Wolf Depredation Update
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
July 11, 2016
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and USDA Wildlife Services have been busy with chronic wolf depredation problems in western Wyoming.
Federal officials killed four wolves from an unknown pack after numerous depredation on both sheep and cattle on a ranch along the Owl Creek Mountains near Thermopolis. The depredations continued from mid-May through June.
FWS authorized the removal of the entire 7-member Absaroka pack outside of Cody because of repeated cattle depredations. After 15 dead calves, and injuries to five others, five pack members have been killed, and FWS authorized the removal of all remaining members of the pack.
A third problem area has occurred eight miles outside of Lander, where another seven-member wolf pack has preyed on cattle. The first three calf kills were verified on May25th. Another calf was killed on June 2nd, and a cow was killed on June 6th. Four wolves have been killed in control actions.
There are two wolf packs roaming the Bondurant area, including the Dell Creek and Rim packs. Members of these packs killed numerous cattle on private ranches during the winter months, and nine wolves were killed in response. Depredations on livestock began again in June, and a yearling steer and two calves were killed, and another yearling injured. Because of the chronic livestock killing, three more wolves were lethally removed last week.
On June 30, wolf depredations on cattle were confirmed in the Warm Springs Creek area north of Dubois, just three days after the cattle herd entered its summer grazing allotment on the national forest. At least three calves were killed. FWS has authorized lethal control on depredating wolves.
On July 1, four sheep were killed on a Bridger-Teton National Forest grazing allotment in the Greys River drainage, and the next day, there were three more confirmed depredations. FWS has authorized removal of two wolves in the area.
USDA Wildlife Services officials were investigating two other cases of reported wolf depredations on ranches in the Dubois area last week.
According to FWS: "After exceeding recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains for 13 consecutive years, wolves (Canis lupus) were finally delisted in Wyoming in 2012. However, on September 23, 2014, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the delisting rule and reinstated the Federal protections for wolves that were in place prior to our 2012 delisting." That decision is under appeal in federal court.
Wolves remain listed under the Endangered Species Act throughout all of Wyoming and are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There are at least 382 wolves in about 48 packs inhabited the state, including Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Most depredations on livestock usually take place later in the year (August through October) in Wyoming. FWS manages for wolf population growth and wolf distribution to minimize chronic loss of livestock from wolves and promote wolf conservation by maintaining the Wyoming wolf population well above recovery objectives.