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Refuge collars wolves from Pinnacle Peak pack

02_15_13_Article_WolfCollaringDuring the month of February, many of the management efforts on the National Elk Refuge are centered around elk and bison using the winter range. This week, though, it was wolves that were the biological focus as wildlife managers collared four members of the Pinnacle Peak pack, a group that has resided on the refuge for several years.

Photo: After securing the collar on the wolf, Refuge Biologist Eric Cole removes a whisker from an immobilized male yearling. The whisker can be used for a sample isotope analysis to learn about the animal's diet. 


February 15, 2013

The wolf collaring effort on the refuge coincides with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s collaring conducted in other areas of northwest Wyoming over the past few weeks.

On September 30, 2012, wolves were removed from the list of threatened and endangered species, allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to return management of wolves to the State of Wyoming under an approved management plan. However, the National Elk Refuge assumes responsibility for the management of wolves within its jurisdictional boundaries. Refuge staff coordinated this week’s collaring project with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Biologist Mike Jimenez, who serves as the Northern Rockies Wolf Coordinator.

Wildlife managers used a helicopter Friday afternoon to visually locate the wolves on the refuge and dart four members of the pack with Telazol, an injectable drug commonly used in the immobilization of carnivores. The wolves were then lifted into the helicopter and flown a short distance to a location where a refuge field crew stood by with the collars and sampling equipment. In just over an hour, staff had deployed the collars, collected hair samples, and recorded statistics such as sex, age, and weight. During the process, staff monitored the animals’ temperatures and respiration. Two biologists remained on site when the data collection was complete to ensure the wolves got safely back up on their feet when the immobilization drug wore off.

From the data generated by the collars, biologists will be able to monitor the size of the pack, document its distribution, record mortalities, measure the pack’s reproductive success, and note breeding pair status. The information will also help Refuge Biologist Eric Cole with his on-going studies of elk density and distribution as the presence and movement of wolves on the refuge are variables that may influence behavioral patterns in elk.

Photos of the February 15 wolf collaring are posted on the National Elk Refuge's photo gallery.

Learn more about news, information and recovery status of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.


Last Updated: Feb 19, 2013
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