Saturday, May 13, 2006

Rancher who shot wolf "did everything right"

VICTOR, Idaho (AP) -- Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game say a ranch worker who shot a wolf earlier this week acted within the law. The rancher reported within 24 hours that the 2- to 3-year-old wolf was chasing cattle when it was shot Monday in southeastern Idaho.

It's the first case in the region of a rancher killing a wolf after the state took over day-to-day management of the wolves south of Interstate 90 from the federal government In January. Wolves north of I-90 in the Idaho Panhandle are considered to be there naturally. They remain classified as an endangered species and are under the control of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In most instances, Fish and Wildlife Service officials must approve the killing of any wolf in the region.

The wolves south of the freeway were reintroduced in central Idaho in 1995 as an "experimental, nonessential population" under the Endangered Species Act. Wolves there can legally be killed under a greater range of circumstances and without first getting permission from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The wolf killed Monday was chasing cattle on private land, officials said, making it legal for the ranch owner or a ranch worker to shoot it. "There was nothing the rancher did wrong," Lauri Hanauska-Brown, a wildlife biologist with Fish and Game, told the Standard Journal. "It was very straightforward. The folks involved did everything right. This is a good example of how the process is supposed to work." After investigating, Fish and Game officials notified the Fish and Wildlife Service, which declined to do a follow-up investigation.

Steve Nadeau, the statewide large carnivore manager for Fish and Game, told The Associated Press on Friday that the wolf was in the area of a pack known to roam between Idaho and Wyoming. He said the dead wolf was part of a pack that did not have an individual with a radio collar for tracking its movements.

"We'll be out there next week trying to put another collar on the pack," Nadeau said. He said that there were 59 resident, documented packs in Idaho at the end of 2005 with a population of 500 to 600 wolves. "More have been born in the last month that we're just now starting to count," he said.

  • Jackson Hole Star-Tribune

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