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Thermopolis – Trophy game animals across the state of Wyoming, and in particular large carnivores, severely impact the bottom line of ranchers, and when provision to collect damages from those animals are limited, Thermopolis Rancher Josh Longwell says he isn’t sure how long they can continue operating.

“We sent our first damage claims in to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) in 2012 for $6,000. The next year, that jumped to $23,000, then $88,000 and then $110,000,” Longwell comments. “Our sheep and cattle losses are off the charts as bear and wolf populations grow.”

Longwell operates Hay Creek Land and Cattle Company west of Thermopolis with his family, running both sheep and cattle.

Wolf impacts

For Longwell, one of the most challenging game animal is the wolf, which causes damage to their ranch outside the designated trophy game management area.

“Wolf depredation outside the trophy game area isn't compensated. We are in the predator zone,” he comments. “Livestock that are killed by wolves in the trophy game zone are paid at seven-to-one.”

When wolves were controlled by the state of Wyoming, Longwell noted that they were able to kill wolves on sight under any circumstances.

“The wolves were overpopulated, and when they came outside of the trophy game boundary, we could take care of them,” Longwell explains. “Now, since they are listed again, we can’t shoot them. We have to call Wildlife Services, and they have to de-populate wolves.”

He also adds, however, that Wildlife Services must get further permissions, and wolves are removed on an as-necessary basis.

“It’s really challenging to deal with,” Longwell laments.

State funding

In the 2016 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature, the state did provide some funds to provide for wolf depredation, but the funding was very limited.

“They started with $200,000, but by the time they got done, it was only $60,000,” Longwell explained. “That is distributed between all of the producers outside of the trophy game area. We have to share that $15,000 this year, and we’re probably not going to be compensated even close to the value of our cattle.”

Longwell estimates that compensation will amount to less than a one-to-one value for livestock lost. So far, for 2016, Longwell has 12 calves that are confirmed wolf kills and 13 sheep.

“We want to be conservative on our numbers,” he continues, “but when we take into account the multiplier, that’s 90 calves and 97 lambs if we were in the trophy zone.”

Because the wolf kills are outside the trophy zone, the ranch won’t receive compensation for those losses.

The multiplier numbers are utilized to document losses that are never found, eaten by predators or not verified.

Grizzly damages

While wolves are a big problem, grizzly bears also prove problematic for Longwell.

“Grizzly kills are paid 3.5-to-one,” he says. “WGFD does pay these damages across the state.”

For 2016, they’ve seen 17 confirmed grizzly kills.

At the same time, end of summer grizzly bear populations on Frank’s Peak, Dome Mountain and Whashakie Needle, which sit at the top of Hay Creek Land and Cattle, hit around 50 bears.

“The area can’t sustain that many bears,” comments Longwell.

Longwell also notes that the ranch lies outside the recent defined Designated Management Area (DMA) for grizzly bears, as defined by the recent grizzly bear management plan passed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

Lambing, calving challenges

Hay Creek Land and Cattle Company lambs and calves on a large, open pasture near their headquarters.

“When we were lambing last year, we had grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions and black bears all come in during the same night killing sheep,” Longwell comments. “Every morning, we go ‘Easter egg hunting’ looking for dead.”

Longwell explains, damages went beyond just depredated livestock to include lambs that were trampled after sheep flocks stampeded to avoid predators and lambs that were abandoned immediately after birth by ewes attempting to avoid predators. They also experience a high percentage of bummed lambs.

“We aren’t paid at all for those lambs that don’t have a mark on them,” he says, noting that the multiplier helps to compensate for those animals.

Previous damage claims

With damages incurred every year, Longwell also notes there has been conflict with WGFD regarding payment of claims.

“In 2014, WGFD was not going to pay the multiplier,” Longwell says. “They said that we experienced our losses on ‘home range’ instead of ‘open range,’ so we weren’t eligible for the multiplier,” he says.

“The state of Wyoming owns the wildlife of the state, and WGFD is the managing party,” he continues. “They made a deal with the devil when they reintroduced the wolves and the bears. I can’t afford, as a rancher, to pay the consequences of that decision.”

WGFD Large Carnivore Conflict Coordinator Brian DeBolt explains that the multiplier is in place to take areas of difficult terrain where it might be challenging to locate livestock that have been killed by trophy game animals.

