A rancher reported today that he had found one of the most recently reintroduced wolves to central Idaho this month shot dead next to a partially eaten calf. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recovered both carcasses and is investigating.
The incident took place in Iron Creek, in the Salmon River Mountains halfway between the towns of Challis and Salmon, Idaho.
Defenders of Wildlife said on Idaho TV that the owner of the calf would be reimbursed.
Three theories floating about are (1) a rancher shot the wolf which had killed his calf and took off, afraid of the consequences (this would have been a legal wolf taking, however). (2) a rancher shot the wolf which had stumbled open an already dead calf. (3) Someone planted a dead calf after seeing the wolf and waited for it to come munch on the carcass.
Iron Creek is about 20 miles from the reintroduction site. The wolf must have climbed 6000 feet out of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, where it and 10 other wolves were reintroduced about 2 weeks ago. Reports have been that the wolves were all doing fine.
Four other wolves had been released earlier this month on the main Salmon River, about 30 miles to the NW of where the killing happened.
© 1995 Ralph Maughan