Jackson wolves targeted
By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily
February 28, 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel plan to kill three or four wolves that have brazenly approached homes in neighborhoods in and south of Jackson.
Wildlife managers most likely will track the wolves to a remote part of their territory with a helicopter and use tranquilizer darts to subdue them, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf manager Mike Jimenez said. Once the animals are captured, they’ll likely be given a lethal injection, he said.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had considered relocating the animals, but decided against it, Jimenez said.
A video posted on YouTube Feb. 23 is said to show two wolves crossing a homeowner’s yard in west Jackson. The two wolves, one black and one white, come within a few dozen feet of the home.
The recent wolf activity comes after an incident in January when a Jackson resident photographed three wolves near his home in the Indian Trails subdivision. The two incidents are among numerous sightings, beginning in late December, that show the wolves have made residential areas part of their territory, Jimenez said.
The wolves likely are attracted to the area by elk in the nearby Snake River bottom, he said. So far, the wolves have not killed pets or livestock, but Jimenez said he’s received “many, many calls,” most from people who are worried about wolves in their neighborhood.
“We don’t think it’s appropriate for healthy wolf management to have wolves expanding into housing developments,” Jimenez said. “We’ve been watching it for a month and what we see is that it’s progressing in the wrong direction.
“They travel north and they come back through that development,” Jimenez said. “I’ve had people call me and saying that they’re walking within ... 10 feet of their mud room window. They’re seen at 10:30 in the morning.
“They’re around kids, they’re around dogs,” he said. “We think these wolves are becoming habituated to people and houses and that is not a good sign.”
Two wolves are wearing radio collars, although only one radio collar is working, Jimenez said. Moving them is not an option.
“There aren’t a lot of places you can put wolves these days,” he said about relocation. “There are a lot of places filled with resident wolf packs.”
Officials have also decided against hazing, or scaring, the animals. Hazing can work in places such as fenced livestock pastures. But wolves learn to avoid wildlife managers with shotguns loaded with nonlethal ammunition such as cracker shells, Jimenez said.
“They get very smart and they figure out how to avoid your hazing events,” he said.
The decision to kill the animals was made independently of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s standard protocol for dealing with wolves in developed areas, Jimenez said.
Killing the wolves won’t have an adverse effect on Wyoming’s wolf population, he said.
“We’re looking at a population that is fully recovered and expanding,” he said. “We’re talking three or four wolves out of 230.”