Volume 8, Number 2 - April 3, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Sublette Has Four Reported Wolf Kills
The first day of “open season” for most of Sublette County’s gray wolves, now under state management and divided into predator and trophy-game areas, brought a total of four reported legal wolf kills occurring last Friday. “Four wolves were reported killed in the predator area,” confirmed Eric Keszler, Wyoming Game and Fish (G&F) spokesman, Tuesday.
Friday, March 28, was the day the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s gray wolf recovery program was deemed complete in the Northern Rockies’ population and management was transferred from the FWS endangered species’ program to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana wildlife agencies.
Three of the wolves were taken west of Daniel close to the Jewitt Feedground, a G&F elk winter-season feedground. Two were reported Monday and one Tuesday – one female and two males, Keszler said.
The fourth wolf was taken Friday as well in the area of the New Fork River and reported Tuesday afternoon, Kezler said. He wasn’t sure if the wolf was the same as the one shot Friday by a Cora rancher who killed it in his cattle herd while calving.
That shooting (possibly the fourth kill called in) was reported to the Sublette County Predator Board in an update sent by member Cat Urbigkit.
“...By noon (Friday), I had a Cora area rancher call wanting us to get a wolf killed on his place because the wolf was circling the cattle herd as he’s calving. I called Wildlife Services to get Rod Merrill up here. He arrived the next morning, but the rancher had managed to shoot and kill the wolf in the meantime. Rod scouted around, and didn’t find tracks of any more wolves that day in the new snow...”
Keszler didn’t know if any of the reported animals were adults or pups or have further information about the location of the kills.
But a rancher whose place is near the Jewitt Feedground said this week he is pretty sure at least two of the three wolves taken there had been on his property before.
It is fairly well known Merrill Dana and his wife Allene are accustomed to seeing wolves cross their place from time to time but after Friday, three they recognized never showed again. The Danas haven’t seen any sign of any wolves since the first day when the first three were shot, although coyotes are out in force.
“Some people came in from the west of us and killed three on us,” he said Monday, stressing he never actually saw the dead wolves but he was “pretty damn sure it happened.” He and his wife followed three sets of wolf tracks, one to the Bridger-Teton National Forest and two crossing their property.
“They got carried away,” he said of the hunters. “We knew this was going to happen.”
Dana, also a Sublette County Predator Board member, said he wasn’t mad about the hunters being on his place.
“I just don’t want the wolves around here,” he said. Still, he’d like a chance to hunt one himself, or have his son or neighbors hunt them there.
“It didn’t work out that way,” Dana said.
Ten days to report
Hunters have 10 days to report killing a wolf in the predator area (outside Wyoming’s national parks and northwestern corner) G&F Pinedale District Game Warden Supervisor Scott Werbelow said Tuesday.
“They don’t have to bring the animal in,” he added.
Calling the Pinedale G&F office with the animal’s sex, date and location of the kill is all that’s required by law.
“It allows us an accounting system to know how many wolves are being shot out there,” Werbelow explained.
A couple hunters voluntarily brought in their wolf hides so G&F biologists could get DNA samples for future research, he added. (It is not mandatory to bring the hide in, though.)
“If they’re willing to do that we’d appreciate it,” Werbelow said. “Having more information on wolves harvested will be good for all of us. It could show us some very good information.”
Research could show whether wolves are related and also bring out details on old and new pack locations.
In the meantime
Those who shot wolves over “opening weekend” still have time to report the kills.
Thus the actual total killed at any time could be hard to pinpoint.
Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine represents 11 conservation groups waiting to file suit against FWS for removing gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. She isn’t sure four will be a realistic number of wolves killed last weekend.
“Wolf kills in the predator area do not have to reported until 10 days after the kill, so the number of wolves lost in the predator zone could exceed the four confirmed dead,” she said Tuesday. “We still intend to watch the situation closely before we determine when to file suit.”
Some hunters might not bother reporting wolf kills but news spreads quickly in Sublette County. The often-heard joke this week was that anyone wanting to know who killed how many wolves and where only needed to go to any popular coffee counter between Farson and Pinedale.
“That word travels pretty fast,” Werbelow agreed.
Not reporting a kill might more trouble than taking time for a call. “If it’s not reported and we find out, we’d certainly look into it and they’d be in violation for failing to report it,” he said.
For more information
Starting Friday, April 4, G&F will post weekly updated wolf-kills and other current information on its Web site where they have posted frequently asked questions (and answers), a map of predator-trophy game areas and other information. Go to http://gf.state.wy.us/ and click on ”Wolf Information.” G&F also has the new Wolf Information Line at 307-777-4655.
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