Another Oregon Wolf Lost to Idaho Hunter

On a hot August day in 2006 a grey wolf from the Timberline pack was captured and collared northeast of Boise by Idaho Fish and Wildlife biologists. She was given the title B300, but two years later this wolf traversed the Snake River into Oregon where she became known as Sophie, the alpha female of the Imnaha pack and mother to at least a dozen pups, including the world renowned Journey.

Sophie

Sophie

Video: Sophie traversing the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in January 2008

A week ago, only ten miles from where Sophie was originally tranquilized and collared, OR 16, an 85 pound yearling black wolf from Oregon’s Walla Walla pack, was shot and killed by an Idaho elk hunter.

OR 16 was born in the spring of 2011. His pack is one of the most north-easterlymap packs in Oregon and they also travel into Washington. OR 16 was captured and fitted with a GPS collar on November 1, 2012 north of Elgin (no known relationship to my family, but I wish I could lay claim to the historic Elgin Opera House). He dispersed on December 19, traveled nearly 50 miles to the state border where he crossed the Snake River, or perhaps trotted across the dam at the Brownlee Reservoir, into the shooting grounds of Idaho.

It didn’t take OR 16 long to find prime wolf habitat. Kirkham Ridge, an area 70 miles north of Boise, is full of elk. He was just south of there, near Edna Creek, when he was shot. Not only do wolves find this location a sweet spot, hunters do as well. Dirt bike trails give them easy access to the ridge, and the highway that runs between Boise and Stanley is a popular place to pick out potential trophies. The Idaho Department of Fish and Wildlife (IDFW) flies helicopters over the area to radio collar wolves and elk. No doubt hunters coordinate their outings with these choppers, eliminating a great deal of leg work in locating their prey. Some speculate there is communication between IDFW and the hunters on the whereabouts of wolves. In this high tech world of killing, coupled with an  irrational hatred of wolves, not even the most cunning of animals stand a chance.

Kirkham Ridge trail

Kirkham Ridge trail

Nothing has surfaced online as to who shot OR 16, but the hide of the young wolf was checked in at Boise, per protocol. His GPS collar will be returned to Oregon. Rumor has it OR 16 was traveling with a buddy, a wolf recently collared by IDFW.

OR 16 is the second Oregon wolf to be killed in Idaho within a year. OR 9, a litter-mate of Journey, was shot by a hunter with an expired tag on February 2, 2012.

OR 9, killed near Emmett, Idaho

OR 9, killed near Emmett, Idaho

I wish we could keep our Oregon wolves home, or at least steer them south if they insist on traveling. Although the future is uncertain for wolves everywhere, it looks a little brighter for those residing in Oregon and California. This optimism is due in part to the Pacific Wolf Coalition, formed last month by 25 environmentally-conscious organizations from Oregon, Washington and California, all committed to wolf recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

Another reason to feel hopeful for Oregon wolves is because of the July 2012 lawsuit brought against the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) by Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, and Center for Biological Diversity. (Correction here, by Rob Klavins of Oregon Wild: “Though our four groups have brought legal challenges against the state in the past, HCPC was not a part of the most legal challenge that was filed in October of 2011, not July of 2012.”)

This lawsuit has, so far, blocked the ODFW ordered lethal removal of two Imnaha pack wolves that were implicated in livestock predation. Since this action, the wolf population in Oregon has increased to 53, however, livestock predations have dropped. In Wallowa County, 2012 reimbursement for wolf predation claims by livestock producers are estimated to be only about $8,000, 60% less than in 2011. Although there is no definitive answer as to why, it appears the non-lethal measures ranchers were forced to resort to once the option of killing wolves was removed are proving successful.

OR 16

OR 16

Another wolf dead, nearly a thousand shot or trapped since the species was federally delisted in April of 2011. Yet there remains hope that there are places where wolves are understood and valued as the intelligent and valuable creatures they are. Let’s support the Pacific Wolf Coalition and its entities, and continue to speak out against atrocities such as the loss of OR 16. Perhaps Oregon and California will spearhead a way of living with wolves that is more evolved than Idaho and other states that chose ruthless slaughter over science and morality.

38 thoughts on “Another Oregon Wolf Lost to Idaho Hunter

  1. When oh when are they going to HEAVILY PENALIZE hunters who shoot collared animals?? It’s enraging, really, that they can get away with this. I’m very glad to see the formation of a coalition involving a healthy number of organizations (which only seem to be from the western regions unfortunately). Strength in numbers. Nice coverage of this story, Beckie.

