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Yellowstone wolf radio collaring goes well

12-12-2003


Yellowstone's Doug Smith says they usually like to radio collar the Yellowstone wolves in January and February when the snow is deep and the wolves not as quick.

Last year, however, January snow was scant and collaring was difficult, so this year they began early -- November. They have been successful despite sparse snow and another round of radio collaring will begin in January.

To date 17 wolves have been given collars. Eight wolves were captured on Nov. 13, including 4 Nez Perce female wolves, 2 from Mollies Pack and 2 from Leopold. I wrote a story about that collared earlier.

On Nov. 22 wolf project personnel captured 3 Druid pups-of-year in Slough Creek. They were all in good condition. The next day they were observed back with their pack in the Lamar on a bull elk the pack had killed.

On Nov. 23 three members of the Geode Pack were captured. Only the alpha female 106F had a collar, but now the new gray alpha male, the black beta female, and a gray yearling male have collars too. Folks might recall the old alpha male, 294M, was found dead last May, probably due to a lethal kick in a  hunting injury. Also on Nov. 23, 3 gray wolves from the all gray Swan Lake pack were captured in Gardiner's Hole. They were a yearling female, a yearling male, and an 130 pound male who was 2-3 years old.

Dr. Smith told me they want to get some collars yet on the Slough Creek Pack, the Agate, Leopold, and more of the Druids. Collaring the Bechler Pack way down in SW corner of Park near Idaho is big priority, but moving operations way down there on the other side of the Pitchstone Plateau is a major logistical effort. Smith also wants collars on the remote SE corner Yellowstone Delta Pack.

About 6 GPS collars are yet to be deployed. It would certainly yield important new info if the Bechler Pack got one of those.

Complete details on the numbers given the newly collared wolves and their exact weights will given in out next February.

For reference here are the stories about last winter's collaring:

January 14, 2003. "Thirteen YNP wolves radio-collared. Thin snow pack hinders efforts. Nez Perce Pack missing."
March 12, 2003. "Final data on Recent Yellowstone wolf collaring."

As an aside, about the time this radio collaring was taking place, the Leopolds caught a trespassing yearling wolf on Mt. Everts from the adjacent Swan Lake pack and killed him.

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