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For the week of August 2 through 8, 2000

Missing alpha female wolf found with pups

Express Staff Writer

Though the White Cloud wolf pack was disbanded in April, its progeny and dominant alpha female are living on.

According to the Wolf Recovery Foundation’s weekly wolf progress reports, the alpha female was found last month in northern Idaho near Lolo Pass, after three months during which wolf experts feared the worst for her and her litter.

And against all odds, she apparently has at least two pups with her, the report stated.

In what conservationists called an "Easter Week shootout," the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized killing members of the White Cloud wolf pack late in April. The pack’s alpha male was accidentally killed in the control action.

The death of the alpha male left the pregnant female wandering the mountains of central Idaho with a womb of pups. The pups, according to then Fish and Wildlife Idaho wolf recovery leader Roy Heberger, faced a grim future without the alpha male around to hunt and gather food for them and the alpha female.

The alpha male and female had been successfully relocated to the Selway/Bitterroot Wilderness area, 150 miles north of the White Cloud Mountains, early in April, along with two other White Cloud pack members. The male, however, completed the long trek back to his homeland in a mere 19 days.

The whereabouts of the alpha female were unknown until this month.

The two other relocated pack members were last sighted in the Big Hole River valley in Montana, one near Wisdom and the other near Jackson.

According to the progress report, Idaho has a minimum of 14 wolf packs that have produced pups this spring and summer. In the Yellowstone area, 12 of the area’s 16 packs had pups.

In northwestern Montana, there are a minimum of nine packs or groups of wolves. Based upon movements of radio collared females or reliable observations, Montana’s wolves had seven litters of pups this spring and summer.

In order to be removed from the endangered species list, each recovery area—Yellowstone, Montana and Idaho—must yield 10 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years.

Wolf management would then be turned over to the states.


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