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    • HI Gail. Hopefully, the Pacific Wolf Coalition will be the first in a series of local organizations that work together for a better future for wolves. I envision a large, nationwide organization that has clout enough to enact change specifically for wolves. Like the NRA, except on the other side. There are so many great groups out there already. Perhaps working together more and more will raise their mutual voices to a level where they will be heard, and cannot be ignored.

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    • I agree. Gun control would not only save human lives, but animals as well. I know how controversial this issue is. I’ve gotten into some heated discussions with some close friends about guns. Yet the sacrifice of handing over arms is clearly (at least to me) a step toward less violence in our world.

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  2. As usual Beckie you have given light to yet another soul lost to senseless, hateful killing. As we continue this fight for our wolves in this political season here in Montana I am trying to stay focused on the big picture — hard to do with so much crazy, and hate being inked out on house bills across the region, but we must stay focused on what we know we can accomplish for wolves in the future. We continue to place names on an imaginary plaque that give us fire in our hearts to continue this battle, so that these magnificent animals like YNP’s 06, 472, 829, 824, 823, 754 and OR 9 and 16 (among so many others) will not have died in vein. Thank you for bringing these stories to us all, and in such a way that we can “feel” them.

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  3. I knew the minute that this information went public…….it would seal the fate of this unfortunate wolf! To make matters worse the anti wolf herd were pulling out all the stops to kill OR16. Cant find the words that these individuals feel to do such a thing!

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    • Agreed, Marc. Whenever I see a location I make it a point to never “forward” or “share”. Kind of naive to think we all have the best interest of wildlife at heart.

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    • I can’t find the words either, Marc. Part of me really wants to understand their reasons and motivations but I just don’t think I ever will. It’s amazing to me how different people can be in this world/ Some, like yourself, are so willing to help and protect while others only wish to kill and destroy. I do wish we could reach those people, try to find a way to decrease their anger and pain.

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  4. Living in England, there are a few things that I don’t and probably will never understand about life in the U.S.A. Guns and their enormous popularity. The quantity of them owned by US citizens is to me, truly staggering. The number of deaths attributed to them is also staggering and heartbreaking, whoever should be the victim. Personally I see only one use for a gun. It maims or kills. It could be argued quite well that they protect and put the fear of God into anyone wishing to do harm to another too, which probably reflects back on us where we are as a species.

    I understand a country brought up on a moral code which seems to have been built on ‘every man for himself’ and that the freedoms given by this code have brought about the most amazing advancements to the whole world. Of course there has been a price to pay. There always is.

    Of course I do realise that not every American chooses to believe in the power or status of a gun, let alone own one and that there are many who do who are good and responsible citizens. I must not generalise and I get the feeling that after the terrible slaughter of those children in December, change maybe upon America, though God knows it will be a hard struggle. Too may interested parties seem to have to much influence where it really matters. All the same I wish Obama et al all the best.

    Just about everyone who had access to a writing medium of any sort, wanted to comment on what happened at that school in December, including me. I found it difficult to make sense of it and so did my writing quite frankly. Just as I find it as hard to make sense of what has been going on this past 12 months with the slaughter of wolves.

    It was only a couple of weeks ago that I found the words I was looking for. They were not my words. They were spoken many years ago by a man who himself became the victim of a gun. The words were spoken by Bobby Kennedy the day after Martin Luther King was shot and killed. Bobby wrote the speech himself, the only one ever apparently. It is heartfelt, full of emotion and a yearning for a better world, a better America, a better understanding. The mindless menace of violence was its theme. I will not reproduce it all here, it would not be appropriate, but here is a link to the speech in full.

    I am someone interested in Joseph Campbell, a man who spent 60 years studying the great Myths, stories and heroes of the world and their significance to ancient peoples and their relevance to us now. One great hero who passed recently was Neil Armstrong. He took the Hero’s journey, all through his life. Modestly and without craving fame and fortune he went about his daily ledger, no comet that blazed a trail and then burned itself out. He went to the Moon and reflected back on ourselves the best of who we are, so that we could see ourselves in a better light, a brighter light that shines on an understanding of who we are and why we are here.

    Heroes follow a pattern of sorts. Whether they are like Armstrong or like the humble man at Cape Canaveral back in the sixties, who when asked by a visiting John Kennedy what he was doing as he swept the floor, replied,

    “Mr. President, I’m helping to put a man on the Moon.”

