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Former Druid wolf 253M shows up east of Ogden, Utah.

This well known wolf knew how to travel fast

Dec. 3, 2002, updates Dec. 5, 7, 8, 10, and 16th

Yesterday many folks learned that a probable wolf had been trapped by a coyote trapper east of Morgan, Utah, which is about 20 miles due east of the city of Ogden, Utah, but on the other side of the rugged front range of the Wasatch Mountains.

Mike Jimenez, USFWS wolf manager for Wyoming drove to the area and picked up the wolf, which was largely unharmed and had been moved into a large dog carrying kennel. Jimenez returned to Wyoming and freed the wolf inside Grand Teton National Park.

The details are most interesting. The wolf was number R253M, born to wolf 40F or 42F in the Druid's climactic spring of 2000. 253M later sustained a permanent injury from an elk. He was well known to Lamar wolf watchers because of his limp.

Mid-October 2002 was the last 253 was spotted inside Yellowstone. Just over a month later, he was far to the south in northern Utah about 25 miles SE of Ogden near Durst Mountain, a back range of the Wasatch. That is an incredible trip for a wolf who had to limp all the way.

It is not clear why the wolf was returned to Wyoming because Utah is part of the Western wolf recovery zone, and while no wolves were reintroduced to Utah, they are protected in Utah (supposedly more than in the experimental wolf recovery zone of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana). If I read the rule correctly, unless the wolf was harming people or livestock, it should not have been moved, tampered with, or even molested.

I grew up in northern Utah. It is as beautiful state with good people, but one of the most reactionary legislatures in the land. Perhaps politics at a high level entered into the decision. Perhaps not. Jimenez said the area the wolf was near had numerous livestock, dogs, and ranchettes. I was within a few miles of the wolf (unbeknownst to me) just last Friday. Jimenez' description is true, but there is also a great deal of adjacent backcountry. It's not all that different than Paradise Valley in Montana which is now home (in part) to four wolf packs.

There was a long article in the Salt Lake Tribune. "Wolf Captured in Utah" by Brent Israelsen. Israelsen says this is not the Utah wolf that killed some sheep recently. It is interesting to watch the news media's spin-offs of Israelsen's work. They change the story and imply this was the wolf that killed the sheep.

There is little doubt in my mind from various reports I have received that there are additional wolves in northern Utah and maybe even in central Utah. Despite the sadness of seeing the wolf returned to Wyoming, it gives hope to those who want to see wolves bring wildlife balance to Oregon, Washington and Colorado, as well as Utah, where future dispersions may occur or have already happened.

On the [Nov] 30th, a coyote trapper SW [they mean SE] of Ogden, UT caught #253 a black male radio-collared wolf. He put it in a dog kennel and gave it to the local UT DNR warden, who gave it water, food, and made sure it was in good condition. On the 2nd, Jimenez picked the wolf up, replaced its radio collar and released it in Grand Teton National Park. The wolf was a 2 year-old from the Druid pack and was traveling with another wolf in UT. He has remained in the GYA. Another gray wolf was accidentally caught a week later but it pulled out just as the warden attempted to immobilize it. This issue was a major national news story. The Serviceís policy on wolves that leave the experimental population areas is they will be handled on a case by case basis. They generally will be left alone if they arenít doing anything wrong, killed if they attack livestock, and in rare situations like this where they happen to be in captivity, they may be returned to MT, ID, or WY, whichever is closest. The experimental rules 7(iii)(A-D) recognized lone wolves would disperse outside the experimental areas and gave the Service clear legal authority to actively manage them.

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