After four weeks of searching, wildlife officials have not found a wolf or wolves thought to be responsible for killing a colt in Croy Canyon west of Hailey last month.
On Feb. 13, a colt belonging to Kevin and Jennifer Swigert was found dead near a barn at the far west end of Croy Canyon, about a mile from their house. On Feb. 14, Wildlife Services determined that the colt was killed by a wolf, or wolves, and set out to shoot them.
“We were thinking that maybe there are three wolves that were out there,” said Todd Grimm, state director of Idaho Wildlife Services, a federal agency charged with protection people and property from wildlife.
Grimm said on Wednesday that his team of professional hunters had not found any wolves in the area, despite flying over the area six times in an airplane.
“Finding a wolf can be like finding a needle in a haystack,” Grimm said.
He would not speculate on the amount of money spent in the search.
Idaho Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Jerome Hansen said no wolf kills had been reported by regulation hunters in the area either, despite reports on anti-wolf websites claiming that hunters had gathered in the area with specialized weapons and tactics to find and kill the wolves.
Hansen said Wildlife Services would continue to hunt for the wolves for 60 days, at which time the case file on the incident would be closed. That would extend the hunting effort into the middle of April.
Grimm said he would call off the hunt if the Swigerts choose to remove their livestock from the area.
Wolf-hunting season lasts until the end of March in Croy Canyon, during which time hunters could kill the wolves that were responsible for killing the colt, Hansen said.
Grimm said one reason Wildlife Services has not found wolves in the area could be because of all the “human activity” at the Swigerts’ ranch.
“People are getting way too emotional about this.”
Anti-wolf websites have reported that the Swigerts are under sniper protection from former special forces personnel, in order to protect the Swigerts from pro-wolf activists. Pro-wolf activists have tried to cast doubt on the Swigerts’ claim that wolves have been preying on their livestock.
“There are some things going on out there I would not want to be associated with,” Grimm said. “People are getting way too emotional about this.”
Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey said he is currently not concerned about online allegations of threats between proponents and opponents of wolves.
“There have been no reports to me from either side, so I don’t really know what is going on out there,” Ramsey said. “I don’t read blogs or Facebook accounts. I don’t respond to rumors.”
Grimm said the only wolves killed by Wildlife Services since October were 23 killed near Lolo Pass in northern Idaho, where he said elk depredation had become a problem, and one wolf killed near Leadore, 90 miles northeast of Ketchum, that had been preying on cattle.
Tony Evans: firstname.lastname@example.org