Officials say wolf slaughtered sheepdog | ParkRecord.com

Officials say wolf slaughtered sheepdog

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Wildlife officials say they are searching for a wolf that killed a roughly 100-pound sheepdog in the Chalk Creek area east of Coalville.

The Great Pyrenees was found dead last week on private land in Summit County. On Tuesday, a second guard dog was missing from the same ranch, according to Larry Lewis, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture and Food.

"A wolf killed a sheepherder’s guard dog," Lewis said.

The attack was reported to agriculture officials on July 30.

"It had been attacked and killed one or two days earlier because it was starting to decompose," Lewis said. "One of the witnesses up there, the livestock owner who was up there, saw the wolf moving away and it appeared to be limping and injured. We have traps established in the Chalk Creek area. We set up the traps on Friday, after it was discovered."

Lewis did not release the dog owner’s name. The attacks occurred a few miles from the Wyoming state line.

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The sheepdog was found dead about a mile and a half from where a predator slaughtered two calves in early July belonging to Coalville resident Dennis Wright.

"Those guard dogs took that wolf head on, and I guess he killed them," Wright said.

Despite what state officials say, Wright said ranchers in the area found the second sheepdog dead last weekend.

"Where they spotted the wolf, after he had killed the guard dogs, was back on our property again," Wright said. "The state trapper was with them when they saw it. They didn’t get a shot at it or anything, but they think it has a collar on it. If it’s got a collar on it, the damn thing was let loose in Yellowstone."

According to Lewis, the dogs and calves were likely attacked last month by the same wolf.

"It’s been in trouble before and it’s continuing to be in trouble The traps will remain there, but we’re not sure that the wolf will come back," he said. "Hopefully, he will go away and go back into Idaho or Montana, and leave Utah livestock alone."

Officials trapped and killed a wolf that attacked livestock in northern Utah last month, according to Lewis. That wolf was in a portion of the state where the species is not federally protected, he added.

Throughout most of Utah wolves are protected by federal law. Only in an area north of Interstate 80 and east of Interstate 84 are ranchers allowed to shoot wolves that harass livestock, according to the state Division of Wildlife Resources.

The wolf attacks near Coalville occurred south of Interstate 80, where wolves are federally protected.

If officials trap a wolf in an area of the state where the species is protected, Lewis said they would attach a collar to the predator and release it into the wild.

Wolves haven’t occupied Utah in large numbers for many decades. Biologists say there are no wolf packs living in the state.

"We’re not the same state that we were population-wise at the turn of the century when wolves were allowed to roam free," Lewis said.

Facing extinction, gray wolves were reintroduced into Wyoming, Idaho and Montana in the 1990s. More than 1,700 wolves live in those three states today.

"They’re doing more damage than the resources can handle in those areas," Lewis said.