November 15, 2003
Nov. 2003 -- The 1994 Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) written by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) on the reintroduction of the gray wolf into Yellowstone and central Idaho projected an annual loss of 57 sheep in Idaho. But in one problem area, a staggering 90 sheep have been killed by wolves during just the past few months.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture?s Wildlife Services (WS) confirmed that 51 of the sheep, discovered between Sept. 15-19, 2003, near Burgdorf, fell prey to at least one pair of reproductive wolf adults in the area. WS further reported that the kill may be the largest number of sheep killed by wolves at one location.
Wolves that kill large numbers of sheep for pleasure are becoming an escalating problem in the northern Rockies recovery area.
?When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the EIS in 1994, it projected that the 66 wolves reintroduced into Yellowstone and central Idaho would increase to 129 wolves by the end of 2002,? said Tom McDonnell, director of natural resources and policy for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). ?A current count shows a minimum of 660 wolves, in about 80 packs, inhabiting the northern Rockies recovery area at the end of 2002. This is five times higher than the EIS projection.
?The original estimation of occupied habitat, according to the EIS, was 4,500 square miles. At the end of 2002, the actual habitat exceeded 100,000 square miles,? continued McDonnell. ?Wolves have been documented 300 miles to the south and 200 miles to the east of the original planned recovery area. Oregon, Washington and Utah have also documented instances of wolves migrating out of the recovery areas and into their states.?