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Wolf from Wyoming starts a pack in Idaho's fabled Big Horn Crags


A disperser from the Washakie Wolf Pack, SE of Yellowstone near Dubois, Wyoming, has traveled all the way to central Idaho and founded a wolf pack in some of Idaho's most remote and rugged country -- the Big Horn Crags.

Wolf Y239M (originally R239M) was born to the Washakie Pack. It isn't clear when he came to Idaho, a linear distance of almost 300 miles, but much more distance on the ground.

He was first noted even farther from his original home than at the present. He was captured in west central Idaho on August 26, 2004 after traps had been set for wolves who had killed to some sheep north of McCall, Idaho. He is a gray wolf (originally black), and at capture he weighed 100-110 pounds. He wore a non-functioning radio collar that was attached when he was a pup, and he had a yellow ear tag. The site of his capture was 333-linear miles from the Washakie Pack's den in the DuNoir Valley of Wyoming.

When Y239 was captured and recollared he immediately left the area, and was not involved in the depredations which quickly grew in number as the unusual Cook Pack went on the largest sheep killing endeavor recorded since wolves were reintroduced (they were all shot).  He wandered about, and eventually found a mate in the Frank Church Wilderness in the Big Horn Crags, some of the hardest to reach and most famous wilderness mountains in Idaho.

His new pack, named the Hoodoo Pack, ranges from the top of the crags 5000 feet downward into the adjacent Middle Fork of the Salmon River. It appears to me that the wolf pair, 2 pups, and one additional adult or subadult inhabit some of the hardest to reach part of the Middle Fork. There is a pack trail along the Middle Fork of the Salmon until Big Creek flows in. Below Big Creek, the Middle Fork flows through the "Impassable Canyon."  It looks to me that they come down into the Impassable Canyon area and prey on the large number of wintering elk and deer.

He is not the first from Wyoming-
Oddly enough Y239M is not the first wolf from Wyoming known to migrate to Idaho. Way back in 1998-9, another Washakie wolf, R132M, wandered along the Continental Divide and SW Montana from his home southeast of Yellowstone Park. He crossed into Idaho and killed five new born lambs on a private ranch near Leadore, Idaho. Then he crossed the tall Lemhi Range and dropped into the Pahsimeroi Valley. Near May, Idaho was helicopter darted on April 3, 1999 in Little Morgan Creek. He was not put down, but instead transported to northern Idaho where he apparently became the alpha male of the Snow Peak Pack, a pack that no longer exits, but was at the time the most northerly in Idaho.

An Idaho wolf founded a Wyoming wolf pack-
Wolves have also gone the other way. In 2001 a pack formed in the Greybull River area in Wyoming's Washakie Wilderness. This, like the Washakie Pack, is not just in Wyoming, but fairly well into the state. In 2002 when the first wolves of the pack were collared, they found wolf B58M, with a non-functioning radio collar. B58M, originated in Idaho's Thunder Mountain Pack. By 2001, he had traveled from his native pack southeast about 150 miles to Copper Basin. He remained in the Copper Basin vicinity (still in Central Idaho) for several months . Then he was lost, but in fact he traveled about 300 linear miles (and much more on the ground) to join with or help form the Greybull Pack.

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  Copyright © 2005 Ralph Maughan

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Ralph Maughan PO Box 8264, Pocatello, ID 83209
Wolf Recovery Foundation; PO Box 444, Pocatello, ID  83204