In the USA Today, Monday, May 22, there are several interesting articles. One in the business section about a book called: The Pursuit of Happiness by Chris Gardner. He has a compelling story and I will get his book. Read the article! Another, called 2 ideas of Maine collide in woods. This article is by Rick Hampton.
It is about how the perspective of Maine by "outsiders" is very different then the perspective of Maine by those who live their. This was also a big Rocky Mountain debate.
A third article called Mystery beast ravages flocks of Montana sheep by Gwen Florio.This article is the topic of this Post. A predator is killing sheep in far eastern Montana. Nothing new. Compared to this area, Eastern Montana poses a far distance.
The way the predator is killing sheep is very un-coyote like and not like most Mountain Lions; which it could be.
The ranchers in the story, Mike McKeever, says it is a wolf. Asha Stone from Defenders of Wildlife says wolves do not travel that far.
Carolyn Sime, of the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, the Statewide Wolf Coordinator thinks its a wolf.
Last I knew, Carolyn was a Masters Student studying the Whitetail in northwest Montana. I worked for the Biology Department at Montana State University at the time. That was about 15 years ago.
One thing I can say about Carolyn is that she is smart. I can also say that the Literature has young disperser male wolves (looking to establish a new territory) making a direct bee-line of travel for 900 miles. I have personal experience with a young male wolf dispersing 400 miles.
I believe Stone is way off base. Wolves travel to Eastern Montana every year. With 800 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming more will disperse. With the Charlie Russell Wildlife Range in eastern Montana it will be a matter of time before they (wolves) set up there.
My guess is that we are dealing with a wild wolf and not a hybrid. I have watched 90 pound wolves kill 400 pound cow elk, so I know they can kill a 175 pound sheep.
Bears occassionally wander down-river or young males will disperse when the mother goes into estrus again. Yet bears are hesitant to venture much past the Fairfield Bench or Rocky Mountain front in Montana.
I believe McKeever is right. Defenders does not want to pay McKeever, and the impacted ranchers, the $20,000.00 they owe them for probable wild wolf depradation. That is a fair chunk of change. It will not wipe out Defenders and it may quite down "probably right" McKeever for awhile?
I do not condone killing wolves, unless they are shown to depredate. Then I believe you should remove them from the wild, unless they are in a wolf area like a National Park, extensive wildland or Wilderness area. Wolves breed fast, like most canines do. Eastern Montana is known for antelope, dinosaurs fossils, dryness, rolling hills and really large ranches these days.
Some ranchers are more tolerant of wolves than others. Most are not from my experience!
Good will to wolves will never come from the ranching crowd, but Stone has to watch her disinformation. It is doubtful that her predacessor at Defenders, Hank Fischer, would have made the same mistake speaking about wolves.
The McKeevers balked a lot about wolves, long before wolves made a comeback for them to balk about.
Wolves were out on the Montana plains long before the first livestock set foot on the same plains, so I have no sympathy for McKeevers of the world. I think Carolyn is right about the predator I think her job is like being between a rock and a hard spot! It is a tough job.
It is only a matter of time before the real culprit shows himself. I am betting Wolf!!!!