“On many summer ranges, the topography and terrain can be very difficult, making it hard to find animals that are killed and hard to get them verified,” he says. “However, if there are killed on an irrigated pasture or in the lowlands next to the farm or ranch, it’s much more likely that we’re going to find the kills, so the multiplier doesn’t apply.”

Longwell, however, opted to take the WGFD to arbitration, arguing that their lambing area where they experienced losses was open range.

The arbitration process involves three arbitrators – one picked by WGFD, one picked by the claimant and one chosen by the other two arbitrators.

“We presented our case, and the arbitrators ruled in our favor, agreeing that we were due the multiplier,” Longwell explains. “When we filed for 2015 claims, they denied us the multiplier again. We’ll be going back into arbitration for these claims, as well, on the same sheep, the same land and probably the same predators to try to get compensation for our damages.”

“There’s a direct correlation. The more damage we see, the more open cows we see and the lighter the steers get.”

“One of the biggest economic impacts that we see is the devaluation of the ranch and our private property,” he continues. “These predators are stripping the value of our ranch because it’s so difficult to raise livestock. The wildlife are disappearing right behind the livestock. There is no value in our ranch if we can’t raise livestock and don’t have any wildlife. If we can’t make a living here, that’s a huge impact on us and our community.”

Working together

“Every time we have a loss, a WGFD employee has to come from Cody, about two hours up the mountain to verify it,” he explains. “It’s a lot of time for them, but most of them are great to work with.”

DeBolt also notes that the ability of WGFD to provide relief is limited.

“We have very limited authority,” he explains. “We do have the authority to verify and pay for trophy game damage, and we do as much of that as possible.”

Since wolves and grizzly bears are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, DeBolt adds that WGFD is very limited in the management actions they can take to alleviate problems.

He says. “In the area where they are classified as trophy game, we’ll continue to pay damages. Outside of that area where they are classified as predators, we don’t pay damages because we do not regulate predators. That is under the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.”

For damages by wolves outside of the trophy game area, DeBolt adds, “We have no legal authority or responsibility – through either federal or state statute – that allows us to pay for wolf damages. It is completely out of our authority.”

Persistent problem

DeBolt comments, “We’re seeing more livestock depredation caused by grizzly bears and wolves as they expand their range and numbers.”

Longwell agrees that the problem remains.

“We have two apex predators that are running amok. They have been mismanaged,” Longwell says. “It’s devastating.”

“We have to watch these predators kill our livestock, and we can’t do anything about it,” he continues. “I’m passionate about ranching and the livestock we raise. It’s overwhelming to think that we put so much passion and energy into raising these livestock, and they are killed.”

“For 2016, we have the affidavits on losses, with the multiplier added, that amount to roughly a 150 calf lost, and 2016 is far from over,” Longwell comments. “It’s crazy to me that we’re going to let two predators take over our state and put ranchers – our heritage – out of business.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

After the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reopened the comment period on the draft Black-footed Ferret Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement on Jan. 23 for 30 days, Wyoming’s livestock and conservation groups have expressed concern over parts of the plan.

“They have been working on a strategy to recover the black footed ferret through its historical range,” says Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank. “FWS was trying to put together an incentive program through the Farm Bill to provide cost sharing to landowners who have prairie dogs dens on their properties.”

The agreement – known as the safe harbor agreement – aimed to encourage landowners to maintain prairie dog dens, since black-footed ferrets require the habitat for their survival.

“FWS just issued a safe harbor agreement range wide, so any private landowners that want to enter in the safe harbor to have reintroduction of ferrets on their property and be protected from regulatory actions can,” explained Frank. “That is great and fine.”

Draft agreement

Beginning on Dec. 17, 2012, FWS announced the availability of the programmatic safe harbor agreement, along with a draft environmental assessment for public comment.

“The safe harbor agreement is part of a larger new multi-agency partnership to expand black-footed ferret recovery efforts,” said the FWS on their webpage. “Despite significant recovery successes, the black-footed ferret remains one of the most endangered animals in the world.”

FWS notes that loss of habitat and prey are major contributors in the habitat loss, and as a result, conservation of native grasslands to agricultural land, widespread prairie dog eradication program and fatal, non-native diseases have reduced the ferret habitat to less than two percent of its original range.

