|By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff
The trapping of a 65-pound, yearling female gray wolf
on Fort McCoy’s South Post should yield more information about the wolf
pack at Fort McCoy and help installation management of the species, said
Tim Wilder. Wilder is the endangered species program manager for the
installation’s Natural Resources Branch (NRB).
Tim Wilder (right), Fort McCoy
endangered species biologist, and DeWayne Snobl of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services consult about a
female wolf, which was fitted with a telemetry collar.
(Photo by Natural Resources Branch)
“Although wolves have resided on North Post since 1999, a pack only
recently is thought to have formed on South Post in January 2010,”
A telemetry collar was attached to the trapped wolf before she was
released at a remote South Post site.
“Because the female is part of the pack and will travel with the pack,
the telemetry collar will provide information on home-range size,
approximate den location, wolf movement/behavior in relationship to
military training activities, and mortality information when this wolf
dies,” Wilder said. “The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)
funded the trapping effort and, along with installation biologists, will
assist in monitoring activities.”
The WDNR contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to
actually trap the wolf, which was named Grace.
The USDA Wildlife Services used a snare to capture the wolf, which was
in good health. Wilder said he was impressed with the thoroughness of
the steps taken to ensure the wolf wasn’t injured and was released “no
worse for the wear” back to her home environment. He added that without
the cooperative effort between the three agencies, Fort McCoy would not
have been able to have the telemetry collar placed on the wolf.
“This female wolf is only the second one captured and collared at Fort
McCoy in the 11 years the mammals have resided on the installation,” he
Another female wolf was caught inadvertently in a coyote trap in
December 2002. The WDNR placed a telemetry collar on this wolf, and the
wolf was monitored until her death in November 2004.
A female gray wolf is released at
a remote South Post location as David Beckmann, installation
wildlife biologist, observes.
(Photo by Natural Resources Branch)
“Telemetry monitoring provides excellent information to help manage
this species,” Wilder said. Data collected on this collared wolf will
help the installation augment data it collects during winter track
surveys and summer howling surveys.
“Wolves are viewed as a controversial species, so having information on
if or how far off the installation the packs’ territory goes will help
provide answers to questions that will likely be asked by surrounding
landowners,” he said.
Data collected on this wolf by installation natural resource personnel
will be shared with the WDNR.
Wolves currently are listed as a federally endangered species, he said.
Several efforts have been made to remove them from that category in the
past, but on each occasions they have subsequently been re-listed as
Wilder said if a future effort to remove wolves from the endangered
species list is successful, the WDNR then would assume responsibility
for managing the species.
The information the installation has about the species would be very
valuable to help the WDNR perform that task.
Information gathered also will help Fort McCoy manage wolves by ensuring
the new facilities it builds and the training it conducts are compatible
with the wolves’ land needs.
Wilder said, “To date, the wolves have been able to co-exist very well
with the wide variety of activities occurring on the installation.”
“There are many remote areas on the installation where, on any given
day, humans rarely venture,” Wilder said. Wolves in the North Post pack
spend an inordinate amount of time within the impact area because few
people enter this area, making it attractive to wolves.
“One controversial aspect of wolves is the fact that they prey on
white-tailed deer, the most popular big game animal in Wisconsin,”
Wilder said. “Prior to 2010, only one pack of wolves resided on Fort
McCoy and wolf numbers were low enough that they did not have a major
impact on overall deer numbers,” he said.
That could now be changing because at least two packs reside on Fort
McCoy and wolf numbers are increasing, he said.
If the WDNR decides it needs to enact management policies to control the
wolf population in the future, Fort McCoy probably will coordinate their
implementation on post, he said.
The original Fort McCoy wolf management plan was approved in 2005, he
A new five-year management plan currently is out for public and agency
review and is expected to be finalized in the next couple of months.