Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Has a wolf made Hailey home?

Large canine roaming area near Quigley Canyon

Express Staff Writer

Residents of the Quigley Canyon area in Hailey are fascinated that a new canine lurking around their neighborhood may actually be a wolf.

The animal has been sighted numerous times over the past week between Quigley Road and South Hiawatha Drive on the east side of the city, an area that lies adjacent to vast Bureau of Land Management open space.

Connie Johnson, who lives on Quigley Lane, said the first time she saw the animal it was playing with her dogs in the yard.

"It had wolf eyes and it was so tall, but it was throwing this plastic thing around the yard like a toy," Johnson said. "It was crazy."

Other residents of the area also reported sightings of a lone wolf.

Roger Olson, a conservation officer with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game who lives near Quigley Canyon, said he watched the animal through binoculars on Sunday.

"It had green eyes and all of the wolf characteristics," he said. "Its tracks measured a little over 4 inches wide, and 4 and a quarter inches long.

"It was definitely in the wolf size—I have no reason at this point to believe it isn't."

Olson said the animal is charcoal in color and looks similar to a wolf he saw in the Indian Creek area two months ago.

"And some people up in the East Fork of the Big Wood River said they have seen a single dark wolf," Olson said. "It kind of sounds like the same single animal hanging around, but you never know."

Steve Nadeau, large carnivore coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game, said it's "very uncommon" for a wolf to behave in such a way but it does happen.

"A young wolf or a lone wolf might spend some time around domestic dogs, and a male wolf might be more friendly to a female dog," he said.

Nadeau said it's also possible the animal is a wolf-dog hybrid. He said a wolf biologist will investigate the matter this week and noted that the animal may be trapped just to determine the species.

He said that if people encounter the animal they should try to scare it away.

"It's something people need to be aware of, and they should keep their pets in at night," he said.

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