Two wolves killed 143 sheep grazing on the backside of Shaw Mountain outside of Boise.
The lambs and ewes were part of the band of 2,500 sheep that crossed Highway 55 in March and have been grazing through the Boise Foothills. The owner of the Wilder sheep Frank Shirts said it's the worst incident of wolf predation he's experienced, according to a news release from the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission. Shirts said the attack happened during daylight hours, which is rare. The two wolves ran into the band of sheep and herded them into a gully, causing a pileup.
"The wolves scared the hell out of them and pushed them into that little canyon and piled them in there," Shirts said in a statement. "They didn’t consume anything. The sheep just suffocated in the pileup and died. We work to make things good for those sheep every day, so it’s a shame to lose them."
Two of the sheep herders, who stay with the sheep constantly, chased off the two wolves. The two Great Pyrenees guard dogs with the herd ran for safety and were uninjured, according to the release. Both herders and guard dogs are used to help protect the sheep.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are unsure whether the wolves were dispersing from a pack or if there is a wolf pack in the Shaw Mountain area, according to the release.
"We know that wolves are present on the Boise Front,” said Brian Pearson, regional communication manager. “This occurred in Game Management Unit #39, which is an area in which we have chronic livestock depredation events. To that end, we have expanded seasons and methods of take in Unit #39, and often have to address depredations using control actions."