Idaho rancher says wolves killing lambs and ewes

Published September 1, 2006 12:15 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

BOISE, Idaho - A sheep rancher in central Idaho said 34 lambs and ewes were killed by wolves and he's missing another 124 animals he fears also fell victim to the predators.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has authorized federal trappers to shoot two wolves, or half the new Lick Creek pack, made up of four to five adult or sub-adult wolves. It may be establishing itself in a rugged, mountainous area of spruce and red fir on U.S. Forest Service territory just southeast of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Rancher Ron Shirts, a 39-year-old Weiser resident, said he began finding dead sheep from his flock of 1,000 ewes and 1,500 lambs starting Aug. 26 after noticing many were missing when he began collecting them to be sold.

Idaho reintroduced the predator to its central mountains starting in 1995 and now has an estimated 600 wolves. They sometimes attack sheep and cattle, in addition to wildlife including deer and elk.

Control actions aren't uncommon: in 2004, the state's largest wolf pack at the time, with nine members, was exterminated after authorities said it killed more than 100 sheep near McCall in central Idaho.

''This is the first wreck we've had,'' said Shirts, who has grazed sheep north of the towns of Weiser and Payette along U.S. Highway 95 for 25 years.

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