DARBY - A second wolf was trapped and euthanized Saturday near a Darby area ranch where a horse was killed three weeks ago.

The male black yearling wolf was caught on national forest land about a half-mile from the Two Feathers Ranch south of Darby.

The owners of the ranch were granted permission to kill up to five wolves after one of their horses was driven through a fence and killed.

A female gray wolf was killed June 14 after being caught in a trap about 100 yards from where the horse died.

Officials suspect the Trapper Creek pack was responsible for the horse's death, but no one was sure of the pack's numbers.

Two Feathers Ranch manager Jeff Rennaker said they found another wolf track an inch away from another trap set near the ranch on Monday.

"Our problems are far from over," he said. "People don't think they are very intelligent animals. From what I've seen, they are pretty smart."

The permit that allows the ranch to kill wolves expires on July 11.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Liz Bradley said she will spend some additional time in the area to ascertain if there are more wolves after the permit expires and federal trappers remove their traps.

"We are going to have to see what happens over the next couple of weeks," Bradley said.

If there are more wolves in the area, Bradley said she will try to capture one and equip it with a radio collar.

One week before the horse was a killed, a neighboring rancher shot and thought he hit a wolf that was in amongst his cattle. The rancher reported the wolf was wearing a collar.

The only wolf in the area with a collar was the breeding female in the Trapper Creek pack, Bradley said. That wolf's collar was no longer functioning.

No has seen that wolf since then.

Last Saturday, Bradley used her dog in an attempt to see if she could locate the wolf's carcass, but didn't have any success.

"She's led me to several carcasses in the past when we've been out scouting around," Bradley said.

There have not been any additional livestock depredations since the horse was killed.

A control action was completed earlier this month on the CB Ranch east of Darby after wolves killed a calf there. Four wolves from the Divide Creek pack were killed by federal trappers, including two that were shot from a helicopter paid for by the ranch.

At the end of last year, there were 12 confirmed wolf packs that used the Bitterroot watershed at some time of the year.

Reporter Perry Backus can be reached at 363-3300 or at pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

 

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