By: Landon Harrar
A wolf pack near Lander is killing livestock, causing concern for ranchers in the area. The pack has seven wolves. More than half are targeted for elimination.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Deputy Field Supervisor Tyler Abbot stated, “We’ve authorized up to four wolves to be lethally taken.”
One rancher who wants to remain anonymous is frustrated he can’t protect his cattle by himself.
“We don’t have the option to protect our livestock by keeping the wolf numbers down, and there is the financial cost of the added surveillance of our cattle and checking on them,” the rancher said.
Ranchers said their biggest concerns aren’t just the killings, but also that the wolves are stressing out their livestock, which affects how much they eat. That means when they go to be sold, they aren’t as valuable because those livestock don’t weigh as much as they should.
Officials hope killing part of the pack will persuade the wolves to leave. Abbot explained, “Often times you can take out a portion of those and that’s enough to disrupt the social structure of the group and cause them to disperse and to leave the area.”
Authorizing the killing of an endangered animal is not a decision made lightly. “It is certainly something that we take very seriously, and I think Wyoming Game and Fish, Wildlife Services are taking this very seriously. It’s a top priority for all of us,” Abbot said.
Some ranchers are losing thousands of dollars, in more ways than one. The unnamed rancher explained his losses. “Time, the stuff I’m not getting done around here, the fuel, the wear and tear on the vehicles, and the stress,” he said.
There must be at least two confirmed wolf kills before any action is even considered by wildlife authorities.
So far, two of the four wolves scheduled to be eliminated have been killed.