July 29, 2004

Feds Investigating Confirmed Wolf Attack Near McCall

By Jon Hanian and Melinda O'Malley mailto:MelindaO@kbcitv.com

North of McCall, ID - Idaho Two News has learned that federal authorities are investigating a wolf attack in an area near McCall that has been a hotbed of recent wolf attacks.

Federal wildlife officials spent Wednesday evening near McCall and confirmed this second attack in less than a month. A USDA Wildlife Services official Todd Grim tells Idaho 2 News there were 2 or 3 different sets of tracks found in the area where the sheep were attacked. 21 of the sheep were severely wounded, 14 more are missing, one guard dog was wounded and another is missing.

Grim said he would be surprised if they were required to take out the entire pack due to this attack, but the US Fish & Wildlife Service will decide what course of action to take.

Last week, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service authorized the killing of a pack of nine wolves just north of McCall after authorities linked them to the slaughter of more than 100 sheep. Those wolves were tracked by radio collar and shot by U.S. Department of Agriculture employees who were hunting them from a helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.

The wolves have re-established themselves in Idaho. Since 1995 when the U.S. Government freed 35 Canadian wolves and re-introduced them to Idaho, their numbers have grown to 356 known wolves.

Federal officials say the growing number of wolves is leading to larger losses of sheep and cattle. Federal authorities say more packs could be taken out according to Mark Collinge of the USDA Wildlife Service Program. "Things don't progress to this step until a lot of the non-lethal things have been tried which in this case (last week) many non lethal things were tried and the wolves persisted in killing in spite of those efforts."

Federal officials told Idaho Two News last week that they were considering destroying two more wolf packs in that area that have been killing livestock despite non-lethal efforts to deter them.