Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wolves spotted at Idaho nuclear facility

Published: January 8, 2013 
— Two wolves have been spotted at an 890-square-mile nuclear facility in eastern Idaho that is off limits to hunters and trappers. Workers spotted the wolves Saturday outside the fence of the Advanced Test Reactor Complex, Idaho National Laboratory spokeswoman Carisa Shultz said.

She said the wolves don't concern officials at the complex, though employees are more used to seeing deer, rabbits and occasionally elk at the restricted site. Tom Keegan, wildlife manager for the Salmon Region of Idaho Fish and Game, said it's possible the wolves came from the Lemhi Mountains north of the facility.

It's unlikely the wolves will set up a home range in the high desert area where the lab is built, added Jeff Gould, chief of wildlife for Idaho Fish and Game. "This time of year there are a lot of wolves that disperse from their home ranges and look for new ones," Gould told the Post Register ( in a story Tuesday. "They are probably passing through."

The sighting doesn't signal an increase in the wolf population or increased danger to humans, livestock or the elk herd living on lab land, said Gregg Losinksi, a regional Fish and Game spokesman. "Wolves moving through the site is an everyday occurrence," Losinski said. "The amount of territory a wolf can cover is huge."

The federal nuclear research facility about 50 miles from Idaho Falls was established in 1949. "The elk herd has certainly learned the INL is a safe place," said Losinski. "And if they can learn it, then I'm certain a wolf could, too."

Lab officials have reminded workers to be alert when they are outside the fence, and that wolves typically run in packs so if one is spotted there could be more.