Thanksgiving Week Massacre of Basin Butte Wolves…..Stanley, Idaho

A Basin Butte wolf pup, 6 months old.

All Photos by Idaho WildWolf Images Copyright 2008.

December 6, 2009

This is an account of Idaho’s popular Basin Butte wolves and their tragic end, as told to me by Idaho friends.


Thanksgiving week 2009, everyone was busy planning their holiday with family. It was a time for reflection and thanks. But over a two day period, November 23 & 24,  at Stanley, Idaho, Wildlife Services launched a covert operation that is now known as the Thanksgiving Week Massacre. Wildlife Services (WS) is a misnamed federal agency that kills wildlife for the benefit of agriculture, mainly the livestock industry.

Locals watched in horror as WS agents, in a plane and red helicopter, chased down and shot dead seven members of the Basin Butte wolf pack. Two wolves were killed on a rancher’s private property, the rest on National Forest land.  Among the Thanksgiving week victims were the pack’s mother, B171 “Alpha Fe”, her three seven-month old PUPS and three other wolves. A total of ELEVEN Basin Butte wolves have been killed since late July.

Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain country, called the Sawtooth National Recreation Area(SNRA), was once in line for National Park status. Instead, in 1972, it became an “NRA” (National Recreation Area). As a result, cattle and sheep graze across much of the 756,000 acres. Cattle ranchers have tremendous political power in this area, which is the reason for the Basin Butte wolves demise on that fateful Thanksgiving week shoot-out.


The Basin Butte wolf pack was formed in 2006 with three adults and five pups. Wolf supporters stepped in to keep the wolves away from the thousands of cattle that summer in the high country around Stanley, Idaho. This continued for the next three years. There were no depredations in 2007, but some close calls. Sick or injured cows and calves are easy targets for wolves. Things started going to hell in 2008 after a ranch hand shot a Basin Butte wolf called “Little Sis”. She was hunting squirrels 200 yards away from a herd of cows. The cow hand was given a warning by Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game (IDFG) law enforcement, which apparently upset the hand’s boss, a powerful rancher.

Basin Butte wolf “Little Sis”

Next, the pack, now consisting of 13 wolves, were seen moving toward a remote area, behind private property. Suddenly the wolves were accused of killing cows and calves belonging to the irate rancher. In July 2008, Wildlife Services convinced IDFG to give the ok to spring into their deadly trapping and killing mode. Before the 2008 grazing season was over, up to 8 Basin Butte wolves were dead. One beautiful wolf, “Uncle” – the babysitter to the pack’s pups, was mangled and crippled, shot by a Wildlife Services agent using an automatic 12 gauge.

One last winter:

The wolves had one last winter in the scenic country they called home. Many locals and visitors alike, delighted in seeing the wolves and hearing them howl. The pack was highly visible, as the Druids are in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone. The wolves were known by their given names: Alpha Fe, Papa, Bobtail, Red, Marymag, Smoky and more.

Tourists come in winter to Stanley, a tiny town of 100 people and one of the coldest places in the Lower 48, to ski, wildlife watch, snowmobile and see the Basin Butte wolves. But, it’s still tough for businesses to make it, and many locals were hoping wolf viewing would eventually bring more tourists and their dollars. Summer is the only time when tourists come in numbers, over two million people, according to SNRA staff. Wolf watching is the untapped golden egg that could make Stanley boom in the winter months, especially since much of the terrain around town is wide open. It’s perfect for setting up spotting scopes and watching wolves. But in 2009, the ranchers and Wildlife Services had other plans.  When wolf supporters scared the wolves away from cattle on public land, the ranchers went to law enforcement and complained. Surveillance cameras were set up by the local deputy to try and catch anyone driving by or stopping near the cattle, even on PUBLIC land!

The wolves were accused of killing a calf and a cow in July. Wildlife Services, who had been lurking around Stanley waiting for action, trapped and shot two yearling wolves. The angry rancher allowed WS to cross his private property, so they could access a remote area where traps could be set, mostly out of view of the public.

Then on September 1, Idaho opened their seven month long hunting season, adding to the Basin Butte Pack’s problems. Two pack members were shot by hunters. One was the Basin Butte alpha male, and another was a pup. The little pup was shot by an employee of the rancher.

October arrived, the weather turned freezing cold, with rain and snow. The pack was accused of killing two more cows. The cows may have been sick or hurt, no one knows. With thousands of cattle, some are always on the decline but now the stage was set for an aerial massacre. You know the rest of this tragic story. Two wolves are said to have survived. They have been heard howling mournfully for their pack.

Basin Butte “Uncle Wolf”


There are 71 million wildlife watchers in the United States., who generate 45 billion dollars in revenue.. Wildlife viewers come to Idaho to watch wolves and other wildlife, not livestock. Slaughtering wolves is bad for Idaho’s reputation and hurtful to state tourism.

We don’t control what ranchers do on their private land BUT the American public has the right to demand fair PUBLIC LAND policy.. This land belongs to all our citizens, not just ranchers.

Americans do not want wildlife eradicated for the livestock industry. Ranchers must be held accountable for managing their livestock.

Like any business venture, ranching has risks. If ranchers aren’t willing or able to care for their investment, without using the federal government as their own wolf extermination service, they should get their cattle off our public lands. 66% of Idaho is public land. Wolves are native to the SNRA, not cattle. Why should the wolf pay the ultimate price because of sloppy ranching practices, or be subjugated to cattle?

Myself and my friends, are BOYCOTTING Idaho products, businesses, including big game outfitters until this wolf killing madness stops.


