The wolf shot while attacking a lamb on a Lemhi County ranch was a yearling male released this spring from a holding pen in Yellowstone National Park, wolf reintroduction officials said.
Rancher Allen Purcell said he shot the wolf at sunrise Wednesday as it was killing a lamb in a pasture adjacent to his house.
The lamb, still standing and bawling, had its entrails dragging on the ground, he said.
Purcell shot once and killed the wolf.
The gray wolf is an endangered species. In 1995 and 1996, wolves from Canada were reintroduced as an experimental population in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Under the experimental rules, ranchers can shoot the wolves if they catch them in the act of killing livestock on private property.
The wolf was shot three to four miles from where a dead calf was found last week, said Steve Magone, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho Falls. Officials have confirmed a wolf killed the calf.
Timm Kaminski, the Idaho wolf project biologist for the Nez Perce tribe, said Thursday that the yearling wolf was orphaned last year when its parents were killed near Augusta, Mont.
The adults of the Montana pack were killed after repeated livestock depredations. The orphaned pups were taken to a holding pen between Madison Junction and Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. They were released in the park this spring.
Kaminski said the incident on the Purcells’ ranch was a good example of how well the experimental wolf recovery regulations can work.
“We’ve got the protocol down pretty well. The Purcells were real good about it,” he said. “It’s kind of a textbook example of how the regulations work.”
Four Animal Damage Control officers used the incident to learn more about investigating livestock depredations, Kaminski said.
Animal Damage Control, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is responsible for investigating livestock depredation. Fish and Wildlife Service officers also were at the scene.
Magone said both the wolf and lamb carcasses will probably be shipped on Monday to a laboratory in Ashland, Ore. He said pathologists should have a report about the incident by the end of next week.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.