The tip came in by phone. The allegation: widespread disregard for the federal law prohibiting airborne hunting by civilians. The alleged perpetrators included members of three Wyoming county predator boards, their professional contractors and others who could best be described as thrill seekers.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Steve Stoinski was on the other end of the line on Dec. 2, 2019. His confidential informant, “SI-1,” told him that contracted pilots for predator management districts in Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta counties were violating the Airborne Hunting Act by flying their gunners over federal land in southwest Wyoming and killing every coyote, wolf, bobcat and mountain lion they saw, without the requisite permits. The informant, who provided the nuanced details of an insider, claimed predator board members and their families were partaking in the aerial gunning, describing the activity as some kind of recreational pursuit.

“Everybody wants to shoot a wolf from a helicopter!” SI-1 told Stoinski, according to documents from a federal law enforcement investigation report

Stoinski, who has since retired, declined an interview for this story. But the day after SI-1’s call, he corroborated the claims with the account of a second confidential source, SI-2, according to documents that WyoFile acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request. SI-2 told the federal special agent that the county predator boards had terminated aerial gunning contracts with Wildlife Services —  the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s predator control division — because the agency wouldn’t shoot wolves or coyotes unless it could demonstrate the canines had been killing livestock. Instead, SI-2 said, directors of the county boards who are elected by local cattlemen and woolgrowers were using their state funds to hire private contractors, who “will shoot every predator they see regardless of circumstances.” 

The second informant echoed allegations that predator board members themselves were getting in on the aerial shooting because it was “a lot of fun. 

“SI-2 said he knew for a fact that members of the Lincoln County Predator Board including the president, [redacted], has been in the helicopter to shoot animals on Forest Service land,” the investigation documents read.

Members of that board president’s family, the tipster said, had done the same. 

In the year that followed, Stoinski, Bureau of Land Management agent Tom Hill and U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Lathan Sidebottom led a sprawling investigation of purported Airborne Hunting Act violations in Wyoming. The federal team also sought investigative assistance from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The state agency declined to participate because the case involved wolves and coyotes — predator species that fall outside its jurisdiction and, with the exception of wolves inside the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, enjoy no protections under state law. 

A coyote with feathers in its mouth prowls along the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park in this 2013 image. In southwestern Wyoming, coyotes are classified as predators that can be killed at any time, and the canines are hunted from the air by the hundreds. (National Park Service/Courtesy)

Eventually, the federal probe made major waves. Woolgrowers contend it disrupted business-as-usual aerial predator control on federal grazing allotments during lambing, and that coyotes took advantage. 

The investigation also attracted the attention of Wyoming lawmakers. The Legislature will soon consider a bill that clears a path for county boards to incorporate their plans into those of Wildlife Services, thus addressing federal agencies’ concerns related to permitting for airborne hunting. 

Wildlife Services beat lawmakers to the punch, this month agreeing to include county predator control boards’ plans on Bureau of Land Management property into its own predator damage management plan that gets filed with the BLM. 

Ultimately, Stoinski and his federal counterparts’ probe fell flat, resulting in no charges. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kerry Jacobsen was “prepared to support” prosecutions, according to documents, but federal agencies crossed wires with each other. 

Three weeks before the confidential informant’s tip was phoned in, a BLM staffer with the Rock Springs Field Office signed off on an agreement that stated the federal agency had “no objection” to aerial predator control in Sweetwater County. That memo was signed “in error,” according to BLM-Wyoming public affairs officer Courtney Whiteman. Nevertheless, it gave the appearance of consent, and investigators concluded the document made it “unlikely” federal attorneys would still support prosecution. By December 2020, three federal investigators recommended closing the case. In lieu of indictments, they sent out a batch of warning letters. 

Building a case

Two months after the informant’s first call, Stoinski received a tip that a Lincoln County Predator Control District-contracted helicopter was going to be illegally hunting up the Greys River the next day. The operation was set for mid-February, in the heart of winter and four months after cattle and sheep would have been herded off their Bridger-Teton National Forest grazing allotments.

