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Wolf Crossings

A Rural Viewpoint On Wolf Reintroduction And Protection

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Updated 10-06



Agents kill wolf sought in attacks on sheep

Crews in the air spotted the wolf on private land north of Highway 200 between Jordan and Circle on Thursday morning and shot it.

State wildlife officials later confirmed the animal was a male wolf, about 4 years old and in good condition. The only thing unusual was its reddish color, Sime said.

The kill should provide some relief for livestock owners frustrated for months about a lack of progress in the case.

"This has been a long haul for those folks, and we really appreciate their patience in how long it's taken to get this situation addressed," Sime said.

There are still plenty of questions about the wolf. Chief among them is where it came from. Wolves, especially males, are known for traveling far in search of food.

The wolf shot Thursday was more than 150 miles from the fringes of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, where the wolf population has grown to more than 300 since reintroduction in 1995 and 1996.

DNA evidence from the wolf that was killed, which didn't have a radio collar or ear tags, will be analyzed to see where it came from, but that process could take months, Sime said.

The Eastern Montana attacks were first reported in late December 2005 and happened sporadically over the next several months. Wildlife officials said the animal seemed to be roaming a wide swath of land, killing sheep and then moving on.

Several landowners were issued 45-day permits to shoot wolves that were seen attacking livestock in the area, but nothing more happened.

Reports were scant over the summer. But on Oct. 13, wildlife officials were called to investigate an attack on two sheep on land where depredations had previously occurred, Sime said. Signs of a wolf couldn't be positively confirmed, but it appeared to be the same animal as before.

The tracks in the snow spotted Wednesday matched earlier tracks seen in the area.

"That was an important consideration," Sime said. "We needed to know we were working with the same animal."

The dead wolf was brought to Billings on Thursday evening and is scheduled to be transported to the state wildlife veterinary laboratory in Bozeman.

Sime praised the coordination among state and federal agencies and those who live in the area. Though the wolf shot Thursday appears to be the one responsible for the sheep depredations, Sime said, wildlife officials would return to the area if there are reports of more attacks.

Published on Friday, November 03, 2006.
Last modified on 11/3/2006 at 1:20 am


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