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Officials Remove Wolf Suspected Of Killing Sheep In Eastern Montana


Friday, November 03, 2006

Canis lupus

Gray Wolf

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks authorized federal agents Thursday to remove a wolf on a Garfield County ranch east of Jordan that was likely responsible for a rash of eastern Montana livestock depredations that began late last year.

Since last December, a wolf or wolf hybrid was suspected of killing more than 120 sheep and injuring a number of others in eight different incidents in Dawson, Garfield and McCone counties. The latest incident was reported in McCone County on Oct. 13.

Earlier this year, FWP authorized several landowners, USDA Wildlife Services, and county predator-control specialists to kill the problem animal. Federal regulations, however,  limit lethal control efforts to 45 days after each confirmed incident. The last 45-day control period ended Aug. 31, with no wolves or wolf-like canids  killed.

"We had great interagency coordination with Wildlife Services and others who worked with us throughout this unusual situation," said Carolyn Sime, FWP's wolf management coordinator.  "Even  though the 45-day control period had passed, the extenuating circumstances, including recent predation on livestock in October, were such that a quick action to remove the animal was the fair and responsible thing to do."

The suspected wolf killed Thursday--a 106-pound, four-year old male with unusual reddish fur--did not have a radio collar or ear tags. It was delivered to the FWP wildlife lab in Bozeman for further examination. 

"It's been a long ordeal for the producers who lost livestock," Sime said. "We appreciate their patience and the cooperation of the ranching communities. New information from two landowners, recent snow cover for tracking, and some quick coordination between FWP and Wildlife Services, allowed us to take advantage of a fleeting opportunity."

Sime said FWP gave the order to kill the suspected wolf soon after considering the recent history of the depredations, the amount of damage caused, the matching track dimensions, and an apparent similarity to the manner in which the animal was making the rounds on ranches where damage occurred in the past.

"The animal was actually killed on a ranch where two of the eight previous depredations occurred," she said.

Because wolves can inhabit places in Montana where people live, work and recreate, FWP’s wolf management responsibilities include helping landowners safely reduce livestock-depredation risks and conflicts. Wildlife Services investigates livestock depredations and carries out field responses at the direction of FWP.

To learn more about Montana's recovered wolf population, visit FWP's Wolf Conservation & Management web page, where visitors can also tell FWP when they see wolves or wolf sign. The information helps to verify the activity, distribution and pack size of Montana's recovered wolf population.