Wolves act to help bighorn sheep near Yellowstone National Park

I recently visited Yellowstone National Park and, while there, my father and I used a friend’s place as a base camp in Gardiner, Montana.  From there we would drive about 10 miles to the Park where we watched wildlife, took photographs, and just enjoyed some of the solitude that Yellowstone provides during this part of the year when it receives few visitors.

One morning, as were driving to the Park we had to stop on the highway because of a group of about 15 bighorn sheep ewes and lambs.  After the sheep got off the road we proceeded toward Gardiner but then I noticed a group of about 30 domestic sheep in a pasture on private land between the highway and the Yellowstone River.  These domestic sheep were just ~750 meters from the boundary of Yellowstone National Park across the river and just across the highway from where I have seen bighorn sheep in the past.

Obviously their location was of concern to me because of the very real possibility that bighorn sheep would interact with them and contract deadly pneumonia that could result in a massive die-off.  This concern prompted me to contact officials, and other people who might share this concern, to make them aware of the presence of these sheep.

Well, it turns out that nature has taken its own course and most of the sheep were killed by wolves on Tuesday/Wednesday night.  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle is reporting that 13 of William Hoppe’s sheep were killed and 7 are missing.  The Chronicle reports that the remaining 3 sheep will be moved to Jardine which is still within bighorn sheep habitat.  Hopefully these remaining sheep will be properly secured away from wolves, grizzlies, and bighorn sheep.  Additionally, I hope that the 7 that are missing don’t interact with bighorn sheep if they are still alive.  Maybe the wolves will do us a service and kill them too.

While visiting the Park I saw more than 100 bighorn sheep near Gardiner alone.  This population of bighorn are one of the many draws that bring tourists from all over the world.  They are important.

Bighorn sheep are common in Gardiner, Montana. © Ken Cole
Bighorn sheep are common in Gardiner, Montana. © Ken Cole

Is it time to talk about state ordinances that require landowners in bighorn sheep areas to ensure that their domestic sheep cannot come into contact with bighorn sheep?  Those who live in urban areas, like Boise where I live, have all kinds of ordinances to contend with.  For example, it is illegal for me to keep a rooster on my property or to allow my dog to roam the neighborhood.  Why is it okay for a land owner who lives in the most important winter habitat for the world’s oldest national park to have domestic sheep that could transmit deadly pneumonia to a large herd of bighorn sheep that millions of people enjoy?


  1. Robert R Avatar
    Robert R

    I do believe that most if not all of the hunting districts for bighorn sheep in Montana are unlimited areas.
    Ken you really need to quit trying to control other people’s private lives. The sheep need fences to keep them in but the problem is you cannot keep bighorn sheep from jumping a fence to mingle with domestic sheep, use some common sense Ken.
    So first someone complains about their livestock being killed and you brag about wolves killing.
    Maybe the wolves will do us a service and kill them too. And you don’t think that maybe the person with sheep would say maybe hunters would be doing a service by killing wolves.
    We cannot be one sided if the wolf is to survive, right Ken?

    1. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Hunting areas around the park.

    2. Larry Avatar

      We need to be one-sided when it comes to environmental concerns. “We give and they take” is getting pretty old.

    3. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Robert R.

      Your response is amazing. This isn’t really about the wolves except indirectly. It is about someone who has recently bought the most tender of all domestic livestock (sheep), which are also a potent source of disease, and placed them right next to the things they might infect, and also right next to a word famous concentration of bears, wolves, and other predatory wild animals.

      You are aware of geography of the area?

    4. Ken Cole Avatar

      Just calling it as I see it Robert. I’m sure I’m not going make Mr. Hoppe cry.

    5. Louise Kane Avatar

      Robert I was so happy to see that you identified this very real threat to domesticated livestock. I mean wildlife that have the nerve to jump fences and co mingle with naturally occurring populations of domesticated livestock, how dare they. Its a national problem I hear. Bighorn sheep, elk, and especially bison are known to band together and target enclosures. They then gather in force and stampede into the fenced area purposefully to interact with domesticated animals. That’s how most diseases are spread, I hear. Its especially bad when the ever vigilant wildlife bureaus are not allowed to corral and or eradicate these wild invaders. Just this year that terrible Bison group was trying again to protect those horrible bison , the very same animals that think they have the right to wander out of the park. I mean who do they think they are? Wow and to think people like Ken have the nerve to worry about those nasty Bighorns. really Ken shame on you!