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, which oversee and provide funding for county-level predator boards, requires pilots and gunners to be licensed by the state. That permitting, however, does not grant carte-blanche consent to kill predators over federal lands. 

Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Director Amy Hendrickson hasn’t heard of predator boards deliberately flouting these requirements in recent years.

“But if that’s the case, we would not support that,” Hendrickson said. “We would never support that, and we have an expectation that the activity be done professionally and within the scope of the law.” 

Two federal law enforcement officers snowmobiled up the Greys River on Feb. 19, 2020 in response to a tip about an illegal aerial hunting operation. The officers took this image of the airship, a Robinson R-66. They also documented snowmobiling hunters affiliated with the Lincoln County Predator Board who were in communication with men aboard the helicopter. (U.S Fish and Wildlife Service)

Rangers with the Forest Service and BLM snowmobiled in to document the mid-winter flight, according to the investigation reports. The two officers saw and photographed a blue Robinson R-66 helicopter flying low, circling designated closed winter range north of Deadman Ranch. One officer reported hearing a gunshot coming from an airship aloft, and they documented four individuals riding snowmobiles in the same area, each with a firearm case mounted to the front of their machines. 

One of the men had a coyote strapped to the back of his snowmachine. He told the rangers he was in the area working for the Lincoln County Predator Control Board. The rangers did not inform the snowmobilers of the Airborne Hunting Act investigation, but they did cite them for snowmobile registration violations. While conversing, one of the rangers heard unintelligible chatter from an unidentified male calling one of the snowmobilers over a handheld radio. Audible in the background over the radio was the rotor clap of a helicopter. 

The Airborne Hunting Act, also known as the Shooting from Aircraft Act, is a 1971 law that prohibits shooting or harassing any animal while airborne. It’s a straightforward, single-page statute that only allows for one exception: Employees or “authorized agents” of the U.S. Government or any state who are permitted or licensed to aerial hunt for the protection of “land, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life or crops.” The issuance of those types of permits comes with reporting requirements. Gunners must be named, animals they can kill listed and logged, areas they can fly specified and a reason for the aerial actions stated. 

The investigators, who queried federal officials for permits and came up empty handed, didn’t believe the predator boards met the exemption.

“SI-1 said Wildlife Services is in a ‘tough spot and have kept their mouths shut’ about this illegal activity,” the law enforcement documents say.

What’s allowed where?

Until recent years, Wildlife Services has performed most of the airborne predator killing in southwest Wyoming. The agency still contracts with a dozen of Wyoming’s 19 county predator control districts. But many agricultural industry stakeholders were dissatisfied with the quality of the federal government’s work. 

Jon Child, for example, Lincoln County Predator Control District’s president at the time, has “openly said he can do a better job killing predators” than the federal government, a Game and Fish warden told federal investigators, according to the documents.

The county boards’ frustrations were also partly financial, Wyoming Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna told WyoFile. 

“If you go back 25, 30 years, Wildlife Services was providing the major portion of funding for predator control in Wyoming,” Magagna said. “What’s been happening in the last few years is Wildlife Services has controlled the program, so to speak, but the vast majority of the funding that the program utilizes is coming from the state.” 

According to a May 2021 presentation to lawmakers, Wildlife Services pays about $1.2 million annually for predator control in Wyoming. Woolgrowers and cattlemen chip in another $1 million through predator fees, and the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board provides the largest portion of $2.7 million.  

Dissatisfaction with the federal government’s performance killing coyotes bled across jurisdictional boundaries into Sweetwater and Uinta counties, where predator boards terminated their agreements with Wildlife Services in 2020. 

