Coalville rancher claims wolf killed his calves
State agriculture officials believe a wolf has killed two calves on private land east of Coalville, according to a longtime North Summit cattle rancher.
Coalville resident Dennis Wright and a federal agriculture worker found Wright’s calves dead in Summit County about two weeks ago. The calves had been grazing a few miles from the Wyoming state line.
"My eyes, good hell, they were as big around as silver dollars. I couldn’t believe it," Wright said in a telephone interview. "What a brutal death from that wolf. He tears the hamstring in both hind legs and then eats them while they are alive."
Wildlife officials examined tracks in the area to determine the roughly 450-pound calves had been killed by a wolf, he said.
"They’ve taken pictures of the footprints," Wright said. "It took the state and feds three days before they would write it up as a wolf kill. It’s the first time in this area."
"There is no question. It is a wolf," he added.
Throughout most of Utah wolves are protected by federal law. However, wolves north of Chalk Creek Road have been removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, according to federal wildlife officials.
Wright’s calves were killed south of Chalk Creek Road.
"I guarantee you the ranchers and farmers know there are wolves in the area," Wright said.
The federal government is speaking with state wildlife officials about several confirmed and probable wolf kills reported in Utah in the past few weeks, said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We’ve got our eye on Utah," Bangs said. "There have been wolves in Utah before."
In areas of the state where wolves are not federally protected, wildlife agents have marked the predators for death.
"Utah issued a kill order in the delisted area and a rancher can shoot one if he sees it," Bangs said. "There have been no wolves seen or killed and there have been no further depredations that we know of."
But Utah has experienced a string of wolf attacks this summer, according to Summit County Councilman David Ure.
"There are probably five more wolf attacks on livestock in Utah in the past two weeks," Ure said
If a wolf killed Wright’s animals, it was likely a "lone wolf" that slaughtered the calves, Bangs explained.
There are no wolf packs living in Utah, he added.
"If it was a lone wolf, the indications are it is long gone," Bangs said. "These lone wolves can travel 20 to 30 miles a day."
At least 1,700 gray wolves live in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Lone wolves make up about 10 percent of that population.
"We know that we have had wolves in all the adjacent states, and occasionally these wolves may attack livestock," Bangs said. "I can see where a lone wolf stumbles into a band of calves that because of domestication have no natural defenses. They can kill some, grab a quick meal and head down the road looking for love."
Ranchers may receive compensation from the government for their livestock that is killed by predators.
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