BOZEMAN – A big-game outfitter and outspoken opponent of wolves had 13 sheep killed by the predators on property north of Gardiner, federal wildlife officials said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services verified that two wolves killed sheep owned by William Hoppe sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Friday.
USDA Wildlife Services state director John Steuber said five ewes and eight lambs died. Three others were injured but were expected to survive, he said.
The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks issued Hoppe a shoot-on-sight permit for two wolves, but they can be shot only on the property where the attack occurred, said agency spokeswoman Andrea Jones. Hoppe said he planned to move the remaining sheep off the property and closer to his house and maybe buy a few more.
Steuber said federal trappers won’t take any lethal action against the wolves because Hoppe is moving his sheep.
“We don’t remove wolves to punish them; we only do it to prevent further predation, and now there’s nothing to protect,” Steuber said. “Plus, we don’t know which wolves were involved. We don’t just randomly go after wolves.”
Fish, Wildlife and Parks will monitor wolf activity in the area closely, Jones said.
Hoppe will be able to claim almost $2,000 in compensation for the sheep from the Montana Livestock Loss Board. He had purchased the sheep just a few weeks before they were killed.
Hoppe is a former president of the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. In January, he opposed the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission’s decision to close wolf hunting around Yellowstone National Park. He argues wolves are driving down the elk population in the area.