Basin Butte pack killing raises same old wolf controversies

The helicopter gunning of seven members of the Basin Butte Pack near Stanley by federal agents even as hunters were in the field has angered wolf advocates and highlights again the polarized nature of this issue.

You might remember the Basin Butte pack as the one that delighted wolf watchers for several years as it hung around Stanley and offered the kind of opportunity to see wolves in the wild unlike anywhere but Yellowstone National Park. It’s the same pack that wolf advocate Lynne Stone babysat for several years before wolves were delisted so they wouldn’t eat local ranchers calves.

But the pack has, over its four-year existence, eaten a few cattle — most recently this fall on the edge of Stanley. Both ranchers and federal agencies have shot a few of the wolves in response.

Even though the wolves live in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and even though recreation is the main industry of the area, they have been treated just like wolves anywhere in Idaho. In fact they are included in Idaho Fish and Game’s list of 26 packs listed as chronic depredators.

I have sat in legislative committee meetings and watched rancher-lawmakers grill Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials for not being aggressive enough in killing off these wolves when they eat someone’s livestock.

Wolf protesters

What makes wolf advocates even more angry is that the cattle were moved out of the area on October since it is too cold to winter them around Stanley. They ask: “What was the hurry to kill the pack now?”

But Idaho Fish and Game officials had enough and saw the need to become more aggressive with a pack that had grown to as many as 14 animals and was routinely killing even adult cattle.

Had hunters legally shot a couple of the wolves I know Stone and many wolf advocates would have been unhappy. I know people who include wolf-watching as a highlight in trips they made to Idaho would be unhappy.

It is just like the situation near my home where a hunter may have shot the popular bull elk, Ernie. People know it may be legal but that doesn’t mean they think it is right.

But like my conservative friend Wayne Hoffman says about state and local agencies hiring lobbyists. It is one thing for some private party to do something and another for a taxpayer-funded agency to do it.

Many taxpayers may not agree with the imperative for Wildlife Services to carry out the execution of the pack. Certainly not the dozens who have called or written Fish and Game to protest.

Now again, this is not a simple issue on the other side. In 2002, when Carter Neimeyer, then the head of wolf management for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho, made the tough decision to kill off the Whitehawk pack in the east fork of the Salmon River, it brought worldwide protests.

It was tough on Neimeyer, who is one of the people most responsible for the success of the reintroduction of wolves to the Northern Rockies.

Complicating the debate is the fact that the ranchers were paid millions of dollars in conservation easements to preserve the area from development. Those easements were never intended to force them to protect wildlife on their lands or to give wildlife some kind of preference.

But when the wolves were on the federal endangered species list, which could happen again soon, a federal judge said that wolves in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area did indeed have preference over livestock grazing.

Stone actually has been criticized by fellow environmentalists who would like to push all livestock grazing off of federal land for her efforts to keep the wolves and cattle apart. I know too that state officials and the ranchers have considered her pleadings for the pack a pain in their butts.

But she stands up for her wolves no matter what the cost. You might remember several confrontations between wolf hater Ron Gillett and Stone -- one in 2008 where he was charged with assault and later freed after a hung jury.

The Basin Butte Pack’s lives and deaths have reached far beyond the craggy peaks that surround the Stanley and Sawtooth basins.

If the Whitehawk Pack is any guide, then another wolf pack will soon move into the area and take the Basin Butte Pack’s place. Or perhaps the remaining three animals will breed and rebuild their own pack.

The controversy will continue as it does throughout the region. Only when the ranchers, the hunters and the wolf advocates reach some kind of understanding, including having accepted places for each to have preference, and tolerance for each sides' views and interests, will the issue die down.

Ernie & Elmer

It is just like the situation near my home where a hunter may have shot the popular bull elk, Elmer.

Elmer? Maybe you need to read Zimo's blog today.

No, it's not just like that situation.

Bert Ernie Elmer & Elmo

"I have sat in legislative committee meeting and watched"
"I know that people who I know who include wolf-watching as a"

Here's two more errors for you to correct in your next UPDATE Rocky. I'm losing interest in the pointing out others.
-You're fired!

Elmo and do I get to Kevin Bacon?


A cannibal looks over at his buddy who is eating a PIZZA and asks him, "What ARE you doing"???

Oh, no problem! It's Kevin Bacon.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

already ruled

federal endangered species list, which could happen again soon,
Really? Do you know something the rest of us don't?

Maybe your definition of 'soon' is like Obama's...


Meaning when the judge hears the case early next year.

According to the weekly wolf updates " A hearing date for oral arguments has not been set, but is expected to be soon after legal briefs are completed in late January 2010."


Yes, a hearing dates has not (even) been set...

