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"Control" of Washakie Pack reveals fatal injury to wolf 147M

July 4, 2002, update July 12

Recent government efforts to kill several of the Washakie Pack revealed that one of Greater Yellowstone more famous wolves was crippled and near death.

Wolf 147M was found lying in Sheridan Creek south of Togwotee Pass with his head just above water, using a rock to lay it on. The wolf appeared to be dead, but when Mike Jimenez approached, the wolf tried to stand, but couldn't. After determining the severity of the injury, 147 was killed. Examination showed one of his hind legs completely shattered, probably by an elk or a moose.

147M was famous for his extensive wandering after he left his native Chief Joseph Pack to which he was born in 1997. When he dispersed in 1999, he tried to find a mate among the Druids or Rose Creek Pack, but he later traveled east near Cody then up the North Fork of the Shoshone River toward the east entrance of the Park. Finally he traveled south and joined, or helped rejuvenate the Washakie Pack, which made the DuNoir Valley NE of Dubois, WY it's primary home. He never became the alpha male, but was with the pack for about 21/2 - 3 years.

Wolf 147 was a handsome wolf, known for his coloration and stature. The Home of the Yellowstone Wolf website features a number of photos of him.

Recent control of the Washakie Pack-

The Washakie Pack has always been a controversial pack, at least to the owner of the Diamond G Ranch in the DuNoir Valley. Steven Gordon, the owner, sued in federal court back in 1998 to have the wolves removed, and even appealed his district court loss to the circuit court.

The original Washakie Pack was broken up the Wildlife Services in the early summer of 1998 after it killed a number of Gordon's livestock, but it was later rejuvenated. The wolves that reformed it may or may not have been part of the original pack and its renewed existence was shadowy until early 2000. It was estimated to have 6-8 members at the end of 2000, and that year, according to USFWS, "The Washakie Pack killed 2 dogs, 3 horses, and attacked a third dog which later died of injuries suffered in the attack. Two of the horse depredations were recorded as probable and 1 was recorded as possible."

By the end of 2001, its size was estimated at 10-11 wolves. That year it killed 2 calves and 1 dog.

This year the pack has 5 more pups and has killed one cow calf and might have killed more. In an effort to reduce the pack's food requirements one adult female wolf was shot June 19. Crippled 147M was found during operations to reduce its size. A couple more members are scheduled to be shot, but the alpha pair is supposed to be conserved. There is no attempt to eliminate the pack. The alpha pair are wolf 233F and and uncollared male. In fact which the death of 147M,  233F is the only member of the pack that remains with a radio collar. Presently the pack has mostly moved north of the DuNoir into the Teton and Washakie Wilderness areas where airplane flights for any purpose other than rescue are not allowed, so with the lack of collars and movement into the Wilderness, further killing of the pack might be difficult for the time being.

Wolves in the area have been controversial not just with Gordon, but some other nearby land owners. Others in the Dubois area and elsewhere have questioned the wisdom of trying to raise cattle in the DuNoir valley which has every large predator in North America, except polar bear and jaguar.

You can do a Google search of my web site to find many other past stories on the Washakie Pack.

Update July 12. Here is the latest news on this pack from the USFWS:

"Trapping/shooting control continues in the Dunoir Valley near Dubois, WY. On the 8th a young adult male was captured, radio-collared and released on-site, so the Washakie pack would have 2 radio-collared members. The alpha female is still collared. Trapping will continue and the next 1-2 uncollared wolves that are captured will be killed."

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Copyright 2002 Ralph Maughan

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Ralph Maughan PO Box 8264, Pocatello, ID 83209