FARSON -- Although
Gov. Dave Freudenthal has asked that the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service remove a pair of wolves from
a domestic sheep lambing ground near here, it's
doubtful the agency will comply with the request.
Freudenthal's letter to the U.S. Interior
Department referred to the presence the wolves as
"the latest predicament," noting that the Fish and
Wildlife Service had halted its efforts to capture
and collar the animals. Fish and Wildlife reported
that recent snowfall hindered capture efforts, so
trapping was stopped.
"While I am very skeptical of the excuse for
suspending the capture and collaring of the
wolves, I believe that a better and more reasoned
approach would recognize the inevitability that
the wolves will become ‘problem' wolves and will
ultimately have to be removed," Freudenthal wrote.
"In my view, it would be in the best interest of
the wolves, the Service, producers and livestock
to capture and not only collar, but relocate the
wolves prior to their establishing a den."
Freudenthal continued: "To me, this is akin to
small children playing at a railroad crossing.
Peril is certainly in the absence of active
supervision. This is a change for the Service to
be responsible and proactively manage wolves in a
way that, in the end, will preclude fatal take of
wolves and livestock depredation."
to Fish and Wildlife's removal of five wolves in
the Daniel pack earlier this year when the animals
repeatedly killed livestock, but added "wolf
management is not relegated to such isolated and
single decisions; rather it is an active and daily
Fish and Wildlife, in its weekly wolf report,
expressed dismay at the interest in the Farson
wolf situation, noting, "For some reason this
fairly routine situation for us has received
considerable media attention, some misinformed
rhetoric, and even requests that these ‘suspected'
potentially problem wolves be ‘preemptively'
The agency pledged to closely monitor the
situation, adding, "If there are wolf depredations
on legally present livestock in that area, we will
deal with those situations as they develop -- just
as we always have -- including lethal removal of
wolves if ultimately necessary."
Last Thursday, one of the sheep producers in the
area heard a wolf howl, and on Friday two wolves
were reportedly seen chasing sheep on the lambing
In an interview Monday afternoon, Wolf Recovery
Coordinator Ed Bangs of Helena, Mont., said he
hadn't yet received a copy of Freudenthal's
letter, but did receive a similar letter from
Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director John
Etchepare. Bangs said federal rules allow the
agency to move wolves only if there is a problem.
Noting that every pack of wolves in Wyoming
outside Yellowstone National Park is in contact
with livestock, Bangs said, "This situation is
really no different than any other one we've dealt
Bangs said he doesn't believe that wolves on a
lambing ground is unique, citing numerous other
examples in Montana and Idaho, all of which
involved instances of wolves preying on sheep and
the eventual removal of some of the wolves.
Bangs said current efforts are focused on trying
to capture and collar any wolves in the area.
"If there is depredations, that will also be our
first response. … If there were continued
problems, then we'd look at removal or some kind
of action," he said.
Bangs also cast doubt on whether there is actually
a pregnant wolf in the area. He said a report of a
pregnant wolf being seen in the area last week is
too late in the year to be accurate. Bangs called
it "very puzzling" and "pretty weird."
Bangs did concur that if there really is a pair of
wolves denning on a lambing ground with thousands
of domestic sheep, "I think there will be a
Bangs suggested continued compromise is in order,
instead of calls to remove livestock from public
lands in the area, or for calls to rid the area of