Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wolves kill 12 sheep

Phantom Hill wolf pack could be targeted by F&G


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Members of the valley's Phantom Hill wolf pack have been linked to the deaths of 12 domestic sheep in the Baker Creek drainage last Sunday and may be killed.

According to Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, officials within the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said late Tuesday afternoon that they have authorized the killing of Phantom Hill wolves. Stone said they wouldn't tell her how many members of the pack might be killed. Calls to Fish and Game were not immediately returned.

At last count, the pack numbered around 10 to 11 members, not counting any new pups that may have been born this spring. In June, the pack's alpha male was struck and killed northwest of Ketchum on state Highway 75.

Stone's group is involved in a project to keep wolves and sheep separate in the upper Wood River Valley, the Phantom Hill wolves' home range. The effort, called the Wood River Wolf Project, has succeeded in greatly limiting the number of sheep killed in the area after the Phantom Hill pack was discovered in 2007.

But that successful streak may have ended earlier this week. Stone said their on-the-ground field assistants were not told of the existence of another small band of sheep over the weekend. They were watching over a larger band near the Newman Creek corrals when the stray band was attacked just a half mile away.

Stone said a guard dog with the band the field assistants were watching near the corrals was also attacked by wolves but escaped with minor injuries. She said more than 12,000 sheep in the upper valley have been protected by the project this summer.

Jason Kauffman: jkauffman@mtexpress.com




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