So first the briefs and then MAYBE a hearing date. How far out?
And how much water will pass under the bridge in the mean time?
Wolf harvest #s in Idaho so far?

Ponder this, "Case dismissed".

But if you think Federal Courts move quickly to justify 'soon' how about if you and Rocky both hold your breath until the Idaho wolves are relisted. You should be able to breathe again "soon".

The state has too many elk

I think its high time we press the IDFG to reduce the elk herds as they have grown way out of proportion. Idaho would be fine with say 500 elk state wide.

I agree.

Deport them back to Canada.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

Those are some funny lookin' tree butcherers in the picture.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

hey wimpy dude

that little wimpy dude holding sign should have punched mister big tough cowboy rancher in the groin,who in a hurry when the camera's were pointed in the direction moved his sign to cover wimpy dudes sign. But as ranchers run Idaho am sure wimpy dude would have spent life in prison for assualt

violent liberal wackos

"punched"... ?

Idaho has plenty of wolves.

Idaho Wolf Management Progress Report

November 2009

(24kb PDF File):

2008 Idaho Wolf Pack Map (these are only the known packs)

(1.5mb PDF File):

They have even more sharks and swine.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

YNP has plenty of wolves too

(from 2005)

Yellowstone Park Wolf population saturated:

Yellowstone National Park’s wolf population isn’t expected to continue to grow because the region is saturated with wolves, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency reported that wolf numbers in the Greater Yellowstone Area were down in 2005, with 221 wolves in 13 breeding pairs.

FWS reported that the decline of wolves in Yellowstone National Park occurred because:

* highly suitable habitat is saturated with wolf packs;
* conflict among packs appears to be limiting population density;
* there are fewer elk than when reintroduction took place; and
* a suspected, but as yet unconfirmed, outbreak of canine parvovirus or canine distemper.

“Additional significant growth in the Yellowstone National Park portion of the Wyoming wolf population is unlikely because suitable wolf habitat is saturated with wolf packs,” FWS reported.

“A large decline in native ungulate populations could result in an increase in conflicts with livestock and the level of wolf control,” according to FWS.

“If the wolf population continues to expand, wolves will increasingly disperse into unsuitable areas that are intensively used for livestock production,” FWS reported. “A higher percentage of wolves in those areas will become involved in conflicts with livestock, and a higher percentage of them will probably be removed to reduce future livestock damage. Human-caused mortality would have to remove 34 percent or more of the wolf population annually before population growth would cease.

your opinion

And Idaho has plenty of mule deer and elk. But no matter what anyone says, IDFG & WS are going to do what they want to do. Just like the people the hate wolves will always hate them and the ones that like wolves will always like wolves. The one thing that needs to be changed is grazing livestock on public land, that should not be allowed, if the farmer cannot make it on his on land then figure out a different job to go do. Also no bailouts for farmers.

photos of death

photoguy, you are obviously another emotional anti-grazer instead of someone who uses reason to understand wildlife management.

Eat a steak AND a potato, wash it down with a glass of milk or Idaho wine if you prefer.. you'll feel better afterwards.

Another reason age should be more strictly verified.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

What's the difference if a lion or Pablo Pumpaction does it?

It still ends up on PBS!

Like a midair collision with a tugboat

It JUST occured to me!

It's the enviromentalist mating display. They have expanded their wingspans and are displaying their fine plumage trying to attract a female environmentalist to share the cache of goat cheese they saved for the father-in-law to be.


Like a midair collision with a tugboat

dang straight I am anti grazing

Am glad you enjoy your tax money going to fund welfare ranchers. When was the last time you were up in the areas where the grazing goes on??? cattle & sheep ruin an area and if your lucky enough to be hiking through an area where they happen to be you just might get lucky enough to get attacked by their guard dog. Over on the Eastern side of the state there is a river that I use to love to fish, well just so happens a slob rancher let his cattle graze right in the stream and you know what, that stream has not been the same since then, it would still be going on if I had not called the poper officials and reported this slob rancher and he had to get his fat butt off his ATV and get his cattle out of the stream. I personally think they should close all deer and elk hunting, let the wolves have at them for the next 10 years untouched and re-introduce grizzly bear up around Arrowrock Res and that will take care of the slob campers. Then in 12 years lets eliminate those non-native mule deer, whitetail deer and Rocky mountain elk and make more room for the native wolves and grizzly bears.


I'm GLAD you no longer love to fish that river in Eastern Idaho.

ha ha.

Feeding cows Ol' Roy again, are we?

Like a midair collision with a tugboat


I left it for you and all your gay fly flinging boys. Have at it.

Kiss your own gluts, Capt. Happymeal.

Like a midair collision with a tugboat