Another rocky start for Idaho ranch – You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. Witness this old adage in practice in central Idaho where the Flat Top Ranch continues to practice antiquated lambing practices that have cost them far too many sheep, even though they have been offered assistance to avoid these losses. Now wolves are being targeted by Wildlife Services with your taxpayer dollars in response.
According to the Idaho Mountain Express, ranch owner John Peavey has lost at least 31 sheep to wolves in the past week, offering a perfect example of what NOT to do in wolf country. Instead of providing extra protection for his ewes while they give birth to their lambs, he has sent them out on the range where they attract numerous wildlife species. Scavenging birds such as vultures and ravens pick over the afterbirth, and wolves, coyotes and other scavenging mammals follow soon thereafter. Once hungry predators are in the area, there’s nothing to stop them from going after defenseless lambs or their mothers. As our wolf expert Suzanne Stone says, it’s like setting the table and ringing the dinner bell for any carnivores in the area to enjoy the feast.
Defenders has repeatedly offered to help the Flat Top Ranch implement proactive strategies and nonlethal deterrents to prevent conflict, but each time our advice has been ignored. However, this does offer an important counterexample that proves the effectiveness of our work – none of our project partners have suffered similar losses. In fact, most ranchers we work with seldom lose sheep at all to wolves when properly guarded. In 2012, we protected 27,000 sheep and lost only four to wolves during the summer grazing season over a more than 1,000-square-mile project area. We stand ready and willing to help the Flat Top Ranch once they make the decision to stop range lambing methods that result in preventable losses of sheep, wolves and other native wildlife.
A wolf in Washington? – That’s right. An arctic wolf was spotted in Washington, D.C. this week on Capitol Hill. Atka, an ambassador wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in New York, was in town for a reception co-hosted by Defenders of Wildlife to celebrate the launch of our Conservation Crossroads campaign, as well as the 40th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. What’s more — today is not only Atka’s 11th birthday, it’s also Endangered Species Day! So pop the champagne, we all have something to celebrate this week.
Washington wolves move west – Speaking of wolves in Washington… Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with ranchers outside Wenatchee to provide safe passage for wolves traveling west through the state. For example, rancher Doug Hurd is keeping his cattle on a pasture with an electrified fence a little longer instead of turning his cattle out onto open rangelands while wolves chase elk and deer herds through the area. The precautionary measure should help prevent wolves from preying on the cattle and keep the wolves focused on hunting wild prey. Ensuring these natural movements across the landscape is vital to further wolf recovery in the state, as wolves start returning to central Washington. See the full report from King5’s Gary Chittim:
Montana proposes wolf hunting expansions – The public can now weigh in on a proposal that would extend Montana’s hunting season another month through the end of March and allow hunters to kill up to 10 wolves each. The proposed revisions would also permit hunters to shoot wolves standing near baited traps (read the full story from Reuters). Though the state’s wolf population dropped seven percent this past year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is still attempting to reduce wolf numbers even further. Please tell the state wildlife commissioners to reject the proposed changes and focus on promoting tolerance and coexistence instead of more wolf killing. Click here for details on how to submit public comments.
Yellowstone area rancher forfeits second kill permit – KPAX reports that a rancher embroiled in a controversy over the killing of a Yellowstone wolf has forfeited his shoot-on-sight permit to kill a second wolf. The man has apparently removed his cattle from the area to their summer pasture and has moved his remaining sheep as well. He had killed a female wolf (831F) from Yellowstone’s Canyon Pack while she was on his property, after allegedly losing 13 sheep to a pair of wolves in a prior incident. The wolf he shot was not the one responsible for attacking the sheep but was likely lured to the site by a sheep carcass that was left behind. Hopefully the rancher will take additional steps to protect his livestock in the future, avoiding the need to kill more wolves.