FARSON -- Federal
wildlife officials are investigating a case of
nearly 30 head of dead domestic sheep near the
Prospect Mountains east of here.
Their owner suspects they were killed by wolves.
Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
said Monday that because the sheep carcasses had
been in place for up to 10 days, it was proving
"very difficult to find out what's going on."
Jimenez said, "I have no idea what's going on."
Services specialists were in the area over the
weekend and earlier this week to investigate, but
they had not yet made a determination, according
The sheep belong to Wyoming Stock Growers
Association executive Jim Magagna. He explained
that the small herd of sheep, which included late
lambers that weren't moved to the high country,
was in a small fence pasture consisting of mostly
private land. Being in a contained area next to
the road, this herd is not tended to by a herder,
Magagna said. Ranch workers drive by and can see
the herd and every few weeks enter the pasture to
replenish the salt for the animals.
On Aug. 2, a ranch worker counted 49 head of sheep
in the pasture, including 30 ewes and 19 lambs,
Magagna said. A week ago, the worker drove by and
could see the sheep in the pasture and thought
everything appeared to be in order.
Then last week, the worker entered the pasture to
find most of the sheep dead. He loaded the 16
sheep that were still alive and unharmed and
hauled them to the ranch. Magagna entered the
pasture Friday, photographing 28 individual dead
sheep, most of which were pretty decomposed, he
Magagna contacted federal officials, who entered
the area to investigate over the weekend, he said.
Magagna suspects wolf depredation. This herd is in
the same area where a female wolf gave birth to
pups on a domestic sheep lambing ground this
spring, only to begin preying on the sheep herd.
Wildlife Services killed the female wolf and four
of her six pups, but a male wolf and the remaining
two pups were never found. Fish and Wildlife had
expected that the pups were too young to survive
on their own.
With nearly 30 dead sheep, some with whole
quarters moved away from the rest of the carcasses
and completely cleaned, Magagna said, "I can't
think of anything else that would have caused
Jimenez repeated that it is "very difficult" to
try to determine if wolves killed the sheep
because the carcasses are decomposed. He said
Wildlife Services would soon return to the area to
continue the investigation.
In other wolf news, a wolf has been confirmed as
killing a ewe and lamb in the Hams Fork River area
near Kemmerer, Jimenez said. Wildlife Services has
been authorized to kill one wolf. The canine
culprit appears to be alone and is not wearing a
radio collar, Jimenez said, but has been in an
open area where it can be killed.