The wolf shot on Gene Hussey's remote ranch south of Salmon, Idaho, trotted to her death just nine days after federal biologists set her free in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
B13 parted from 14 other transplanted
wolves to travel some 60 miles alone, leaving the wilderness and
entering Hussey's pasture where she came upon cattle. Hussey
discovered the shot wolf Jan. 28, three miles from his house. It
was lying in blood, its nose just inches from a dead calf (HCN,
Before Hussey notified federal
authorities, he arranged to videotape his walk through the kill
site with a local veterinarian, Bob Cope. "Whoever shot it probably
thought it was a coyote," Hussey said then, "and I think anybody
who killed it would be a damn fool to admit it."
If Hussey or his representative had killed the
wolf in the act of wounding or killing his livestock on private
property, it would have been considered legal under the Endangered
Species Act, as long as authorities were notified within 24
If the wolf was killed eating a dead calf,
then the shooting would have been illegal and the penalty as much
as one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
happened? It depends on which experts you listen
In and around Salmon, the question is usually
answered this way: The wolf pulled down a live calf; the "feds'
doctored the necropsy to make a legal act look
Locals still talk about Hussey's
videotape, which seems to show the calf's lungs had been inflated,
indicating it was born alive. When Layne Bangerter, a local Animal
Damage Control officer, examined the body, he says he found the
calf showed some hemorrhaging on three of its four legs as well as
on the throat. Bangerter also says the calf had ingested its
But a later necropsy by Richard
Stroud, who works at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's forensics
lab in Ashland, Ore., found "no evidence that the calf was killed
by the wolf." Stroud found the lungs were poorly inflated and the
calf's tissues showed no sign of hemorrhage. Evidence of hemorrhage
would indicate that the calf's heart had been beating when the wolf
tore into its abdomen. Stroud found no bruising in the neck,
either. His conclusion: although the calf was born alive, it died
shortly thereafter of causes related to birthing. The wolf
"scavenged the carcass," concluded Stroud, and that means whoever
killed the wolf broke the law.
believes no one will ever know what happened on Hussey's ranch.
"Can we prove the wolf killed the calf? No. Can they prove the wolf
didn't kill the calf? No," said Cope. "Ain't nobody going to come
up with the answer to it."
Some good news came
out of the brouhaha. Wolf recovery team leader Ted Koch says
cooperation between his agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
and Sheriff Brett Barsalou "has been excellent."
Hussey, who believes no law was broken on his
land, has asked the federal government to reimburse him $500 for
the loss of his calf to a reintroduced wolf. He is represented by
the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative group in
* Candace Burns,