BILLINGS, Mont. – Federal wildlife managers killed nine wolves in just over a month for allegedly attacking or killing livestock in southwest Montana.
The wolves were killed between Labor Day (search) and the middle of October on orders of state wildlife officials. Some of the wolves were blamed for seriously injuring two dogs that were guarding sheep and for killing several cattle.
Carolyn Sime (search), the state's wolf program coordinator, said Monday that the response was aggressive but warranted.
At the same time, Sime acknowledged mistakes: Two of the wolves killed were off the grazing allotment where run-ins had been confirmed, and a radio-collared female not believed to have been involved in killing livestock was shot.
The death of the female means the group no longer counts as a breeding pair, Sime said. This is important because breeding pairs are a key measure of wolf recovery.
Suzanne Asha Stone, of the Defenders of Wildlife (search), said she would like to see more emphasis on nonlethal control and for the state to continue encouraging landowners to adapt to living with wolves.
A cattle industry official said the effectiveness of nonlethal measures is debatable and notes the cost to ranchers.
"How would you feel if every week I went up and took $500 to $600 from your billfold?" asked Steve Pilcher of the Montana Stockgrowers Association (search).