|Several research techniques, including capturing and
placing a telemetry collar on a wolf, will help Fort McCoy Natural
Resource Branch (NRB) personnel better manage the mammals at the
Tim Wilder, Fort McCoy Endangered Species biologist, said a 64-pound
female wolf was caught inadvertently on South Post in a coyote trap in
December. Members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife
Service came to Fort McCoy to place a telemetry collar on the wolf
before it was released.
DeWayne Snobl of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture Wildlife Service checks on a wolf’s
condition after it was tranquilized. The wolf was caught
inadvertently in a coyote trap and was fitted with a telemetry
collar before being released.
(Photo by Nathan Tucker)
“We have wolf packs on both North and South Post,” Wilder said.
“Tracking wolves using radio telemetry helps give us a better idea of
the wolves’ range and how they are using the habitat within their
Wolf packs are comprised of an alpha male and female that serve as the
Other pack members generally include recently-born pups and yearling
wolves that help care for the pups and secure food.
“Yearling wolves often will leave their natal pack in order to find a
mate,” Wilder said. This is why wolves in Wisconsin continue to expand
NRB personnel have established several bait stations on the
installation. Road-killed deer carcasses are used to attract wolves to
the bait sites.
Trail cameras are used to obtain photos of the wolves. These photos help
determine a population estimate and can provide an overall assessment of
wolf health. In addition, in coordination with the USDA, snares will be
set near the bait stations in order to capture and place telemetry
collars on additional wolves.
A wolf fitted with a telemetry
collar is released on South Post at Fort McCoy. Installation
Natural Resource Branch personnel will use the collar to track
the wolf’s movements. (Photo
by Nathan Tucker)
Deer are one of the key food sources for wolves, and Fort McCoy has a
sufficient population to support the wolves on post, said David
Beckmann, Fort McCoy wildlife biologist.
“We also use snow tracking to keep track of the wolf population,” Wilder
said. “Their tracks let us know how many there are, help define
territory boundaries, and let us see how they travel throughout their
Data available from this method has been limited this winter due to the
lack of snow cover before Jan. 12, Wilder said.
Locating wolf dens also is important. Wilder said dens generally are in
remote locations where wolves won’t come in contact with humans. Knowing
where these locations are allows the installation to reduce activity
that conflicts with the wolves if necessary.
All of the data will be useful to help the installation manage wolves
when they are removed from the federal endangered species list Jan. 27.
The management will shift back to the states, with the WDNR in charge in
Wisconsin, he said.
“We’re hoping to continue our excellent working relationship with the
WDNR,” Wilder said. “They locate collared wolves utilizing aircraft and
share the data with us. We have been able to provide them with wolf
locations using a receiver and truck-mounted antennae, which helps them
get more-complete information.”
Wilder said the installation recently completed its five-year management
plan in 2011 to set a course for managing the wolf population at Fort
McCoy. With the federal delisting of wolves, problem wolves now can be
dealt with at the state level. For example, if a farmer is experiencing
livestock loss from wolves, USDA employees will be allowed to trap and
euthanize these animals.
“To date it is not believed that the wolves residing on Fort McCoy have
killed any livestock on surrounding farms,” Wilder said.
It is likely that in the future the WDNR will allow a regulated public
harvest of wolves through hunting and/or trapping, Wilder said.
“If this occurs, we will consider allowing these management actions to
occur on the installation,” Wilder said.
Hunting or trapping seasons will help instill and maintain a fear of
humans within the wolf population. Since wolves are a large and powerful
predator, problems can arise if they become habituated to humans.