      1. Mareli Avatar

        Love your sarcasm. It suits the topic. I say if wolves killed the sheep, good for them. I wonder if they might not have been killed by feral dogs, though, since the sheep were not eaten.

        1. Linda Camac Avatar
          Linda Camac

          I totally agree it has to be wild dogs — with only 1 out of 8 attempts at a large kill being successful, wolves would simply not waste the vital energy to just for the sake of killing. Only man kills for ‘fun’ and ‘recreation’, and with a refrigerator filled with food. Perhaps it was a rabid wolf hunter!

          1. Ken Cole Avatar

            Not so fast, wolves tend to kill lots of sheep when they kill sheep. I’ve seen wolves very close to Gardiner in the past so this isn’t surprising to me. I have a friend who saw mountain lion cubs just on the other side of the highway from this place too. Sheep are so defenseless that sometimes I wonder if they look for new ways to die.

    6. STG Avatar


      Do you think the owner of the sheep was being a responsible livestock owner and looking out for the welfare of his sheep when he placed them in such a vulnerable situation where a predator attack was highly probable?

      1. Robert R Avatar
        Robert R

        After reading all the different articles about Hoppe and finding out he is not your tipical rancher no. Had he been a typical rancher I would still have made the same comments.
        Louise ??

    7. Mike Avatar

      What an idiotic response.

    8. Anna Avatar

      Robert your first sentence confused me a litte but to respond to it, there is no hunting of big horn sheep in our area. You are not even allowed to take pieces of sheep from natural death, highly illegal.
      I live in Gardiner where this happened and in all honesty I believe those sheep were put there so they would be killed by wolves. They were just purchased several weeks before some imporant action on wolves was to take place at the capital. Mr. Hoppe wanted to make a point but I am not sure if he actually did? Having them there did allow him to kill a wolf but it also placed big horn sheep at risk of disease which is common knowledge in this area. Folks here seem more upset about that than the wolf kill.

  2. Larry Avatar

    Because those with roosters don’t own the legislature.

  3. Jeff N. Avatar
    Jeff N.

    My guess is that this outfitter/rancher, Hoppe, is not the least bit bothered that his sheep were killed by wolves. In fact, I’m inclined to believe that this jackass is enjoying the publicity and is happy with the outcome. If this guy was legitimately concerned about the welfare of his sheep, he would hopefully more proactive in keeping his sheep out of harm’s way in an area that harbors wolves and grizzlies.

    This incident just serves as more fuel for him to throw on the area’s anti-wolf fire. It is willful negligence on his part in order to further his agenda.

    Hey Robert R., you’ve made it clear that you do not like wolves….what are your feelings on bighorn sheep?

    1. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Jeff your so off base. I never said I don’t like wolves or want them eliminated. I like bighorn sheep and we could have more of them.
      Jeff and your saying because I have predators in my backyard on public land that I should sell and move to the city?

      Ralph I was speaking in general and from my personal observation and experience. Where I live we once had one of the top trophy herd of bighorn sheep in the state. The bighorn sheep would not stay where they were planted. The bighorns came down to agriculture fields and yes they jumped the fences and mingled along side domestic sheep and died.
      Ralph it also does not matter if its a world famous place for predators because the whole state of Montana has predators. Also why is it that any where next to YNP you make a special case of it about park animals. For crying out loud all of Montana has animals.
      You cannot keep wild animals from jumping fences and getting on private land.

      1. JB Avatar


        Several years ago I had the chance to visit Lake Clark National Park in Alaska. One only gets to L. Clark NP via plan or boat, most of the Park is designated as wilderness, and it happens to be excellent grizzly bear habitat. Before the park was designated it was homesteaded by a few (I think there are just 2) families. We stayed with one who has gotten into the tourism business–he built 5 yurts behind an electric fence and an observation platform on his property that overlooks a river where grizzlies fish. Amazingly (to me) he kept sheep and goats as well (amazing because one day we saw 15 grizzlies at one time on the adjacent land). How? He used a combination of protective shelter (i.e., a barn), fencing, and a livestock protection dog–ironically, a wolf-hybrid. My understanding is that he still occasionally lost an animal (also had to worry about eagles); but he figured out how to keep his animals alive in an area densely populated with grizzlies, eagles and wolves (and he made a good living off of wildlife tourism to boot). Perhaps there’s a lesson or two here for Mr. Hoppe?

