Wyoming wolf update
by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
April 5, 2009
The USFWS monitors wolves in Wyoming and estimates the minimum annual wolf population by combining 3 census techniques:
1) direct observations of wolves,
2) winter track counts, and
3) confirmed reports of wolf sightings from other agencies. Reports of wolf sightings from hunters, state and federal agencies, and outdoor enthusiasts greatly assist our efforts to monitor wolf numbers, distribution, and dispersals.
In 2008, we estimated there were at least 178 wolves and at least 30 packs in Wyoming (outside YNP). Our census period ends on 31 December of each year; however, we continue collecting population data for the upcoming year. So far in 2009, at least 2 additional packs have been identified and 1 possible pack may have formed last summer.
Packs identified in 2009 include:
1) West of Cody: Using a remote camera, state agency biologists photographed a pack of >6 wolves in the North Fork drainage.
2) Jackson: State biologists identified a pack of 3-4 wolves while conducting winter elk surveys in the Gros Ventre River drainage.
3) South east of Meeteetse: Photos taken by BLM biologists indicate a new pack may have formed in the Cottonwood/Grass Creek drainage.
Wolves are classic long-distance dispersers that routinely travel hundreds of miles across vast expanses of habitat unsuitable for wolf pack persistence. Long-distance dispersals are common and provide further evidence that genetic connectivity is not a long term wolf conservation issue in the northern Rocky Mountains. In 2008/2009, at least 8 known dispersing wolves traveled to different regions of Wyoming:
1) Idaho wolf B-271 dispersed as a yearling from the Steele Mountain Pack in 2006. He spent time in YNP last summer and continued dispersing to the Sunlight Basin area, west of Cody. In January 2009, he was fitted with a new radio collar and has paired with a radio collared female wolf.
2) In March 2009, a radio collared female wolf dispersed from Yellowstone National Park and traveled west of Cody, WY.
North central Wyoming
3) A single radio collared black wolf dispersed to the Big Horn Mountains and was photographed near Hyattville, north of Ten Sleep, WY in early March 2009.
4) In late March 2009, a single grey wolf was photographed by state agency biologists in the Big Horn Mountains.
5) Sometime in late 2008, 2 dispersing wolves settled in an area south of Casper, WY. The 2 wolves were photographed in January 2009.
6) In February 2009, a single wolf was documented west of Wheatland, WY.
South central Wyoming/Northern Colorado
7) A female wolf that dispersed from SW Montana last year, traveled through Wyoming, SE Idaho, NE Utah, N Colorado, and then back to south central Wyoming. She was recently located again in north central Colorado.
8) This winter, state agency biologists took photos of a single wolf north of Kemmerer, WY. Tracks on the ground indicated there may be a pair of wolves in the area.