Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wolf myth: We will not allow wolves in Nevada

4 hours ago  • 

The myth goes like this: wolves will never live in Nevada, specifically Elko County. We simply will not allow it. We will kill any wolves that dare enter Nevada.

Russell Woolstenhulme is a Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist with the state office. He told me the gray wolf is still listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in all lower 48 states other than Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the Great Lakes states where wolves are already delisted. However, the FWS has posted a letter of intent in the Federal Register to delist the gray wolf in all lower-48 states other than those having the Mexican gray wolf and red wolf species.

Nevada has listed the gray wolf as a big game species, but with a closed season. It is illegal to kill a wolf in Nevada. When asked if someone would be prosecuted for shooting a wolf mistaken for a coyote, Russell said someone might get away with it once but such a kill would bring on an investigation by a FWS Special Agent. It is illegal to kill a wolf attacking ones livestock, (unless the FWS delists wolves in the future).  In the meantime, someone losing livestock to a wolf could contact Wildlife Services to investigate.  They are the Federal Agency with authority to remove such wolves.

Russell said “we probably get wolves wandering in and out of Nevada.” Most likely any wolves are wandering through northeastern Elko County. NDOW has received several reports of wolf sightings but still none with verifiable photos or carcasses. Neither has there been recovered wolf scat or wolf hair clinging to a fence.

He feels it is possible, but not probable, that a wolf pack or two could establish in Elko County. We do not (yet) have the prey base to support a wolf pack. Our large elk herds are still far smaller than those supporting wolf packs in Idaho. If the gray wolf should be delisted in Nevada, he does not feel there would ever be enough wolves to hold wolf hunts.

Ken Gray is the regional game supervisor for the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Elko office. He said “I have no doubt there are wolves that have crossed into Nevada,” but there still remains no positive proof. NDOW conducts a lot of flights counting elk and has never spotted a wolf. Ken also says they have seen no evidence of wolves being killed and left.

Russell and Ken feel wolves in Nevada will likely remain young wolves wandering through. Idaho has found it difficult to control a wolf population of about 700 with hunts. They have found trapping is more reliable to reduce wolf numbers. Finding and shooting a few wandering wolves would probably be impossible. It appears to me we may always have a few wolves, regardless of the myth.