    It seems that what the hunting community, or at least those that cut down the wolf, have created that are Heroes too. Though of course, not heroes to most people, perhaps more anti-heroes. But within their own circle, whether family, friends, gun clubs, hunting fraternity’s, on-line, the local bar, fur trader or anyone who will listen to their stories of derring-do, they see themselves as heroes.

    They leave their ordinary world, they take up the call or challenge, they take with them their supernatural aid, their gun and their old ancient beliefs, and they go into the dark forest along a road of trials which tests them and transforms them,. They then experience an apostasis, a death, when they make a kill, by doing so they sort of kill the beast within themselves, the old medieval belief about the wolfs evilness reflecting mans own, (not unlike when Luke Skywalker kills DarthVader, his head rolls away and the face inside the helmet becomes Luke’s own, he has confronted himself). They begin the journey home, crossing thresholds again and become the master of two worlds, which leads them from fear of death and gives them the freedom to live. A kind of living in the moment.

    This is very powerful stuff, a kind of legendary performance or dance is taking place and these recent wolf hunts have only sought to reinforce these actions and beliefs long held.

    How to break the spell?

    The 66 000 dollar question. By taking up a sea of arms and opposing them?

    Maybe, but I guess no one has the stomach for that kind of fight. But maybe the arms in this case are the arms of writers, the arms of voters, the arms of those who will raise them at public meetings, maybe even the arms of those who will link them around those areas that count and that matter, so that a chain be formed, one that will show the true strength and feelings of the man or woman in the street.

    They are in the minority, so why do they hold the power? What sort of democracy can allow this to happen?

    I only hope that perhaps all good Americans can hear the strains of Aaron Coplands Fanfare for the Common Man in their ears and know that there is a war going on and that it is a war of minds and morals and of moral duty towards the innocent wolf and that by preserving it in its natural state and protecting it, we can confront our own dark side, make peace with it and then embrace it, them and ourselves.

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    • Thank you for this long and thoughtful response. You have said so many wise things here. One element that makes our lives so challenging is being able to see such simple truths, such as the horrors of violence, the mishandling of weapons in this country, the hero-worship that goes on in gangs and hunting groups, yet feel we have so little power to expose these truths and enact change. It is easy to say, well, it is a violent world, we might as well accept it, but for many of us this is not the answer. We are compelled to speak up and protect those who cannot speak for themselves. At times we feel discouraged, but to know there are people like you Kaufman, and all the others posting comments on this blog, is affirming and encouraging. We’re in this together. Thank God we’ve got each other!

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  5. Very well written, Beckie. It is so incomprehensible the hatred and desire to kill these creatures. More disturbing is that they legally can, are encouraged to do so and are basically assisted whether purposefully or neglectfully to seek and destroy wolves.There is no educating this mindset. They target those noteworthy collared wolves as a statement of empowerment, revenge and a slap in the face often to a government they mistrust. They must be the same gene pool of those that smashed Indian infant’s skulls into rocks and drowned women that floated in barrels. Either they enjoyed it, proclaimed they must, “kill em all”……or both. We, of the greatest country, have much to be ashamed of.

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    • Thank you so much KC. I think you’re right, the mindset of the people who are slaughtering wolves is a murderous one, without reason or restraint. We have talked about the sociopath personality, and it seems clear that we are dealing with a group of people who fit this description. Have you read Women Who Run With the Wolves? I was just re-reading it. Great stuff about how women and wolves have been treated much the same over the centuries.

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  6. Leave it to a “Lizzard-Brain -Idahoan”, I hate to admit it, but we have a lot of those kind of Idiots in this state, I know, I live here ! All they can think of is killing something, I just had a long conversation with one of the F& Game commissioners, he seemed like A nice person, but I gleaned from our conversation, they are dealing with a lot of hateful people when it comes to wolves, you would think that A real hunter would have A lot of respect for A fellow hunter, (wolves), but they are too dammed GREEDY to consider that, like when the white-ass, came to this country, and declared, ” It’s all mine, you Indians get off my land” and religated them to the most worthless land they could find, and they did the same thing to wolves, things haven’t changed a Dammed bit !

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    • Good to hear from a Idahoan. Seems your perceptions are much like what I have gained from all that has happened to wolves in that state. Yes, to have respect for wolves as fellow hunters makes sense to me. Too bad some have gotten so far away from having any respect at all.