        1. Robert R Avatar
          Robert R

          I think the electric fence is the best deterrent and so is a barn on a small scale.
          With the grizzlies I think the fish is the preferred food source unless there is no fish run.
          Kudo’s to that man for taking the effort to secure his animals.
          I do agree that there is more to Hoppes agenda than raising sheep, but if its private land it’s private land.

          1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
            Ralph Maughan

            I don’t know the Hoppe fellow. He might have the purest of motives, but if you read the story in the Bozeman Chronicle some people are saying he got the sheep suspecting they would get killed, and so making an issue.

            See the comments: http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/wildlife/article_07a14488-ae25-11e2-b758-0019bb2963f4.html#user-comment-area

          2. JB Avatar

            “…if its private land it’s private land.”

            I think that statement oversimplifies things a bit. I cannot simply shoot woodpeckers that hammer away at my home, nor could I kill a deer for eating ornamentals out of my yard–in each case wildlife (a public resource) are destroying my private property, on my property. If we (as a society) were to let anyone kill any animal that inconvenienced them on their property, we wouldn’t have any wildlife.

            And the rules don’t just apply to wildlife. I cannot remove endangered plants, nor destroy certain types of habitat (wetlands) on my private property. I cannot dump anything I want on my land, despite the fact that it is mine. I cannot own certain animals, nor build certain types of structures.

            In short, owning property does not entitle one to do things that could negatively impact others–including others’ (i.e., public) resources.

            1. Robert R Avatar
              Robert R

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but I do believe if game animals are threatening anything on your property be it pets,livestock or damaging crops etc. you can either get a kill permit or shoot it on sight and then report it to wildlife services. However if its an endangered species (grizzly or lynx)you cannot kill it unless its an imanate danger to you or your self.
              As with birds, most are considered song birds and ileagal to kill. There are exception with birds like pigeons.
              Also laws vary from state to state.

              1. JB Avatar


                The laws vary from state to state, and it depends upon species as well, but in general you have to get a permit before killing a game animal–and states may (and sometimes do) refuse them. Likewise, you would need a permit to kill a bald (or golden) eagle, an endangered species, or a migratory bird protected by the MBTA. The exceptions are animals with “unprotected” (i.e., vermin/nuisance) status, or in some cases, furbearers (but again, it varies from state to state). And it’s more complicated when you live in an urban area where firearms cannot be legally discharged.

                Again, you can’t do anything you want with public resources just because they’re on your property.

              2. Anna Avatar

                JB the kill on site bit is not completely true. We also have free roaming bison in our area as of two years ago and in the spring they cause a lot of damage to watering devices on the ranches as they rub against them to help remove their winter coat. A rancher can not kill them for that, it is poaching and illegal. This is one of the reasons folks are apposed to the roaming bison. I personally love that they roam free but I feel the ranchers pain. Some people in town have yard fences destroyed as well and there is no reimbursement for this type of thing like there is for a wolf kill of livestock.

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Robert R.

        The bighorn sheep in Yellowstone Park were not planted. They have been there continuously for thousands of years. As you say, there are predators all over Montana, but Yellowstone is famous for its bears because there are a lot of them. Predatory animals are not evenly distributed around the state.

        What is new here are the sheep. There are two things about the sheep. 1. It is easy to predict that in this location they will be killed by a bear, wolf, cougar, coyote. It’s like leaving jelly donuts in your car at a Park trailhead. 2. Whatever the intent of doing it, the placement of domestic sheep next to bighorn is not a passive act in terms of the transfer of disease.

      3. Lindi Avatar

        Robert R That is why they should have left the buffer zones in place. All the anti-wolf nuts are hanging out on the border trying to kill the wolves in the park. Is that fair that a bunch of rednecks are killing a multi- million dollar recovery project out of spite for the US Government and irrational hatred of wolves? The park and its animals belong to all of us.

        1. savebears Avatar

          What buffer zones? There was two wolf hunting units closed for a very short amount of time, before a judge lifted the order. When #6 was killed she was several miles outside the park, I heard she was like 15-16 miles away from the park.

