This past weekend, on July 4, an ewe sheep was killed near the Phantom Hill wolf pups on public land. Wildlife managers are blaming the Phantoms for the kill.
The predation of this sheep could have been prevented. The band of sheep to which the ewe belonged was grazed right over top of the Phantom Hill wolf pups on a ridge immeditely above where the pups were residing within a stand of aspen.
Wolf predation that takes place when grazing sheep on public land is not the fault of the wolves, in almost every instance it is a consequence of poor public land livestock management.
You can do something to prevent livestock/wolf conflict in the future. Public land managers can and should take steps to prevent conflict like this from occuring again, but they need to know that this is what the public wants. Here are a few solutions that WWP is working on to ensure the well-being of central Idaho wolves. You can help.
1. If sheep are to graze public lands that belong to all of us for a mere fraction (27 cents per sheep/month - lambs are free) of what it costs to graze on private pasture, then it is entirely reasonable for the public to insist that land managers exercize their authority to ensure the prevention of livestock/wolf conflict.
Public land managers can write preventative provisions right into the terms & conditions of a permit to use public lands, similar to how a landlord might set a condition that a tenet keep the yard maintained should a tenet wish to rent a property.
Here are a few suggestions for public land managers to consider :
* Livestock will not be trailed or grazed within 2 miles of known wolf pack's rendezvous sites, den sites, or known places where wolves regularly gather
* Permittees will maintain an adequate number of guard dogs and herders to reasonably prevent conflict from occurring
* Permittees will direct herders to bed down sheep and deploy fladry, sound-boxes and/or other devices known to deter wolves from approaching sheep
* Permittees will direct herders to sleep near the flock of sheep to ensure herders are aware should conflict arise, and able to do something about it
It may seem hard to believe, but these simple wolf-saving management conditions are not being included on leases to use our public land.
2. Western Watersheds Project has partnered with the Western Wolf Coalition to legally challenge the delisting of Northern Rocky Mountain wolves. We believe that it is entirely innappropriate, and legally indefensible, for the federal government to hand management of wolves over to state land managers who get their political orders, and have crafted their state management plans, in the interest of visceral and intolerant public land ranchers rather than in the interest of the public at large.
3. WWP is considering litigating several sheep grazing decisions on public lands in central Idaho. Grazing sheep in central Idaho is environmentally indefensible for many reasons including conflicts with wolves, negative impacts to native vegetation that wildlife use, the spread of fatal disease from domestic to bighorn sheep, the spread of weeds, and the risk of transmission of Q Fever to humans. When WWP is succesful at reducing or eliminating public land domestic sheep grazing for private profit on public lands, wolves will enjoy a much wider home range without the threat of conflict caused by domestic livestock.
4. Ultimately, Western Watersheds Project works to help end public lands ranching in the West, a commercial public land-use exclusively enjoyed by a few politically priveleged people and corporations who have succesfully maintained a cowboy myth. Public lands ranching is the largest contributor to the imperilment of native wildlife and plantlife in the country (on par with mining and logging combined), the largest source of weed spread and water pollution in the west, the largest cause of landscape desertification and it is a land use that has ceased to contribute any significant economic or ecological justification in the 21st Century.
Ending public lands ranching will end government justifications to kill wolves and other native predators in the American West.