Alpha female of the Teton Pack was poisoned last fall.
No. 24F was the first Wyoming wolf to fall to illegal poison.
5-17-2001, Updated 5-21, and 11-13-2002
Those who follow the Teton Pack may have guessed this a long time ago -- 24F the alpha female was missing.
Last fall the USFWS announced that a member of the Teton Pack was dead and under investigation. Now they have revealed that 24F was found dead of a formerly legal, but now illegal poison near Soda Lake in the Gros Ventre River drainage.
The poisoning of 24F coincides approximately in time with recent poisonings of wolves in Idaho. In Idaho, the Big Smoky Pack was lost to radio tracking due to poisoning and shooting. Also in Idaho, the Moyer Basin Pack lost perhaps 4 members to poising, but has nevertheless prospered.
Wolf 24F was born to the Soda Butte Pack in 1995 after the pack was released in Yellowstone. They denned in the Beartooth Mountains, and 24F was the only pup that year for the Soda Butte pack. In mid-1998, 24F dispersed from her pack when she met a male from the Washakie Pack, and in 1999, No. 24 gave birth to the first wolf litter in Jackson Hole in over 60 years.
She and 133M had a litter of 5 black pups. 133M, however, was soon hit by a vehicle on U.S. Highway 26 in the Buffalo Valley, a few miles east of Moran Junction.
The pack had a scary first year after 1800 cows and calves were put very near their rendezvous site by the Hansen-Mead family on their controversial allotment inside Grand Teton National Park. However, intense and expensive government efforts kept the wolves and the cattle apart. Road kill was brought to the pack all summer long after the accidental capture of 24F in a grizzly bear snare showed her to be underweight.
24F did not find a mate during the winter of 1999-2000, and efforts to put a second radio collar on the pack were not successful until early 2001. From the time of the death of 24F none of the Jackson Hole wolves were radio collared. The GrosVentre Pack, the other pack in the area, remains uncollared.
The death of 24F has not meant the demise of the Teton Pack as the poisoner(s) probably hoped. I ran a story 2 days ago indicating the new wolf had joined the pack and 200F seems to have denned.
The pack currently has 4 adult members. Two of the 1999 pups have now dispersed, one is probably 50 miles to the SE near Pinedale and the whereabouts of the other not known, but hopefully he has a mate and a den somewhere in the area.
Senior resident agent Dominic Domenici of the USFWS said the agency was investigating the poisoning. He speculated that poison might still be in the area although no other wildlife are known to have been killed. He said a substantial award would be offered for information.
Illegal killings of wolves last year prevented 2000 from being the first year of the 3 year minimum countdown to wolf delisting.
Update 5-21-01- Today the USFWS wrote: "The Service is offering a substantial reward for information regarding this illegal killing of a wolf that had never depredated on livestock, despite being around them for years. At least one other conservation group has offered an additional reward. The 30 breeding pair wolf recovery goal was not attained last year because of this type of illegal and unconscionable killing. Hopefully the kind of person who would conduct this type of activity can be brought to justice. Illegal wolf killing only prolongs wolf recovery and delisting, and does nothing but polarize public attitudes and promote conflict."
Update 11-13-2002- The person or persons who poisoned 24F were never found. Her pack went on to prosper, with 23 members as of Nov. 2002.
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Copyright © 2001 Ralph Maughan
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