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For the week of Apr. 12 through Apr. 18, 2000

Wolf-dog hybrids killed
at ranches


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

Three wolf-dog hybrids were shot in the south county last week after two killed a sheep and the third attacked cattle.

Kari Johnson, owner of a ranch at the mouth of Muldoon Canyon, said her family was awakened about 2:15 a.m. last Wednesday by noise from their ewes. Johnson said she went outside, saw two animals near the sheep and screamed at them, scaring them off. However, she said, they had already killed a 350-pound ram.

Johnson said the registered Suffolk ram, worth about $1,000, had been part of her teenaged daughters’ 4-H project.

"It was quite a tragedy," she said.

Johnson said she called 911 and Blaine County Sheriff’s deputies came out and searched for the apparent wolves with a spotlight. However, she said, they were unable to find them.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling said during a press conference Monday that two animals that first appeared to be wolves were shot later that morning after harassing cattle at Cove Creek Ranch south of Bellevue. He said a third wolf-dog hybrid was shot after attacking cattle near Gannett.

George Graves, assistant state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency, said his office had determined that the two animals shot by ranch hands at Cove Creek Ranch were wolf-dog hybrids. He said such animals have smaller feet, shorter muzzles, shorter legs and more curled tails than do pure wolves.

Johnson said she was told by a Wildlife Services investigator that he was "almost 100-percent certain" that the two animals shot were the ones that killed her ram, but that he was waiting for analysis of its stomach contents to draw a firm conclusion.

 

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