B412’s story was the result of a collaboration between myself and a dedicated wolf advocate and friend.
Every wolf killed in Idaho and Montana’s wolf jihad is special. Because wolves are hard to observe in these states, unlike Yellowstone National Park, it’s rare any one wolf becomes familiar to wolf supporters but wolf B412, was such a wolf.
She was born in mid-April 2006, a member of the Soldier Mountain Pack, named for a beautiful mountain range north of Fairfield, Idaho, about 110 miles from Boise. Like much of Idaho, the Soldier Mountain Pack had to contend with sheep and cattle on public land grazing allotments.
Sheep grazing may appear to be a tranquil use of meadows and forests, but sheep are helpless and cannot defend themselves against a cocker spaniel, let alone a wolf or coyote. Guard dogs are used by some sheepmen, but the ranching industry relies mostly on “Wildlife Services” to trap, snare or shoot any wolf, coyote, fox, bear or mountain lion that’s spotted anywhere near livestock.
Wolves are scorned by Idaho Governor Butch Otter and his hand-picked Fish and Game Commissioners. These men – nicknamed the death squad – are trying to reduce what’s left of Idaho’s 800 wolves, down to 200 or less.
This was the situation a little, black female wolf pup faced, along with her pack in 2006.
Soldier Mountains Where B412 Was Born
Ranchers are not required to take any measures that might help wolves survive. Example: bands of sheep, numbering 2500 ewes and lambs, are frequently herded to known wolf denning and rendezvous sites in the mountains. Ranchers have public land grazing allotments to graze cattle and sheep – land that belongs to all Americans. Sheep herders who come to America, mostly from Peru, work for $700 a month or less and live in a sheep wagon most of the year. Their pay is the same whether they protect sheep from predators like wolves, or not. If a lamb dies of illness or injury, it’s often blamed on wolves.
The result: IDFG issues a control order to remove wolves and sends Wildlife Services on a killing mission. Wildlife Services is a federal government agency, under the U.S. Dept of Agriculture. Wildlife Services, a misnomer, sends agents to trap or snare any wolf they can find, or launches an air attack using a helicopter or fixed wing airplane. Your tax dollars at work.
The Soldier Mountain Pack had chosen their home range in a spectacular mountain landscape. But some people, especially ranchers with strong political connections, have determined that wolves will not exist. Coexisting with wolves is something Idaho has no intention of ever doing under the reign of Governor Butch Otter.
The Soldier Mountain Pack was implicated in some proven and probable livestock losses. It’s uncertain what happened, but in the fall of 2008, a young, black female wolf ended up far from her home territory.
And then trouble struck. The young wolf made the mistake of putting her paw into a coyote trap. Why any civilized human traps coyotes or any other animal, is hard if not impossible to understand. But in the fall of 2008, she was caught in a trap. The result: IDFG came to the scene and fixed a radio collar on her neck. At that time, scars of other trapping encounters were evident.
Right paw – missing two toes.
The wolf was missing two toes on her right foot. She apparently had been caught in a trap set for coyotes and managed to pull the trap free from its stake, leaving the area before the trapper came back to kill her. Squished in the trap, two of her front toes eventually dropped off the rest of her paw. She was free from the trap but paid a painful price. Now she was crippled.
Soon she was tricked again by an expert trapper, as indicated by the scar above her two remaining toes. Somehow, she was able to free herself from the trap and survive. A scar is visible on her right paw above her toes.
Gash on left paw shows further damage from a trap
The story moves to the Spring of 2009. Wolf B412 was being monitored by IDFG agents, as they do with all radio-collared wolves in Idaho. B412 was now three years old. She whelped her first litter of pups. There were only two other adult wolves with her. We know now, she had six pups. In early summer, 2009, a calf was killed 10 miles from the location B412 had her pups. According to agency documents, the order was to kill a wolf. Apparently it didn’t matter whether it was B412 or one of the other two wolves with her.
One adult wolf was “howled” out and killed. This means that a trained agent, imitates the howl of a wolf, and when it appears, he shoots it with a high powered rifle.
B412 eventually moved several miles away. In August, a biologist working for the Sawtooth National Forest, discovered five dead wolf pups in Ditto Flat. Law enforcement was notified and officers retrieved the pups and also found a 6th. The conclusion: canine parvo was the culprit, it was found in the remains of two of the pups. Witnesses at the sad scene stated B412 was in the area and howled mournfully for her pups.