Idaho Wildlife Services has a long list of wolf packs in their sights, will the killing be repeated this winter with a green light from IDFG?

Please E-Mail Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the IDFG wolf managers:



Petition From…Please sign.

Posted in: Wildlife Services War on Wildlife, aerial gunning of wolves, Wolf Wars

Tags: aerial gunning of wolves, wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination

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25 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What’s really pathetic, is that the ranchers responsible for the killing of the Basin Butte wolves, have been paid over $12 million by the fed gov’t in scenic easements since 1972. This big chunk of change kept their cow pastures from being sold off and subdivided, but required NOTHING of the cowpokes when it came to wildlife.


    • Hi,
      I think people are starting to wake up and realize their wildlife is being wiped out by a little known agency. And if the ranchers are being paid to keep their land from being sub-divided then they can use some of that money on non-lethal means to protect their investment instead of using the feds as their wolf extermination service.

      AND wolves are native to Idaho….not cows.

      Thanks for reading and stopping by!

      For the wild ones,


  2. You’ve truly written what I am sure will become known in time as The Thanksgiving Week Manifesto! Let the Idaho Boycott begin, and let it begin here and now! I am sending a link to this entry to all my friends back in the Great Lakes states and urge them to spread the word throughout their network of friends. Great job, Nabeki!


    • Thanks Rich!! I wanted to convey to people that we have to stand up to this slaughter. Wolves should not be subjugated to cattle and killed for agriculture. I’m tired of seeing this over and over….plus of course this year we have the hunts.

      I hope you send it far and wide…so people will know what’s happening in Idaho We have just begun to fight!! I sound like John Paul Jones…

      For the wild ones,


  3. This is why I quite eating beef 2 years ago…


    • Me too g….

      I don’t eat any meat at all…I’m a fish-a-tarian…. I really don’t even miss it and am used to drinking soy, etc. The best soy milk out there is Silk. It’s amazing. I love the Very Vanilla and also DHA, Omega 3 and Calcium.


      • yes, the cow milk is just as bad as soon as the dairy cows are depleted of milk giving properties they are handed over to the slaughterhouse. Soy milk is fine with me, but my son won’t do it, yet.


      • g….
        My son won’t drink soy either…he’s afraid of the phytoestrogens. I usually have it everyday with a bowl of cereal….Silk (with DHA, Calcium, Omega 3)


    • me too 3 yrs ago


  4. Rich and everyone , I have boycotted Idaho potatoes for along time.I live in Indiana.Some time ago I got these comericals advertising the Idaho potato and just recently I’m getting hit with them again.Don’t buy them and never will until there is a change with their wild life policies especially wolves. Learned to enjoy other things. That was a realy great article,Nabeki.


    • Thanks Rita…I haven’t eaten Idaho potatoes since this all started. Friends of Animals called for a boycott back in September.


  5. Another way to help stop this wolf genocide in Idaho, is to boycott Idaho businesses like big game outfitters who guide wolf hunts. Many of these outfitters also have summer trail rides to high lakes or around resorts.If locals and tourists were informed, they might choose to walk rather than horseback ride with these wolf killers. A list is being compiled to post on the internet.


    • Awesome! We need to keep this going!


    • Me and some old geezers like me used to spend summers in our motor homes around the Stanley lakes and Salmon area fishing and listening to wolves. I traveled with a big white wolfdog, and every one around there remembered him from year to year. We spent thousands there, but now I wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire. I won’t even buy domestic cars, because of what mIchigan is doing to the wolves.


      • Jerry – there are few wolves left in the Stanley area. For now the ranchers have won. They will not tolerate any wolves. Drive around Stanley in the summer, all you will see are cattle, not wolves, not coyotes.


  6. Boycott beef! If you can’t stop eating it … then ask where it came from. Some is supposedly grass fed/organic/predator friendly (sounds too good to be true).


    • I don’t eat meat but we should look into this and find out about grass fed/organic/predator friendly beef.

      Maybe this is the time of year for people to make a New Years Resolution to give up beef or meat in general.


  7. This is utterly so awful words fail me.


    • Hi Kristen,
      It’s heartbreaking but we can do something about it. If enough people speak out, things will change. That’s my belief.


  8. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Howling4Justice: Thanksgiving Week Massacre of Basin Butte Wolves…..Stanley, Idaho :


  9. […] Save Idaho’s Wolves […]


  10. No wonder ranchers have such a bad rep in the West–this kind of stuff helps galvanize an otherwise sympathetic public to get cattle off public land, halt river dewatering for irrigation, etc.

    I’m a hunter that appreciates wolves (and I don’t want to kill any, either).

    Thanks for the good work on this site.


    • Hi EcoRover,
      I’m always glad to hear from hunters that have a positive attitude toward wolves and don’t mind sharing our wildlands with them, its refreshing really This gives me hope for the welfare of wolves in the wild. As for ranchers…I think they are so used to being catered to by the feds, they expect it. Our wildlife shouldn’t be managed for ranchers and agriculture.

      Thanks so much for readiing the blog!!!

      For the wild ones,


      • Yep, understanding hunters are the best hunters :mrgreen:


  11. Always, always the same story. Angry rancher lets WS come and slaughter evil predator. Future generations will see us as barbarians if this nightmare ever stops.
    As a birdwatcher, I have read that birdwatching alone makes about 2-8 billion dollars annually, and it seems that wildlife watching in general makes 45 billion dollars anually!!! Heck, that’s way more than hunting…


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