11-17-99 update 11-27-99
Today's Idaho Falls Post Register ran this as the front page headline story. Wildlife officials investigating sheep kill : Wolf or wolf-dog hybrid suspected in slaughter.
It seems that a black wolf or wolf hybrid is in the area about five mile north of Soda Springs, Idaho. This would be new country for the wolves. Soda Springs is in extreme SE Idaho, but there is an obvious migration corridor from the Yellowstone area into SE Idaho. Pocatello (where I live) is also in SE Idaho.
It is also possible that the animal is a wolf hybrid, perhaps one of those that escaped from the Ligertown fiasco near Lava Hot Springs back in 1995. Ligertown was an illegal, make-shift compound for wolf hybrids and African lions. In 1995, they escaped. Most were shot by Bannock County, Idaho and Idaho Fish and Game. Some of the hybrids were saved and taken to a wildlife shelter. It is clear all the African lions were killed, the last as it may be been stalking children at the Lava Hot Springs school. It is possible that some of the hybrids survived, as exact records of the number of animals was never clear.
The animal has killed some sheep and on more than one occasion; and so it will probably be killed if located.
Carl Anderson of Idaho Fish and Game was quoted in the article, "wolves in the area would be a big problem. 'If in fact there are wolves there, it is probably not a good place for them to be because of livestock there,' he said. 'They are just going to get into trouble. And if they don't get into trouble, somebody is going to kill them first.'"
Anderson's opinion may be influenced by the new make-up of the Idaho Fish and Game Commission which is overwhelmingly anti-wolf.
In fact, the area the animal is in has a very large elk and deer population, as well as a fair number of moose. The topography of the Caribou Range is complex, and it is by no means certain that any wolf will just get shot. It is also important country for wolves to migrate into Utah and Colorado. The area is also in the boundaries of the Yellowstone wolf recovery area, and so the migration of wolves into the area is consistent with the wolf plan.
The complicated ridge and forest landscape of the
Caribou Mountains near where this animal has been
seen. Photo by Ralph Maughan.
My Editorial Opinion-
No doubt this animal should be controlled (shot). However, if there is a wolf, there may be others (now or later) that haven't been detected because they don't kill sheep. Because this is a critical migration corridor into Utah, and maybe Colorado, wolf supporters in Colorado and Utah should watch this closely and do their best that the wolf team does not make any decisions that would retard the migration of wolves into this area (as they will be severely pressured to do). Despite indications this is not a wolf, people need to monitor the situation closely to make sure that any colonizing wolves that have not killed livestock are not killed, legally or illegally, nor removed back to Yellowstone.
Update 11-27-99. A effort is being made to trap and kill this animal. Recent tracks indicate it appears to be running with a dog, increasingly the likelihood it is a hybrid. A flurry of reports have come in about a number of black canines in the area. Maybe a wolf pack has come into the area, but sudden mistaken sightings of wolfs are common when there is a local belief that a wolf is in an area ,according to Roy Heberger of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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