Idaho sheep rancher moves flock to avoid wolves

Idaho sheep rancher moves flock to avoid wolves
(AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gary Kramer, File)

KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) - A central Idaho sheep rancher whose flock sustained losses to wolves each spring during lambing season moved them this year from his ranch near Carey to a new area where wolves aren't present.

"It turned out just fine," John Peavey told the Idaho Mountain Express (http://bit.ly/1meOoQZ ) in a story on Wednesday. "We were really pleased."

Peavey moved 1,800 ewes in April to the desert about 20 miles south. He said he lost a couple lambs to coyotes but none to wolves.

"We're very pleased that John's been able to change his lambing practices," said Suzanne Stone, program manager for the Wood River Wolf Project. "I think he deserves strong recognition for his willingness to address these conflicts."

The organization attempts to use nonlethal deterrents to reduce the number of sheep killed by wolves in the Wood River Valley of central Idaho, a region that besides a lot of open land also includes the resort areas of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

During lambing season, the flock is spread out so lambs can hear the calls of their mothers and form a bond, Peavey said. But that also makes them susceptible to wolf attacks at his Flat Top Ranch.

"The wolves were in the sheep every night," Peavey said.

Since 2008, wolves killed 153 sheep and three calves in the Flat Top Ranch area in 19 incidents, according to Idaho Wildlife Services. The agency killed 15 wolves in response.

About half the ewes gave birth in the new area before he had to move the flock north as the desert dried in May, Peavey said. The rest of the ewes gave birth on his ranch in the Muldoon Creek area, he said.

He didn't lose any sheep to wolves near Muldoon, an area where Wildlife Services killed six wolves last year, Peavey said.

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Information from: Idaho Mountain Express, http://www.mtexpress.com