Summary of wolf predation on livestock in the Northern Rockies for 1997

2-7-98 (additional info 2-18-98 and 5-22-98)


Using data from Defenders of Wildlife, I have calculated that in the year 1997 wolves in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming), attacked livestock with a market value of $31,255. This is what Defenders of Wildlife pays (market value) and 50% of market valve for likely, but unverified attacks.

Here is the rundown by area (1997):

$8689 of the damage from the Yellowstone wolves was the result of the Sawtooth Yearlings which were not a planned part of the wolf restoration.  They were brought as orphans from a native pack (the Sawtooth Pack) on the Rocky Mountain Front in northwest central Montana. The pups matured into yearlings inside of Park wolf enclosures. They were released with no knowledge of how to hunt prey. All but four of the original ten Sawtooth yearlings are now dead. One of the four is missing. A number where shot while attacking livestock.

The total number of depredations by wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone since 1995 are 5 cattle, 80 sheep, and one dog

I think the low number of Idaho attacks is significant. There were just three verified attacks in Idaho in 1997. Two were at Leadore in east central Idaho.  These were the result of one of Sawtooth yearlings from Yellowstone attacking a lamb and a calf. This wolf was shot by a rancher while it was attacking.

Twenty-four lambs and 4 ewes were attacked in the mountains east of McCall in 1997 by one of the reintroduced wolves from 1996.

Not included in the Idaho data is the death of three hunting hounds near Salmon, Idaho. They were killed during the chase of a bobcat. Another hound was killed in a separate incident. The three hounds ran into the Jureano Mountain wolf pack. Defenders does not compensate for hunting hounds or pet dogs. Defenders does compensate for dogs that herd or guard livestock. With hunting hounds, death by wild animals is regarded as part of the normal danger of the hunt. The total number of depredations by Idaho wolves inside Idaho since their reintroduction in 1995 is 5 cattle, 53 sheep and 4 hounds. Wolves originally  from Idaho killed an additional two calves in Montana in 1996.

If the attacks by the ill-fated Sawtooth yearlings are excluded, wolf predation in all three years was considerably below that predicted in the Gray Wolf reintroduction plan.

The "native" wolves in Montana are reported to have killed 51 cattle, 42 sheep, and 5 dogs since 1987. I don't have earlier data. Wolves began to reinhabit the state in about 1980.

The total for all wolf depredations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming through 1997 is 61 cattle, 175 sheep, and ten dogs.


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