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Wolf sightings

Wolf sightings

by Cat Urbigkit

Reports of encounters with wolves in Sublette County have been flowing in since last week’s “Night of the wolves” article.

Holly Davis of the Big Piney area said she was lucky to have been forewarned on Dec. 28 that a pack of three wolves were headed her way from the Bench Corral elk feedground.

“On the 30th, they came,” Davis said. “At nine in the morning, they headed for the heifers, two to the front and the black to the back.”

The 100 head of heifers circled up tight, Davis said.

“They got in a tight circle,” Davis described. “Horses snorting and whistling … dogs paranoid.

“It was a terrorist attack,” she said. “When you have wolves circling your livestock, it feels like a terrorist attack.

“We scared them off,” Davis said. “We shot in the air” she said, and then followed them out with a snowmachine.

Many area ranchers are concerned about lambing and calving season, which is quickly approaching for producers on the southern end of the county, with one outfit due to start calving Feb. 15.

Davis is one whose ill-ease hasn’t lifted. She’s feeding the heifers close to her house now as a protective measure.

And her house gets chilly at night now, Davis said, since she sleeps with her bedroom window open so she can hear the sounds of the night.

Kelly Hake of Pinedale is just flat tired of the wolf in her residential neighborhood.

“It has hung around for a month now, right in Pinedale, right behind the clinic,” Hake said. “It comes out at dusk and goes away at sunup.”

“It’s not a nice thing,” Hake said, adding that the gray wolf has been seen chasing horses and playing with neighborhood dogs.

“We’ve got kids,” Hake said. But the wolf comes “right outside the house and runs all over the place. It’s about the same size as our black lab.”

Therein lies part of Hake’s concern: the wolf has been trying to breed her female lab. If pups are produced, then what?

Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) said such instances are fairly rare, but added that he’s learned to “never say never.

“It would be very unusual,” he said, but wolves have been seen playing with dogs and breeding them on occasion in the past.

As a result of last week’s article, Jimenez said, “A lot of ranchers have called and are concerned.” Jimenez said his agency is working with USDA Wildlife Services to document where the ranches are located and when they are due to start calving so that prompt responses can be initiated later if needed.

As for where the wandering wolves are, there is no official word. People have reported wolf sightings and encounters, but FWS has not flown for wolves during the last week. Jimenez said his agency would have a pilot in the air some time this week attempting to learn the location of any radio-collared wolves.

To report a wolf sighting or to notify federal officials of a depredation problem:

Mike Jimenez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (307) 332-7789 office or (307) 330-5620 cell.

To contact USDA Wildlife Services for a depredation problem:

Merrill Nelson, Rock Springs

(307) 362-7238 or cell at (307) 350-5347.

Rod Krischke, State Director in Casper (307) 261-5336.