A story in the Jackson Hole News gives hope that Ed Bangs, the head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery team has decided not to capture the rest of the Washakie Pack, which now consists of adult female 26F and four or five pups (numbers 132-135).
Bangs was quoted as saying "He [wolf no. 15M] seemed to be the one doing most of the hunting. . . Hopefully, his removal will reduce the chance of further livestock depredations."
John Robinett, manager of the Diamond G Ranch told the News that six cattle had been killed in September. Two more cows were killed in October. Robinett called seven more "highly probable." He said the pack spent 80 per cent of the time on private land. The pack denned on the national forest next to the ranch.
Hank Fischer of Defenders of Wildlife praised the Diamond G's efforts to coexist with the wolves.
I want to make it clear I am not against the shooting of no. 15, who appears to have been responsible for most, and hopefully all the dead cows. I was very much opposed to capturing the pack and moving it to Yellowstone because of the lack of success with the pen-raised Sawtooth yearlings. Presently six of the original ten are dead, four because of killing livestock. Three are back in the Nez Perce pen with nos. 29M, 37F and their pup 92M. The location of one is not known.
This is the most difficult time of the year for wolves because their prey is at its strongest. The young are no longer easy kills and winter snow does not yet give the wolves an advantage.
Hopefully number 26F will be able to feed her 4-5 pups and they will learn to hunt the elk that are numerous in the DuNoir Creek area. The area presently has a larger elk population than Wyoming Game and Fish feels desirable. My view is that if they kill more livestock, they should be dispatched rather than penned. Pups must learn to hunt.
For those of you who emailed Mr. Bangs, thanks. It may have made the difference.
It would certainly be nice if some wolves dropped over the Continental Divide to find the 16 to 18-thousand elk in the Jackson Hole elk herd, a herd that is growing 16% per cent a year despite being seriously hunted beginning each September. .
The population of Yellowstone wolves approached the magic number of 100 last May. About 90 are still alive in the Yellowstone Country. All but the Washakie Pack are inside Yellowstone National Park.