A Wyoming Game and Fish Department game warden documented a man hunting for coyotes while flying this paraplane over Bureau of Land Management property in Sweetwater County on Oct. 23, 2020. These types of aerial flights by private contractors drew the attention of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife special agent who investigated allegations of Airborne Hunting Act violations in southwest Wyoming. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Sweetwater County once occupied more Wildlife Service flight time than any Wyoming county except Fremont. Between 2014 and 2018, the agency averaged 218 hours a year in the air working Sweetwater County predator damage claims, according to federal planning documents. But two years later the Sweetwater predator board “reworked” its predator management programs, turning to private contractors instead, according to minutes from a 2020 Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board meeting. That year the Sweetwater board requested $145,000 from the Wyoming board.

After the Sweetwater predator board ended its contract with the federal agency there was “no further communication about aerial control work,” Wildlife Services State Director Mike Foster told WyoFile in an email. 

Gary Zakotnik, president of the Sweetwater predator board, said the Fish and Wildlife Service officials have since distanced themselves from Stoinski’s investigation. 

“They told us that the [warning] letter was written by a disgruntled employee that was on his way to retirement, and he had no basis to write that letter,” Zakotnik said. 

Until a warning letter landed in their mailbox two winters ago, Zakotnik’s impression was that it was legal to send private contractors up to gun coyotes over federal land.

“No one had ever told us that we couldn’t do it,” he said. 

Out of left field

Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik also suggested that the federal agents’ investigation caught the predator-killing community off guard. A co-chair of the Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, Nesvik said there’s been a “long established authority” for predator management districts and the state to lethally pursue animals on federal lands when they see fit. 

“And it’s been done forever,” Nesvik said. “I don’t see the federal government wanting to ever pursue a change to this. I just don’t see it.” 

Aerial gunning for predators remains routine business in Wyoming, a state where more than a million cattle and 300,000-plus sheep graze and where the vast majority of federal land is leased out to livestock producers. 

As part of its investigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service created this map showing the whereabouts of 29 wolves that were killed aerially between 2013 and 2020. Five were killed by the Lincoln County Predator Board. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Wildlife Services documents killing more than 6,000 coyotes per year on average, and aerial gunning by private individuals claims another 1,300 or so. That collective mortality, the federal agency maintains, does not have much of an impact on Wyoming’s overall coyote population, judged at 86,000 animals by a 2009 study. 

Livestock producers say the ability to shoot coyotes from the sky is important to their bottom lines. 

Over a recent five-year period, Wildlife Services agents confirmed an average of 933 coyote-killed domestic sheep and cattle, primarily calves and lambs. All told, those losses cost Wyoming livestock producers about $125,000 annually, according to the federal agency’s calculations. 

Now more than ever, Magagna said, aerial gunning is a “critical” tool. Poisons have almost become a thing of the past, he said, and trapping is more restricted than ever, particularly on public lands. 

Hendrickson, with the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, agreed. 

“A 100-pound lamb goes for, let’s just say $3 a pound — that’s $300,” Hendrickson said. “And if you have coyotes that come in and kill 20 of them, that’s a lot of money.” 

“Predator management is integral,” she added, “and in some of these areas, it’s not efficient or effective to try to do it any way other than aerial simply because of the countryside you’re dealing with.” 

Southwest Wyoming sheep ranchers took a hit, Hendrickson said, after the federal investigators’ written warning grounded private aerial gunners who would have been working BLM allotments. 

Partly because of the timing, the issue was “hot,” Magagna said. 

“It occurred at the primary time of the year for predator control,” he said. “People were getting ready to be lambing out on the open ranges.” 


One year and three weeks after Stoinski first took the tipster’s phone call, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and BLM’s law enforcement offices issued the warning letters to the predator boards and their contracted pilots. 

“Specifically, the evidence collected during the investigation documents individuals that identified themselves as employees of Lincoln County Predator Management District killing predatory animals on federal lands with the aid of an aircraft,” their letter to the Lincoln County district said.

The agents warned that future unsanctioned flights will be investigated, and violations referred to the U.S. attorney’s office. 

The predator boards took the threats seriously. 

