Remembering the Basin Butte Pack Thanksgiving Week Massacre….

Basin Butte wolf “Little Sis”

July 22, 2014

It’s been almost five years since the Basin Butte pack was gunned down, during Thanksgiving week, in Stanley, Idaho.

I hope you will remember these wolves and the cruel, disgusting agency that took their lives. Wildlife Services must be abolished and defunded. They’re an extermination arm of the Department of Agriculture, killing millions of animals annually for agribusiness. They do horrific damage to gray wolves and other native wildlife.

I will be paying tribute this week to the wolves and wolf packs who’ve have been slaughtered in wolf hunts, by Wildlife Services, poachers and ranchers.


Thanksgiving Week Massacre of The Basin Butte Wolves

basin butte wolf pup 1

A Basin Butte wolf pup, 6 months old.

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, in 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.

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 to 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.

Photos: All Photos by Idaho WildWolf Images Copyright 2008.

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

Tags: aerial gunning of wolves, wolves in the crossfire, wolf extermination, Stanley, Idaho, Basin Butte Pack, Wildlife Services

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32 CommentsLeave a comment



  2. I can just die a thousand deaths thinking of these human caused atrocities.. I don’t just want these freaks of nature,I don’t just want to defund and abolish F & W Services,I want to de-ball everyone of the Wolf Killers and nail them up in a Anti-hunting Lodge!


  3. Good luck with that Dom….those wolf killers fund wildlife management…take a couple dollars you are wasting on frivolous law suits and buy a clue!


    • They not only fund it, they buy and pay for them. They’ve changed research to suit them.


      • AK Board of Game is ENTIRELY composed of wolf-killers, “sport” and trophy hunters.

        Turns out though that even Idaho WIldlife mgmt is only about 47% funded by haters.

        In MN way over 2/3 of the state polled population is AGAINST wolf hunting. That may be a scene for good news in the future.

        MI has LOTS of input from the killing gunners from IN IL, OH, and south.
        There are loads of migrant killers from other states who go North just to kill for twisted joy every fall.

        Northern Rockies have both local kill-nuts, and huge death industries for “big” game. They also have many ranchers’ kids who like to shoot things, and exert themselves to put out nonsense like that which follows:
        In AK (Juneau) one guy called wolves “Thugs” – this even though wolves cull and give health to ungulate populations, get as little as 5% success rates, and are unremitting targets for death by human. A wolf gets between 40% and up to 80%+ of winter diet from animals killed by winter cold and lack of food, and must be looked upon as 1/2 a cleanup crew carrion eater (and I knew one well!)
        These wolves of AK which EVERY year lose their adults and families and culturally-transmitted learning skills, must kill to eat, while the true “thugs” by definition are those humans who kill for pleasure, without the desperate need of an obligate carnivore. What sick false moralizing! – BUT this is the kind of phony excuse fantasy of those who kill for release of frustration, and just sociopathic pleasure.


    • Yes, the corruption is insane bad right now, but it will change with public education, people are starting to wake up about the NRA, (the real F&W) and it’s destructive mentality, F&W can’t fight evolution, as much as they try with their pea brains and small penis syndrome.It may not happen as quick as it needs to for these beautiful sentient Wolves..lawsuits are not are only weapon to fight this insane barbaric cruelty,..have to get the voters to understand their options for Wildlife Watching that generates 7-10 X’s the amount the hunters think they contribute..F&W is also subsidized by public funds, I have done the math, but even if it wasn’t why does a privately funded interest group run a government agency so blatantly???? Because the killers are bullies from hell..not going to stay that way, public will know!


      • USDA’s Wildlife Services, not Fish & Wildlife Services. Big difference. BIG DIFFERENCE.


      • No not a big difference Ben Wangler, not at all, ones a state, ones federal, It is only in a name, CA is at least honest about their title, Fish & GAME!!! Also, Thanksgiving was not a day of peace, the truth is very different,


      • Ben Wangler below makes a vitally important comment.

