho Fish and Game trying to prove some arcane point by not just hazing these wolves away. And why isn’t the law concerning feeding wild animals by private entities being enforced which is what I understand is happening with the elk over there.

  9. Barb Avatar

    The wolves definitely need to be hazed and develop a fear of humans for sure or they and pets will end up dead.

    But, Ralph, why does the elk feeding need to stop? Wolves eat elk; that’s natural. Heck, if I were a wolf, I’d go after elk too.

  10. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    that’s feeding the elk hay by the residents of this sub-division

  11. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I think you will discover that the wolves will soon learn to ignore the cracker shells. The snow is melting rapidly and the elk will soon move to higher country and the wolves will follow. It would be better to just leave them alone. Unless there are other elk the wolves can find to eat , the hazing effort is doomed to fail. Why not enjoy the wolves interacting with their prey and save driving to Yellowstone. If you are too stupid to put your dogs away when there are wolves around, you deserve to lose them.

  12. Barb Avatar

    🙂 Thanks Jeff E — I just wrote the Hailey Fish and Game and said what are they waiting for? Please haze the wolves!

  13. Ken Cole Avatar

    I disagree Larry. I think it is in the best interests of the wolves to have a very healthy fear of humans because we all know what is on the horizon.

    1. Brian Ertz Avatar

      you think hazing the wolves will keep them away from that tame elk herd for very long ?

      1. Barb Avatar

        No, I don’t think so, but the hazing is intended to get them away from the residential areas, not the elk, isn’t it? When the herd moves in the spring, the wolves would follow.

      2. Ken Cole Avatar

        I think the feeding of the elk needs to stop too. It shouldn’t have started in the first place.

        1. Save bears Avatar
          Save bears

          Ken I agree,

          There is no reason to feed wildlife at all…

        2. Brian Ertz Avatar

          I hope the hazing works.

          The Phantoms are fun to watch, and it’s a shame to see the fuss around their visitation. From what I’ve seen, even in the Wood River Valley, the red-necked pecker-wood population is way out of control – too close for comfort, and from what I’d guess just off-hand, they grow from 250-300 pounds, sport kill for the fun of the kill, and should not be trusted around bus stops with small children present, and not very fun to watch through a spotting scope. I think that they are the most dangerous of all and I’d rather see them hazed away with helicopters and cracker-shells than the Phantoms. IMO.

      3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

        Hazing is rarely a long term solution. I think it has been shown to work for several weeks in many cases. That is often long enough.

        Maybe it can work longer in some cases. Wolves hazed in Yellowstone Park did not show up begging for food a second time.

  14. Barb Avatar

    Hazing works!

    I’m working with some people right now to haze coyotes to make them afraid of humans in the parks. It is absolutely working but the city has applied for a trapping permit anyway. It will probably be denied as this effort has just begun — and it is working.

    1. Barb Avatar

      And I meant to include this hyperlink – the contact form for the Idaho Fish and Game.

      It only takes a minute to ask them to please do their jobs and haze the wolves and make the people stop feeding the elk or risk fines as it is illegal to feed wildlife!

  15. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    what is “intense” about this video?

  16. smalltownID Avatar

    I don’t know if ya’ll are aware of the paper by Dr. Geist coming out I beleive in the wildlife professional regarding the imminent threat that wolves pose to humans. It is “alarmist” to say the least. Unfortunately, despite being contacted, no rebuttal was allowed in the upcoming issue of the journal from REAL wolf experts.

    1. Peter Kiermeir Avatar

      I think many of us are very well aware of the findings of Dr. Valerius Geist and his papers regularily appear – and disappear again. He is often, almost always, quoted out of context and as such became the Guru of the anti wolf movement.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Do you mean something by Geist is coming out in one of the publications of the Wildlife Society?

  17. Barb Avatar

    Here is Idaho’s reply to me regarding my request to haze the wolves:

    “IDFG is in the process of hazing them today. Hazing is a short-term fix that just scares wolves temporarily. The real test is a continued effort by FG partnering with citizens to keep attractants away and show caution with pets and livestock. Also, once the elk leave the vicinity of the homes the wolves should as well. Thanks for your comments.”

    Steve Nadeau
    Large Carnivore Manager
    Wildlife Bureau
    Idaho Department Fish and Game

  18. timz Avatar

    I just received an e-mail from a reliable source that they are going to haze the wolves today if the weather allows.

    1. Barb Avatar

      Here is a response I just got from Idaho:

      “Unfortunately it is not illegal at the state level to feed and people do it all the time. This is definitely the cause of the problem in the area. Elk too close to the subdivisions. However, city and county government can pass ordinances and laws to prevent feeding. If you have any further questions about the situation locally, please contact the local biologist Regan Berkley or Regional Supervisor Jerome Hansen. Thanks.

