Agency kills wolf by mistake

  While the federal government was spending millions of dollars restoring wolves to central Idaho, one of its agencies was killing a wolf nearby. The federal Animal Damage Control program accidentally killed one of the endangered wolves in a coyote trap near Priest River, Idaho, in early February. The trap was an M-44, a baited, spring-loaded device that sprays sodium cyanide into the mouth and nose of its victim. Because the device is so lethal, it is illegal in areas occupied by endangered species. "There's no way we knew or could have known that there were wolves in the area," says the ADC's Jeff Green. But Forest Service biologist Tim Layser told the Spokane Spokesman-Review in January that he knew of three confirmed wolf sightings in northern Idaho in the last 12 months. Tom Skeele of the Bozeman, Mont.-based Predator Project was outraged. "The (Fish and Wildlife) Service is certainly well aware of the ability of wolves to travel great distances in a short period of time, and that any of the wolves known to exist in northern Idaho could easily find its way to the precise place where ADC killed the wolf," he says. Another wolf died of exposure six months ago in western Montana when it was caught in a leghold trap for coyotes.

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