From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 26 - September 25, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

More confirmed wolf kills

by Cat Urbigkit

Federal wildlife officials have confirmed that the pack of 16 wolves roaming the Wyoming Range west of Daniel includes 10 grays and six black-colored wolves.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials became aware of the existence of the pack only after a yearling heifer was confirmed as having been killed by wolves and trapping efforts were initiated. USDA Wildlife Services personnel captured four 60-pound wolf pups and released them with radio collars, but managed to count 16 wolves together in the pack.

Wildlife Services also confirmed that the wolves killed several domestic sheep in the area early last week, and probably were responsible for the death of another beef calf, but since the sheep and cattle are soon slated to begin moving off grazing allotments in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, FWS reports that no control actions will be initiated on this pack at this time.

Although wolves have hit domestic sheep in the Wyoming Range several times this summer, those depredations were minor compared to recent incidents in Idaho. Over the weekend of Sept. 12-14, a previously unknown pack of four to five wolves hit domestic sheep located about 30 miles north of McCall, Idaho. Federal officials confirmed that more than 50 head of sheep were confirmed wolf kills from the incident, in which the pack went from herd to herd.

FWS reported: "The total number of dead sheep is in the 70s and four to five bands that are protected by dogs and herders have been hit. This group of wolves is likely the same bunch that has been killing sheep about seven to eight miles away. Wildlife Services was authorized to kill this pack of four to five wolves."

Wolves have been busy killing livestock in other areas of Wyoming recently as well. Among other incidents, a beef calf was reportedly killed in the Big Horn Mountains, east of Ten Sleep on Sept. 9.

According to FWS, multiple wolves may be in the area where a USDA Wildlife Services specialist shot a depredating wolf off a sheep carcass on Sept. 5. FWS plans to trap, collar and release any wolves in the area.

In other wolf news, FWS estimates the likely number of wolves and wolf breeding pairs in 2003 will be slightly higher than last year, but the rate of growth in the population is slowing.

The federal agency reported: "While these estimates are admittedly very rough and could change significantly once fall/winter aerial tracking with snow cover has been conducted, we have currently documented an estimated wolf population of: By recovery area - northwestern Montana - 90 wolves and three breeding pairs; central Idaho - 362 wolves and 21 breeding pairs; Greater Yellowstone Area - 295 wolves and 22 breeding pairs.

"By state these estimates are: Montana - 161 wolves and eight breeding pairs; Idaho - 346 wolves and 21 breeding pairs; Wyoming - 240 wolves and 17 breeding pairs. The total wolf population estimate for 2003 is 747 wolves and 46 breeding pairs compared to 663 wolves and 43 breeding pairs in 2002."

FWS sent out the completed Idaho, Wyoming and Montana wolf management plans for independent scientific peer review on Sept. 12. The peer reviewers are all recognized professional wolf management and scientific experts from North America. The peer review should be completed by Oct. 31. Peer review is the next step in the process for FWS to determine if a delisting proposal is appropriate at this time, the agency reports.

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