“The remaining habitat is now fragmented, with prairie dog towns separated by expanses of agricultural land and other human developments,” the FWS adds.

Frank noted that among the bustle of activity during the holiday season, the agreement went unnoticed by many groups across the country, so they worked to reopen comments for more fair public opinion.

Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna explained, “The safe harbor agreement is intended to provide protection to private landowners for a listed species, if they enter into an agreement and agree to maintain or undertake certain practices on private lands.”

Though Frank noted that they had received indication the safe harbor agreement wasn’t going to move forward, she added that at the NRCS State Technical Committee meeting, the NRCS was directed to begin putting together criteria for a program. 

Wyoming concerns

“Our board has a lot of concerns, and do did the Wyoming Stock Growers Association,” said Frank. “A contingency from Wyoming met the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, at that time Dave White, and we got feedback that it wasn’t moving forward.” 

“The Wyoming Weed and Pest Council conveyed concerns, as did WACD,” said Frank. “Our concerns deal with the 10J designation statewide.”

The Wyoming Governors Office sent a request in July of 2012 to achieve statewide 10J designation, but Magagna mentioned that they have not received any word from Fish and Wildlife Service as to whether or not that will occur.

“The safe harbor will be limited in Wyoming because it provides no protection on federal lands, so it will have to be in a large private land area to have real meaning,” added Magagna.

“The statewide 10J status would provide protection on public and private lands, and would provide protection whether they were reintroduced or naturally migrated,” Magagna said. “Until we get that, there may be individuals who find merit in the safe harbor, but the only real assurances for landowners would come with a statewide 10J.”

Without the designation, any ferrets that wander on public lands are no longer protected.

“Right now if they reintroduce the ferret on private lands, they have a safe harbor agreement with the private landowners, or in the special areas that are designated as 10J,” Frank continued. “The only area in Wyoming with a 10J designation is in the Shirley Basin.”

Biological opinions

The other concern that Frank, Magagna and the Wyoming Weed and Pest share is the lack of a biological opinion on the case.

“The biological opinion is not out yet,” explained Magagna. “We would like to see the biological opinion before we commit ourselves as to whether we support it.”

The biological opinion is a scientific document that does not go out for pubic comment. However, Magagna noted that it could affect the available protections that landowners have.

“They have not committed to us on the timeline for when they will release the opinion,” Magagna added.

Moving forward, though the public comment period has closed, he noted that there has been no indication of a firm deadline for the final agreement to be published.

Additionally, FWS is working on a Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for Wyoming, recently releasing the document and an environmental impact statement.

“We have all weighed in on this plan,” said Frank, noting that it remains to be seen whether concerns will be addressed.

History of ferrets

“Black-footed ferrets once numbered in the tens of thousands, but a combination of human-induced threats brought them to the brink of extinction in the 20th century,” comments the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). “In fact, the species was twice believed by scientists to be extinct.”

With a FWS-led breeding and reintroduction program, more than 8,000 kits have been raised in captivity, with more than 3,000 reintroduced into their natural habitat.

“It is estimated that as a result of these efforts, there are currently more than approximately 500 to 1,000 black-footed ferrets in the wild and another approximately 300 living in breeding facilities,” added FWS.

To learn more about the black-footed ferret recovery plan, visit blackfootedferret.org or fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/blackfootedferret.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Douglas – “Pilots don’t come to Wyoming if they don’t want to work,” said Wyoming Wildlife Services (WS) Director Rod Krischke at the Aug. 17 Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) listening session during State Fair week in Douglas.

Krischke was present to update the group on his agency and its activities within Wyoming, which include the aerial hunting program.

“The Livestock Board is charged with collecting predator fees on livestock at inspection, so we do have a connection to predator control, and those in the livestock industry do have an interest in Wildlife Services issues,” said WLSB President Eric Barlow.

Krischke explained the WS aerial program has five pilots, and that WS has cost-share or cooperative employees in 17 of Wyoming’s 23 counties, and the agency has agreements to provide services with 21 counties.

“We have an airplane at Rock Springs, Casper, Hulett, Riverton and in Worland, and we also have a contract with an aviation company to provide services with a helicopter, which is very expensive,” said Krischke. “We do keep airplanes flying routinely, and we put 3,000 hours on our planes each year.”
In addition to the aerial hunting program, WS also has a wildlife disease program.

