Friday, July 29, 2011

Wolves Move From Endangered to Hunted in Rural Montana

Earlier this month, a black wolf attacked and killed one of Rick Sandru's calves as it grazed on a forest allotment in the upper Ruby Valley above his southwest Montana ranch. As the wolf feasted on the 400-pound carcass, a range rider fired a shot, maiming the wolf and sending it scurrying into the woods, leaving behind a trail of blood. The calf was one of countless livestock Sandru and other Montana ranchers lose each year to wolves, coyotes, grizzlies, black bear and mountain lions that prowl these mountain ranges. What was different about this month's kill is that Sandru for the first time was able to prove it to federal agents. A worker hung the cow carcass up in a tree and returned the next day with a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to verify the cause of death. Sandru was compensated for the calf, and a scavenger, likely a bear, tore the carcass from the tree a day later, an easy morsel. "That's one wolf that we don't have to worry about," said Sandru, a third-generation rancher who wears a cowboy hat and a mustache and whose cattle graze sun-swept pastures among pronghorn, elk and sage grouse. "But I'm sure it has a lot of friends." Indeed, wolf depredations are a fact of life for Sandru and other ranchers in the Ruby Valley. Many, if not most, wolf kills can never be proven because the wounded animals just disappear into the woods and don't return. Some cattle are found dead, but cannot be proven as wolf-killed. Sandru said a calf was killed a couple of years ago by a wolf that grabbed it by its face, crushed its skull, gave it a shake and broke its neck. "They're killing machines," said Sandru of the wolves. "I don't have anything against any animal, but I have a lot against the Endangered Species Act when it doesn't consider its impacts on the people."...more

Sure glad that NY Times headline-writer put "rural" in the headline, otherwise many may have thought they were huntin' wolves in "urban" areas.

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