Over the holiday weekend, some out-of-state campers visiting central Idaho found what appears to be a young wolf pup wandering alone on a road in the national forest. They took him to the Sheriff’s office, and he is now being cared for by professionals. We’re not sure what if anything happened to the pup’s family, but our field crew is trying to locate the other wolves at this time. I caught up with our wolf expert Suzanne Stone to learn more about this unfortunate situation.
The pup was found within one of our wolf coexistence project areas, so our local partners contacted us immediately for help. We recommended that he be taken to a professional animal care facility until a longer term solution can be found. It’s still unclear at this point what happened to the pup or why he was by himself, but we’re helping Idaho Fish and Game figure out if there’s a way to return him to his family.
We did get some basic location information about where the pup was found, so I’m heading out with our head field technician to try to find the rest of the pack in the hope that he can be returned to them. Unfortunately, it has become much more difficult to track wolf activity in the last year or so since many of the collared wolves have been killed during the wolf hunting and trapping seasons. We now have very limited information about wolves in the area.
How is the pup doing?
He’s very frightened of people, and it looks like he hasn’t eaten in days. We’re trying to find some goat’s milk and bison meat to feed to him, but he really needs to be returned to his pack as soon as possible. Wolf pups are extremely vulnerable at this stage, and their chances of survival on their own are very low.
What’s next for the pup?
It’s hard to say without knowing the status of the rest of the pack. If the adults are still alive and we can find them, there’s a good chance the pup can be returned to the pack and survive. But if the adults are dead or can’t be found, then there’s no sense leaving a pup out there by himself. We might be able to find another pack to act as surrogate in another location, but there’s always a risk they will not accept the pup as one of their own.
Are there any other options?
The last resort is for him to be raised in captivity. We’d much rather see the pup survive in the wild than being fed by hand behind a fence. But captivity could be the only option if we can’t find the rest of his pack or another pack willing to adopt him. If that’s the only option, one of the country’s top wolf rescue facilities has already offered to take and care for him.
Is there anything we can do to help?
Our top priority right now is to find the rest of the pack and see if the adults are still alive and if there are other pups. Ultimately, the decision will rest in the hands of Idaho Fish and Game, so there may be opportunities to support their efforts to save this pup. Please stay tuned as we learn about the situation…