So whatever happened with the wolves at Stanley, Idaho?

July 7, 2006


Back in late May, I did a flurry of stories about the wolves that had showed up on the outskits of tiny Stanley, Idaho and the ensuing excitement/controversey. So what has happened since?

The wolf pack in question turned out to be the long-standing Galena Pack which had in the past denned about 5 to 10 miles to the south in the same mountains (White Cloud Mountains), but adjacent to the Sawtooth Valley rather than Stanley Basin.

None of the wolves were killed and apparently no livestock were predated. There was a feeling that someone would shoot the wolves, as evidenced by Ron Gillet's roaming around in the field with his rifle last May while the wolf was eating the elk it had killed.

One member of the Galena Pack was found dead, but it appears to have been natural causes. The yearling wolf was the runt of the litter and suffered from a birth defect.

At the present the Galena Pack has moved back into the White Cloud Mountains where this year for various reasons, such as the aftermath of the Valley Road Forest Fire, the sale of a major sheep operation, and the Western Watershed Project's brilliant lawsuit on the North Sheep Allotment, there will be fewer domestic sheep to beset the wolves.

Meanwhile, there were many reports of wolves several miles north of Stanley, and in fact there is a new wolf pack that may be in some jeopardy because they killed one of the many hundreds of cow calves that are in the area. In perspective, livestock "depredations" by wolves in the area are so far remarkably small given the huge influx of cattle and sheep that come into the area in the summer.

The new pack is led by a disperser from the Galena Pack, B-171F and an unknown big black male. They have five pups. They killed a 400 pound calf on private property (barely, it was very close to public property of the SNRA). Since then, these particular cattle have moved to a new pasture, but there are plenty of sheep and cattle in the general area. I learned the pack is referred to as the Basin Butte Pack.

Control of wolves in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area has always been controversial because the area is supposed to give wildlife the preference over livestock. If the government kills a wolf pack in the area in response to the minor losses that typically accompany close proximity of numerous livestock and wolves, a furious controversy could explode as perceived past injustices, bad feelings dating back 30 years, and different philosophies of nature play out. So hopefully, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the federal Wildlife Services will show political sophistication in the matter.


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