BILLINGS — Wolves killed 11 sheep and injured five more south of Two Dot Thursday, USDA Wildlife Services officials have confirmed. Wolves in the Lebo Peak pack, which formed in 2008, were believed responsible for the damage.
Wildlife Services was authorized to lethally remove one wolf from the pack and capture and collar one wolf. The sheep producer was given a permit to lethally remove one wolf if it is seen on his property.
Particularly with new packs, biologists prefer to capture at least one wolf and release it with a radio-transmitter collar so they can track movement, size and distribution of the pack. Biologists believe the new Lebo Peak pack may have five or six wolves, none of which carries a radio collar.
The sheep producer who lost animals Thursday told officials that he saw four wolves in the area. An adjacent landowner also reported wolf activity Thursday. Last year sheep were killed in the same area and a single wolf was thought to be responsible. Efforts to capture that wolf were unsuccessful.
Wolves in Montana currently are federally protected. Federal regulations permit livestock owners to haze, harass or kill wolves seen actively chasing or attacking livestock or domestic dogs. Wolves also may be killed to protect human life.
Efforts to delist the northern Rockies gray wolf from the federal Endangered Species Act are ongoing and under review by the new administration. In early February, FWP formally requested an expedited review and recommended that delisting in Montana proceed as soon as possible.
To learn more about Montana’s wolf population, visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf, 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 wolf population.