Authorities are releasing few details about four wolf pups discovered dead late last week on public land south of Jackson.
A Wyoming law prohibits wildlife managers from identifying anyone who legally kills a wolf — or releasing information that could lead to such an ID.
“At this point we can’t confirm, one way or another, whether they were legally taken or how they died,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Gocke said. “The state statute says that if they’re legally taken, we have to release information in aggregate.”
The four wolf pups were born this year, so they would have been about 4 or 5 months old. They were taken to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie for necropsies.
Gocke could get no more specific than saying that they were reported dead on public land south of Jackson on Thursday within Game and Fish’s “trophy game” wolf hunting area, where there are defined seasons and rules about killing wolves.
That means the canines were found east of Highway 89, and north of Highway 191 and the Hoback River corridor. The opposite sides of both highways this time of year fall within Wyoming’s “predator zone,” where wolves can be killed without limit and by any means.
The Jackson Hole News&Guide received a tip that the dead wolf pups were found near the Mill Iron Ranch, which is at the end of Horse Creek Road, and that they possibly died of parvovirus, a contagious disease found in dogs.
Gocke could not confirm the veracity of this information because of the state-ordered gag order. More information may become available, he said, after the lab results come in.
A Mill Iron Ranch employee reached over the phone Sunday declined the Jackson Hole Daily’s request for an interview.
“We don’t want to comment,” she said.
The law on the books prohibits the release of “any information” about the “number or nature” of wolves legally killed, unless in aggregate form or with permission from the person who is involved.
“Information identifying any person legally taking a wolf within this state,” the statute reads, “is solely for the use of the department or appropriate law enforcement offices and is not a public record.”
The nearest wolf pack south of the town of Jackson is the Horse Creek Pack, which roams the southern fringes of the Gros Ventre Range between Granite and Cache creeks. The pack, according to a Game and Fish report, numbered an estimated six animals as of last winter, though that estimate was made prior to any litters of pups being born.