Pacific Creek wolf pack finally collared.
More on Jackson Hole wolf packs

March 8, 2006

A crew under the direction of Mike Jimenez, USFWS has finally put a couple radio collars on the Pacific Creek wolf pack which has lately dominated the northern part of Grand Teton National Park, Buffalo Valley, and Pacific and Pilgrim Creek areas in or near the Teton Wilderness. The wolves were captured near Spread Creek in Grand Teton National Park. That isn't far from the traditional den and rendezvous area of the Teton Pack.

The final count on Pacific Creek wolf pack is eleven members.

Both the Teton Pack and the Flat Creek Pack have used the National Elk Refuge much more this year than wolves have in the past and mostly stayed away from the elk feedgrounds in the Gros Ventre River the state of Wyoming is so touchy about.

Jimenez told me the Teton Pack's size fluctuates a lot, varying from three to eleven wolves. The Flat Creek Pack is more stable, usually seven or eight.

Kathy Croats and Sandy Williams, visiting Jackson for the first time during winter reported to me that in late February they saw the Flat Creek Pack every day on the Elk Refuge. Kathy wrote, "You could see them with the naked eye, but we really needed the binoculars to get a good look. They have been staying out in the middle of the refuge just south of Miller's Butte [near the town of Jackson]. There is an old dock of some sort there which they seem to be using for shelter in bad weather, but mostly they bed down out in the open. They had a new kill almost every day, but nothing was wasted as any leftovers were immediately consumed by coyotes, ravens and bald eagles."

" On the last day there (Feb. 23rd) we saw a pair mating by the pond toward the back road of the refuge just below Miller's Butte. I couldn't tell which wolves they were. When we came back about 4 hours later the pack had taken down 2 kills just yards off the road behind the butte. One appeared to be a bighorn sheep (there had been a large group there earlier in the day). The other may have been an elk calf. There wasn't much left of either so it was hard to tell, but it must have been spectacular to witness so close. We're just sick that we missed it. By the time we got back there were no wolves in the area, they had gone back to their main territory in the middle out by the dock"

" We did spot 253M one day by his limp. He seemed to be doing quite well. If he is not the alpha, he is at least up in rank as many of the others acted submissive to him. I couldn't see if he had a collar on."

I asked Jimenez about 253M's status. He told me the Flat Creek alpha female is gray wolf and the alpha male a black uncollared wolf, not 253.

Crotts said the Teton Pack kept itself separated from the Flat Creek Pack by patrolling the area more near the Fish Hatchery.

Jimenez said they have been many wolf dispersers heading down into the Bondurant area and further south into the upper Green River and have been chasing elk on the state feedgrounds there. Of course this area is a black hole for wolves and increasingly wildlife in general as it is taken over by wholesale natural gas industrialization of the former open space, but it appears that at least one wolf made it through all that and is in northern Colorado. Video from Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Jim Robbins of the New York Times just wrote an article on the wolves in the area, "Resurgent Wolves Now Considered Pests by Some ." He goes on to tell how ranchers in the area, like Jim Magagna, now consider the wolves "pests," and the same is said to be true in Montana and Idaho. I'd put a link to the story but the NYT has become link unfriendly, and links to it don't work. Little mind, however, the article contains no news. Were the ranchers in Sublette County wolf supporters at one time and only recently decided the wolves are pests? Robbins might have actually had some news if he had interviewed the majority in the area who don't own livestock or have a stake in oil and gas. What are their views? I don't know, but they're definitely third class citizens behind public land ranchers and the oil and gas boys, with views presumabily not worthy of consideration from our "newspaper of record."

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