Capture of new wolves is underway

1/9/96.

Despite the government shutdown and the 40% cut in wolf funding by
Montana US Senator Conrad Burns, the capture of new wolves for
Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho is underway.

Private contributions have swelled the monies available and now
US federal government personnel can legally work.

Plans were for the second reintroduction release on Jan. 14. This
date is now impossible. About a two week delay is expected. This,
unfortunately, puts the capture and reintroduction very close to
the mating season. This makes more pups this spring from the new
wolves unlikely. However, six of the Idaho wolves from a year ago
have paired, making the first Idaho pups likely in late spring 1996.

The Yellowstone wolves did produce nine pups last spring, and eight
of them are still alive. More pups will probably be born in May --
most likely from the Crystal Bench Pack which had no pups and the Soda
Butte Pack which had one pup. The Rose Creek Pack has 2 adults and
seven pups. It will be interesting to see if the Rose Creek alpha
will bear still more pups with her new mate, a second-year male formerly
from the Crystal Bench Pack.

It is expected that about 15 more wolves for both Yellowstone and
central Idaho will be captured. Once again, the central Idaho wolves
will be "hard released." The Yellowstone wolves will be held in
enclosures for about 2 or 3 months. This is called "soft release."

Last year's Idaho wolves were all unrelated, that is, they were single
wolves captured from packs where capture of all, or most of the pack,
proved unsuccessful.

Because this year the wolves are being captured in open country in
NE British Columbia rather than in the timbered country in Alberta,
Idaho conservationists are hopeful that among the new Idaho wolves will
be a pack.

Expect the new wolves near the end of January. Let's hope that the
anti-wolf politicians that cling to power in Idaho and Wyoming do not
yet somehow derail this program which is now based on the private
contributions of individuals all over the world.

The approximately 30 wolves to come this year is expected to be the
last from Canada. Originally the program was to run for five years,
but the outcome of the 1994 elections seems to have doomed the original
plans.




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Ralph Maughan
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