“Since the receipt of your warning letters, we have suspended all county-sponsored aerial activities on federal lands until we can resolve this issue with the affected land managers,” the three county predator board presidents wrote. 

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement investigation included this screenshot taken from Instagram, which shows a man who posted about aerially hunting coyotes and bobcats in Nevada. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta predator board officials defended their actions, writing that, to the best of their knowledge, they were “in full compliance” with aerial hunting requirements imposed by the state of Wyoming. Participating pilots and gunners were licensed by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, they wrote, and counties were reporting their lethal actions to Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, which rounds it all up into an annual report. 

“It is our understanding that the state then compiles the information collected and submits an annual report to the Department of the Interior as required in the Airborne Hunting Act,” their letter said. 

But the county boards mistook state consent for clearance from the federal agencies. The authorization to operate over federal lands evaporated when they ended or scaled back their contracts with Wildlife Services, the predator districts would soon learn.

Federal land managers who administer the disputed gunning grounds told the predator boards as much in a letter one month later.  

“You have noted that the counties and their agents carrying out [aerial gunning] activities were acting in accordance with Wyoming state statutes,” Lori Armstrong, a former BLM Deputy State Director, wrote to the predator boards. “Wyoming state statutes cannot, of themselves, authorize [aerial gunning] activities on public lands.” 

BLM policies, Armstrong wrote, are explicit about which entities are authorized to conduct coyote sorties over bureau lands: Wildlife Services, or state and local organizations that have contractual agreements with that agency. She disowned the BLM’s Rock Springs Field Office agreement that purported to condone coyote gunning in Sweetwater County — the memo that killed the federal agents’ case.  

“Local BLM policies must be consistent with national policy,” Armstrong wrote. 

“Everybody wants to shoot a wolf from a helicopter!”

confidential informant SI-1

Two months later, after Stoinski’s retirement, a supervisory U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent followed up in writing to the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. That agent, Dan Coil, told the predator boards that his agency recognizes there’s a provision in the Airborne Hunting Act allowing permitted parties to partake in aerial culls. But that exemption, he added, does not supersede or authorize the violation of other laws and agency policies. 

“Because your question concerned hunting on BLM and USFS land, any hunting — whether airborne or ground-based — on those lands must comply with regulations or permits issued under authority of those agencies’ laws,” Coil wrote. 

The federal special agent cited former BLM Deputy State Director Armstrong’s letter, which informed the predator boards that they were lacking a contractual agreement with Wildlife Services. 

Wildlife Services and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture recently took steps to remedy this dilemma. 

On Jan. 13, the state director at Wildlife Services, Foster, signed off on a new cooperative agreement that pledges the federal agency will annually include county predator district actions on bureau property in its own annual work plan with the BLM. 

Responding to emailed questions from WyoFile, Foster said Wildlife Services played no role in resolving the disagreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the predator boards.

“Wildlife Services was not party to these discussions,” Foster wrote, “neither do we have regulatory oversight regarding what happens on public lands.” 

Hendrickson, at the Wool Growers Association, said she was engaged in discussions around the agreement, which she described as a joint conversation between Wildlife Services, the BLM and Wyoming Department of Agriculture. 

Some involved parties have moved on. “I don’t think at this point any more publicity on the subject is probably a good thing,” said Zakotnik, the Sweetwater County Predatory Animal Board president. “We’ve kind of gone back to predator work as we were before.”

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

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  1. An anachronistic Fedeal agency, Wildlife Services is zombie-like in that it refuses to die. When threatened, it has merely changed its name and reemerged again to kill wildlife that it labels as pests and predators. Grim as aerial gunning in Wyoming is, there was a time when the agency aerially distributed strychnine laced baits across rangelands–Wildlife Services at that time was called Animal Damage Control. Of course, now we instead have WS’s cyanide gas cartridges. The lynx is protected under the Endangered species Act, do you think the yahoos doing the aerial gunning can tell a bobcat from a lynx? Some sheep outfits employ Great Pyrenees’ dogs to protect their sheep from coyotes. But the good ol boys in Wyoming prefer aerial gunning at exorbitant costs to you and me, the taxpayers and public who enjoy wildlife. For an excellent history on this subject see: Robinson, Predatory Bureaucracy, 2005.