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  7. I so agree with Bart Eben-people every where are greedy.Why they hate wolves is beyond me-they are like the spirits that come and go trying not to be seen.The Indians that were run off their land was very wrong-they understood their fellow creatures and respected them something are white butts don’t-but unlike them I so want the wolves and other wildlife to be saved.people along with the Government don’t care about our heritage all they see is the almighty dollar.If they took the time to understand the wolves and their great respect for other pack members they might just see what it means to be a family member..I am from Fla. and there hardly is anymore wildlife-its just pure greed and hate.

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  8. Have no faith in Idaho Fish and Game. Actually, they are the front guard in the war on wildlife, advocating for killing, trapping, and snaring anything and everything. Their interest in conservation is to manipulate populations to ensure that there are plenty of “game” to kill. That is actually their assigned task as an Idaho agency. They do not work for the general citizenry. They work for hunters, trappers, killers and exploiters of all types. I would not be at all surprised if those in aircraft doing surveys alert their pervert-pals on the ground and facilitate the killing. It’s one big happy family. How to make compassion and respect the norm, rather than domination, torture, and killing? Please, someone tell me. One thing that might help is more visual documentation, preferably video, that demonstrates the brutality and the suffering of these maimed and doomed creatures. I do not believe that most of the people in this country have the stomach for it. If this issue could take center stage, and people truly witnessed what’s being done and how, I do believe that collectively we would put a stop to it. It’s like so many things taking place in the shadows and virtually invisible, and thus tolerated because it’s largely out of sight.

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    • Sounds like you know what you’re talking about here, Pamela. Your idea of getting more video of the atrocities, especially as the IDFW is involved, is a good idea. And I feel hopeful by your statement. “…I do believe that collectively we would put a stop to it.”

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    • Joann
      Maybe when the rest of us stop them it will end. Write to your congress person and the president demanding they over turn the bill which returns the wolves fate to the individual states. Request they place wolves on the endangered species list again. Boycott goods, services and businesses that support hunting or engage in hunting. We need to unite like we did over the fur business and like that horrible industry was destroyed by the efforts of a few the horrible business of hunting can be destroyed.

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  9. Living in Arizona we share with New Mexico the Mexican Gray Wolf recovery area. I was envious of how well the Northern states were doing with their wolf populations until the horrific de-listing by the Feds.
    We have struggled with many illegal shootings and resistance from Fish and Wildlife to release more captive born wolves.I suspect they are in the pockets of the ranching community.
    In any event Beckie thank you for an excellent article.This information must be reported to the public. These are our wolves and we will not stand for their execution. Wolves are an inspiration to those of us with enough intelligence to recognize the complexity of their lives. I believe those who shoot them are so base and soulless they must release their hatred in a way that makes them feel powerful. I pray for karma.
    Thanks to all of those comments and the people who care.

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    • Noma
      Recently a pic was circulating on Face Book of two idiots and their pick up truck, in the back was an entire truck bed of dead wolves, just like the last extermination by Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Wyoming. They can not be trusted to protect the wolves.

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  10. Clarification – OR16 was killed by a wolf hunter, not someone hunting elk. According to the BGMR, the wolfer had been hunting for two days. Eyewitnesses in the SFK Payette River canyon near where the wolf was shot, report that wolfers line the pull outs with their spotting scopes, watching IDFG helicopters chase, dart and collar wolves and elk as part of their never ending, wasteful research on whether wolves eat elk or not. OR16 was with a collared wolf when he was shot. Not hard to put 2 and 2 together and see that a wolfer (the term for someone who kills wolves) was likely watching the IDFG in action. That, plus the local agency personnel in the SFK Payette area are not known liking wolves. At least one with the USFS shot a collared wolf in Bear Valley and bragged about it on a website. Another clarification is that the Kirkham Ridge trail is closed to dirt bikes during the winter. The wolfer had to hike to kill OR16 (unless IDFG gave him a ride in the chopper – I’m being sarcastic). Knowing IDFG, they are having a good laugh that of their Idaho “sportsman” who spent a measley $11.75 for a wolf tag, nailed an Oregon wolf. The goal of IDFG is to eradicate Idaho of wolves, except for 150.

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  11. Thanks for these informative comments. And I appreciate the attention to detail, Stone Wolf Chronicles. At times it is difficult to get all the facts exact, especially when writing from a distance.
    I’m glad to see the dialogue this post has initiated. Our conversations are the impetus for ideas, and hopefully, solutions to the needless slaughter of wolves everywhere.

