From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 1, Number 51 - March 21, 2002
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolves kill elk at Bench Corral Feedground

by Cat Urbigkit

A pack of three wolves recently began preying on elk on the Bench Corral elk feedground, seen by one local resident taking down

A pack of three wolves recently began preying on elk on the Bench Corral elk feedground, and one local resident witnessed the pack taking down two elk.

Ross Copeland is an elk feeder for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department on the Bench Corral Elk Feedground north of Marbleton.

Copeland said when he arrived at the feedground one recent morning to feed, the elk werenít on the feedground, but he and his companions could see them moving, and decided to wait for their approach. As they watched, it became clear that a large dark-colored animal was moving behind the herd: a black wolf. Within minutes, two gray wolves were seen as well.

When the elk "balled up" in a group and stayed still, nothing happened. But when the wolves separated the herd into two groups, and got a group of about 400 elk on the move, the black wolf grabbed an elk calf by its hamstring, and within seconds was joined by a gray wolf attacking the throat, bringing the animal down.

"It didnít take them very long," Copeland said.

What happened next was surprising. The three wolves didnít eat their kill, but regrouped and got the elk on the move again. Copeland and his companions watched the same killing technique happen again, on a second elk calf.

Again, the wolves didnít eat their kill, but put the elk on the move once again. Although Copeland only found the two calf kills, which he watched take place within about a 15-minute time frame at 500 yards through binoculars, he said he believes the wolves killed more elk than he found. He said the wolves demonstrated teamwork in their technique, noting that the black wolf would circle around to the front of the herd, when they would begin to run. Thatís when the kills would be made.

Copeland said he called WG&F feedground program manager Scott Werbelow, who arrived in time to see the wolves, but not to witness the killing.

The herd ended up a few miles from the feedground, but were back the next day, Copeland said.

Werbelow said the wolf pack seemed to consist of two adults and a third wolf which may have been a pup from last year. He said this third animal didnít run with the adults, but hung back separately about a quarter-mile away. The pack apparently heard the humans and left the scene, Werbelow said.

Copeland said he hadnít been aware there were wolves on the feedground until the incident he witnessed, but now believes that other large tracks, as well as other elk kills, may be explained by their presence. Copeland said two days before the incident, he found a dead elk and the elk had left the feedground, indicating the wolves had made a prior visit.

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