  2. Good, detailed case study from Wyofile on how Wyoming counties & stockgrowers shot every wolf, coyote, & bobcat in sight in violation of Fed. rules on Fed. land but BLM-Feds don’t prosecute. One more proof that states like WY cannot be relied upon to preserve end. species & that Fed. agencies like BLM & “Wildlife Services” (i.e., killers) are doormats for these ranchers & “their” (state agencies own them rather than vice versa) “state agencies.”

  3. Typical Gov’t operation, 4.9 million to kill 6,000 coyotes per year. That equates to 817.00/coyote. The private individual took 1,300 coyotes at no cost to the taxpayer. If we want to spend taxpayers money to manage predators and get the best bang for our buck unload the Gov’t program and put a 200.00 bounty on each coyote.

  4. Not surprising. Wyoming worships its livestock farmers. Though they produce only a small portion of the national meat supply, they rule the backward kingdom of settlers.

  5. So, let me get this straight: Wildlife Services, Wyoming Animal Damage Management Board, the Woolgrowers and Cattlemen together spend $5 million a year on predator control, when predators are only costing $125,000 annually in livestock losses? This makes about as much sense as a mesh condom. Good lord.

  6. Good article. Unsurprised at the price of “predator control” vs the actual dollar cost of livestock losses. The cost of the whole grazing allotment system has been out of whack for far too long. $1.35/per cow/calf pair for a month? I remember reading that at one point it got raised clear up over $1.40 but that didnt last – it was too much to ask these livestock producers(many times corporate rather than ranching) to pony up all that money. We, the taxpayers, already have to make up the difference!

  7. This is very unfortunate. However it is important. Thank you for all you do! I am from Montana but I care deeply about our wild animals.

  8. What is the major difference between a Wyoming public land rancher and a coyote?

    The coyote pays his own way

  9. Simple math: $4.9 million spent to kill 6,000 coyotes = $816.67/coyote

    And the land baron ranchers still maintain there are no subsidies? Good lord, these folks are already raping the public lands at $1.35 an Animal Unit….

  10. If people are killing trophy game animals from the air without a trophy game license, they have violated at least two state game laws.

    Bobcats are fur bearers and likewise must be taken under permit and in compliance with state trapping and other regulations.

    The public lands rancher’s belief in his or her right to control all that happens on these lands critical to wildlife and habitat conservation is virtually limitless.

  11. I need a little more clarity. Article seems to say the state spends $2.7 million each year to prevent losses of less that $200,000.
    If true, maybe ranchers could bring in remains and be compensated fairly. That would seem to save the state about $2.5 million per year.

  12. Catch 22: There’s a most unusual scenario that probably won’t develop but isn’t outside the range of possible. If aerial hunting of coyotes on federal lands in Wyoming is completely banned it could result in such devastating losses of sage grouse that the game bird is listed as T&E. Many people think this is a desirable scenario ; however, the law of unintended consequences could result. How?? There are cases ( in california ) where the courts have approved predator control ( feral cats ) in order to protect a rare, threatened song bird. The Audubon Society fully supported removal of feral cats favoring the twitty birds. Predator control isn’t all about sheep and lambs, it benefits game birds and wild ungulates much more than ranchers. BEWARE THE LAW OF INTENDED CONSEQUENCES!!!!

    1. No. Wyoming wildlife evolved with coyotes and other predators. Over grazing leaves them without cover.

  13. An excellent article. It points out the despicable behavior of so many ranchers in Wyoming. They kill all predators they encounter regardless of federal law and as usual they get off with a wrist slap. For all their macho swagger, they are recipients of welfare in that the taxpayer spends 40-50 times their losses to benefit their businesses. On public lands they must not be allowed to kill non offending predators, especially as some sort of sicko recreational activity.

