May 7, 2013 9:15 PM by Judy Slate - MTN News
GARDINER - Gardiner rancher Bill Hoppe made a gruesome discovery last week that 18 of his sheep were slaughtered.
He took pictures of the carnage, and federal investigators determined two wolves were responsible. Hoppe then shot and killed a wolf he believes killed the sheep on Monday.
"I've been going down and checking, saw two and the other one made it off the property before I could shoot it," Hoppe said.
The wolf was collared, with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reporting the animal was from the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park.
FWP officials say that Hoppe didn't break any laws because he was issued a kill-on-site permit to kill two wolves after the loss of his sheep.
Hoppe said he saw two other wolves with some cattle on his property north of Gardiner on Saturday night.
"It's an ongoing problem, every night. I spend most of the night checking to make sure wolves ain't in my calves and the sheep," he said.
Hoppe doesn't need a permit to kill a wolf if it's spotted with cattle. The permit was issued because he moved the remaining sheep to a different location.
Hoppe says he'll continue to protect his livestock, noting that it'll be "interesting to see if they run out of wolves or I run out of sheep."
Hoppe's kill-on-site permit lasts about another month and allows him to kill one more wolf in the area where his sheep were killed.
- Photos courtesy of Bill Hoppe