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Two Teton Pack dispersers shot by Wildlife Services

1-12-2003


It looks like from 6 to 9 yearlings from the Teton Pack have left the pack, perhaps for good, or in this case bad.

At least 6 of the yearlings had been hanging around a few miles north of Pinedale, Wyoming. In late December they killed one cow calf near Cora.

On January 10, two wolves showed up on the hillside by the Urbigkit's place near Cora (pop. 76) which is about 7 miles NW of Pinedale (pop. 1412). The area is a mixture of private land, BLM and state land. Some ugly subdivisions are cropping up in the area of 40 Rod Flat.

Lloyd Dorsey has emailed corrections on the location. Thanks, Lloyd.

"The Urbigkit's place, if I read her description correctly, is fully 24 miles south of Cora, Wyoming. In fact it is some 20 miles south of where I spotted a black wolf a year ago in November, at Trappers Point outside Pinedale, Wyoming (my account was printed in the Int'l Wolf Magazine, titled, "Corridors For All Species"). This past November I took part in a pronghorn antelope study thereabouts and know the location described by Urbigkit. These ill-fated wolves in Urbigkit's story were evidently south of The Mesa on the verge of the Little Colorado Desert. And they were evidently following the same migration corridor from the Upper Green River down through Trappers Point, across the mule deer and pronghorn winter ranges currently being ravaged by the natural gas developments, and then- oh
so close!- out into the second largest unfenced and virtually all BLM area in Wyoming, The Little Colorado Desert. Which, if you look at the map, is just a skip away from the Red Desert, Wyoming's largest unfenced area of public lands. Conservation organizations are trying desperately to protect this amazing, and still functioning, multi-species wildlife migration route and largest known big game winter range complex in the Lower 48."

"Maybe the final insult in this sad account is the distance the wolves had already dispersed to find this area. They were apparently a part of the 24 member Grand Teton National Park wolf pack, born in a den on park land near Moran Junction in northern Jackson Hole. They had traveled fully 86 miles (if figured in simple map mile-sections) to their deaths from federal Wildlife Services gunners shooting them from airplanes. And, from a wildlife conservation perspective, the wolves were on the absolutely perfect route for wildlife to migrate from the heart of the GYE to their ancestral big game wintering grounds in the Green River Basin."

I might add that this location also puts the wolves into a position to migrate into Utah or Colorado, so we should especially care what happens to the rest of the Teton Pack dispersers -- RM.

Cat Urbigkit explained what happened in her article in the Sublette County Examiner. Night of the wolves. She is the paper's co-owner.

So, two wolves were killed by Wildlife Services. I talked with Mike Jimenez. He said the rest of the wolves, from 4 to 7 are still in the general area. Three have radio collars

Jimenez said he saw no indication these wolves were unusually bold. "The first time people see wolves in the distance, they are often surprised they don't run." I also speculate that these wolves are hardly afraid of fences, corrals, dirt roads, and livestock in large numbers because the Teton Pack's den is about 2 miles from the controversial pasture inside Grand Teton National Park where every summer from several hundred to 1800 cows and calves are pastured. The pack has left these cattle alone, except for one possible kill, but the wolf pups can hear the noise of the cattle from the time they are 3 months old, on.

In sum, it was a pretty typical livestock-wolf interaction -- the net result being one dead cow calf, a bit of excitement a week or so later, and two dead wolves.

Sublette County is one of those Wyoming counties that has passed a resolution saying that grizzly bears and wolves are economically and socially unacceptable species in the county (although grizzly bears have been in the county naturally for a long time).

Urbigkit's views are expressed in a recent Range Magazine article, "The Coup Counties."


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