BOZEMAN — A big game outfitter who shot and killed a collared wolf from Yellowstone National Park is intentionally luring the animals by leaving dead sheep carcasses in a pile, leaders of a wolf advocacy group said.
"Make no mistake about that, it's definitely intentional baiting," Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
William Hoppe shot and killed a 2-year old, female wolf Sunday near where 13 sheep were killed in April. He notified Fish, Wildlife and Parks warden Chris Kerin that he killed the wolf using one of his two shoot-on-sight permits the agency issued after the sheep were killed, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Wednesday. The permits are valid for 45 days and only allow wolves to be shot on the property where the sheep were killed.
In mid-April, Hoppe, an outspoken opponent of wolves, bought about 30 sheep and started raising them on his property along the Yellowstone River near Gardiner.
On April 24, he awakened to find that two wolves had killed five ewes and eight lambs.
Hoppe "deliberately put the sheep on his property ... knowing that the wolves would kill them," Cooke charged.
Hoppe told the Chronicle he was going to move the rest of the sheep closer to his house and that he had disposed of the dead sheep in a bone pile in the area where they were killed.
"This man needs to be held accountable for baiting," said Kim Beam, vice president of Wolves of the Rockies. She said the issue would be raised at Thursday's Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission meeting in Helena, where commissioners will consider the 2013 wolf hunting season.
Animals such as wolves and grizzly bears can smell carcasses a mile away and sometimes further, said Doug Smith, a Yellowstone National Park wolf biologist. He said the wolf that was killed Sunday may have been attracted by the decaying meat.
Smith said information from the wolf's radio collar indicated that she was not involved in killing Hoppe's sheep.
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.
He did not return a phone call seeking comment.