Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wolf trapped and killed in Price County, Wisconsin

Ryan Stutzman - THE-BEE

Wildlife authorities trapped and killed a wolf in the town of Spirit on Aug. 2, the first such authorized killing in Price County this year. The wolf is suspected to be from the pack that marauded a chicken coop on the Paul and Ilmi Nelson property on State Highway 86 south of Brantwood in mid-July. DNR wolf biologist Adrian Wydeven said the wolf probably belongs to the Spirit Lake pack.

The Spirit Lake pack – named for the general area that it inhabits – was thought to comprise only one or two animals during winter population surveys, but it might have drawn more animals recently from the North Avril Creek pack, Wydeven said.

Trapping was expected to continue in the area of the Nelson property for several more days. The Price County animal is the 18th wolf wildlife authorities have dispatched statewide this year. The fate of the state's federal permit to kill problem wolves is currently hanging in the balance. Under the banner of the Endangered Species Act, an animal-rights consortium is challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's authority to grant such permits.

Meanwhile, at the Nelson farm, the family expressed relief that one wolf is dead. But Ilmi Nelson said there is at least one more that has been seen "stalking the farm." Nelson said her grandchildren begged her for an ATV ride around the farm recently, but she refused. "Not until (both) wolves are dead," she said. "I just don't feel safe about that anymore."

Wolves slaughtered nearly 50 chickens on the Nelson farm in a single attack July 15, which the DNR's chief wolf biologist called a "massive surplus killing." More than 40 birds were left dead, and eight were missing, Nelson said. The wolves left twelve chickens alive. The Nelsons quickly processed the birds to avoid further losses.

"They're in the freezer now," Nelson said.