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G&F counts 25 wolves in six packs
Apr 21, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
About 25 wolves in six packs live in Fremont County, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported recently that humans killed 12 wolves last year.
The animals were responsible for the deaths of three cows and 10 sheep in the county in 2012.
"A wolf population that's a little bit lower than it was last year definitely lessens the impacts to big game and eases the impact on (livestock) producers," said Wyoming Game and Fish regional wildlife supervisor Jason Hunter.
"It's what the public asked of us."
The department hosts a public meeting on this year's wolf hunt at 6 p.m. May 7 at the Headwaters Community Arts and Conference Center in Dubois.
Several agencies are responsible for managing wolves after the species was taken off the endangered species list last year.
Wyoming Game and Fish manages the animals in the county outside of the Wind River Indian Reservation, and tribal game and fish is responsible for wolves on the reservation.
Within the reservation's boundaries, Game and Fish also has jurisdiction on non-tribal owned, fee title land.
Hunter said the precise location of all wolves in the county can't be assessed, but that the population and number of packs in the report are very close to the real totals.
"Right now it doesn't show the wolves are increasing in number or spreading out," he said.
West of the reservation, Game and Fish manages wolves as trophy animals, meaning hunters need a license to kill the animals. Agency officials also kill some for control reasons.
East of the reservation, wolves are managed as a predator species and can be shot on sight.
Wolves in Fremont County are concentrated mostly in the trophy game area at the northwest end of the Wind River Valley, according to the report.
The group Game and Fish calls the Washakie pack has its home range northwest of Dubois. At the end of 2012, it had at least three animals in it. In 2012, one wolf was killed for control purposes, and it was confirmed that the pack had killed one cow.
A pack's home range may be on one side of the county, but it can appear in other parts.
"We're finding that the wolves move pretty good distances at times," Hunter said.
The Spring Mountain pack makes its home just north of Dubois. At least six animals were in the pack at the end of 2012, and it contained a breeding pair. One wolf from the pack was shot as a trophy animal, and three were killed for control reasons.
The pack was responsible for two confirmed cattle kills.
The East Fork pack's range lies northeast of Dubois and straddles the boundary of the Wind River Indian Reservation. At the end of last year, it contained five animals and had a breeding pair, and one of its members was killed as a part of 2012's wolf hunt.
Two packs reside on the reservation, but the extent of their ranges has not been determined.
One, called the Bold Mountain pack, ranges in the Wind River Mountains on the south side of the reservation. It had at least three members at the end of 2012 but no breeding pairs.
The other, called the Owl Creek pack, ranges in the mountains of the same name on the north side of the reservation. It had five members at the end of 2012 and one human-caused mortality, but it was not a control action or a legal harvest. One other wolf was known to have left that pack.
Hunter said the human-caused mortality probably was a wolf killed as a predator.
The final documented group of wolves in Fremont County is called the Prospect pack. Its full range is not known, but it has been seen just west of South Pass City.
It ended the year with three animals, and lost five members to control efforts during 2012. The pack was the deadliest to livestock among all packs in the county, killing a confirmed 10 sheep last year.
A pack of two wolves documented to live above Lander in the Wind River Mountains, called the Popo Agie pack, was not seen in 2012.
Hunter said some wolves are likely in that area, but his agency focused its monitoring in the trophy game area around Dubois, so it has less information about wolves in other parts of the county.
One lone wolf seen in near Warm Spring Creek west Dubois may be part of another, heretofore undocumented pack in the county, but Game and Fish officials could not confirm it.
That wolf's radio collar showed it was in the county, but Hunter thinks may be part of a pack from west of the Continental Divide that passed into the county for a time but will not stay.