Then B412 disappeared. Her radio collar signal was not picked up on the IDFG monthly wolf survey flights. They use collar telemetry to pin point wolves’ locations. All to0 often, this information is shared, leading to dead wolves.
Where Was B412?
In 2011, a crippled, black collared wolf was seen in Blaine County, Idaho. It was B412, many miles from her original home. Much of Blaine County is a green, progressive, conservation-minded place. It’s one of two Idaho counties that voted for Obama. There’s a saying: I don’t live in Idaho, I live in Blaine County.
Unfortunately, the southern part of Blaine County is red neck and anti-wolf. B412 was on hostile ground near Bellevue and Carey, two tiny Blaine County villages. Those who knew B412 was in the area, didn’t say a word to anyone.
Then, in the summer of 2011, a man who had a bear baiting station caught a collared wolf on his remote camera. It wasn’t B412, but it was a gray wolf with a collar. That sent IDFG out searching for collared wolves, using an airplane, they found B412, who had been missing for nearly two years. Now that IDFG knew where she was – it was the beginning of the end for her.
Unfortunately, the enemies of wolves and all predators, continue to push to destroy wolves like B412. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has become a huge force against wolves like B412. Apparently, elk are only for humans to hunt and kill.
When two sheep and a calf were killed several miles from B412 – IDFG called out the “Wildlife Services aerial gunning squad” to find B412 and “kill any offending wolves”. It didn’t matter if B412 was responsible for killing livestock.
Friends of B412 kept an eye on her and her four black pups.
When the pups got older and could travel, B412 moved several miles. She was well hidden in an area with plentiful food, from rodents to deer and elk.
In late August, a calf was killed on a ranch 7 miles away. It wasn’t just any ranch, it belonged to a well-known public figure, who had been in the Idaho Legislature, and was considered by some to be an environmentalist. But, it’s now clear, that the rancher has no use for wolves or any animal that threatened his cattle and sheep. Wildlife Services stations an agent next to his ranch for the entire summer.
Observers knew B412 wasn’t anywhere near the ranch at the time the calf was killed. But, she was the closest collared wolf. Because the calf was left out in the open in hot weather from Sunday morning until Tuesday – it’s no surprise coyotes, foxes, ravens, wolves, eagles and magpies – all showed up to feed on the calf carcass.
Maybe a wolf killed the calf, maybe it didn’t. Wildlife Services can only continue to exist if they declare any dead calf or lamb, cow or ewe, a wolf kill.
Tragically, on the morning of August 31st, 2011, Wildlife Services swept down upon the ranch and shot three wolves and four coyotes. B412 escaped with her life, running into the trees. Unfortunately, her yearling son, and two pups of the year, did not survive the gunning.
B412 was heard howling, mourning for her off spring.
Almost three months later, on Sunday, November 27th, B412 herself, was shot by a wolf hunter. She was five years old. She had crippled, maimed feet. She weighed only 83 pounds. She was shot in an area that is only accessible via a locked gate, where there is private land belonging to the same ranch that allowed the August 31st aerial killing of B412’s yearling son and two pups.
B412’s two surviving pups are orphans now, grieving for their mother. There may be 1 or 2 adult wolves with them, who will teach them to hunt and survive. But, sadistic humans, who hunt wolves, will be targeting them.
B412 was five years old when she was shot by a wolf hunter on Sunday, November 27, 2011. The clouds over the Little Wood River country wept, as did all who are fighting for Idaho’s wolves.
What can you do to help? Support groups who are working on behalf of wolves in the Northern Rockies. Please, before you write a check, ask organizations where they stand on wolf hunting, trapping and snaring. Depending on their answer you can open your check book or close it! Give instead to organizations who support and defend the right of wolves to exist in peace.
Please do not buy garments, footwear or other items made from the fur of animals.
Speak out for wolves, I hope B412’s story will move you to act. She lived a hard life, caught in three traps, leaving both front paws maimed. She lost 6 puppies to parvo and three to Wildlife Service killers.
Wolves are not just faceless, nameless numbers. They’re highly social, intelligent animals who are suffering, due to ignorance, hate and arrogance.
