By BRIAN SMITH
HAILEY – A couple living in a rural canyon west of Hailey have killed a wolf, claiming it to be the same predator that earlier killed their colt and attacked two of their dogs.
“The wolf that killed J.R. Luna Azul (the colt) is dead,” wrote Kevin and Jennifer Swigert in a press release issued through Idaho for Wildlife. “Although we cannot be sure there were not other wolves involved, we can be sure that the distinctive track we have been following for five long weeks belonged to this wolf. Justice has been served for the painful death of our horse.”
Two officers checked the dead wolf Friday afternoon, said Josh Royse, Idaho Department of Fish and Game regional conservation officer. The kill appeared to be legal, and Kevin Swigert had the proper hunting tag, Royse said.
Fish and Game could not confirm it was the specific wolf that killed the Swigerts’ colt in early February, Royse said.
The Swigerts have declined previous Times-News requests for comment. The family has shared its story through Steve Alder of Idaho for Wildlife, an anti-wolf group.
According to Idaho for Wildlife’s website, the Swigerts found their colt dead, “isolated against an outer fence just 100 feet from the barn” on the morning of Feb. 13. The wolf returned and attacked two of their border collies, which fought off the wolf but sustained injuries to their necks and legs, the Swigerts said.
The Swigerts contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services. USDA confirmed the wolf depredation and conducted flyovers in the area hoping to kill the predator. The Swigerts also reached out to Idaho for Wildlife, which helped organize an on-the-ground hunt for the wolf. The situation received regional media attention.
Idaho for Wildlife’s Alder said his group posted “elite, highly trained retired special forces officers” to guard the Swigerts’ home. The guards were “not worried about the wolves but from the threats against the Swigerts from the radical pro-wolf advocates,” Alder wrote on his website.
Wolf advocates in the Sun Valley area said they were skeptical of the situation and of the threats the Swigerts were said to have received. Many saw the situation as being spun out of control, political posturing by the same group that organized a controversial wolf killing derby in Salmon last December.
Kevin Swigert wrote that he was “determined” to end “the ridiculous chaos that has plagued our entire life for the past five weeks.”
He wrote that he took down the wolf in daylight from about 321 yards away, “taking out his heart – the shot could not have been better. He jumped and ran about thirty yards and fell.”
“I have always tried to be respectful of every animal I have ever shot. We should never take for granted that we have the right and the privilege to hunt and harvest wildlife. I did not feel that way this time,” Kevin Swigert wrote. “I was filled with a satisfaction I have rarely felt, one of justified revenge for the malice this animal wrought in our life. I could think of nothing but the insanity that the past couple of months (have) brought.”