WOLF UPDATE Rafter Spear
It is hard to know where to begin since our emotions have run the gamut the past few days. Traps were set Tuesday after the male was caught and the female left for several days, she ended up on the Diamond Bar where Nick Smith tracked her for several days. He found one bitten calf probably from the trip over here a week prior. The calf was a month or two old so that is probably why they were still shy about killing it and staying there.
The weekend was pretty good though, I went to town Saturday and bought groceries to the guys could be fed halfway decently while they worked and believe me they worked. Matt took Miles and clipped cages for the university and our grazing study below the house and Dan checked his traps and made a 20 mile circle into diamond creek on foot trying to get a signal. He was unsuccessful but Nick Smith found her signal later that same night west of the links on the Diamond Bar. On Sunday, Matt and Dan rode into Round Mountain and packed salt and tried to get a signal. That afternoon everyone rested a bit between checking traps and gardening, painting, boyfriend watching and various other normal pursuits.
The homing instinct was pretty strong though and she was back here Monday morning. Dan woke up checked his equipment, got a signal and took off. When I checked cows that day I got a signal that seemed pretty strong right in the cows up 74 draw and Dan's truck was nearby. She pretty much stayed there all day with Dan tracking her along with Nick Smith who came in to help him. Dan got a shot at her but it wasn't very good and he missed. She wasn't too upset because they use pyrotechnics as hazing devises and she has been conditioned to think they are irritating but harmless. Dan came in that evening to make some phone calls and get something to eat. Wile he was on the phone, Matt and I went out and looked after the cows one on either end of the bunch. she was there the whole time but we didn't have a directional antenna and felt our job was to look after the cows not the wolf.
Monday night and Tuesday, yesterday. Dan was up all night with her and near morning he could hear coyotes making a heck of a ruckus in the draw she was up. Since most of the cattle were west about a mile he felt OK about leaving her alone until daylight. Really, there wasn't much choice since she didn't seem to be doing anything but hanging out in that area and it was pretty thick.
He went in to see what was up as soon as there was enough light and a cow with a full bag of milk met him on his way in. The bad news is she was on a cow that had calved a day or two before and had killed the calf. The coyotes had found her and were sharing the carcass with her. He ran both the wolf and the coyotes, eating together, off the calf. He found two pieces and packed them to the truck and brought them in to the house put them in the barn and called Wildlife Services. As Dan has found out, sometimes there is just nothing you can do about the killing. The wolf has every advantage even if you do have the technology. We were very lucky he found any remains of this calf.
The calf was killed by the wolf, Wildlife Services verified it the hemorrhaging was way too bad to be coyote and the bite marks measured out. At least the few that weren't eaten away. The calf was in two pieces it was a new heifer and had walked on it's feet quite a bit. The cow was one we were concerned about because she had taken off to have the calf. Apparently she didn't hide well enough to fool the wolf. But as Dan can attest to, she was hidden from all human eyes pretty darned well.
I had to go to Winston and get gas, so I took Dan and Nick some Orange juice that afternoon since Dan still looks awful and they were still tracking her. Dan was waiting for Nick to radio him and was trying to catch a catnap under the truck when I pulled up, so much for that. Johnny Anglin arrived the same time I did. We left them to their business about 30 min later. On my way home I found a brand new calf in the same bunch of cows that the wolf had been living with the past couple days. I took pictures of it in case the calf showed up on a milk carton in the next day or two. The cows was eating her afterbirth in the pictures so she was doing her best to keep baby safe. It was a big old baby too.
Dan showed up about 7 PM with the dead wolf. Things worked out well that afternoon, he got a really good shot and took it. Poor little old thing on the tailgate with the big feet, big head and big teeth and full belly had done nothing but follow her own survival instinct as successfully as possible. This was a dumb mistake and a bad situation that didn't have to happen.
We all spent a week living and breathing this tragedy that resulted in three dead calves, 3 wolf injured calves a bunch of stressed out people one trapped wolf and one pathetic shot wolf. It cost us a full week away from earning any income milling and we are way behind, broke and tired. It cost Dan his peace of mind and taught him what we have to deal with. Thankfully he retained his integrity in spite of the mess and stress going on all around him.
Thank goodness it is over for now. However I know the Francisco Pack will be re-released soon and am sure the same set of problems on a larger scale will be imminent as soon as that release takes place. Re-releasing habitual stock killers is a poor management decision and is only asking for trouble.