BOISE, Idaho (AP) | The number of livestock killed by wolves has declined in Idaho this year, officials say, but the Cascade area defied the trend.
Idaho Wildlife Services investigated 91 wolf livestock killings during fiscal year 2015, down from 107 the year before and 129 in 2013, reported The Capital Press. The number of investigations peaked at 219 in 2009. "They've been trending down for a while, and this trend continued this year," said Wildlife Services Director Todd Grimm.
The number of confirmed and probably wolf-cause deaths to cattle and sheep have also been dropping. Ranching industry leaders said Idaho's more liberal hunting and trapping regulations and the end of federal protection for wolves have contributed to the decrease. "We've got a hunting season going," said Stan Boyd, executive director of Idaho Wool Growers. "Finally, the state is managing its wolf population."
But the Cascade area was an exception to the trend, according to Grimm. Wolves there killed nine cattle this summer, he said, including seven owned by rancher Phil Davis. They didn't bother to feed on the carcasses of Davis' cattle.
Davis said he worries that ranchers don't always realize it's a wolf attack that killed their livestock. "Most often, animals are intact, and they look like they could have died from 100 different things," he said.
Grimm said he plans to use a helicopter to put radio collars on the Cascade-area wolves as soon as there's a blue sky and snow, allowing them to track footprints.
Emmett rancher John Peterson said he lost 54 sheep during an Aug. 6 wolf attack, more than any other rancher this year. He hadn't lost an animal since Wildlife Services removed a troublesome wolf pack in 2013.
Despite the attack, Peterson said he's encouraged that there are no longer wolf dens near his grazing territory.