    2. Louise Kane Avatar

      Jeff N I agree with you, more fuel on the already raging out of control fire

    3. Anna Avatar

      I live in the same town as Mr. Hoppe and I would like to venture that more people here are upset about the wolf killing than are happy about it. The area does not have a large “anti-wolf” following. Just the older folks who have ranches feel that way. And yes, you are right. I also believe the sheep were bought and put there in hopes they would be killed by wolves due to the fact some important stuff is happing in the capital this week pertaining to wolves. He planned this very well!!
      Please don’t judge Gardiner on one man’s behaviors!

  4. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    From page 140 of Alston Chase’s “Playing God in Yellowstone”.

    “Without wolves, the park had become just the place early managers had hoped for: a giant game farm, a breeding ground for the victims of hunters, a place safe enough to be a good neighbor to sheep.”

    I guess not so much anymore.

    As the antis are so caught up in conspiracy theories, and here I’ll admit to knowing very little about Mr. Hoppe, might this have been a ruse/scheme on his part to stoke the oven of controversy?

  5. Rich Avatar

    Robert R

    And the farmer said “Behold I send you out like sheep among the wolves”. And what did he expect? He expected to be rewarded by the taxpayers for his foolishness and indeed he was. Just buy some cheap sheep, sacrifice them and claim your reward. Clearly Mr. Hoppe knows how to quickly turn a buck. Do you suppose he had any other items on his agenda? Obviously.

    1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

      For some unknown reason, outfitter Hoppe is trying to introduce disease into the Yellowstone Bighorn herd. He cannot be so stupid to not have read all of the studies linking domestic sheep to disease in Bighorns.

    2. Eugene Kiedrowski Avatar
      Eugene Kiedrowski

      Seriously, I think he’d stake his own mother out as bait for wolves and then cry that they’re attacking humans – so let me KILL THEM. (tongue in check, kinda)

  6. Immer Treue Avatar
    Immer Treue

    Another “dig”


    But the more traditional outfitters are feeling a pinch, as elk populations near the park decline. Outfitter Bill Hoppe blames wolves for ruining his Jardine-area business. Elk in that area are incredibly scarce now, he said.

    Same article

    Some of his clients want to see wolves. Others don’t.

    “They’re kind of neat to see,” Sallee said. “I just wish there weren’t so many to look at.”

    His early fall hunting trips also have changed, though they’re still successful. He bought out a neighboring outfitter, just so he wouldn’t have so much competition.

    “The wolves have made it harder to make it a successful business,” he said. “But you just have to try harder.”

    Guess its called evolution.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      I cannot believe what I am reading. Where did a guarantee ever come from? Elk, moose and deer migrate and move – and are subject to the seasons – hard winters, etc. Even as a wildlife watcher – I never have a guarantee on what I’m going to see. Sometimes I see nothing, but most times something amazing. If you make a living on promises that might not come true, it’s your own fault.

      I’ve often wondered if some of the livestock kills have been done by owners by setting their own dogs on them or whatever. It must be hard to prove if a wolf really did it, and it’s a small price to pay for getting rid of wildlife and changing public opinion. Duplicity – it’s what separates man from beast.

      1. Ida Lupine Avatar
        Ida Lupine

        I shouldn’t say nothing – there’s always something to see. It’s the experience that should be appreciated. We are too goal oriented as a modern culture.

        I was appalled by some of the comments I read recently that someone posted from our ‘modern hunters’ who make light of killing and objectify the animals, reducing them to nothing but targets. Generations ago, hunters had to be fit and skilled, and even then, there was no guarantee they’d get anything. Now, with less wildlife than ever, a trophy (and that’s what it is most of the time) is guaranteed for just about anyone.

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I have heard for years that there are outfitters in the Gardiner area that phone clients whenever they see a large Bighorn ram cross the Yellowstone River from the park.
    This allows a so-called hunter to kill a semi-tame park ram that didn’t know that he could be shot on the wrong side of the river. Easy money for the outfitter also. No expense of a guided hunt.

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      No wonder they don’t want a buffer zone!

    2. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Larry have you ever been around bighorn sheep much? Bighorn Sheep will tolerate mans presence more than you think. I have walked up on several and taken pictures and they were not park pets.
      Bighorns don’t get much hunting pressure so in most cases man is not much of a threat.

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Robert R.

        Perhaps you should look at Larry Thorngren’s photographic portfolio.

        1. Robert R Avatar
          Robert R

          Ralph I don’t need to. Then again when I see the phrase semi tame, it makes me wonder.

          1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
            Ralph Maughan

            Robert R.

