Here’s a short video of Suzanne howling on Tuesday night to try to find the pack (nice camera work, Patrick!):
Suzanne and Patrick were able to continue the search on Wednesday thanks to generously donated flight time from Lighthawk, an organization that provides planes and pilots to aid conservation efforts. A very bumpy flight (due to windy conditions) did not turn up the rest of the pup’s pack as the rugged Sawtooth National Forest is not an easy place to spot wolves, especially during the summer when there’s more tree cover and no snow to show their tracks.
Here’s some footage of their search flight on Wednesday that gives a sense of the terrain:
Thanks again to Steven Garman at Lighthawk for his excellent piloting and for donating his time and aircraft. See a few more photos of the expedition:
Our crew set up trail cameras on Thursday in hopes of finding the pack while the pup rested comfortably at a zoo in Boise. Several professional wolf rescue facilities have already offered to take the pup if he cannot be returned to the wild, but we at Defenders still have our fingers crossed that he will soon be reunited with his pack.
See more coverage from the Idaho Statesman. Thanks to Idaho Fish and Game for all their help so far.
Flat Top retaliation – The Idaho Mountain Express reported that a young female wolf was killed last week in response to sheep losses at the Flat Top ranch near Carey, Idaho. The wolf was killed by Wildlife Services from an airplane while a kill order is still in effect for another wolf in the area.
Ranch owner John Peavey has left many of his sheep unguarded, and as our wolf expert Suzanne points out, he has done very little to protect his thousand-plus pregnant ewes.
“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on an amputation,” she said. “It’s not going to be sufficient to address what the problems are, and we’ve made that clear [to Peavey].”
Another local wolf advocate was equally disappointed in Peavey’s efforts to safeguard his livestock. In a letter to the Idaho Mountain Express, Lynne Stone (no relation to Suzanne) writes:
“Aerial gunning of wolves doesn’t need to be happening. There are ways for predators and livestock to coexist. Ranchers must be willing to change. Sheep need a human presence. Guard dogs help, but must be backed up by a person. Sheep cannot be left on their own and be safe.”
Oversight overdue – Speaking of Wildlife Services, the Sacramento Bee published another editorial railing against the “pre-emptive indiscriminate and unnecessary killing of wildlife” by that agency. The Bee called for much stronger oversight at all levels of government, including from California stakeholders who contribute $3-4 million each year to Wildlife Services for predator control.
Top dog vs. big cat – Though we often talk about wolves as “top predators,” they often find themselves on the losing end of battles with other species—and I’m not just talking about with us humans. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf specialist Liz Bradley said in a recent AP report that mountain lions have been responsible for the death of at least two collared wolves in the Bitterroot Valley since January. She found two dead wolves last year too that were likely killed by mountain lions.
This is a stark reminder that life in the wild is tough for all animals and that relationships between species can be quite complicated. The number of predators that can survive in a given area is not just a function of how much prey is available but also the abundance of rival predators.