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Feds Exterminate Idaho's Largest Wolf Pack


MCCALL, Idaho (AP) - The largest wolf pack in Idaho has been exterminated by federal agents after killing more than 100 sheep in central Idaho.

"Non-lethal methods were tried, but they didn't work and the wolves continued to kill sheep," said Carter Niemeyer, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We won't tolerate wolves that are confirmed to be chronically killing livestock."

Niemeyer said the nine wolves in the Cook pack were killed earlier this week and members of two other packs roaming the McCall area could also be killed because they have been attacking livestock. No decision has been made on those packs yet, however.

Federal officials said Cook pack wolves killed 90 sheep in the McCall area last year and resumed the attacks early this month. The rancher and his hands camped with the sheep and tried unsuccessfully to scare off the wolves with guard dogs, cracker shells, sirens, lights and live fire from shotguns. Biologists from the Nez Perce Tribe also were unable to prevent the wolves from attacking sheep.

It was the second multiple wolf killing in the state this year. Three were shot by federal agents in early March after attacking cattle as far south as the Twin Falls area.

The Cook, Partridge and Hazard packs in the McCall area are among nine of the estimated 37 wolf packs in Idaho blamed for the loss of 118 sheep, 13 calves and six guard dogs last year.

Thirty-five Canadian wolves were released in the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 and 1996 as part of the program to reintroduce wolves in the Northern Rockies. The population has grown to an estimated 400, a large enough number to justify removing them from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

To do that, however, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming must all develop federally acceptable state wolf management plans. While the Idaho and Montana plans have been approved, the government has rejected the Wyoming plan and that state has gone to federal court to override the administrative ruling.

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