The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is wrapping up a successful wolf capturing and collaring effort conducted intermittently over the last six weeks in northwest Wyoming.
“The Game and Fish will capture and collar wolves in the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area annually to monitor population size and distribution in Wyoming,” said Large Carnivore Section supervisor Mark Bruscino. “Recent capture operations have been successful and since December, we have radio collared 16 wolves in the Jackson, Meeteetse, and Cody areas. We now have at least one radio-collared wolf in most major packs in Wyoming,” Bruscino added.
“Information collected from radio-collared wolves is helpful in documenting the population status of a recovered wolf population and will help ensure the species remains biologically recovered and under state management authority in the future,” Bruscino said. “Radio collars allow biologists to more readily locate wolf packs, count adults and pups, and more accurately estimate the number and location of wolf packs and breeding pairs in Wyoming.”
“Although the final population estimate has not been prepared, we are confident that Wyoming will have a sufficient number of wolves within the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area to fulfill our commitment to maintain a recovered population consisting of at least 100 individuals and ten breeding pairs on lands outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation,” Bruscino said. The official wolf population estimate prepared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be available to the public in April 2013.
All capture operations were conducted within the Wolf Trophy Game Management Area. Wolves were captured by a helicopter crew using either a dart gun with a chemical immobilization drug or by an aerial net gun. Upon capture, Game and Fish biologists fit each animal with a radio collar, draw blood for disease and genetic testing, and collect information on wolf age and sex. All wolves were released in good condition after capture.
“It is important to maintain collared wolves throughout occupied wolf habitat but, as with many other wildlife collaring programs, we expect and plan to have collared wolves harvested during hunting seasons and in areas where wolves are designated as Predatory Animals,” said Bruscino. “The WGFD mitigates this impact through the number of collars we place on wolves and the locations of collared wolves.”
Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas of Wyoming where wolves are designated as Trophy Game animals are required to return the radio collar to the WGFD within five days of the date of harvest. Hunters who harvest a collared wolf in areas where wolves are classified as Predatory Animals are required to turn in the radio collar within 10 days of the date of harvest.
Image courtesy Wyoming Game and Fish Department