“We’re not experts on diseases, but we are experts on handling and working with wildlife,” said Krischke. “About 10 years ago Congress funded a disease program in WS that provides rapid response anywhere in the country, and the guys in this position are on call all the time – when there’s an outbreak of a disease, they respond to it, and they’re there to help the state and federal experts and to provide manpower.”

Krischke says the wildlife disease biologist in Wyoming has done sampling for rabies, plague and tularemia, as well as working with sampling for brucellosis and chronic wasting disease.

“Our bread and butter is predator control,” noted Krischke. “In 1998 WS cooperators lost $17.5 million in livestock to predators, and that was primarily losses in sheep and goats nationwide.”

“The Wyoming sheep industry has been a big part of agriculture in the state since the 1800s, and everybody knows the national sheep industry has undergone a significant decline,” he stated. “Predators have been attributed as a big part of that decline, and a big part of predator losses of sheep and lambs in Wyoming are to coyotes. In comparison to coyotes, the other species are minimal, and anybody who’s having losses knows they’re significant, because they will continue until they’re stopped.”

Krischke said he started his career with WS in 1980.

“For all my career I’ve struggled against trying to find effective solutions to predator predation,” he said. “In the 1960s we had an era where we still had 1080 and strychnine and other strong toxicants, and producers refer back to that time as the only time when we had control on predation.”

Although the livestock industry has seen significant losses to predators since then, Krischke said he thinks Wyoming’s current system is working.

“We’re showing a trend of predation coming down, and my goal is to get it under six percent and keep it there,” he said. “I think we’ll continue to see a decline in the percentage of predation, and it’s bigger than Wildlife Services – it’s due to the whole system we work under in Wyoming.”
He added, “The cattlemen, in terms of value, experience every bit as much in losses as the sheep industry. Many people think predators are a sheep industry issue, but it’s bigger than that.”

In its predator programs, WS works with the statutory predators in Wyoming through the county predator boards.

“They have a responsibility, and we provide a service to them,” explained Krischke. “We also work with Wyoming Game and Fish to help livestock producers who are having problems with trophy game animals, which include black bears, grizzly bears, and cougars, and as soon as wolves are delisted they will be, as well.”
Krischke said that, with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, his agency’s role is to respond to the damage.

“We’re at their beck and call, and they reimburse us for our cost. Our role is to identify damage, what predator was responsible and to provide a method or a way to address that damage,” he said.

One way WS identifies damage is to skin a calf or a ewe.

“If you don’t skin it back, you can’t tell anything happened, but once you skin it back you can see all the trauma,” said Krischke.
Of tracking wolf damage, he said the agency uses trapping, aerial hunting, ground shooting and telemetry, which helps them dial in on specific wolves.

“We have so many wolves now, and with collars we can figure out who did it,” he noted. “The monitoring is really helpful in addressing damage, as well as knowing how many we have to meet the endangered species requirements.”

Of the potential hunting season for wolves, should they be delisted, Krischke said that would make their job harder.

“In time they’ll be as shy as a coyote, and as hard to come up with,” he said. “Right now they’re bold, and don’t have any fear without a predator. They stand around and look at us, and that does make our job easier, but when they’re hunted it will impact their behavior. However, that could be a positive, because they’ll avoid people and their livestock operations, but I can’t say that it’s a net plus or minus.”

According to the Economic Analysis of Predator Management in Wyoming, Krischke said the net benefit of predator control is estimated at $11.8 to $197.4 million, and the benefit cost ratio is from $2.90 to $33.40 of every dollar spent. He said that’s looking at it from both the livestock and wildlife perspectives, and the variance is due to the wildlife side and how wildlife values are assessed.

“The other thing in the report that blew my socks off was the total employment direct and secondary resulting from predator management, which is estimated at 408 to 624 jobs, depending on which economic returns are considered,” he explained. “Much of that employment is in agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, accommodation and foodservices, the retail trade, arts, recreation and others. Predator control has a positive impact on the economy.”

Despite its proven positive effects on wildlife and livestock survival and the economy, WS has taken cuts in the federal budget, and Krischke said he knows there will be more action taken nationwide.

