According to a new study, ranchers should be working to prevent predator attacks in the first place by managing their herds more actively.Ever since the 1995 reintroduction of the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, ranchers in the region have loudly complained that their herds end up paying a heavy cost. Lately, as a result, they've taken to trapping and shooting wolves at seemingly every opportunity.
Hunters have already exterminated more than a third of the 1,600 wolves that were thought to live in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho in 2012, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ended endangered species protection for gray wolves there. Environmentalists now worry about the danger of a new regional extinction. Ranchers and some state wildlife officials meanwhile seem to be ardently working to achieve it.
The wolves are no longer safe even within a protected federal wilderness: Just last week, facing a lawsuit by environmental groups, the State of Idaho recalled a hunter it had sent into the Frank Church-River of No Return National Wilderness Area to kill wolves there. Environmentalists claimed a small victory. But state officials said the hunter had already killed nine wolves and presumably eliminated the two wolf packs thought to inhabit the wilderness.