Though the media's attention has focused on the wolf reintroduction effort in Yellowstone National Park, wolves in Idaho may reach the recovery goal of 10 breeding pairs first. Biologists received good news last spring when they confirmed that eight pairs of wolves in Idaho had denned. Three litters have been sighted so far. In 1995, resarchers found no evidence of denning wolves.


Bob Ruesnik, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says of the 35 wolves released in Idaho during the past two years, 25 survive in six national forests in central Idaho and along the Idaho/Montana border. Four of the missing wolves are confirmed dead: One was shot, a lion killed one, another drowned in a trap laid by the federal Animal Damage Control, and the fourth died from unknown causes.


In Yellowstone, five pairs of wolves denned last spring, according to federal officials, and four of their litters survived. The fifth litter was destroyed by another pack. So far nine of the 31 wolves transplanted to Yellowstone have died, although their loss was offset by nine pups born in 1995.


"The weak link in the chain appears to be Yellowstone," federal biologist Ted Koch told AP. "Who would have guessed that?"


Current information on Idaho wolves can be obtained from the monthly Idaho Wolf Update, published by the Nez Perce Tribe, P.O. Box 365, Lapawi, ID 83840 (208/843-7373) or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Snake River Basin Office, 4696 Overland Road, Room 576, Boise, ID 83705 (208/334-1931).


* John Rosapepe