Remembering The Hog Heaven Wolf Pack…

Hog Heaven wolf pack

February 3, 2014

I wrote this post in October 2009, a month after  Howling For Justice was created and mere months after wolves in the Northern Rockies were delisted by the Obama administration. The first wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho had just gotten underway  but the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack wasn’t killed by hunters, they were wiped out by Wildlife Services in 2008.

27 members strong, with two breeding females and 15 puppies, they are now just a memory, as so many wolf packs are. Today they barely have names, they’re anonymous wolves, who live and die without any recognition. But I remember when Wildlife Services gunned down one of the largest wolf packs to roam Montana. Here’s a look back at the doomed Hog Heaven Pack. In their memory please vow to work harder than ever to stop the slaughter of wolves.


Hog Hell: The Demise of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack

October 23, 2009

In 2008, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming killed 245 gray wolves in the name of ”livestock depredation”.

Twenty seven of those wolves were members of the Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, residing southwest of Kalispell, Montana, in the Browns Meadow/Hog Heaven area. They had been accused of preying on a few calves, some llamas and a bull.  The decision was made in November 08 to take out the entire pack.  Eight members of the pack had already been shot from the air by Wildlife Services.

In a three-day period, December 3rd, 4th and 5th of 2008,  the remaining 19 members of the Hog Heaven pack were gunned down, an almost unprecedented event, causing public outrage. Many articles were written  and opinions voiced, opposing the action. FIFTEEN PUPPIES AND TWO BREEDING FEMALES were among the slain.  The Hog Heaven pack was “the seventh entire wolf pack to be killed by Montana in 2008.”

The zero tolerance wolf management plan is just plain wrong and senseless, especially since cattle deaths by wolves are minimal.  Domestic dogs killed five times the number of cows than wolves in 2005.  I don’t see Wildlife Services taking out Labs and Huskies from the air?

The average number of cattle losses specific to wolf predation in these States is less than 0.7%.  This compares to an average of 1.6% of cattle losses due to predation by coyotes and an average of 90% of losses due to non-predator related causes such as health problems and disease.”

*The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), reports on cattle losses in the lower 48 States every five years.  Nationally, health issues such as respiratory problems, digestive problems, calving complications and disease were overwhelmingly the most significant causes of cattle death in 2005.  (The year for which we have the most recent detailed data.)”

“Only 0.11% (about 1/10 of 1%) of all cattle losses were due to wolf predation in 2005. Coyotes killed 22 times more cattle than wolves killed that year.  Domestic dogs killed almost 5 times as many cattle, and vultures killed almost twice as many cattle as wolves in 2005.  Theft was responsible for almost 5 times the cattle losses as were lost by wolf predation.”

The Hog Heaven pack was special, one of the largest wolf packs ever recorded in Montana, (the once mighty Yellowstone Druid’s had 37 members at their peak).

Instead of trying non-lethal methods to preserve the pack, the state  eliminated them!  AND this all happened while wolves still had ESA protection!!

The anti-wolf crowd wants you to believe wolves are hanging around ranches waiting to prey on livestock, when in reality most of the miniscule depredations take place on our vast public lands, where cattle and sheep are left unprotected.

George Wuerthner, the famed ecologist, calls cows, “walking picnic baskets”. What would you do if you were a predator surrounded by an ocean of cattle and sheep?  Would you munch on them or go after more difficult prey? We already know the answer. Yet the wolf pays the ultimate price for lazy, sloppy ranching practices and the federal government’s refusal to pull public land grazing permits, even though cattle pollute streams, trample riparian zones and over graze the land.

Wolf supporters realize the unfairness of what’s happening.

In 2008, when the Hog Heaven pack was lethally removed, people spoke out:

“Gunning down an entire pack of wolves — a species that is supposed to be protected under the endangered species act — borders on criminal,” said Jerry Black of the Missoula group Wildlife Watchers.

“We are outraged by this senseless slaughter of one of nature’s most majestic animals.”

Added Whitefish resident Roger Sherman: “It seems to me the so-called ’scientific management’ of wolves boils down to simply killing them to conciliate the livestock industry.”

“Brian Vincent, communications director for the group Big Wildlife, insists that the elimination of the Hog Heaven Pack could have been avoided.”

“Why should an entire pack of wolves pay the fatal price for a situation that could probably have been avoided?” he said.

“Both agencies are acting like it’s the Wild West with all guns blazing.”


It’s too late for Hog Heaven, they’re not coming back. This unique pack, was wiped out by Wildlife Services before Montanans could react. Is it any wonder wildlife advocates question the motives behind so many wolves losing their lives for so little reason? Why are the lives of predators held so cheaply?

If the failed policies of the states and feds to “manage wolves” continue, it’s certain they will never fully recover. We’ll be left with fragmented populations of wolves, genetically isolated, constantly under the gun.

