By DAVID KRIER
It’s been nearly two years since Steuben farmer Jeff Drake returned home from the Wisconsin/Nebraska football game at Camp Randall to discover one of his beef calves slaughtered by a marauding predator—which was later confirmed by the USDA to be a grey wolf. At the time it was the furthest south such a case of wolf depredation had been reported in Wisconsin in modern history.
Last week Drake’s wolf troubles continued. For three days beginning Wednesday his cattle were spooked, running with abandon and hiding in the woods together on his Stockyard Road farm. Things came to a dramatic climax on Saturday afternoon.
“Saturday they were scared, scared bad,” Drake said. “I have two cows and two calves right by the house and they were really nervous. Something was definitely wrong.”
So on his way out to cut hay, Drake decided to take his rifle along, and he’s glad he did. When he reached the hay field cattle were running, being pursued by a wolf, which he shot dead.
“I got really nervous, but I knew I had a kill permit,” Drake said of killing the wolf.
Senior DNR Wildlife Biologist Dave Mathey arrived on the scene at 1:40 p.m. Saturday and took possession of the 80-pound male wolf, which he confirms was legally killed on a DNR depredation permit.
“There will not be a necropsy conducted on this animal as it was killed legally, with no suspicion of foul play or any other circumstances that indicate the need for a necropsy,” Matheys said.
Drake obtained the depredation permit following the October 2011 attack, and there have been more since.
“Last February I lost two calves and we never found them,” said Drake, who is still looking for another calf that went missing Friday.
Last fall Drake was deer hunting and thought he had a shot at a nice buck before it spooked. Thinking his day was done, he headed for home. That’s when he discovered a wolf track measuring 7.75 by 3.5 inches. That’s a big wolf. The one he shot Friday had a track measuring 6.25 by 2.5 inches. So his wolf troubles may not be over.
Nevertheless, Drake and his neighbors are resting a bit more comfortably lately.
“Since I’ve killed this thing our cattle have calmed down tremendously,” Drake said Monday.
“That was a good day; we’re happy,” said neighbor and fellow beef farmer Bob Mitchell, who has also lost calves to mysterious circumstances. “We’ve known they were here. We hear them at night.”