Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Options close for found wolf pup

Fish and Game searching for captive sites


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

A wolf pup picked up by campers, above, is recovering at Zoo Boise while agencies and advocacy groups weigh options for its future. Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Fish and Game

A wolf pup found near Ketchum on Memorial Day weekend is recovering at Zoo Boise as a wolf advocacy group searches for its pack and state wildlife officials search for options for captivity.

Regan Berkley, regional wildlife biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said a couple picked up the pup on the afternoon of Friday, May 25, in the Sawtooth National Forest near Ketchum. After calling the Ketchum Police Department, the couple was advised to take the pup to a local veterinarian's office.

The male pup was between 5 and 6 weeks old and under 20 pounds.

The pup was sent to Zoo Boise, an accredited American Zoological Association facility, for veterinary care on Thursday. Zoo Boise Supervisor Steve Burns said Tuesday that the wolf is recovering somewhat.

"When he came here, he was in decent condition, but thin," Burns said. "He had been pretty stressed out, and he's still somewhat stressed."

Burns added that the wolf was gaining weight and calming down slightly, but the zoo would not be a permanent option for the pup.

"All we're doing is a favor for Fish and Game," he said. "They are responsible for the wolf, but we're just doing them a favor by keeping him for a couple of weeks."

Jerome Hansen, the Department of Fish and Game's Magic Valley supervisor, said the department is still monitoring the area where the pup was found in search of a pack, but is not actively tracking the wolves.

"The pup is fine down at Zoo Boise, and the DNA results have not come back to verify if it's pure wolf yet," he said. "We're not actively out there right now."

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Defenders of Wildlife spokeswoman Suzanne Stone said Tuesday that she and field technicians from the Wood River Wolf Project set up remote cameras and flew over the area.

"We're trying not to put a lot of human pressure on that area," she said.

One Warm Springs Road resident contacted the paper late last week stating that she had heard wolves howling in the area and believes she saw the wolf pup run across her driveway just before it was picked up. She said she wasn't certain it was the same animal, but Stone said in an email that the area is close to where field technician Patrick Graham found wolf tracks last week.

The pup may still have several weeks to be reunited with its pack, Stone said.

"The window is closing, but it shouldn't be closed yet," she said.

Meanwhile, Hansen said Fish and Game is still searching for a permanent place for the pup.

"Our focus is on finding a captive facility," he said, adding that even if the wolf proves to be a hybrid, a captive facility would also need to be found. He did not rule out reuniting him with his pack, but said it wasn't likely.

"There just haven't been any signs of any wolves in that area, to my mind," he said.

The pup remains at Zoo Boise for the moment, where he is not on display.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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