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Current News & Issues: Wolves

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Reprinted with permission from Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report for Boulder-White Clouds Council. View the original posting at http://www.forwolves.org/ralph/stanley-3wolves.htm.

Shot Fired in Memorial Day Stanley Wolf Incident
May 30, 2007
Story & Photos by Lynne Stone

The Nieder Arrow-A Ranch just south of Stanley where a wolf chased a cow elk on Memorial Day 2006. Lynne Stone photo.
The Nieder Arrow-A Ranch just south of Stanley where a wolf chased a cow elk on Memorial Day 2006.

Around noon on Sunday, a gray wolf was seen chasing a cow elk through Jay Nieder's pasture just south of Stanley. An eyewitness reported that the cow elk jumped into the swollen Salmon River and started swimming for the west shore, only its head visible in the high water. This was about a half-mile south of what's locally called the "Walmart Parking Lot" [because of its size. There is no Walmart]. At one point the wolf followed the elk into the river, but then turned back to wait on the east bank, in full view of a gathering group of people.

Cows and calves newly arrived for the grazing season on the Nieder Ranch near Stanley. May 2006. Lynne Stone photo.
Cows and calves newly arrived for the grazing season on the Nieder Ranch near Stanley. May 2006.

A pick-up truck came out of the Nieder ranch to Highway 75 and drove up to where people were watching the wolf watch the elk. Two men got out. One had a rifle. The eyewitness I spoke to recognized one of the men, but until authorities have a chance to investigate, I'd rather not name him. The report is that a rifle shot was fired off the highway shoulder, across the river, apparently to scare the wolf away from the elk. The wolf flinched, turned tail and ran off through Nieder's pasture. The eye witness commented that if the shooter had wanted to kill the wolf, it would have been an easy shot. Rather, the shot scared the wolf off. It is illegal to shoot from a public highway.. One occupant of the pick-up truck was also blaring the horn which likely scared only the elk, not the wolf.

The elk, which was growing exhausted from swimming in the deep, fast current finally opted to return to the east bank to avoid all the humans and blaring horn on the west bank. The elk climbed out of the river, went over the log fence into Nieder's pasture and trotted away. The wolf had disappeared into the foothills. A four-wheeler and an older pick-up truck was then seen going up the Nieder ranch road to where the wolf disappeared.

The Salmon River, Highway 75 and Nieders pasture where one wolf was chasing an elk, May 2006. Lynne Stone photo.
The Salmon River, Highway 75 and Nieders pasture where one wolf was chasing an elk, May 2006.

At least two of the event's eye-witnesses live and work near Stanley. There was no law enforcement at the scene, but Idaho Fish & Game has been notified. The wolf was chasing the cow elk through a pasture that had about 30 head of cattle including a dozen young calves. The cattle went on grazing, unbothered by the wolf-elk chase. In all, there are about 125 head of cattle now on Nieder's, including about 50 young calves.

There are no other cattle anywhere yet in the Stanley area as it was a long winter, late Spring, pastures are still soggy and the grass is just starting to grow and get some height. But since Nieder and his son-in-law Nate Helms are outspoken in their opposition to wolves, it's not surprising to me that cows, some with very small calves ("wolf bait as locals call them") came on early. The Memorial Day wolf was only interested in the cow elk. This might not be the case in the future as veal on the hoof is a much easier meal. Ed. comment. Wolves are rarely more interested in cattle than in elk if elk is what they have learned to hunt. However, they can easily become interested in cow calves because, unlike older cattle, calves run (a signal to wolves that they are potential prey).

The Salmon River, Idaho's famous "River of No Return", in late May 2006 adjacent to the Nieder ranch. Wolves and elk cross the river, even at high Spring run-off. Lynne Stone photo.
The Salmon River, Idaho's famous "River of No Return", in late May 2006 adjacent to the Nieder ranch. Wolves and elk cross the river, even at high Spring run-off.
 

"The Perfect (wolf) Storm is brewing in Stanley." (John Robison, Boise, said this during a recent wolf field trip.) The first wave was May 4th, when Ron Gillett took his rifle into Nieder's pasture where a wolf was eating a calf elk. Today's incident is the second. and more will surely follow.
 

THANKS TO RALPH MAUGHAN FOR EDITING THE PHOTOS FOR THESE STORIES!

 

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