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APRIL 8, 2010

Wolf kill in Weippe “not typical” say officials

   Gene Eastman, a retired game warden for Idaho Fish and Game, lost his Morgan horse to an animal attack near Weippe. The horse was corralled on hard-packed ground at Eastman’s property, leaving no specific tracks that would identify if it were a wolf or cougar kill.

   The horse was attacked at the neck, with its throat and parts of the face ripped away, whereas a wolf typically attacks an animal’s hindquarters and feeds on it from there first. Conversely, a mountain lion usually leaps on the back of prey leaving long claw marks that were not apparent on the carcass. The attack happened late Sunday night, March 28, or possibly the following morning, March 29.

   Conservation Officer, John McClain, of Idaho Fish & Game, made the first investigation at the site, stating that it was ambiguous whether it was, in fact, a wolf kill or not. U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services representative, Gary Looney, investigated the scene on Tuesday, March 30, and said, “I didn’t see the claw marks like a cat, but also did not see the hamstringing like a wolf. All I can say is something killed it and my first thought, while I was there, was it seemed kind of dog-like.”

   There have been recent signs of frequent wolf activity near the Eastman property near Lolo Creek. Eastman’s wife, Mollie said that she did not know the horses were at risk in their corrals. “It was Gene’s best horse. It worked for him when he was a game warden,” said Mollie. “They talked to us about reimbursement. If I had $10,000 and looked at 100 Morgan [horse] farms, I couldn’t replace it,” she said. She went on to say, “They are not raising them anymore.” This particular horse came from a line bred specifically for backcountry use.

    The Eastmans now are concerned about protecting the other eight horses they own.

   Gary Looney came back out March 31 to make a final determination on the type of kill that occurred, but was unavailable for comment.