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U.S. Fish And Wildlife Plans To Kill All 16 In Dell Creek Wolf Pack

Gary Kramer - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

UPDATE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service killed 9 of the 16 wolves in the Dell Creek wolf pack and ceased their extermination once the pack stopped killing cattle in the area. To learn more about the pack and wolf management in Wyoming, click here.

A wolf pack in Western Wyoming has been evading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after killing as many as ten cattle this winter.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator Mike Jimenez says efforts to reduce the pack size failed to stop livestock killing and now the plan is to kill all 16 wolves in the pack. He says it’s the second wolf pack in the area to cause problems. Just last month, another pack killed 19 adult elk at a feeding ground. Jimenez says the problem is wolf populations have filled up all the more remote areas where they conflict less with people.

“Now they’ve expanded into some of these marginal areas that are on the interface, if you will, between forest and ranchland. And those kind of areas are not suitable for wolves.”

Jimenez says they’ve been using aerial gunning to shoot the wolves but the animals have learned to hide in the trees at the sound of planes arriving.

“Yeah, wolves are very smart,” he says. “We usually use aerial gunning is how we do it and wolves aren’t any different than any other animal. A plane comes over and wolves pick that up and are aware of that and if they’re not in the trees, they head for the trees.”

He says it’s a priority to kill the remaining 11 wolves in the Dell Creek Pack, because ranchers are in the midst of calving in the area.

Jimenez says livestock killing by wolves is pretty rare. He says they use aerial gunning since the species is still protected as endangered and can’t be hunted to control their numbers.

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.
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