      Steve Nadeau
      Large Carnivore Manager
      Wildlife Bureau
      Idaho Department Fish and Game

      IDFG is in the process of hazing them today. Hazing is a short-term fix that just scares wolves temporarily. The real test is a continued effort by FG partnering with citizens to keep attractants away and show caution with pets and livestock. Also, once the elk leave the vicinity
      of the homes the wolves should as well. Thanks for your comments.

      So there are no state laws in Idaho against feeding wildlife -that’s unfortunate. Colorado has a state law against it.

  19. Barb Avatar

    Idaho Fish and Game e-mailed me back as I commented and he said hazing will happen today.

    They said there are no state laws against feeding wildlife but local governments can enact ordinances.

  20. Gloria Avatar

    I was in Elkhorn this a.m. and watched a helicopter circling and recircling one area. I came across a person who informed me that IDFG was chasing the wolves with the helicopter and attempting to radio collar some of them. The wolves apparently didn’t appreciate all the aerial attention and disappeared. The only wildlife I saw was one beautiful fox.

  21. Lynne Stone Avatar

    A comment about elk in the Wood River Valley which includes Ketchum, Hailey, Bellevue and Sun Valley. I don’t know the numbers, but there are hundreds and hundreds of elk on both sides of Highway 75. The largest bunches are in Elkhorn, Warm Springs (including across from the ski lifts!), Golden Eagle/Greenhorn, and then scores scattered in Deer Creek, Indian Creek, Ohio Gulch, Slaughterhouse and in other drainages.

    As I’ve driven around the valley this winter, I’ve realized what a buffet the lower Wood River watershed is for predators. This place could be the Lamar Valley of Idaho. But the wolves need to learn to be wary of people — crackershelling is the best way to do this and in my experience, wolves never get used to the explosion of an M-80. But here in Wood River, the scaring of wolves has to be left to IDFG because there are too many people and houses.

    So today could be an exciting one – depending on where the Phantoms moved during the night – and IDFG’s attempt to collar some of them is done where it can be seen from roads.

  22. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I am writing this from the mouth of the East Fork of the Wood River. I came to see the wolves yesterday, but they have been harrassed by the IDFG helicopter and are not visible.
    I can’t understand why anyone who cares about wolves would support putting radio collars on them. If wildlife services gets the OK to kill them, they use the radio collared wolves to key in on the pack. The last wolf shot is the collared one.
    The wolves should be left alone.

  23. Barb Avatar

    I totally agree! Wolves should not be collared and left alone!

    Why are they trying to collar them???

  24. Barb Avatar

    I just called the Idaho F & G and I asked why they are collaring the wolves.

    The woman said, “Oh, we always do. To track where they go.”

    I said “Why does it matter where they go?”

    She said, “We need a count and we use it for ‘research’ purposes.”

    I said, “Why do you need a count? Do you collar all the deer and elk in the state too?”

    She said “Yes, we do, so we know how many we have.”

    That sounds TOTALLY BOGUS.

    Everyone needs to be flooding the F & G office with phone calls and e-mails regarding their indiscriminate use of “collaring.”

    1. Gloria Avatar

      I think it would also be very important for people to write letters to the newspapers, online version and regular, in support of the wolves and state why they feel that way. The general public seems to be getting most of their info from the fear mongers out there, that are scaring the public to death. That forces IDFG to action. Look at the comments in today’s Express article. Leave out the name calling, state factual info only and educate the public.

    2. Ryan Avatar

      “She said “Yes, we do, so we know how many we have.”

      That sounds TOTALLY BOGUS.”

      You’d be suprised how many collared elk and deer there are out there. Not to the same population frequency of wolves, but they are still in use alot to monitor movements of herds etc.

      1. Ryan Avatar

        Guess who pays IDFG’s budget, I’ll give you a hint not hikers, wildlife only watchers, or even ranchers. Its hunters and fishermen as IDFG is soley funded by them.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

          We’ve talked about this unfortunate fact many times, Ryan.

          It isn’t relevant to the issue, however, IMO.

        2. Ken Cole Avatar

          That is not true. All of the work I did for the IDFG was paid for with Bonneville Power Administration, Idaho Power, or Lower Snake River Compensation Plan money as is nearly all of the salmon and steelhead work being done.

          With regard to wolves much of the money comes from Federal funds but a lot of that money was diverted to Wildlife Services away from IDFG.

          You would be right though if you were referring to big game funding. Other funds come from wildlife license plates and money donated on tax returns.

  25. Layton Avatar


    We don’t want anybody to have any idea how many packs, breeding pairs or individual wolves there are in the area —- right??

    And just why would that be??

    The real truth of the matter is that they don’t have much of an idea how many wolves there are — other than there are a lot more than then know about or have collars on!!

    The state biologist that talked to the Bowhunter’s jamboree in Stanley last year said — 870 wolves (I don’t remember the packs and pairs breakdown) WITHOUT the Frank Church and the Selway areas. His comment was “we don’t have any idea how many are in there”.

