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Current News & Issues: Wolves

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Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Continued...

Wolves under Siege
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. Lynne Stone photo.
Feeding and calving area at mouth of Sink Creek, January 2008.

After 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.

An East 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 trees.

Calves on Broken Wing Ranch face subzero winter temperatures. Lynne Stone photo.
Calves on Broken Wing Ranch face subzero winter temperatures.

Frozen Salmon River in January 2008 near the Broken Wing Ranch. Lynne Stone photo.
Frozen Salmon River in January 2008 near the Broken Wing Ranch.

When 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.

Buffalo 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.

B95 Alpha female
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.

Breaking the rules?
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 ad:


Buffalo Ridge Wolf Pack Under Siege
<PART 1   <PART 2   <PART 3   PART 4   
UPDATES: Feb 26 & 28, 2008. Five Wolves "Lethally Controlled".

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