        Please study and get every fact STRAIGHT before speaking on this subject.
        You have a relatively small number of deeply psychopathic persons transmitting their hate for wolves to the entire US state and federal government, and this MUST be overwhelmed with fact, compassion, alternatives.

        USDA Wildlife Services it the name of the agency to be shut down.

        Forest Service, BLM, and all state wildlife or “game” agencies must be convinced to seek less intrusive or destructive management policies, protecting wildlife – ALL wildlife.
        State and federal legislators must be turned to understanding the wolf, and to desire its presence and preservation.
        State and Federal Executive Administration must contain educated and compassionate people – not lobbies by ranchers, hunters, or others who exist only to bring death to any native species, plant or animals.

        You yourself must work to understand biology, ecology, and the latest findings in behavior of species. THEN Speak.


      • No they are different. USDA’s WIldlife Services(Management) is doing this dirty work, not Fish and Wildlife Services.
        Fish and Wildlife Services is different than Game and Fish, I know because:
        1. Someone I know very well works for FWS, it’s a separate office and agency than GFD.
        2. FWS focuses on spending money on the conservation of ALL WILDLIFE and monitoring population.
        USDA’s WS does the exact opposite, and GFD is only concerned with “game animals” and fish. Yes FWS delisted Gray Wolves, but the decision came from higher up the rusty corporate ladder. FWS are the ones spending money trying to protect the Mexican Wolf. Clearly you don’t know your facts.


  4. Such beautiful creatures. And, they chased them down in a helicopter? Such brave, brave men


    • Alaska is ALWAYS on the verge of aerial killing, periodically employing it, and since parts of even Denali National Park are remote, aerial poaching consistently occurs WHENEVER the gun nuts believe they can get away with it.


      • Shit. This is really sad


      • Makuye, The Basin Butte Pack was aerial gunned in Idaho, not Alaska. Yes Alaska is the worst of the worst but Idaho is not far behind.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  5. It is unbelievable that we have such ignorant people in the world. They have no love in them, that they can look at such magnificent creatures, such as the wolves, and then pull the trigger.

    What is happening about the de-listing of the wolves? Wasn’t President Obama going to re-instate them?


  6. Words fail me…


  7. It burns me up to see or hear that they are chasing them with helicopters. Too hard on wolves,horses and other creatures. Hope for the best someday.


  8. I am still boycotting Beef


  9. Reblogged this on Equillibrium's Blog.


  10. Horrible cowards to destroy such beautiful living beings who did absolutely nothing bad to them or anyone else! Shame on you all! Disgusting!


  11. They were killed on Thanksgiving, a holiday for reminding ourselves to be thankful. Sheesh.


  12. And shut down the BLM while your at it

    They’re not much better with the Wild Horses


    • At present they are managing for welfare ranchers – public lands grazers, who cheat constantly.
      The BLM has a complex job of managing for all the corrupt lawmakers’ pet fossil fuel corporations.
      Instead of claiming that it should be shut down, which merely places the destructive mining, grazing, leasing into the hands of WORSE groups – states tend to be far MORE corrupt than this agency.
      Change the mission and goals to reflect preservation, rewilding, regrowth of ecosystems.

      I tire of hearing the ignorant say to shut down BLM – it is full of many caring biologists and others, constrained by private, state and federal nuts.


      • Makuye…BLM may have some caring biologists in it’s ranks but it matters not since they seem unable to effect change within the agency. The BLM is responsible for cruel wild horse round ups that put dwindling herds of our wild horses in holding pens. There is no reason to round up wild horses, they have the right to roam free and wild, there is plenty of room for them on our public lands. We have over 100 million cattle in this country who are destroying our public lands yet a few thousand wild horses are being harassed and doomed to lives inside holding pens. The BLM uses helicopter hazing in these round ups of our treasured wild horses, chasing them under under harsh, dry, hot conditions, since most of our wild horses live in Nevada. Harry Reid is the US Senator of that state and knows very well what’s happening but does nothing to stop it. Horses and foals are injured and frightened needlessly, all because agribusiness wants to drive them from their home to make room for cattle or oil and gas leasing.

