The Reintroduction of Wolves in Yellowstone Inspires Some to Put Out Poison

Poisoned hot dogs and meatballs have been showing up along roads near Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, and authorities suspect that the baits are an angry response to the reintroduction of wolves to the area. In 2002 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upset many state residents by rejecting Wyoming's plan to manage its growing wolf population. Now, unknown perpetrators appear to be taking matters into their own hands, and innocent animals are suffering. By midsummer, 26 dogs had fallen ill and eight had died from the effects of an insecticide called Temik, which has been used to poison the meat.

Elk hunting outfitter Bob Eckhardt of Moran was among the first to lose a pet, a Catahoula hound he'd bought to protect his children in this still-wild country. "Sugar died in convulsions," says John Eckhardt, Bob's father. "And we didn't really know what killed her." Not long after, the family's golden retriever, Shadow, fell ill after an afternoon walk. "It was much worse," Eckhardt says. "She went completely crazy, crashing through a set of glass doors." The dog died soon after.

Riverton residents Jim and Nancy Barrus were luckier. When their black Lab, Sammy, began drooling and shaking on a trip to the Tetons, rangers recognized the symptoms in time, and Sammy recovered.

The Teton County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies are working to identify suspects and warn the public. Even as the threat to dogs and wildlife continues, there have been no reports of any wolf poisonings. That irony has been most painfully felt by dog owners like the Eckhardts and the Barruses. "From what I hear, they're not killing a lot of wolves," says John Eckhardt. "But they're putting a severe hurt on the local dog population." --HAL HERRING

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