Gray Wolf in Utah?
Officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are waiting to learn whether a wolf-like animal captured by a trapper Nov. 30 north of Morgan, Utah is a gray wolf that may have dispersed to Utah from southwestern Wyoming or southern Idaho.
The trapper captured the radio-collared wolf-like animal in a trap he had set for coyotes. The animal was alive and was not injured. The trapper was able to get the animal into an aluminum dog kennel and transport it to Morgan, where he turned it over to a DWR conservation officer.
DWR officials contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the evening of Nov. 30. A USFWS biologist with the Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Team was on his way to Utah on Monday, Dec. 2 and was expected to arrive by late afternoon. Once he arrives he will immobilize the animal and perform a number of tests to confirm whether it's a gray wolf. If it is, he will transport the animal back to the area from which it dispersed, and release it alive.
"We wouldn't be surprised if one of the collared wolves from Wyoming or Idaho made it to Utah as the range of a wolf searching to establish new territory often extends for hundreds of miles. It was just a matter of time and persistence on the part of the wolf," said Ralph Morgenweck, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region.
"Our efforts to recover wolves are concentrated in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and we'll continue to focus our actions in this 3-state area," Morgenweck added.
In addition to the animal that was captured, a second animal is likely in the Morgan area. Tracks left in the snow near the tracks of the captured animal indicate it was accompanied by a second animal that may be a wolf.
"People do not need to be nervous about the fact that a wolf may be in the area," said Craig McLaughlin, mammals coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "Wolves do exist in the same areas people do, but they're shy and will do everything they can to avoid someone. The risk to public safety is very minimal."
McLaughlin reminds people that gray wolves are listed as endangered on the federal Endangered Species List and may not be harmed. "Anyone who sights a wolf is asked to call the nearest DWR office," he said.
Because gray wolves are listed as endangered, they are under the management authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.