Wolves develop an appetite for beef

  In Montana, ranchers and government officials remain baffled by the Ninemile wolves' appetite for beef. Since April, the wolf pack, originally made famous in Rick Bass's book, The Ninemile Wolves, has been responsible for killing four calves and one 600-pound yearling.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in turn, has been responsible for killing four Ninemile wolves, including the alpha male.


"The alpha male will often be the leader of what is going on. When you remove the alpha male, that prevents him from teaching the rest of the pack," says Joe Fontaine, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana.


This is the first year since the wolves entered the Ninemile area in 1989 that they have attacked so many cows in such a short period of time. Fontaine says the wolves and livestock were coexisting and even intermingling. "That's what is so perplexing about it now. And this area has an adequate prey base," he says.


Landowners who have suffered losses have been compensated by Defenders of Wildlife, the national nonprofit group. But Fontaine says ranchers hate to raise animals for wolves to eat.


Hank Fischer, regional representative of Defenders of Wildlife in Missoula, Mont., says the group is experimenting with guard burros, which have been successfully trained to protect sheep from wolves. Fontaine says other methods haven't worked.


"We've tried a whole wide gamut of things - lithium chloride in hamburger balls, which makes the wolves ill. Lights and sirens, horns, tape on fences, cracker shells," Fontaine says. "You name it; it has been tried."


Nor has relocation worked well. Only one wolf of the 28 that were relocated has lived, Fontaine says.


But Fontaine is optimistic about the depleted Ninemile pack. "If you remove animals from an area, the surviving wolves know instinctively to fill the void," he says. "A good example is the Yellowstone wolves, where a couple of packs had dual litters and one had a triple litter. Usually the alpha male and female are the only ones to have a litter."


Fontaine hopes the Ninemile wolves will rebound, and that the new wolves won't be attracted to livestock.


Copyright © 1998 HCN and Beth Wohlberg

High Country News Classifieds
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes Land Trust, based in Bend, Oregon, seeks a collaborative and strategic Executive Director to lead us in pursuing our mission: to conserve and care...
  • DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
    Job Title: Development Manager Supervisor: Senior Director of Development Effective Date: May 17, 2021 Job Status: Full-time (40 hours/week), exempt Location: Within the Colorado Plateau...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    - The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region - The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Executive Director Reports To: Board of Directors Compensation: $75,000 to $80,000, plus generous benefits and paid leave. Funding for relocation expenses available. Classification:...
  • WATER DIRECTOR
    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Application review will begin on April 2, 2021 and will continue until the position has been filled....
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • VIRGINIA SPENCER DAVIS FELLOWSHIP
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, is offering a fellowship for early-career journalists interested in...
  • COLORADO WILD PUBLIC LANDS VIDEO CONTEST
    Please submit your video of 30 seconds or less, taken on public lands, to [email protected] by May 15th for a chance to win in one...
  • WMAN NETWORK COORDINATOR
    WESTERN MINING ACTION NETWORK (WMAN) CONTRACT OPPORTUNITY CLOSING DATE: Feb. 19, 2021 WMAN is seeking a team member to coordinate the various network activities to...
  • FRIENDS OF THE INYO IS HIRING TRAIL AMBASSADORS FOR THE SUMMER OF 2021
    Friends of the Inyo's Trail Ambassadors (TAs) support the Inyo, Sierra, & Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests and other partners by providing positive public service, outreach, interpretation,...
  • LAND & CABIN ON CO/ UT LINE
    18 ac w/small solar ready cabin. Off grid, no well. Great RV location. Surrounded by state wildlife area and nat'l parks.
  • MANAGER PERMACULTURE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR
    Permaculture / Landscape Company Manager / Site Lead Red Ant Works, Inc. - 20+ year landscape construction and horticultural care company seeks manager and site...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau with lodge, river trip and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance is looking for a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help grow our membership and presence in the Four...
  • ENERGY AND CLIMATE PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    San Juan Citizens Alliance seeks an Energy and Climate Program Associate to focus on public outreach, education and organizing to advance campaigns to mitigate climate...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    This position provides professional real estate services and is responsible for managing and completing real estate projects utilizing a project management database that is designed...
  • WILDFIRE MITIGATION SPECIALIST
    The Wildfire Mitigation Specialist is responsible for delivering wildfire risk mitigation information, recommendations and programmatic resources to wildland urban interface homeowners, community members and partners....
  • DEVELOPMENT POSITIONS
    Thorne Nature Experience is hiring for a Development Director and Senior Individual Giving Manager. Individuals will work collaboratively with Thorne's Executive Director to develop and...
  • SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION & ENERGY
    The National Parks Conservation Association, a 100-year-old nonprofit advocacy organization and the nation's leading voice for national parks seeks a Senior Program Manager, Landscape Conservation...
  • BACKCOUNTRY AND FRONTCOUNTRY STEWARDSHIP CREW MEMBERS
    The San Juan Mountains Association (SJMA) is hiring a crew of ambassadors to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to educate visitors on...