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Know the West

Freed wolves roam up to 20 miles a day


Note: this article is a sidebar to a news article titled "From freedom to FedEx: Wolf B13 killed."

Fourteen remaining Canadian wolves released last month into a central Idaho wilderness are giving U.S. Fish and Wildlife trackers a run for their money.

Two wolves have left Idaho and headed north into Montana. One was about 20 miles south of Hamilton, Mont., Feb. 8, while the other was about 20 miles south of Philipsburg, Mont. The good news, said Ted Koch, head of Idaho's wolf recovery team, was that the wolf near Philipsburg had started backtracking.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracks the wolves every other day by plane when the weather permits.

Another wolf, spotted about 80 miles north of its release site in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, had also turned around. In two days it traveled 40 miles back toward Indian Creek. "That's good news," Koch said. "It says they're secure enough in that area to return to it."

Another wolf headed west and was about 20 miles southeast of Cascade, Idaho, Feb. 8. Koch said he has notified area ranchers about the wolf's presence.

The rest of the wolves have stayed within 10 miles of their release sites at Indian Creek and Corn Creek, a Forest Service campground where four of the wolves were released.

Koch says that he and other biologists expected the wolves to be disoriented and confused for a while. That the Frank Church is not prime wolf habitat may have disconcerted the wolves even more. But Koch says there is plenty of game and that it's better for the wolves to have time to adjust away from civilization, where they could get into trouble.

Koch expects the wolves to slow down soon.

"We'll cut back on the frequency of our flights as soon as the wolves settle down and become more predictable," he said. "And we hope that happens soon because we're getting short on flight funds."