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  12. It’s heartwarming to read how so many feel the way I do about wolves. I am not a lone wolf after all. Beckie your page is a wonderful forum for the faithful to come and not only stay updated on what’s new in the wolf world but I also know I won’t be put down, called names and threatened for voicing my love and opinion….Thank you for this….much love…

    For the Wild
    crzywlfwmn

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    • I’ve noticed that some of the posts question the rationale of the “wolfers”. Maybe it’s a good thing we can’t get into their heads. I remain curious, though. Perhaps some of you read recently about the man in NM who made a video of himself shooting his horse. Before doing so he unleashed some verbal unpleasantries about activists. Maybe this is part of the puzzle, or, at least applies to a certain segment of predator/sport killers? Perhaps for some it isn’t so much the animal as a hatred for those who would protect them. They have the weapons to prove they can dominate – a us. Just my thoughts. http://www.examiner.com/article/man-who-shot-horse-and-taunted-animal-rights-advocates-has-been-firedll

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  13. Wolfs should be saved, i protect a pack in Siberia and i live with them hunt with them! They are not evil they do not destroy the Howard’s or whatever stupid claim people say! Wolfs deserve life also, not just the collared but all! And that is just sick people posing holding a dead wolf up and smiling like they are so big and manly! They are not. Big or manly for killing a wolf! I am a hunter myself i hunt for food i use no weapon, i do not brag about anything i kill, i just eat the food and who gives a f*** about stupid antlers? Save the wolfs howl now to save a life!

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    • Cerberus is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON TARGET ! years ago when I was working with U S F & W service and A working member of the Wolf Recovery Foundation, I attended a hearing on reintroduction of wolves in Idaho, in Boise, A “MORON” got up a yelled, “I don’t want no wolf eating MY Elk”, and I got up and said, “What the hell makes you think that Elk is yours?, It is not yours, and if you think it is, then I am giving My Elk to the wolf that has lived with the Elk for thousands of years before us white folks got here to claim them, there were millions of Elk ,AND,Wolves didn’t have them all eatten up like the early setlers, the railroads, logging camps, miners and ranchers were doing to the Elk herds, and is why they finally had to form Fish & Game Departments, to protect the deminishing wildlife populations.It was the Wolf that made the Elk the incredible powerfu animal that they are today, if you don’t know this fact, then you need to study Biology for awhile !

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  14. Carter Niemeyer, speaking in Stanley (ID) in mid-August, pointed out that in Idaho, one person can legally kill 17 wolves per year, due to the rules about transferring tags for any other animal free, and ties of buying – The particulars are not worthy of mentioning here,
    The scoping of live animals I have seen occurring from roads even in August (ID’ s draconian seasons are Sept – June)
    Niemeyer seems to me to be an interesting case without having yet read his two books. Once a Wildlife Services trapper (meaning largely killer, although I once knew an Ojibwa who worked collaring wolves, and as you know Ojibwe who retain traditional cultural and personal ways are totally against killing their relative, Ma’iingan) Niemeyer was hired to capture the wolves then in Canada (I seek to remind people that wolves were never “Canadian” but moved with the great ice ages with the glaciers. So Canadian wolves were a few thousand years past, the same wolves who occupied area now called USA), for Yellowstone and central Idaho release. In learning and dealing with wolves, he now understands that it is not scientifically wise for human to use public hunting to “manage” wolves. He knows from the new work by another Washington State University scientist, that
    killing wolves in any quantity creates MORE cattle predation.
    Wielgus RB, Peebles KA (2014) Effects of Wolf Mortality on Livestock Depredations. PLoS ONE 9(12): e113505. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113505
    and so “management” is best done with an extremely light hand.
    I have considerably more on science opposed to lethal management and public hunting of wolves.

    Apropos of Bart’s experience above, I have heard similar ejaculations from predator-haters, about wolves and others: to their screams of (this is almost verbatim quote from every one whether they are 18 or 92 in age) “What good are they?”
    My response has always taken into account that they will NEVER accept scientific truth, and so I respond, a a rule: “They don’t owe you anything.” or “What is it you think the wolf owes you when they lived in harmony with incredible abundance for thousands of times as long as your kind?”

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment and for pointing out the facts about the Canadian wolf issues (this still comes up, even though its been debunked repeatedly) and for the Wielgus reference. I suggest you pick up Carter’s book, Wolfer. It’s a fascinating and informative read.

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