  14. Another good reason ranchers should not be allowed to graze on land they do not own. Grazing rights should be taken away from those guilty.

    1. Robert: Big problem few people know about. The federal government for over a century allowed ranchers to make the improvements on federal land ( some roads, water wells, fences, etc. ). A federal court in Nevada ruled that this investment in improvements on federal land basically gave the lessee ( rancher ) a partial ownership of the land. I think it was the Hague case. Since this ruling came down, the BLM is very careful to make sure the lessee does not own any new water wells on federal lands – if any new water wells are drilled the government wants full, undisputed ownership of them. On occasions when federal leases are bought out in order to retire grazing – such as the sheep allotments on the Upper Green – the lessee is reimbursed handsomely for giving up the lease/allotment; that is, they have a right to be compensated for the improvements they put on the federal land. Looking back at this matter, it was a mistake on the part of the federal government to allow private parties to make the improvements. Another big problem with federal leases concerns water rights which are appropriated by the State of Wyoming. Ranchers are not stupid, they own the surface and ground water rights on much of the federal lands in Wyoming – so you can’t just kick them off of the federal lands. To totally retire a federal allotment, the lessee should be bought out of all claims to surface improvements and all water rights.

  15. Nice piece Mike.
    We have a thick crust
    On our snow pack in Unita County
    Year witch exacerbates

  16. Great reporting Mike. Have gone back and read some of your other articles as well. We need to keep updated on CWD and what’s happening with the wolves, to date at least 20 of the protected Yellowstone wolves have been killed.

  17. Outrageous! So “$125,000 cost of predator damage” (fig. of the livestock owners!) cost $4.9 Million for predator control! One more example of how ranchers grazing Federal lands are welfare recipients. Armored snowmobiles coordinating with helicopters to shoot prey–the epitome of slob hunting. And Wy Fish & Game and state legislators think they should be in control of “protecting species.” The strangest point is that lots of surveys show that even in states like WY, majorities find this kind of hunting to be despicable yet a tiny # of ranchers/slob hunters control wildlife management in WY and many other states.

  18. Quit crying about the loss of predator lives, and worry more about the economic lives of Wyoming’s agriculture sector! IF YOU DON’T LIKE HOW THINGS ARE DONE IN WYOMING GO BACK TO FROM WHERE YOU CAME.

    1. J.Craig A. — I am from Wyoming, 3rd gen native born. I most definitely do not like how Ag and ranching are managed on Public lands. It is a massively subsidized failed business model that abuses the public’s natural resources of graze, forestry , water, accesibility etc. to favor one economic interest group at the expense of all others. The taxpayer also provides heavily subsidized services – such as Predator Control – and gives the Ag sector a hiuge array of tax breaks and financial incentives not offered to the rest of us. Public lands ranching does not even come close to paying its own way in Wyoming. It appears that the 6 percent of Wyoming’s population engaged in ranching and farming only contribute 3 percent of the per capita personal income in the State . At the end of the day the taxpayer props up the Stockgrowers so they can keep playing their Cattle Baron – Sheep King – Cowboy and Herder role playing games like it was still 1885 around here. Oh if only the rancher and farmer on the supply side, and the taxpayer and consumer on the demand side, had to all pay the true costs of agriculture and ranching in Wyoming.

      Did you somehow miss the part where it costs the taxpayer $ 5 million to offset $ 125,000 in livestock losses ??? — spending $ 40 dollars in remediation for every single dollar in losses ? THAT does not pencil out.

      Oh by the way … Predators are essential. Your 8th grade science class must’ve failed to mention that Herbivores and Carnivores complement each other and are necessary for an intact ecological landscape. The Predator-Prey Relationship… it’s natural law, not for humans to meddle with arbitrarily and capriciously. Then again , since you use a burst of ALL CAPS invective anger here , I infer you may not have made it past 7th grade and maybe in fact do not know what you do not know…

      What I know is ranching and a heckuva lot of other agriculture endeavours in Wyoming do not pay for themselves, but should.

