From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 24 - September 8, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolf numbers top 900

by Cat Urbigkit

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that its mid-year 2005 Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population estimate is 912 wolves, up from last year's 835.

"This mid-year wolf population estimate is made to provide a rough idea of the wolf population size in late summer and to find out where we may need focus our monitoring efforts during the remainder of 2005," said FWS's Ed Bangs in his weekly wolf update. Bangs noted that wolf mortality peaks in the fall, so the end-of-the-year wolf count will be more accurate in estimating the actual wolf population size and distribution.

"At this time it appears the wolf population is up slightly, but as was also the case in 2004, only because Idaho's wolf population continues to grow," Bangs stated. "Right now it appears that Montana will be about the same, Idaho will be up and Wyoming down from the 'official' wolf population estimate made in December 2004."

FWS estimated that Montana has a population of 166 wolves, including 18 groups of wolves that are classified as endangered since they occur in northwestern Montana. Southern Montana's experimental population also includes 18 groups of wolves.

Idaho's wolves are estimated to number 500-550 in 53 groups. FWS estimates at least 35 groups have at least two pups, 11 other groups are suspected to have pups, and 15 other reports of possible groups have yet to be investigated. FWS noted that there were at least 115-125 wolf pups in Idaho, the number of adults is not estimated for most Idaho packs because of rugged terrain and heavy forest cover.

Wyoming's wolf population is estimated to be half of Idaho's, with 221 wolves in 22 group. Pups are present in 17 groups, according to FWS.

Yellowstone National Park has an estimated 118 wolves in 12 groups. At least two pups were confirmed in six packs.

FWS reported: "This year it appears that Yellowstone park packs had very low pup survival, natural mortality of adults was high, and four packs broke up/dissolved. In addition to a suspected parvo-virus outbreak, this is likely the continuation of an expected social adjustment of park wolves to 'crowding' on the northern range and lower prey density relative to high wolf numbers."

FWS estimates there are 102 wolves in 11 groups in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park. Seven packs are confirmed as containing at least two pups. An unknown number of pups are present in four groups. The population includes at least 65 adults and 37 pups, according to FWS.

FWS reported that the Upper Green River, Daniel, and Farson packs were eliminated by agency control in 2005, in response to livestock depredations. FWS estimates that there are also at least 11 additional suspected "miscellaneous wolves as loners or non-breeding pairs."

In other wolf news, FWS reported that on Aug. 27, a calf was killed on a grazing allotment near Daniel, at the site of previous depredations and control earlier this summer. On Aug. 31, USDA Wildlife Services confirmed other two calves were killed on the allotment. Wildlife Services is riding the area and will set traps if possible to collar and release a wolf onsite. Subsequent agency control will depend on the number of wolves involved, FWS reported.

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