Gros Ventre Pack shows up near Pinedale, Wyoming

2-4-2002, update 2-7-2002

Folks may have noticed in the last gray wolf progress weekly report which I posted yesterday there was a mention of wolves in "S. Wyoming." They aren't really in southern Wyoming, but they are a good deal south of Jackson.

Gros Ventre Pack-

Last spring a young female from the Gros Ventre Pack was radio collared. This pack, which has lived in the Gros Ventre Mountains and Gros Ventre River drainage for several years, had lost all of its radio collars. Unfortunately, the female that was collared seemed to be dispersing, and so the rest of the pack was not located. Early this winter the female was tracked in the company of another wolf, a possible mate. This was thought to be the potential origin of a third Jackson area wolf pack.

Later this winter there was controversy of wolf kills of elk in the Gros Ventre River drainage, especially on the state of Wyoming elk feedgrounds there, but in fact the killing on the feedgrounds has been much lighter than indicated in my earlier article and those in the Jackson newspapers. Now we may know why. The radio-collared Gros Ventre female moved about 40 mile south by southeast to an elk wintering area in remote country near Pinedale, Wyoming. Suddenly she was found in the company of 9 wolves, probably her old packmates from the Gros Ventre Pack. That plus the light snowpack may explain the lack of predation on the elk this winter in the Gros Ventre River.

Other wolves, such as the Teton Pack, and several lone wolves, have gone as far south as Pinedale, but they have not remained. A few wolves have gone all the way to Kemmerer, which is in southwest Wyoming. Although some might not have been detected, those near Kemmerer have all gotten into trouble and have been shot.

The Teton Pack-

The Teton Pack which was rejuvenated last spring with 9 pups, all of which have survived, has shared the Gros Ventre drainage the last 2 winters with the Gros Ventre Pack, but now they are the only pack in the area and apparently not targeting the feedgrounds at present because small groups of elk feeding on natural forage are spread throughout the area. The pack now numbers 13. It seems they have picked up an additional member from somewhere.

Wolves near Big Piney-

There are good reports of 2 or 3 wolves wintering near Big Piney in the foothills of the Wyoming Range. Big Piney is to the southwest of Pinedale on the other (west) side of the Green River Basin. I spent several days driving around in my pickup and hiking in the vicinity this summer. There is a lot of wildlife in the area, especially when you get away from the part messed up by natural gas development. The big problem for wolves is that the mountains to the west of Big Piney (the Wyoming Range) are full of domestic sheep in the summer.

Update 2-7-2002: Seven of the nine wolves observed near Pinedale were not present on the latest tracking flight. Only the radio-collared female and her mate remained. Mike Jimenez, Wyoming wolf manger for the US Fish and Wildlife Service said the 7 uncollared wolves probably headed back to the Gros Ventre. The most amazing fact was that only 7 wolf-killed elk have been documented on the Wyoming state elk feedgrounds in the Gros Ventre this winter, despite all the hoopla about wolves killing an elk there every day raised by the Wyoming Game and Fish game warden. See Wyoming Game and Fish complaining again this winter about wolves at Gros Ventre River feedlots. 1-13-2002.

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