  19. Math question from this article. The cost is $4.9 million annually to try to offset $125,000 annually in livestock losses? Am I reading this correctly?

  20. I highly recommend Calvin L. King’s book ” REASONS FOR THE DECLINE OF GAME IN THE BIG HORN BASIN OF WYOMING” 1965, Vintage Press, Inc., New York. Cal was our local wildlife biologist with G&F had a law degree and a graduate of the Naval Academy. He interviewed old timers from the 1886 to 1935 era and pulled it together as a historical summary of predators versus cattle, sheep, elk, deer, antelope and small game. Its a rare book and I got a copy because Cal was from Thermopolis. Interesting reading with heavy emphasis on eradication of the last wolves in Wyoming and Montana. Historical back ground information which many would find quite interesting – different times back then for sure.

  21. Excellent article. Sometimes it seems like the problems and issues on federal lands are insurmountable. Wild horses, resource damage by recreationalists, oil, gas and mineral development, sage grouse, wind turbines, solar, grazing, and hundreds of other issues. I don’t know how federal land managers can handle it. More evidence of why private lands with no federal surface is so desirable – predator control is largely up to the private land owner with optional prairie dog control. These issues just aren’t a problem on private land; on public lands, these issues will continue to be hotly contested for centuries. Ultimately, some of the western Wyoming ranchers will sell out to developers for millions of dollars and then the problems are magnified ten fold. Ask yourself, would I prefer ranchers or developers in Western Wyoming?? That’s whats at stake here.

  22. Further into the article they keep emphasizing coyotes, and perhaps that is the majority of the kills. However, the article clearly states that they were “killing every coyote, wolf, bobcat and mountain lion they saw, without the requisite permits”. This should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Not simply glossed over.

  23. I have a question why is the Wyoming game and fish not investigating this when the state law states rodents and predators? Bobcats and mountain lions are not on the predator list.

    1. The Wy G & F is and always has been in bed with the big landowners PERIOD
      They look away from their actions and instead harass and fine the recreationalist PERIOD

  24. If my math is correct over four million dollars ($4,000,000.00) is spent annually in an attempt to minimuize the estimated livestock loss of one hundred twenty five thousand dollars ($125,000.00)?

    1. $4 M to control predators?
      Crazy. Loses might be higher with no killing, however. IDK. I have no sympathy for those shooting wildlife randomly simply for fun (especially mtn lions), and there are no excuses for breaking the law or favoritism; but, if we are talking about wildlife that anyone can take down legally at any time than I am not getting too worked up over more predators being shot. An over population needs to be controlled. If we have an underpopulation of predators, that may make for an unbalanced ecosystem and excessive killings aren’t justified.

  25. I guess I’m missing the point or misreading the article; around 5 million spent annually for $175,000 dollars in losses? Flying over big game wintering grounds, disturbing wildlife? It seems that they are participating in a winter sport, providing a detrimental service at taxpayers’ expense.

  26. The last great Sheep King of Wyoming — Herman Werner — is laughing hysterically from beyond the grave at all this.

    – if you think aerial gunning of domestic sheep predators is a new thing , give a listen to the romping bluegrass-rock song about it from 50 years ago… ” Fallen Eagle ” on the fabulous 1972 supergroup album ” Manassas ” written by front man Stephen Stills… side 2 track 1. Still relevant, that ditty.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

  27. This makes no sense. The counties, cattle ranches, sheep growers and feds all combined are spending 5 million dollars a year to stop a $125,000 dollar loss in calf’s and lambs by coyotes. If the numbers are correct it would be the old adage, spending a dollar to save a dime. A lot of Wyoming agriculture/ranching seems to be one large welfare program kept in business by the tax payer.