ID Fish and Game release of info on wolf control generates a media story that might be misleading.
Idaho Fish and Game is in almost total control of Idaho wolf management now, and they have begun issuing monthly accounts of wolf control actions. That's good because news is always welcome.
The main stream media has begun to use these new releases for stories (it's an easy way to write a story). Because of the stories' sudden appearance, folks might get the impression that there has been an unusual amount of wolf control and/or wolf attacks on livestock. For example, here is John Miller's story that has now made it all the way to the Seattle Post Intelligencer. "Four wolves killed after livestock deaths; more killings authorized." By John Miller. Associated Press Writer."
Four Idaho wolves control-killed out of 600 or so is not really much of a story, and I don't bother to report these control actions any more unless there is something unusual. After all, that is was news is.
The number of wolves killed in Idaho so far this year is up a bit, but seems typical of the random fluctuations one sees in relatively rare events (the instability of small numbers). I haven't learned of any large livestock depredations this year (such as the Cook Pack killing 100 sheep a couple years ago). Wolves continue to be a very minor cause of cattle and sheep mortality.
The one interesting bit of news in the ID Fish and Game news release I found was this: " A gray male pup from the Blue Bunch pack was collared on July 26 and on July 27; Wildlife Services recaptured the pack's alpha female and put a new radio collar on her. While trappers were collaring her, two gray female wolves showed up. A sub-adult was shot and killed and the other was harassed away, ending the control action."
It seems like there might be a story there. Were the wolves growling and advancing, or did Wildlife Services kill them because they were nearby and easy to shoot? In addition, the collaring of wolf pups is problematic, and if the pups is small and not recollared, it will die from the collar. See more in the update.
I think one of the reasons blogs continue to grow at the expense of the MSM is their ability to provide context. I hope I've done that.
Here is the original ID Fish and Game news release. Wolf Control Actions Authorized. July 31, 2006
Update August 5, 2006. I talked with a veteran wolf trapper who was not involved in the incident above. He didn't know about this particular collaring and shooting of nearby wolves, but he said that often, when they have an alpha wolf down for collaring, other wolves in the pack will run around nervously nearby, making it easy to shoot them if you want to. He said he'd never seen the rest of the pack advance in an attack posture upon those collaring a wolf.
Update August 9, 2006. Idaho Fish and Game has issued another report on wolf control actions. Livestock deaths lead to wolf control actions. August 7, 2006.
Return to Ralph Maughan's wolf report