White Cloud wolves shot
One member of pack survived
"Had we known the alpha male was there, we would have talked
about what we were going to do."
Roy Heberger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf
recovery leader for Idaho
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
The White Cloud wolf pack is no more.
In what conservationists are calling an "Easter week shootout,"
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized killing the White Cloud wolves after they
had been deemed habituated to preying on livestock.
Not even the packs dominant alpha male was spared.
Roy Heberger, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery leader for
Idaho, authorizes lethal control activities. He said in a Monday interview that "had
we known the alpha male was there, we would have talked about what we were going to
"The design here is to retain the breeding pair."
After the packs first known livestock predation early this month,
four members were relocated to the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness Area, about 150 miles
north of the East Fork of the Salmon.
The alpha male and female were included in the relocation. The male,
however, completed the long trek back to his homeland in only 19 days, according to an
April 24 gray wolf recovery newsletter on the Internet.
The alpha male and another member of the White Cloud pack were killed
Thursday by employees of the U.S. Department of Agricultures Wildlife Services. Two
other pack members had been killed two days before, after members of the pack preyed on
the third of three calves they killed in the East Fork of the Salmon River valley.
A so-called Judas wolf, radio collared and released to lead Wildlife
Services personnel to the rest of the pack, was shot on Friday.
The whereabouts of the relocated, alpha female are unknown. The death of
the dominant male leaves the pregnant female wandering the mountains of central Idaho with
a belly full of pups. The pups will die shortly after theyre born without the alpha
male to hunt and gather food for them, Heberger said.
Another pack memberthe only remaining wolf of the original
nine-member pack believed to still be in the White Cloudsescaped into the
wilderness, he said.
Wolves are shot using a shotgun from a helicopter at a 20- to 40-yard
range, said Mark Collinge, state director of the federal Wildlife Services, in a telephone
"If they dont go down immediately, you have to take another
shot," he said. "You do your best."
Heberger, who authorized Idahos first lethal wolf control last
summer, said he uses a simple system to determine when wolves have gone too far.
"Statistically it takes three points to establish a trend line,"
he said. "I use three incidents before going ahead with lethal control. It was clear
that the pack was habituated to killing livestock."
The second livestock kill occurred around April 8, Heberger said. A kill
on the evening of April 13 put the White Cloud pack over the top on Hebergers
statistical trend line.
Conservationists are outraged at the recent lethal control activities,
which bring Idahos lethal control total to 12 wolves since their reintroduction in
1995 and 1996.
"This is a wolf control program, not wolf restoration,"
Clearwater Biodiversity Project member Charles Pezenshki said in a Boulder-White Cloud
Council press release. "Were asking wolves to change, but not ranchers. We
dont shoot spotted owls. The timber industry had to bend. Why are ranchers so
Boulder-White Cloud executive director Lynne Stone said she feels robbed.
"This pack roamed the 500,000-acre wild White Cloud Mountains and
brought joy to us," she said. "We thought that Idahoans had finally learned to
accept wolves back into their ancestral homeland.
"Were devastated over the loss of the White Cloud pack."
In an April 14 letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Sen.
Mike Crapo made clear that the recent wolf experiences should be used as learning
"There must be a better, allowable alternative protocol that could
have reduced the lethal take on wolves and minimized the loss of livestock," he
"This protocol could build upon the credibility and feasibility of
the wolf recovery program," he continued, "especially in the minds of recovery
area residents and others in the state of Idaho, while at the same time meeting the
concerns of those supporting the wolf recovery effort."