Twin Peaks Pack Update:
There have been a lot of news stories lately surrounding the Twin Peaks pack in Central Idaho. The following is information provided to us by Ed Bangs, leader of the wolf recovery efforts in the Northern Rockies. This was sent to us on March 21st, 2000.
Here is the situation as I understand it; I don’t have dates, etc. for all this, but this is the best I can do off the top of my head. It is pretty close to what happened:
The Twin Peaks Pack near Clayton, Idaho reportedly chased some young horses and then killed a calf. WS (Wildlife Services) confirmed the calf was killed by the wolves (no dog ever was suspected of killing any of the calves) and that the Twin Peaks pack was nearby. WS, at the direction of the [Fish and Wildlife] Service killed 3 wolves. The producer (rancher) reported the wolves still there and [that they] continued to frequent the area and supposedly chased some horses again, but this was not confirmed. The Service directed WS to remove another wolf, which they did. The rancher involved did shoot his dog and left it lay[ing] out in the field because he caught it chasing his cattle. This rancher returned a check for $1,000 that Defenders (of Wildlife) sent him for the first calf. Remember [that] the Defenders [compensation] program is private and independent of agency control descisions. The wolves did not kill the dog, but apparently they did maul the carcass the next day-I’m not sure, that was ever confirmed, but it really doesn’t matter, this had nothing to do with the control descisions.
Radio frequencies indicated the alpha female was still in the area and liklely other pack members. The pack was now believed to be the alpha pair and 2-4 others. A wait and see approach was taken. A radio [collar] activated scare device was put on site and it had a counter that activated when the wolves got close enough to set it off-which was almost daily. Wolves remained in the area, but it appeared that the scare device kept them off of the pasture with livestock while the calves were very confined. But as more calves were being born and cattle were moved to other pastures, the device couldn’t be as effective, plus the animals get used to these types of devices over time.
On the 11th (of March), another calf was confirmed killed [by wolves] and the alpha pair were captured and relocated to the Selway Wilderness. The male had a [previously] broken canine tooth but the vet that looked at it said the best thing was to release him-nothing could be done to improve it. The alpha female was pregnant and these type of [immobilization drugs used in the capture] have been safely used on pregnant females, so we anticipate she will give birth this spring. Also, two sub-adults, male and female (the remainder of the Jureano pack near Salmon, ID), had been hanging around a dairy for the past couple of months. They were also captured and relocated to the Selway area, but dropped off at a different airstrip. Anyway, at that point, a wait and see approach was taken.
This last week (the week of March 14th) another calf was found severly wounded (within the past couple of days, so it was hurt after the wolves were relocated) by wolves and tracks of at least two wolves were found. No radio [collars] remain in the pack so the Service descision was made to try to radio [collar] a wolf, turn it loose, then remove [kill] the remaining pack members. The next day another calf was killed and wolf tracks found. Just a day or so ago another calf was killed, and a wolf (subadult) was captured (Sunday, March 19th) at the same pasture. It was collared and turned loose. WS is flying today to see if it has joined up with the other pack members (suspect there are just two, but there could be more). When it has joined up with them, all the remaining members of the pack will be killed.
I think the total now is 4-5 calves confirmed (all on private land), 4 wolves killed, 2 moved, and soon another 2-4 wolves will be killed. I fully expect that other wolves will recolonize this area within the next year or two. Since 1987 we have had to remove 5 other packs that kept attacking livestock after various control measures had been applied. Wolves aren’t allowed to keep attacking livestock.
The radio collars that people donate are all in the Yellowstone area, not here [in Idaho]. But there is some chance that a wolf’s collar will be used to locate it if it is involved in a lovestock conflict. We radio[collar] wolves anyway, but having more radio [collars] (because the public helps) generally means that any control done targets the individuals most likely responsible and thereby reduces the chance for further depredation and the need for even more wolf removal. I believe that the radio [collars] save the lives of more wolves than they remove. The bottom line is that wolves that attack livestock are not tolerated whether they are radio [collared] or not. Radio [collars] just make any control less disruptive (i.e. allows the use of radio [collar] activated scare devices which worked for a while, or offers a better guess of which individuals in a pack may have been involved in attacking livestock.)