Wile E. wins again

 

In February, I reported for High Country News on the possible evidence of wolves at the High Lonesome Ranch, an enormous ranch in northwestern Colorado owned by Texas attorney Paul Vahldiek, Jr. During visits over a seven-month period, biologist Cristina Eisenberg, an Oregon State University doctoral student employed by the ranch, had collected scat and seen tracks that she believed belonged to wild wolves. False alarm, it appears: The High Lonesome Ranch and The Wildlands Network are announcing today that scat samples collected at the ranch and analyzed by a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, belonged not to wolves, but to coyotes.

Eisenberg is well acquainted with wolf packs and their sign in Montana and elsewhere, and two other experienced trackers, Dave Moskowitz and Dan Hansche, assisted her in the field at the High Lonesome Ranch. The reasons for the misidentification of the scat are unclear at this time, but High Country News will be following this story as it unfolds (and as I return from the Louisiana coast, where I'm reporting on the BP oil spill this week). [UPDATE: Hear more details about the DNA results on High Country Views, Episode 8.]

No matter the final outcome of the episode at the High Lonesome Ranch, the tale of wolves in Colorado is likely far from finished. In 2004, a radio-collared female wolf from Yellowstone was killed near Idaho Springs, about 30 miles west of Denver. In the winter of 2009, another young female collared wolf traveled a 1,000-mile-long route from the Yellowstone region to the Meeker, Colo., area. As I wrote in HCN's February story:

It's easier for a wolf to get from Yellowstone to Colorado than it might sound. "Wolves are just driven to travel," says Douglas Smith, the Yellowstone wolf biologist. "For them, it really isn't a big deal." ... The risks are high, as the deaths of the two radio-collared wolves in Colorado demonstrate. But the potential rewards -- wide-open territory, abundant prey -- are enormous. Even journeys of hundreds of miles "aren't in any way eyebrow-raising," says Smith.
So no matter what left the scat and tracks on the High Lonesome Ranch, wolves are likely to keep venturing into Colorado.

Michelle Nijhuis is a contributing editor at High Country News.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • ANCESTRAL LANDS ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER
    Starting Salary: Grade C, $19.00 to 24.00 per/hour Location: Albuquerque or Gallup, NM Status: Full-Time, Non-Exempt Benefit Eligible: Full Benefits Eligible per Personnel Policies Program...
  • GRAND CANYON DIRECTOR
    The Grand Canyon director, with the Grand Canyon manager, conservation director, and other staff, envisions, prioritizes, and implements strategies for the Grand Canyon Trust's work...
  • ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the organization's general operations. This includes phone and email communications, office correspondence and...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • ONE WILL: THREE WIVES
    by Edith Tarbescu. "One Will: Three Wives" is packed with a large array of interesting suspects, all of whom could be a murderer ... a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SALAZAR CENTER FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONSERVATION
    The Program Director will oversee the programmatic initiatives of The Salazar Center, working closely with the Center's Director and staff to engage the world's leading...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS - WILD PLACES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Salary Range: $70,000-$80,000. Location: Denver, CO, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT or potentially elsewhere for the right person. Application Review: on a rolling basis....
  • RIVER EDUCATOR/GUIDE + TRIP LEADER
    Position Description: Full-time seasonal positions (mid-March through October) Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10 year old nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of...
  • BOOKKEEPER/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Position Description: Part-time, year-round bookkeeping and administration position (12 - 16 hours/week) $16 - $18/hour DOE Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10...
  • LAND STEWARD
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks a full-time Land Steward to manage and oversee its conservation easement monitoring and stewardship program for 42,437 acres in...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ventana Wilderness Alliance is seeking an experienced forward-facing public land conservation leader to serve as its Executive Director. The mission of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Development Director is responsible for organizing and launching a coherent set of development activities to build support for the Natural History Institute's programs and...
  • WILDLIFE PROJECT COORDINATOR
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation helps protect and conserve water, wildlife and wild lands in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by supporting organizations and people who...
  • OLIVERBRANCH CONSULTING
    Non-Profit Management Professional specializing in Transitional Leadership, Strategic Collaborations, Communications and Grant Management/Writing.
  • GREAT VIEWS, SMALL FOOTPRINT
    Close to town but with a secluded feel, this eco-friendly home includes solar panels, a graywater reuse system, tankless hot water, solar tubes, and rainwater...