The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 52 - 8/24/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Wolf Pack Attacks Dogs
"It was about 12:30 a.m. when they hit camp and got into the dogs," recalls Jasper Ingalls of Riverton. Mr. Ingalls, 18, and his brother Spencer, 14, were trying to sleep inside an old bus their family uses for a cow camp in the Upper Green last Wednesday night when six wolves from the Teton wolf pack entered camp and attacked their eleven dogs.
Jasper hadn't been able to sleep all night. He and Spencer knew the pack was in their area. Earlier on Wednesday they had seen fresh tracks and they rode through their herd of 600-700 cows late in the evening to check things over. During that evening ride Jasper fired two shots into the air hoping that it would scare any wolves in the area away from the cattle.
But the wolves were near camp that night when he turned in. He could hear them howling incessantly, and so could the eleven dogs outside. "One of 'em would howl and the dogs would go crazy," he continues, "It's hard to sleep with the dogs going crazy."
Then, right around 12:30 a.m., a wolf howled ten yards from the window nearest Jasper's bed. "That got my adrenaline going." Jasper hopped up, and without getting dressed, opened the door to the bus. "Right when I opened the door I saw one of the wolves chasing one of our pups," he says. The pup was headed right for Jasper and the safety of the bus. It hopped past the young man, through the door, and into the bus, with the wolf hot in pursuit. "I didn't know if the wolf was going to come in behind her or not," said Mr. Ingalls, who quickly shut the door just in case.
Outside, the wolves were attacking the rest of the Ingalls' dogs. Jasper quickly threw on a pair of pants and his boots, found a small, mini-mag flashlight, and grabbed the 12-guage shotgun with an 18" barrel and pistol grip the Ingalls keep in camp for protection. He opened the door, stepped outside and shined the flashlight towards the fight just 20 yards away. He saw at least four of the wolves on top of one of his dogs, "Freckles." "Our dogs were around the wolves, biting them, but the wolves weren't paying attention to the other dogs. They might turn around and chase one for a second, but then they'd go back to chewing on the one dog," said Mr. Ingalls.
All six of the wolves in the camp were black, and Jasper says there's "not a chance" they can be mistaken for dogs. He describes them as about twice as tall as a normal dog. Their tail is "really long" he continues, about as long as the rest of their body. "They can be really lean looking and they have a real long nose on them. Take a dog and times it by two."
Jasper fired three quick shots into the air and five of the wolves "disappeared" into the surrounding dark timber. But one of them didn't. This brazen wolf stood still, watching Jasper and the downed dog. The lone wolf stood broadside, illuminated by the flashlight. After an uneasy moment, this wolf walked slowly into the timber, following the rest of the pack.
Freckles had been "bit in the gut" said Mr. Ingalls, and was bleeding. In addition, four other dogs were missing.
Interestingly, the wolves didn't bother the Ingalls' horses, which were hobbled nearby.
Back inside the bus, Jasper used a satellite phone to call Dubois and leave a message for his father, Dan, who was enroute to Riverton for a meeting the next morning. Then Jasper and Spencer saddled their horses and put the rest of the dogs on the wolves' trail. Their intention was to chase the pack out of their grazing allotment.
Jasper used a wolf receiver to determine that the pack was the Teton pack, and not the Gros Ventre pack. He says one wolf in each pack is radio collared and the signals from the collars have different frequencies so the packs can be identified.
Using the dogs and the receiver, the Ingalls brothers followed the pack for 2-3 hours. The wolves headed towards the common allotments leased by the Upper Green River Cattlemen's Association.
The two brothers rode back into their camp around 4:30 a.m. On the way in they heard from their father Dan, who had received the message Jasper left and turned back from his trip to Riverton. The Ingalls use small, handheld radios to communicate in the backcountry, and Dan raised his sons on the radio at about 4 a.m.
One of the missing four dogs was waiting for the Ingalls in camp. Two more showed up the next morning and the final missing dog was found alive at another camp. In all, the wolves bit three dogs, and one, Freckles, went to the vet.
Back in camp, Dan Ingalls called Upper Green River Cattlemen's Association Albert Sommers of Daniel to warn him that the wolves were headed their way. While chasing the wolves, Jasper and Spencer saw about 50 head of the association's cows "bunched up like they were sheep" as if they were under attack from the pack.
When Albert Sommers finally reached the association's rider, Bruce Wolford, later that morning to warn him about the wolves, they were already in a sagebrush meadow near the camp. In just a few hours the pack had traveled approximately 10 miles from the Ingalls' camp to the association's camp.
Dan Ingalls was struck at how the wolves "showed no fear of people at all. "He notes that the pack came right into camp, and attacked the dogs near and in between several vehicles.
Current rules allow ranchers to shoot wolves that are attacking their livestock on private land, but they cannot kill wolves that are attacking their dogs. "I think they've got enough wolves," says Dan, "They should change the rules so if wolves come that close to the camp you should be able to shoot them." He notes that if you found a person in your yard killing your dog you'd be able to take some action and wonders why wolves should be granted more rights then people.
"In all honesty, nobody thought the wolves would be going after dogs quite this much," said Mike Jimenez, Project Leader for Wolf Recovery in Wyoming for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ranchers may shoot a wolf caught attacking livestock on private ground, but not on a public grazing allotment," says Mr. Jimenez. Ranchers and others cannot shoot a wolf attacking a dog no matter where the attack is occurring - private land or public.
Mr. Jimenez said that if a wolf pack were caught attacking a dog twice, one of the wolves from the pack would be relocated. If the pack is caught attacking a dog a third time, another wolf from the pack will be removed, and on and on until the attacks stop, says Mr. Jimenez. He adds that there are currently one adult, and five yearlings in the Teton Pack, and five adults, five yearlings in the Gros Ventre pack.
"I don't know" continues Mr. Ingalls, "I'm just glad their not killing my cattle. I don't think they've figured that out yet. When they do, it'll be messy." (According to Mr. Jimenez, wolves have killed one calf in the Upper Green so far this summer.)
Dan says the wolves are killing antelope in the Upper Green, "and the antelope are going crazy - they've done things I've never seen before." One night Mr. Ingalls was driving slowly back to camp when a bunch of 60 antelope crossed the road right in front of his truck and began circling him. "They circled me three or four times like they didn't want to leave me. They were scared. I figured there was a pack after them."
On Wednesday, the Ingalls boys bumped into some guests of the Darwin Ranch, who were fishing. They had found some wolf tracks, says Jasper, and were really excited and hoped they'd get to see some wolves. "There's a lot of people who think a wolf is just a dog," concluded Jasper, "They're not scared of them and they should be."
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