Here are a few important facts to carry with you:
Idaho lost 86, 900 cattle to non-predation in 201o (NASS). This includes digestive, metabolic and respiratory problems, mastitis, lameness and injury, weather, poisoning and theft. Just 75 cows were lost to wolves. Domestic dogs and coyotes are a bigger threat to cattle. Yet wolves are treated like terrorists, tracked and hounded, now hunted with traps and snares. Is this what was intended for the iconic wolf , brought back from the brink in the lower 48, just 16 years ago, only to be exterminated once more?
Speak out for Idaho wolves before it’s too late!
Anti-wolf bumper stickers as seen in Hailey, Idaho. Ignorance seems to have the upper hand in Idaho when it comes to wolves.
Elusive wolf shot by hunter near Carey
Alpha female had survived 3 kill orders
PLEASE WRITE THE FOLLOWING MEN. IT’S ESSENTIAL YOU BE POLITE.Do not use profanity. IDFG = Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game. These two men have considerable power over the wildlife in IDFG’s Magic Valley Region in the southern part of the state. The Region includes the towns of Twin Falls, Burley, Rupert, Buhl, Hagerman, Jerome, Gooding, Mountain Home, Fairfield, Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, Sun Valley and Picabo.
Dr. Wayne Wright, IDFG CommissionerMagic Valley Region
Jerome Hansen, IDFG Supervisor
Magic Valley Region
Points to mention – please mention if you are an Idaho resident, a current or past visitor to Idaho, or have (had) plans to visit Idaho:
•Wolves are intelligent, charismatic animals who live in families, just like us. I would like to be able to view wolves in Idaho w/o someone trying to shoot, trap or snare them.
•I am very disappointed that Wolf B412 was recently shot by a hunter in your region. This wolf endured much in her short life, including the loss of two toes to a trap, and the loss of three of her pups this past summer. Now her two remaining pups are orphaned and will probably not survive. Yet, IDFG encourages hunters to kill wolves of any age, apparently to satisfy some blood thirst, a hatred of wolves, or to sell wolf tags for $11.75. What a waste. IDFG and its commissioners should be ashamed.
•Idaho’s treatment of wolves – shooting, trapping, snaring, aerial gunning – is inhumane & has no place in a civilized society, Idaho is already looked upon as a 3rd World Country existing within the United States, and your wolf killing plan furthers this impression.
•The indiscriminate killing of wolves of any age, as advocated by the Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game and the IDFG Commissioners, is spotlighting Idaho as a backwater state, that you wouldn’t want to visit, let alone call home. The wolf snaring and trapping season is a danger to anyone who has dogs or small children.
•Ranchers are being irresponsible in protecting their livestock from predators and IDFG is encouraging this by willingly ordering the slaughter of any wolves that might exist within miles. There is no accountability whatsoever on the part of sheep or cattle ranchers. I will no longer eat beef or lamb that comes from Idaho.
•IDFG’s management of wolves has drawn attention to the mismanagement of ranchers and their livestock. Like never before, public lands ranching is under scrutiny and I for one support, the removal of all livestock from my public lands. IDFG used to stand up for wildlife, now it appears you are but another pawn for the powerful cattle and sheep ranches.
•IDFG’s war on wolves – with the goal of killing by any means possible – all but 200 wolves in the state, has also drawn attention to big game outfitters who have made it clear they dislike wolves. I will never hire an outfitter who hunts wolves. I will boycott any business that supports the hunting of wolves. I will urge my friends and family to boycott Idaho until IDFG changes it’s campaign against wolves.
Gov. Butch Otter
Fax: (208) 334-3454
Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners
Upper Snake RegionKenny Anderson
Idaho Fish and Game
IDFG Director Virgil Moore:
Jon Rachael, IDFG Wildlife Dept.
Idaho tourism office
Write the Potato Commission
Photos: Courtesy of Idaho WildWolf Images Copyright 2011
Top Wolf Photo: Courtesy Animal Pictures Archive
Elk Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Posted in: Wolf Wars, Idaho Wolves
Tags: B412, Soldier Mountain Pack, black wolf, Idaho, Wildlife Services, IDFG, wolf hunt, traps and snares, aerial gunning, Flat Top Ranch