    So rest assured folks, the wolves are doing well!!

  26. Cobra Avatar

    It’s also easier for F&G with the wolves collared. With collaring they can find a wolf that has been killed and find out what happened. Not to mention live wolves health and growth and so forth and so on. A few collars on wolves isn’t hurting anythng.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      The Wolf Recovery Foundation is financially supporting research to get a better wolf count for less money and less intrusion on wildlife behavior.

      It involves counting the DNA of individual wolves attracted to “roll” or scratchpad attractors.

      The Wolf Recovery Plan requires that wolf populations be monitored carefully for 5 years after delisting. Given the attitude of Idaho’s unrepresentative livestock elite in government, this is very important to do.

  27. Gloria Avatar

    Today, in the East Fork of the Big Wood River canyon, I watched as an IDFG wolf biologist snuck up on the Phantom Hill wolves, as they were napping high on a ridge. The intent was to get close enough to the Phantoms so that the wolves could see the person, hear him yelling at them and then get bombarded with cracker shells. The plan worked exceptionally well. Through a spotting scope, I observed the pack’s alpha male, B333, stand up, look at the approaching human, then two more wolves got up, and then the biologist started yelled loudly and then firing his gun above the wolves. Six wolves fled onto a snowy slope, thinking they were running for their lives. There was a pause in the shelling, then more rounds were fired, echoing in the steep terrain. From what I understand, this was the first time these wolves have ever experienced gunfire in their direction.

    As controversial as hazing wolves may be, when I saw the Phantoms had chased an elk and killed it between the East Fork Road and somebody’s yard last night, I knew that serious hazing was the only way to save the wolves, as sad a sight as it was. One was so confused and frightened, that it left the others, going in a different direction, obviously not knowing what to do. I hope this tough love teaches them to stay away from people.

    There are hundreds of elk wintering in the Big Wood River drainage that aren’t wintering near people’s homes and it would sure be nice if the wolves became fearful of people and went after those instead. I should also mention that the local neighbors that stopped by to watch, all seemed thrilled to see natural wildlife in the raw and none expressed concern over the closeness of the wolves.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I, for one, am happy that these wolves were shown that humans are not innocuous. I don’t think that wolves should be allowed to become habituated to humans because, as everyone has to admit, habituated wolves can become dangerous to people especially if they have been fed. Also, wolves with no fear of humans, are prime targets for those who wish them harm which are pretty prevalent in this state.

  28. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    In my opinion the cracker shell method would be the minimum effective method to haze this pack out of harms way. I believe even better would be a bean bag round in the butt, especially of the Alpha or better yet one for each of the alpha pair with humans in full sight would be even better.

  29. Barb Avatar

    There is something inherently wrong with collaring wildlife. It’s akin to the attitude that we own wildlife. I don’t agree that man owns wildlife; we must be stewards of it at times though — and stewards does not mean a dominating and /or oppressive force in my opinion….

    I think only under very special circumstances should collaring EVER be done.

  30. Gloria Avatar

    The wolves were halfway up a very steep mountain slope today. The sources I have spoken with have said that wolves need to be very close (less than 50 yards) in order for bean bag rounds to find their mark. For rubber bullets, wolves must be within 70 yards or so. Cracker shells are effective because most canines fear loud sounds such as explosions, gunfire, fireworks and thunder. It’s just not realistic to think that both of the alphas are going to be in close enough range for bean bags.

  31. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    As I said that would be the best case scenario. Fear of “something” and reinforced fear of humans are two completely different things with the latter being far more desirable as while this particular pack are probably not habituated yet they are well on the way. don’t forget that these wolves have been more or less in constant contact with humans for a relatively long period of time when you consider that under favorable wind conditions they can scent for an extraordinary distance and believe me elk are not all they are smelling. There are all sorts of tantalizing smells coming out of those neighborhoods. Bacon comes to mind for example and all those intriguing smell are constantly mixed in with human scent and as such are providing no negative stimuli as far as humans and searching out bacon grease in a garbage can which will also have human scent with it will cause a loud noise to be quickly forgotten, where as a swift kick in the butt, metaphorically speaking, with immediate association with the source, in this case humans, would be far more effective.

  32. Barb Avatar

    Ken, you said: “as everyone has to admit, habituated wolves can become dangerous to people especially if they have been fed.”

    True, but I would venture to say that it’s probably MORE dangerous for the wolves themselves to become habituated, as we constantly see with habituated bears.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      I think I made that point by saying that “wolves with no fear of humans, are prime targets for those who wish them harm which are pretty prevalent in this state.”

  33. Barb Avatar

    Gotcha. 🙂 Exactly!

  34. Heather Avatar

    On a side note, what a teenager! Hops over the fence for a romp with domestic dogs and runs away. What a lovely creature.

  35. Lauren Avatar

    Wolves should not be hazed. They were here first. Our race is disgusting.


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