“We have a long way to go, if Congress has the will to address this problem, and I know that WS doesn’t seem to have ever missed a cut. I appreciate the folks who are working to minimize that,” he said.

In 2011 WS lost $250,000 in the Tri-State Predator Earmark, and Wyoming WS lost another $50,000.

“We originally had $250,000, and now we’re down to $100,000,” noted Krischke. “We’ve been taking cuts for several years now, so our program is trying to find ways to keep providing the services folks need while keeping the budget balanced.”

Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A draft proposal under consideration by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and the Wyoming Board of Agriculture would reward those landowners who provide access for hunting on their private lands.

Although hunting access for wildlife population control continues to be a challenge for both the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) and landowners, WGFD Director Scott Talbott says it’s important to recognize those who allow access.

“Sometimes we focus on the problems, but there are a bunch of folks out there who are doing a really good job,” comments Talbott. “This program would recognize those landowners who allow access and who actively participate in wildlife management. That’s clearly to the benefit of the ag community, to hunters and to the general public.”

Of the draft proposal, Talbott says, “It’s a project that’s been identified by both groups as something on which they could work together. The initial program would be to recognize those landowners who provide access throughout the state.”

He says that program would include a grant program for landowners who provide access, to give them seed money that could be matched with other funding sources for projects on the land that would benefit both wildlife and ag operations.

Commission President Fred Lindzey of Laramie, who represents Sweetwater, Carbon and Albany counties, explains that the program would raise funds through an auction of Commissioner licenses donated to the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation.

“What we hope to do is recognize those landowners who have provided and still provide access to hunting on their property,” says Lindzey. “The program would be in recognition of the fact that it’s hard to manage the animals if hunters can’t help, and there are many landowners who have allowed people to hunt, even though it’s not an easy deal.”

“The idea is being batted back and forth between the two groups, and they would like to have something in place by mid-year next year,” says Talbott.
“We hope that by next fall we’ll have this thing rolling, and have money in the bank to support it,” says Lindzey. “It’s a positive thing the Commission and the Board of Ag can do together to recognize those who have allowed access.”

In addition to the new program that’s in the works, Talbott says there are three other projects that encourage landowners to allow hunter access on private land through the Hunter Coordinator Program. The program was a pilot project near Laramie Peak in 2010, and for the 2011 hunting season it expanded to the Meeteetse and Cody areas.

“We are working with several participating landowners in the locations, and we hire a person who goes out and works directly with the landowners and sportsmen to facilitate elk harvest,” says Talbott, adding that, although it wasn’t as successful as they would have liked in the Laramie Peak area last year, it did well enough for the agency to commit to try it in other areas.

“Although in its first year the program didn’t really harvest that many more elk, it provided a view for landowners of what could be done,” says Lindzey. “By and large, the landowners were pretty happy with the way it went. There was Game and Fish presence there all the time, and they didn’t have to worry about people leaving their gates down or driving four-wheelers or pickups across their pastures. It was a tightly coordinated effort to get a harvest on animals, and I think it turned out well and will be attempted elsewhere in the state as we look at ways to get hunters into these areas.”

Talbott also mentions the Hunter Management Program and the Walk-In Program as other WGFD strategies that have helped with elk harvest. The Hunter Assistance Program also exists to connect landowners who need to lower wild game populations with hunters who need places to hunt.

“Our programs have expanded by leaps and bounds,” says Talbott of the collective strategies. “There is no doubt that we have more interest in them than we have the money to fund them or the personnel to work with them.”

“Overall, there are two things to look at,” he continues. “Access issues are stable, if not increasing, and there’s a tremendous interest in our programs, although access to some places is still very difficult.”

Of WGFD enforcement for those who hunt irresponsibly, Talbott says many landowners are in the Walk-In and Hunter Management Area programs simply because their participation allows the agency to enforce ranch rules, such as forbidden off-road travel.

“If those rules are ignored, we can cite them for it, and we can assist landowners with some of the problems like hunter behavior, four-wheelers and gates,” says Talbott.

Lindzey acknowledges that one ongoing problem is that, although there may be several landowners in an area who allow access, that doesn’t do any good if there’s a big adjoining block of land where hunter access is not allowed.

