Wolf concerns: Part one | TSLN.com

Wolf concerns: Part one

Courtesy photoThis wolf was shot in the act of eating a calf it had just killed on a ranch near Iron Creek, ID.

Ranchers are experiencing increased livestock losses as wolf populations expand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released Canadian gray wolves in central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and two days later one of them showed up at a ranch many miles away and killed a young calf. Today, nearly every rancher in Lemhi and Custer counties has seen wolves and livestock losses are common.

In 1999 Ralph McCrea, a rancher near Leadore, ID, lost 20 lambs to a wolf that came into his flock two different nights. “This collared wolf was turned loose in Yellowstone Park at noon on a Wednesday. The next day he went through Dillon, MT, and by Friday night he was at my place killing sheep,” said McCrea. More recently, McCrea has been losing big calves on the range, and baby calves right next to his house during calving season.

James Whittaker runs 1,000 cows near Leadore, and experienced his first confirmed losses (three bred heifers) in 2007 and was reimbursed for those. In 2008 he had two confirmed kills within a mile of his house. “In 2009 we had four confirmed kills on our range. It’s hard to find them soon enough to get losses confirmed; our range is 35 miles long. All told, we lost 45 calves that summer. Our annual calf loss went from two percent to nearly five percent that year,” Whittaker said.

When calves die, it’s typical to find a carcass, but with wolf kills, that’s not always the case. “We get paid for confirmed kills but not the ones that disappear or we find too late to determine the cause of death,” explained Whittaker.

Jay Smith, on a family ranch near Carmen, ID, looked at ranchers’ BLM use reports on his Diamond-Moose allotment, as far back as these records go, to assess range losses. “I documented how much loss ranchers experienced before wolf introduction, compared with losses afterward. Very soon after wolves were brought in, John Aldous and other ranchers on that allotment had huge losses,” Smith said.

Aldous lost 34 calves near Leesburg the first year. “Our elk population dropped from 300 in Moose Creek Meadows 10 years ago to where now you’re lucky to see 20 elk,” Aldous said.

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Fay and Erin Coiner have a grazing ranch high in the mountains above Salmon, ID and spend summers there with their cattle. “We had more than 100 elk on our ranch, and by the third summer of wolves we were down to 13. Now we are lucky to see five elk, and we lose at least one calf a year to wolves, even with Erin riding out there every day to try to chase them off. He watched one of our calves being killed, and that was gruesome. Erin was given a permit to kill any wolves that are with our cattle, and he’s shot a few, but they still come back,” Fay said.

Ranchers are experiencing increased livestock losses as wolf populations expand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released Canadian gray wolves in central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and two days later one of them showed up at a ranch many miles away and killed a young calf. Today, nearly every rancher in Lemhi and Custer counties has seen wolves and livestock losses are common.

In 1999 Ralph McCrea, a rancher near Leadore, ID, lost 20 lambs to a wolf that came into his flock two different nights. “This collared wolf was turned loose in Yellowstone Park at noon on a Wednesday. The next day he went through Dillon, MT, and by Friday night he was at my place killing sheep,” said McCrea. More recently, McCrea has been losing big calves on the range, and baby calves right next to his house during calving season.

James Whittaker runs 1,000 cows near Leadore, and experienced his first confirmed losses (three bred heifers) in 2007 and was reimbursed for those. In 2008 he had two confirmed kills within a mile of his house. “In 2009 we had four confirmed kills on our range. It’s hard to find them soon enough to get losses confirmed; our range is 35 miles long. All told, we lost 45 calves that summer. Our annual calf loss went from two percent to nearly five percent that year,” Whittaker said.

When calves die, it’s typical to find a carcass, but with wolf kills, that’s not always the case. “We get paid for confirmed kills but not the ones that disappear or we find too late to determine the cause of death,” explained Whittaker.

Jay Smith, on a family ranch near Carmen, ID, looked at ranchers’ BLM use reports on his Diamond-Moose allotment, as far back as these records go, to assess range losses. “I documented how much loss ranchers experienced before wolf introduction, compared with losses afterward. Very soon after wolves were brought in, John Aldous and other ranchers on that allotment had huge losses,” Smith said.

Aldous lost 34 calves near Leesburg the first year. “Our elk population dropped from 300 in Moose Creek Meadows 10 years ago to where now you’re lucky to see 20 elk,” Aldous said.

Fay and Erin Coiner have a grazing ranch high in the mountains above Salmon, ID and spend summers there with their cattle. “We had more than 100 elk on our ranch, and by the third summer of wolves we were down to 13. Now we are lucky to see five elk, and we lose at least one calf a year to wolves, even with Erin riding out there every day to try to chase them off. He watched one of our calves being killed, and that was gruesome. Erin was given a permit to kill any wolves that are with our cattle, and he’s shot a few, but they still come back,” Fay said.

Ranchers are experiencing increased livestock losses as wolf populations expand. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released Canadian gray wolves in central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and two days later one of them showed up at a ranch many miles away and killed a young calf. Today, nearly every rancher in Lemhi and Custer counties has seen wolves and livestock losses are common.

In 1999 Ralph McCrea, a rancher near Leadore, ID, lost 20 lambs to a wolf that came into his flock two different nights. “This collared wolf was turned loose in Yellowstone Park at noon on a Wednesday. The next day he went through Dillon, MT, and by Friday night he was at my place killing sheep,” said McCrea. More recently, McCrea has been losing big calves on the range, and baby calves right next to his house during calving season.

James Whittaker runs 1,000 cows near Leadore, and experienced his first confirmed losses (three bred heifers) in 2007 and was reimbursed for those. In 2008 he had two confirmed kills within a mile of his house. “In 2009 we had four confirmed kills on our range. It’s hard to find them soon enough to get losses confirmed; our range is 35 miles long. All told, we lost 45 calves that summer. Our annual calf loss went from two percent to nearly five percent that year,” Whittaker said.

When calves die, it’s typical to find a carcass, but with wolf kills, that’s not always the case. “We get paid for confirmed kills but not the ones that disappear or we find too late to determine the cause of death,” explained Whittaker.

Jay Smith, on a family ranch near Carmen, ID, looked at ranchers’ BLM use reports on his Diamond-Moose allotment, as far back as these records go, to assess range losses. “I documented how much loss ranchers experienced before wolf introduction, compared with losses afterward. Very soon after wolves were brought in, John Aldous and other ranchers on that allotment had huge losses,” Smith said.

Aldous lost 34 calves near Leesburg the first year. “Our elk population dropped from 300 in Moose Creek Meadows 10 years ago to where now you’re lucky to see 20 elk,” Aldous said.

Fay and Erin Coiner have a grazing ranch high in the mountains above Salmon, ID and spend summers there with their cattle. “We had more than 100 elk on our ranch, and by the third summer of wolves we were down to 13. Now we are lucky to see five elk, and we lose at least one calf a year to wolves, even with Erin riding out there every day to try to chase them off. He watched one of our calves being killed, and that was gruesome. Erin was given a permit to kill any wolves that are with our cattle, and he’s shot a few, but they still come back,” Fay said.

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