Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior

MARCH 2004
3.31.04 OHIO (WKYC.com) -- A Geauga County man whose dog was attacked by a hybrid wolf is afraid they may be free to roam again. Neighbors say they've seen the wolves in their yards over the last few weeks. A group of hybrid wolves recently attacked Oscar Smith's dog. The hybrids live just down the road from Smith, so he took the owner to court. He won, but only to cover medical bills for his dog. It's not illegal to own a wolf hybrid in Geauga County because there's no law prohibiting it. So what constitutes a hybrid wolf? The hybrids don't fall under the wildlife division but rather under normal dog laws in the state of Ohio. Smith says he's not worried about his safety or the safety of his dogs anymore, but he worries about the safety of the children in the neighborhood and the two-year-old who lives next door. Smith is starting a petition to make owning hybrid wolves illegal.
3.30.04 POWELL, WY. (Billings Gazette) -- Students at Northwest College have tracked wolves, mapping their territories and studying wolf behavior in the field as interns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the college suspended the program after spring break, deciding that hot-button wolf politics were potentially a threat to the students' safety. "It's so hot and people are so mad that we decided to remove them after the midterm," said NWC associate professor of biology Ron Hitchcock. "We don't want to put that burden on the students." Controversy surrounding allegations of federal wildlife agents' trespass on a ranch near Meeteetse has led to a "marked upswing in negative reactions to the wolf issue" and compelled administrators to reconsider the interns' safety. The students were assisting Fish and Wildlife Service wolf biologist Mike Jimenez in tracking wolves and plotting their courses using geographic information systems technology. This often put the students in contact with local ranchers, many of whom are emotional about wolf reintroduction, Hitchcock said. Along with safety concerns, administrators feared that students' work with the federal wildlife agency may be subjected to "protracted legal proceedings and hearings" in light of the two trespassing complaints against the agency recently filed with the Park County Attorney's Office. The county attorney has not filed charges and is waiting for a report from the state Department of Criminal Investigation. Though NWC students have worked with many kinds of wildlife in their studies, including wild horses, beaver and bighorn sheep, no animal has prompted such controversy as the wolf, Hitchcock said. "It is the first time we've ever had to do anything like this," he said. "Wolves just create a lot of emotion."
3.30.04 PINOS ALTOS, NM (AP) -- The Center for Biological Diversity is asking the federal government to change its Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program. The environmental group officially petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday, the sixth anniversary of the first release of endangered wolves into the wild of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. The petition asks the agency to begin releasing wolves directly into the Gila National Forest. The program's current rules require the release of each wolf in Arizona and recapture before release in New Mexico. It also asks that the wolves be allowed to establish territories outside boundaries of the designated recovery area within the Gila and Apache-SitGreaves national forests. The final request in the petition is to require ranchers to remove or render unpalatable cattle and horse carcasses to prevent wolves from scavenging on them and getting used to eating livestock. The Center for Biological Diversity said it will file a lawsuit if the agency fails to make the changes within a year. "This petition starts the clock ticking to when Fish and Wildlife will have to act," said Michael Robinson, a spokesman for the environmental group. "With the population of radio-collared Mexican wolves in decline, and the entire wild population in trouble, we're letting the feds know that if they don't protect these animals, we'll see them in court."
3.30.04 PHILADELPHIA (NBC) -- Philadelphia police got quite a surprise when they arrived to pick up what they thought was a stray dog last weekend. The pooch was actually a wolf.Someone spotted what they thought was a big dog around 4 a.m. Saturday, wandering near Delaware Ave. The animal was a little too big for police to handle alone so they called in animal control officers, who were able to corner and capture the animal. When they got the animal back to the shelter, they realized it was no dog. “We've handled other rare breeds, alligators, hawks, falcons, this is our first wolf,” said George Stem from Philadelphia Animal Care Control. There are no plans to destroy the animal. Animal Control officers are hoping to find a place that can provide the proper habitat for wolves, which is not the city of Philadelphia. It is actually illegal to own a wolf in the city except under strict regulations. Officials say a man did show up to claim the wolf. He claims he bought the animal when it was a puppy. It is not clear if he knew the animal was a wolf when he purchased it. But officials say he is not likely to get the wolf back since he lives in Philadelphia.