“It disrupts the whole thing – elk tend to run to places where they don’t get shot at, and it disrupts the whole thing. We have some landowners who don’t even live in the state who create problems by not allowing elk harvest, so a few are harvested, and after the season they find their way back to the landowners who allow access,” says Lindzey. “That’s an issue that tends to be a real problem in parts of the state.”

“It’s their right to not allow hunting on a big chunk of land they’ve bought, but the question is how to sit down with them and talk about it,” he adds.

Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cody – “Grizzly bears die for several different reasons,” says Wyoming Game & Fish Department (G&F) Bear Management Program Supervisor, Mark Bruscino, in the Cody Regional G&F Office.
    “They die from being hit by a vehicle, agency management removal of problem animals, or animals that are sick or injured, removals by the public in self-defense situations and illegal killing,” says Bruscino. “We have several animals in each category each year, including six to eight agency removals a year.”
    When the animal’s body parts are salvageable, the G&F donates them to public entities for education or science.
    “Usually it’s just the hide and/or skull, but occasionally they request the entire skeleton. We donate parts to public institutions in and outside of Wyoming, not to private individuals. Recently, we sent one to a children’s science center in Ohio, and we have sent them to Indian tribes that request them for ceremonial purposes,” comments Bruscino.
    “When bears were listed as endangered, under the Endangered Species Act, federal regulations required (their salvageable parts) be donated to science or education causes. Since bears were delisted a year ago last April, the G&F has continued to use that standard, as we feel that’s the best use of those parts,” says Bruscino.
    The receiving public entity must pay the taxidermy fee and get an interstate game tag, which is then attached to carcass part for tracking purposes.
    A prime example of an animal donated for educational purposes is bear #212, nicknamed “Little Wahb,” taken near Meeteetse in 2000. The bear was lethally removed, and the hide and skull donated to the local Meeteetse Museum.
    “That was the first bear captured in years in the Meeteetse area, and we decided to give it to the local museum. Local people contributed to pay for mounting that bear, so it could be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike,” says Bruscino.
    The name Little Wahb came from the children’s book, Biography of a Grizzly by Earnest Thompson Seaton. Published around 1900, the book’s setting was along the Greybull River and about a grizzly who avenged the death of his mother and siblings who died at the hand of Colonel Pickett. Then local Game Warden, Jerry Longobardi, gave the bear this nickname, which the locals adopted.
    “I weighed him wrong,” says Bruscino. “I take full responsibility for that. He was huge, and bottomed out a 500-pound scale, so we used two scales and added the weights. He came out at 800 pounds. Later, I found out that’s not the correct way to do it, so we don’t have an exact accurate weight on him, but he probably weighed between 600 – 800 pounds.” He adds, “The bear never caused any problem around people. But, he had figured out that livestock was a good source of food.”
    Salvageable wildlife parts are sometimes donated to state veterinary labs and university research centers around the country for research. “Recently we provided brains to a neurophysiologist who is mapping a bear’s brain. He told me he’s never seen an animal with such a sophisticated sense of smell.”
    Bruscino adds, “We don’t have specific protocol for poached specimens. There was a case where two Big Horn Sheep were poached on the North Fork of the Shoshone River on Christmas Eve. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center requested those mounts, and we donated them.”
    Mike Jimenez, Wyoming Wolf Project Leader for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), says wolves that continually prey on livestock are lethally removed, usually by shooting or trapping. There is also a waiting list of organizations that want these skulls, hides and other parts.
    “If it’s fall or wintertime, and the hides are good, they are salvaged. During the summertime, wolves have thin coats, and that along with the heat usually makes the hides not worth salvaging,” says Jimenez. “Most hides and skulls go to museums, universities, and public schools. Some go to other agencies.”
    The ESA dictates how the carcasses of listed animals can be handled. “We don’t give these donations to individuals, they have to go to public institutions,” comments Jimenez.
    “A public school in Green River, Wyoming got one wolf hide, and they had it mounted and use it as their mascot,” comments Jimenez.
    He says wolf body parts are also sometimes used for scientific study. “There are a number of research projects, including a study of the intestinal tracks of wolves to see what poisons they may be picking up, and one to see if wolves are accumulating lead by scavenging gut piles of animals that have been shot.”
    To place your public institution on the G&F or FWS waiting list, please contact Mark Bruscino at 307-527-7125 or Mike Jimenez at 307-330-5631.