Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Wolf pack that harassed livestock near Sula being killed

By The Associated Press

BUTTE (AP) — Federal trappers shot and killed eight wolves last week as part of an effort to eliminate a pack of wolves that repeatedly chased and killed livestock near Sula, state wildlife officials said. An adult wolf, two yearlings and five pups from the Sleeping Child pack that roamed the East Fork of the Bitterroot River were killed Friday by agents from Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, said Carolyn Sime, wolf program coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Throughout the summer, FWP and ranchers in the area have hazed the wolves, had people around livestock and even killed three that were causing problems, but the wolves continued to cause trouble. ‘‘It’s one of those unfortunate situations where our best efforts to get it turned around has been unsuccessful,’’ she said. ‘‘We have seen an escalating behavior of getting into livestock.’’

Two weeks ago, a rancher spotted the pack chasing five horses in a pasture. A calf was found dead last Tuesday. FWP biologists picked up the signal from a collared female that was on the carcass and found numerous wolf tracks at the scene. Pups had been spotted chasing horses, indicating they were learning that livestock is prey from the adults, Sime said.

The pack had attacked several other domestic animals throughout the summer, including killing two yearling steers, a calf and a dog. The continuing attacks, and the fact that the wolves hadn’t followed deer and elk to higher ground, gave FWP no choice but to have the pack eliminated, Sime said.

‘‘By the time they begin to recognize livestock as a food source, they do teach that to other wolves in the pack,’’ Sime said. The remaining two adults and two pups will be killed, Sime said. A collared female will be shot last to ensure that no pups are left.

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