What’s behind the intolerance of wolves?  It’s certainly not because they’re killing large numbers of livestock, wolf predation on livestock is minimal.  It’s not because wolves are decimating elk populations. Elk in Montana and Idaho are strong, with numbers way up.  Idaho has 105,000 elk and Montana numbers are even higher at 150,000 plus.

Yet the war on wolves continues. This year the Sage Creek Pack and Yellowstone’s Cottonwood pack were gunned down, one wiped out by Wildlife Services and the other shot in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness at the beginning of Montana’s wolf hunt.  They join the Hog Heaven Pack and many others in the ever-increasing death toll of gray wolves.

Will it be Hog Heaven or Hog Hell for wolves in the Northern Rockies?


Wolf photos: Courtesy Wikipedia Commons, All About Wolves, Wolf Wallpaper
Categories posted in: Montana Wolves, Wildlife Services War on Wildlife
Tags:  gray wolf, wolves or livestock, wolf intolerance, Wildlife Services, Hog Heaven Wolf Pack, National Agricultural Statistics Service

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is an outrage with the murders of these fine animals..the wolves…They are family just like us…loving & kind….These murders just don not want to understand them….they are living being just like us with feelings & love for their fellow pack members especially with their pups………..Kodey WhiteWolf


  2. I hope to see this destructive agency wiped out in our lifetime. It is no longer needed.


  3. Didn’t they just wipe of packs in Idaho??
    The judges order to stop the assault was issued after the hired professional hunter/killer exterminated 2 packs.
    This is totally unacceptable.


  4. It makes me sick. We all have to stick together and stop the slaughter.


  5. NASS statistics are self-reports by stock owners and are hugely inflated. I fill them out myself as I have horses. Different states have different criteria for reporting wolf kill. In WI the criteria is that you saw one in the area, a picture in your National Geographic Magazine maybe. Kills by wolves in Montana have to be confirmed by FWP or Wildlife Services, and those too can be inflated as some of these guys, ranchers-FWP are buddies, but more likely to be accurate. There were 65 cattle kills by wolves in MT in 2012 and less in 2013. The number of cattle in MT is 5.2 million making the wolf kills 0.002 %, which may be more reflective of reality in other states too with their likely inflated statistics. So, the 0.7 % reported in this article is likely very inflated. Do you trust USDA NASS statistics? Only OR has required nonlethal management as the first response then they only kill when that fails and the offenders are chronic offenders. OR should be the model of the nation for wolf, and grizzly and cougar, management. The statistics would be negligible if nonlethal management as first choice was used in all wolf occupied states.


  6. I don’t see how wolf kills can even be verified. If ranchers are leaving out the carcasses, who knows what originally killed them? It’s easy to run to the government for some money, just read about Michigan.


  7. What is happening to wolves is unethical, immoral, and an inexcusable crime against nature. I am still angry as hell about Tester’s delisting rider, and how the gutless Dems allowed it to remain in the budget bill. Politicians should not ever make decisions about endangered species or wildlife in general. The wolves do not deserve this.


    • Yes. It is the first time in my life that I did not watch the SotU address, because I already know what that is – it sucks!!! 🙂 I’m sick of empty rhetoric.


  8. R.I.P. Hog Heaven Wolf pack,surly some people have to be born without a soul to brutalize,torture to me it is out right murder,after becoming a Advocate back in 1990 i have seen,viewed millions of horrific things done to Animals by so called Humans all over the world and it still hurts makes me cry pretty much have given up on mankind except other Animal lovers and those that protect the innocence and even if my Husband gets worried and upset when he knows I,m upset or pissed off when I get threaten by these a holes which only pushes me more to fight harder to get them put back on the endangered species list and fight to keep the Endangered species list intact since the killers are trying to have all the endangered animals taken off for wall trophy’s sick freaks so disrespectful,and like I told my Husband maybe I can’t help to save all the Animals in my life time but I will damn sure try and my Daughter promised me she would keep fighting for them and has been teaching my Granddaughter to do the same.


  9. We need to stop KILLING our wolves period and stop reverting back to actions that took them near extinction.


  10. I don’t think I have ever known hatred until these last few years and witnessing this atrocious human behavior.


    • I hear you ida!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  11. I hear you too,Ida My head still hurts, my heart still aches.
    But its the hate in ME that I didn’t know I was capable of feeling.
    And that scares me!


  12. This is a sad commentary on the officials running these govt depts. We are beyond backward and stupid is not even descriptive enough to define our criminal actions
    These wolves are living breathing wonderful stewards of our earth …
    We are low brow killers and we can’t continue the genocide of actually a species that seems more evolved then we can ever hope to be
    I mean they mate for life, take incredible care of their families, are self sustaining and self regulating and excellent carbon sequesters and only take what they need always leaving food for others that share their habitat
    Wow, that ain’t us … !


  13. Reblogged this on Wolf Is My Soul.


  14. Could you post where you get your data? I’d be interested in seeing the numbers myself (preferably annual number of cattle killed by county).


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