        But the worst federal agency is Wildlife Services which kills millions of our native wildlife every year for agribusiness. They must be shut down or defunded and yet they continue their killing ways unabated. The Sacramento Bee did an excellent expose of this rogue agency and still nothing has been done.

        There is so much power and money involved in the rape of our public lands that any effort to change or alter the behavior of these agencies is met with fierce resistance. It’s a sad state of affairs and it’s going to take a monumental effort by the American people to effect real change.

        For the wolves, For the wild ones,


      • Shut them down

        And reorganize with those who have a more intelligent and compassionate mind set for Americas wild

        BLM is once again rounding up wild horses

        To justify and keep their jobs and paychecks

        And I beg your pardon but I’m am far from ignorant only those who claim others are without knowing anything about that individual exhibits true ignorance


    • I agree hocuspocus. They seem to be able to harass and pen up our wild horses but can’t stand up to a rancher like Cliven Bundy, who clearly is illegally grazing his cattle on public land, hasn’t paid grazing fees in years and yet the BLM allowed the militia, who were complicit in the Bundy fiasco, to draw a bead on federal BLM agents without any recourse or arrest. And still nothing has been done to them. Can you imagine what would happen to a a wolf or wildlife advocate if they aimed a rifle at a federal agent? They’d be jailed for life as terrorists, yet the BLM backed down and returned all the Bundy cattle they’d rounded up. Not only that, they allowed the militia lawbreakers to walk free. Unbelievable lawlessness. It was anarchy and the feds backed down, the rule of law apparently means nothing if certain people are breaking it.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


      • And thats why i don’t eat beef…..


      • Well, to be perfectly honest with you

        I’m all for the Militia and Bravo to Bundy

        We The People…need more of it


  13. I worked for the election and reelection of President Obama, but thanks to him, Ken Salazar, and Senator Tester, I will no longer contribute a nickle to the DNC until this administration and Secretary Jewell do something to end the savage killing of wolves. These policies were put into place to protect ranchers and big game hunters.We all have to make changes in our lives. It is time these group learns to get along and promote strategies to protect their businesses rather than take what is precious to others. I love traveling to Yellowstone to watch the wolves and other creatures, and I make a quiet effort to support those businesses that are wolf friendly. It is not fair to boycott people who have worked hard and make it possible for the rest of us to see nature.


  14. I’m getting repeated interaction from local County official from having instead of used the Center for Biological Diversity email suggestion , having instead largely filled my submission with local human/wildlife conflicts.
    Although I have just lost the love of my life, a Wolf, and cannot think, I mentioned natural species which need to be restored to balance in this county. Even though I specifically rudely attacked one of those “no-wolf” people, I am getting good response, and have been composing a lot of appropriate info on nonlethal conflict resolution methods.

    Those of you who are thinking well at this time, I hope will expend the time to inform those with contracts with USDA WS, that lethal methods are counterproductive, creating higher reproduction in stressed species like wolves, coyotes, deer, and others.
    You will need to be familiar with local issues – here we have everything from Canada geese to the usual raccoons, skunks, bears, mt. lions, deer eating, etc.
    Find conflict reduction info and GIVE it to those who would support USDA WS, and should there be a failure to eliminate this agency, they also need to be swamped with nonlethal methods proven and in use. There are many.


  15. My facts are straight, I have been communicating with all these agencies for many years, I have done the research with and for Anthony Marr, President of Global Anti Hunting, Biologist & Wolf & Wildlife Rescuer, Connee Robertson I come by my frustration honestly and factually,and have spent an enormous amount of time researching for all wildlife, not just the Wolves. Sorry you take a welfarist view that you can change the certain agencies attitudes, but I myself am tired of my acts and plea’s of compassion falling on deaf ears..I see my previous comment has not been published, that would be a shame to eliminate support from the same side of the fence.


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