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Update on Wyoming Wolves outside Yellowstone Park
Sunlight Basin alpha pair recollared

Oct. 1, 2002, update Oct. 30. Wyoming Game and Fish Commission refuses to yield, plus more misc. news.

As fall begins, the wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park have had a good year, with only scattered livestock depredations, mostly near the Diamond G ranch in the DuNoir. Three or 4 calves have been killed this summer, the most recently by unknown wolves because the resident Washakie Pack was tracked elsewhere when the calf was killed.

The Sunlight Basin Pack was trapped, one wolf control killed, and the alpha pair recollared. The killing of  an uncollared sub-adult was in response to minor livestock depredation. The cows have now left the area. Mike Jimenez, who recollared the alpha pair 41F and 52M said they were in great shape. The male was born in 1996 to no. 9F and 8M in the Rose Creek Pack. Jimenez said he is large and very impressive. 41F, sister of Druid alpha female 42F, and also sister of the late Druid alpha female 40F, has a coat that has turned bluish gray with age. She was originally a black wolf. The Sunlight Basin Pack presently consists of 6-8 adults and 5 pups. An unknown number of adults from the pack dispersed this summer.

It took major effort because of the very remote and hard to access location of the Beartooth Pack, but snow tracking indicates 5-7 members, including pups, the exact count of which is not known.

In the Absaroka Pack, the alpha male 164M has not shaken the mange, despite earlier reports that he had. Ed Bangs told me he doubted 164M would survive the winter. Because 164M is mostly not with the pack and seeks out the lower elevations where he can keep warm, he is probably not still the alpha male of the pack. The pack has 8 - 10 members, including 4 pups.

The Washakie Pack, Teton Pack, and Gros Ventre Packs have all been tracked or seen in the Union Pass area, SW of Dubois. Union Pass is a broad pass between the Gros Ventre Range and the Wind River Range. It always has an enormous number of cattle. There have been minor depredations, but once again I think this confirms that wolves hardly consider cattle prey, for cows are thicker in the area than elk are in the Lamar. Today Bangs told me efforts to kill several of the Washakie pack have ended. The cows are gone from the DuNoir area. Numerous attempts to kill several of the pack were defeated by high winds and the pack seeking shelter in the dense forests that adjoin the DuNoir area meadows and sagebrush steppe.

The Teton Pack is still at about 20-21 wolves, although the dispersal season is just around the corner.

The study of wolf predation of feedground elk will be expanded this winter from the Gros Ventre drainage state feedgrounds to all the feedgrounds in NW Wyoming. Bangs said a cooperate effort between USFWS and Wyoming Game and Fish Department looks good.

A real surprise was a possible sighting of wolf 29M, originally of the Nez Perce Pack (and brought from B.C.). He left or was pushed out as alpha male of the Park's Nez Perce Pack, and then in 1999 he founded the Gros Ventre Pack just east of Jackson Hole. That pack currently has no radio collars, and has been very hard to track or trap. Due to his age and broken toothed mouth (from his many amazing escapes from the Nez Perce enclosure), I had assumed he was dead.

Southeast of Meeteetse, the Greybull Pack had an uneventful summer (from a human standpoint). No livestock were killed and the pack has pups, but no total count has been made. A couple pups were repeatedly seen.

There is still believed to be a group of wolves on the Wyoming-Montana border, SE of Red Lodge, Montana. They range from the base to the top of the Beartooth Plateau (Line Creek Plateau, Mount Maurice area). Efforts to trap the wolves for collaring were not successful.

I asked Jimenez if any Wyoming wolf pack lived exclusively inside a Wyoming Wilderness area. He said none did.

Today, Oct. 30, Wyoming Game and Fish Commission refused to change their proposal to keep Wyoming wolves in "predator" status except in the Wyoming Wilderness areas. Today Bangs told me the US Fish and Wildlife Service would not give management to Wyoming under such a plan, and this will hold up delisting for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming until Wyoming changes to an acceptable plan.

10-30-2002. State calls wolves predators. Stockmen, outfitters rally in Jackson to tell Game and Fish to pursue disputed plan. Jackson Hole News.  By Whitney Royster.

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  Copyright 2002 Ralph Maughan

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Ralph Maughan PO Box 8264, Pocatello, ID 83209