Ridge Wolf Pack Continued...
Now, years of proactive measures and cooperative efforts are going down
the drain as the entire pack is under a lethal control order from the
Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. The reason: the wolves are accused of
visiting the calving operation last December at the Broken Wing Ranch,
seven airline miles away from Squaw Creek. One two-day old calf was
reportedly killed at the mouth of Sink Creek, a known wolf travel
corridor. However, OTHER wolves may have been involved. A person who
tracks Buffalo Ridge daily, says the Buffalo Ridge wolves were in Squaw
Creek, not at the Broken Wing. Calving season started in December despite
the fact that central Idaho is bitter cold and snowy at that time. In
January 2008, there were temperatures of 25 below zero. Not uncommon.
Feeding and calving
area at mouth of Sink Creek, January 2008.
Buffalo Ridge wolves were accused of killing the calf in December, IDFG
ordered the removal of two wolves. At that time I inquired of wolf
managers on whether anything proactive was being done to scare off the
wolves. The answer was: "No, this is private land." Well, so is Squaw
Creek, I thought.
Fork Salmon River rancher, Wayne Baker, leases the Broken Wing Ranch from
the heirs of Gerald Herrick, a former CEO with Ore-Ida Co. Because the
calving operation is all on private land, it's not known how many calves
have died of exposure or other cold-related problems, or what was done to
remove dead calf carcasses. The Buffalo Ridge wolves obviously were
attracted to the stench of blood and hundreds of placentas. Ravens and
magpies are seen all over the calving grounds. Eagles perch in nearby
Calves on Broken Wing
Ranch face subzero winter temperatures.
Frozen Salmon River
in January 2008 near the Broken Wing Ranch.
another calf was killed, two more Buffalo Ridge wolves were ordered shot.
To date three wolves have been shot by Wildlife Service from a fixed wing
plane, but in the White Cloud Mountains and Thompson Creek, over eight
miles from the Broken Wing Ranch. With this type of tactic, there's no way
surviving wolves could possibly associate that visits to the Broken Wing
Ranch were the cause of the aerial chase and gunning.
Ridge faces the end
In the past few weeks, the wolves are accused again of coming to the ranch
and killing three more calves. The order is out to kill all five remaining
Buffalo Ridge wolves including the alpha female B95, her mate B196, and a
young male wolf, B323. Wolf managers have written off this pack. If,
indeed, it has been the Buffalo Ridge wolves returning to the Broken Wing,
it's not certain why this is happening, especially when there are hundreds
of does, fawns and elk all over their home range.
I am especially sorry for B95 as she has been the stolid alpha female of
this pack for six years. She came from the Stanley Basin Pack and her
original mate, B93, was from Moyer Basin. The Buffalo Ridge Pack was the
first I'd seen up close. That was in 2004. I've never forgotten it,
although I've seen other wolves a hundred times since.
Someone commented to me that the wolves had broken the "rules" and had to
be killed. My response -- I've monitored and photographed the Lower East
Fork Allotment used by Wayne Baker in the White Cloud Mountains. Many
rules are broken there in the form of overuse, trespass cattle, trampled
streams and springs, and so forth. Cattleman get away with breaking rules.
The wolves do not.
As I write this on Sunday, Feb. 24th, I expect that Wildlife Services will
bring in a helicopter in a few days, once the weather clears, and try to
kill the remaining five wolves.
What can help this Buffalo Ridge demise from
happening to another wolf pack? The short term: the ranch owners should
say no to a calving operation. At the very least, to insist that the
rancher use proactive, non-lethal methods to keep wolves away. The long
term answer: a new owner who would turn the 770 acres into a wildlife
preserve, a place where predators would be allowed to cross and exist.
The ranch is for sale for $4.1 million. Here's the
Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Under Siege
Feb 26 &
28, 2008. Five Wolves "Lethally Controlled".