            I wrote what I did because Larry Thorngren has many fine photos of wild bighorn sheep and most are not from Yellowstone. In addition he knows a great deal about them, plus the history of bighorn management. While I would not necessarily say every opinion of his about bighorn is correct because people differ on these things, Larry is no “baby in the woods.” It is just the opposite

    3. Anna Avatar

      YOu can’t hunt bighorn…I live in Gardiner. You aren’t even allowed to take the remains of a bighorn if it dies naturally. The thing you spoke of does happen however but with elk. Big Bull elk. Spotting scopes are used along with radios to communicate to hunters on the mountain and those below that have a good view.

      1. JB Avatar


        You can hunt bighorn. See: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/seasons/

  8. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

    Interesting picture. They sort of look like lambs if the human prints in the photo are used to size them . . and then their are the dog tracks. I wonder if they were skinned and examined and pronounced killed by wolves or if the wolf tracks mentioned in the field were in any way connected to the crime. Was it guilty by association for the wolves again? I didn’t see the wounds I was expecting to see on the animals on the ground.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      “Was it guilty by association for the wolves again?”

      Got me wondering Linda Jo. And yep. Just lambs in the pics (and a mixed lot of pedigrees at that) No adult, dead sheep on display. And I have to say, it would be a stretch to call what those little bodies were laying on, “pasture” land.

      Some interesting thoughts/comments from hunters on another hunter blog, hearing about the Hoppe story:


      1. Immer Treue Avatar
        Immer Treue

        Comments don’t resonate with much love or empathy, eh

    2. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Linda your correct. They are lambs because their tails have not been docked and they have a paint brand on them.
      I’m not sure if you have witnessed a predator in sheep because its mass confusion and more so if a bear is involved.

      1. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

        I have witnesses sheep killings as I was raised on a sheep farm. My dad used to have to go out in the middle of the night and shoot dogs . . Most of which had names like fluffy. He never had to shoot wild animals as they only took one sheep quietly and we didn’t know until later. But I was very young at the time so I am not sure he told us everything.

  9. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    A follow up on my previous comment about a deliberate attempt to introduce disease into the Yellowstone Bighorn herd.
    I grew up on an Idaho farm and 20 domestic sheep do not make a rancher/farmer any money. Finding someone willing to shear that number of sheep is a pain. That small of a flock is either a hobby flock or they were purchsed with some other objective in mind. After reading the comments that Hoppe made about the Montana Fish and Wildlife, I suspect he has an axe to grind about something they have done involving him. Game violation involving bighorns?

  10. john Avatar

    i can tell you from personal visual witness..I have watched mr hope shove bison back into the Yellwosonte with trucks, 4 wheelers back what, 2 or 3 years ago when the large numbers of bison came out of the park when the heavy snow winter was going on.. He runs about 20 to 30 cows on the sturmitz place, about5-7 miles north of gardiner. on the south side of the road.. if you are familiar with the Yellowstone basin inn, there is a big S curve as you head south, go about 1/4 mile, you will see a big sign road sign that says YELLOWSTONE PERK, coffee, etc,, he leases that land there.. he takes them up high about this time of year.. he is a tough sort of guy,, just your typical old school rancher, but he has, from my watching his actions, no qualms about protection cows or what ever from whoever or what ever.. but the funny thing is, this is fairly active elk crossing.. there is water and there is grass/feed that he keeps up and has irrigated, but he never seems to bother them,, its like he has blinders on as to the threats elk pose from Brucelosis (?), they feed and graze right along his cows!! his wife works at the banking gardiner,, she is real nice lady,,

  11. SAP Avatar

    So . . . a bunch of the neighbors managed to get cash in exchange for getting rid of livestock:


    Not just that once, either:


    Hmmmm . . . the buyout for a few dozen sheep wouldn’t be a fortune, but might make a down payment on a new pickup. Eat homegrown lambchops for a spell, churn up wolf, bighorn, and bear conflicts, then finally get a nice little payday?? Why not?

  12. AAK Avatar

    Plain and simple, Hoppe put sheep on his property so they would be killed by wolves and to get the state to pay him not to have them in the area. This old timer is anti-wildlife, gov’t, and regulation. Wolves killing his sheep was a battle won for him and a point proven, even if it was a setup.

  13. Mal Adapted Avatar
    Mal Adapted

    Robert R., you appear to be a newcomer to this blog. You may now understand the common advice to lurk awhile before posting.

