Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 30th, 2009
When an Ashton, Idaho, rancher reported three of his calves were killed, possibly by a wolf, the Idaho Fish and Game Department and federal Wildlife Services personnel quickly responded and investigated, reports investigative journalist Joyce Edlefsen.
The results: Some type of large canid (member of the dog family) killed the three calves south of Ashton Friday night, April 23, 2009, according to a Fish and Game news release. But officials aren’t ready to pin these killings on a wolf.
After being contacted by the livestock owner to investigate the incident, a Fish and Game officer contacted Wildlife Services.
An investigation of the scene confirmed that a single track of a lone large dog-like animal belonged to the animal responsible for killing the calves.
A live trap was baited and set at the site Saturday night, April 25.
A wolf seemed to be the chief suspect, but a large gray malamute dog was captured in the trap Saturday night. The trap was baited again and set, but no other animals were caught in the trap the following two nights.
While it cannot be confirmed that the dog killed these calves, a neighbor reported that he had shot at the same gray malamute that had been chasing his livestock earlier on the same night that the three calves were killed, the Fish and Game says.
“I think it is important for everyone to realize that anytime an incident occurs that could be related to wolves that it will be investigated thoroughly,” Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Steve Schmidt says.
While wolves are known to prey on livestock, statistics indicate that the numbers of livestock killed by domestic dogs allowed to run loose totals several hundred in Idaho each year.
Wolves have been blamed on at least three attacks on dogs and for harassing a herd of horses in the Ashton area in the past two years.
Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries says the trapped malamute was taken to the St. Anthony dog pound and kept until the owner was located. The dog was released to the owner.
As per state code, the owner was served a letter indicating his dog was found running at large. The letter informs the owner of the state code and warns him if the dog is found running at large again, the owner will get a ticket.
Humphries says there is no way of proving the dog was to blame for the death of the calves, or that some other animal is to blame.
But he did say his office has had several complaints this spring of dogs running at large and has served several letters similar to the one served in this most recent case.
The complaints have come from all over the county, from Egin to Chester to Ashton, Humphries says.
While this case presents the most serious accusation against a dog running at loose, loose dogs also have been accused of chasing mares to the point of causing them to abort colts, the sheriff says.
He’s discovered many people are unaware of the state law against allowing dogs to run loose.
As far as wolves go, the Fish and Game encourages people to report possible wolf sightings and to find out more about wolves.