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Coeur d'Alene Press
http://www.cdapress.com/articles/2005/08/17/news/news04.txt
 
Wolf pack spotted in Boundary
 Aug 17, 2005 By LUCY DUKES Hagadone News Network

Biologists estimate 15 have been added this year in Idaho

BONNERS FERRY -- The Idaho Department of Fish and Game confirmed the existence of a wolf pack in Boundary County when biologists caught a 2- to 3-month-old pup in the Boulder Creek drainage near the Idaho-Montana border in July.

Biologists found the pup upon investigating eyewitness reports from the public. The pack is the first confirmed in Boundary County in about 80 years.

Fish and Game officials do not know how many wolves are in the pack, but howling activity and other signs indicate several, said Steve Nadeau, IDFG large carnivore program coordinator.

"There are several adults with pups," he said.

Biologists aren't yet sure where the wolves came from. They may have wandered up from the south or from Montana. Since wolves were reintroduced to Idaho in 1995 and 1996, packs have been seen in northwest Montana, the Avery area, St. Joe and around Marble Mountain, he said.

Wolves have also been spotted near the U.S.-Canadian border and around Priest Lake, but not in packs.

The wolf population in Idaho has been growing 15-20 percent per year since the reintroduction, with wolf packs ranging over an average area of 250-500 square miles. Litter sizes range from two to four pups.

Biologists estimated 420-500 wolves and 43 packs existed in the state at the end of last year, including 27 breeding pairs. This year, 15 new packs have been added, said Nadeau.

Officials expect the population to stabilize, but they don't know when.

While their numbers are growing, the wolves pose little danger to humans, Nadeau said.

"Injuries due to wild wolves are very, very rare," he said.

The injuries that do occur arise from people deliberately feeding wolves, with wolves then expecting humans to feed them, he said.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs advised anyone who sees a wolf to "enjoy it because they'll be gone in a couple seconds."

Wolves in Idaho feed primarily on elk, and secondarily on deer and moose. They do prey on livestock, however. Anyone suspecting wolf depredation should notify local Fish and Game officers, said Nadeau.

Four out of 16 known wolf packs in the Northwest and Montana killed livestock in 2004, with losses totaling six cattle, one lamb, and one colt. Three cattle and a llama were injured, according to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2004 Annual Report compiled by various state and federal agencies and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Report authors conclude that some of the animals killed may have been eaten, so confirmed depredation may not represent an actual tally.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working on delisting the species since 2003, but will not do so until wolf management plan requirements have been met in Wyoming. The Fish and Wildlife Service has already accepted management plans from Idaho and Montana, and has turned over wolf management to the state in Montana. Federal officials expect Idaho to take over wolf management in the state within weeks.

North of Interstate 90 in Idaho, wolves are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. South of I-90 they are listed as "experimental, non-essential."

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