    1. Robert R Avatar
      Robert R

      Mal Adapted
      I think I’ll post when I have a comment or don’t agree with the topic on want to put my input on the topic.
      Also this is the first time I have seen your name so ill keep lurking and posting sorry.

  14. kyler kobbe Avatar
    kyler kobbe

    you god damn wildlife loving domestic animal hating people all deserve to have a bullet put between your eyes. i am an avid hunter but i also run a ranch and my livestock are always my number one concern. if you people are so caught up in how the live stock are going to hurt your pretty little big horn sheep or that we should just bend over and let some wolves eat my animals. i will put a round in your ass and that wolves.

    Kyler, your comment has been forwarded to the Cheyenne authorities and to your University. _ADMIN

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    1. SAP Avatar

      Yet another religious zealot (Church of Cow), lashing out at the world and threatening violence against people he’s never met. Sounds kind of familiar . . .

    2. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      Happiness is a warm gun…

  15. Mtn Mamma Avatar
    Mtn Mamma

    The rancher who lost the sheep apparently just piled them in a heap on his property. He rcvd a permit to kill 2 wolves. He has killed a YNP Canyon pack adult female- she was not involved in the depredation incident- just attracked to the carcass pile. While I agree with Ken’s post here- I knew it would just fuel more hate for wolves. Another dead wolf.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      He seems to use his property as a weapon.

      1. Larry Avatar

        What kind of pea brained idiot with authority allows a permit to kill when he uses his sheep as bait??

        1. Mtn Mamma Avatar
          Mtn Mamma

          “The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued Hoppe a shoot-on-sight permit for two wolves, but they can be shot only on the property where the attack occurred, said agency spokeswoman Andrea Jones”

          1. Larry Avatar

            Well then, you can quote me about the “pea brained idiot”.

        2. Ida Lupine Avatar
          Ida Lupine

          Sounds like this gentleman could benefit from a buffer zone around YNP.

  16. Mtn Mamma Avatar
    Mtn Mamma

    The wolf killed was 831F a yearling from the Canyon Pack. Someone needs to mandate him to clean up the carcass pile since he still has one remaining kill permit. Baiting…

    1. Ida Lupine Avatar
      Ida Lupine

      Yes. I was just going to ask if baiting was made legal, and hunting season extended to 365 days a year and 24-7. These guys make laws so easy to deliberately circumvent and make sport of any so-called management process. Not to mention how they got it passed in the first place. YNP and her wildlife belong to the American people.

      That sound you hear is the scrambling to pass a new wolf law.

    2. Barb Rupers Avatar
      Barb Rupers

      More images of the dead sheep and some comment via Chandie Bartell: http://tomremington.com/2013/04/25/open-thread-april-25-2013/#disqus_thread

  17. ZeeWolf Avatar

    I already posted some of these same thoughts on the “intersting wildlife” thread when the subject came up, so I hope I am not breaking rules or etiquette by reiterating them here.

    First and foremost, what I don’t understand at all is why the man was allowed to have kill permits of any type whatsoever if he was not required to first properly dispose of the carcasses. By “properly dispose” I mean to bury them or haul them to the dump or otherwise keep them from becoming an attractant and nuiscense. The fact that 831F was shot after being attracted to the carcass pit smacks of duplicity and treachery at worst and bureaucratic indifference and/or incompetence at best.

    Larry Thorngen posted a set of rules that came from the State of Montana regarding the “do’s and don’t’s” of carcass disposal but I could not tell if they were merely guidelines or regulations defined by statute. Hopefully, though doubtfully, the local regulatory agency will hold Mr. Hoppe the the letter of the law.

    The wolf situation certainly makes me upset but the potential destruction of the big horn sheep is even more diabolical. If the wild sheep were subject to cross-species transmission of diesease would there be any possibility of that transmission being traceable to Mr. Hoppe’s flock? And if so, could he be held liable?

    When I worked in Yellowstone, the local scuttlebutt was that this Mr. Hoppe had an adversarial attitude towards the park for one reason or another even before wolves were reintroduced. I understand being put-upon by uncarring and callous government but Yellowstone was established before any real homesteading had occured in the area. Whoever bought or homesteaded that property must have known what they were getting themselves into, just as any future purchaser should told “Caveat emptor! you will be living next to YNP, for good or ill here are the consequences”. Mr. Hoppe comes across to me as one of those people who buy a house next to an airport and then ceaselessly complain about the planes flying around.


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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