3.27.04 WISCONSIN (The Capital Times) -- In a remarkable ecological accomplishment that involved only delicate human intervention, gray wolves have again become a sustainable species in Wisconsin, so much so that the Natural Resources Board this week removed them from the state's threatened species list. Last winter, nearly 340 wolves were roaming northern and central Wisconsin, having reclaimed their historical role as the state's top predator. Conflicts occur with the human world, in the form of livestock and hunting dog depredation, but those incidents have been limited in number and the state has sound programs in place to deal with them. In fact, Wisconsin's wolf management program, under the Department of Natural Resources, has become a national model for its proactive and transparent approach to dealing with an animal still steeped in misconceptions. As Signe Holtz, director of the DNR's Bureau of Endangered Resources, rightly noted "This is a success story for Wisconsin's natural heritage." The new designation for wolves - as a protected non-game species - will bring little change in the way the DNR manages them until they are also removed from the federal threatened species list, expected in the next year or two. Debate will erupt then as sportsmen begin pushing for a hunting season. But for now, we choose to celebrate the heartening natural recovery of one of Wisconsin's native creatures.
3.20.04 COLORADO (Rocky Mountain News) -- Wyoming's failure to offer an acceptable wolf-management plan greatly increases the chances Colorado will be dealing with wolves sooner rather than later.Without a buffer between the wolf packs of northwestern Wyoming and the Colorado border, wildlife managers in both states agree migrations of lone, or even pairs, of wolves is a certainty.Hoping to get ahead of the wolves' arrival, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is planning on putting its own management plan together."When we first started, we assumed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would delist (from the Endangered Species Act) wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana by now and we'd be ready by the end of the year for any eventuality," said Gary Skiba, a state wildlife biologist who heads up Colorado's wolf-management effort."Then, in January, the Wyoming plan was rejected (by the federal government), meaning if a wolf does come here from the north, the feds would be in control because the wolves would still be a 'threatened' species. As such, our plan could be shelved" for the time being.Colorado's situation is further complicated because there is a separate wolf-recovery effort going on in New Mexico and Arizona. Colorado and Utah - south of I-70 - are included in that effort.If a wolf wanders into Colorado south of I-70, it is an "endangered" species. [O]ne argument for restoring wolves to Colorado is to help control elk herds that have run amok. But many of those herds are in, or near, the urban Front Range, where wolves wouldn't be welcome.In a Colorado State University survey 10 years ago, 74 percent of people living along the Front Range and 65 percent on the Western Slope said they favored the return of wolves to Colorado.One study of available habitat - including prey base, road and human density - identified three acceptable areas for re-establishing wolves in the state: the Flat Tops Wilderness Area east of Meeker and north of I-70; the San Juan National Forest in southwestern Colorado; and along the southern Colorado border, adjacent to Turner's Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico.Before the working group is formed to design a state management plan, the wildlife division has been holding public meetings around the state to get input.Based on the public comment, a 20-member working group of agriculturalists, environmentalists, hunters and biologists will be appointed to draft a management proposal by August, with the final plan to be completed by December.
3.15.04 BOZEMAN, MT (AP) -- Federal wildlife agents in a helicopter on Friday wiped out a second wolf pack that has been attacking cattle in the Madison Valley. They spotted the wolves in a sagebrush plain east of Ennis Lake early Friday morning and swooped in to shoot all of them, said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Federal agents killed five of seven wolves in another pack, the Sentinel pack, on Thursday, also for killing livestock. One other wolf of the pack was shot earlier, possibly illegally, and may die.‘‘There are basically not any wolves left in the Madison Range,'' Bangs said late Friday afternoon.The pack that was killed Friday is believed to have been offspring from the Sentinel pack. It had no name because officials were unaware of it until it attacked two cows on a ranch east of the lake. The now exterminated pack was dubbed the Ennis Lake Pack. Bangs said officials thought the pack had only four wolves. The fifth wolf was wearing an old radio collar and turned out to be the alpha male from the Nez Perce Pack that roams the region south of Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. The wolf was last tracked in December 2002.Trappers hope the last healthy wolf of the Sentinel pack will return to the injured wolf so both animals can be killed. If the last wolf doesn't show up by Monday, the injured wolf will be shot, Bangs said.Bangs said the illegal shooting last year of three collared adult wolves may have contributed to both packs getting into trouble. Those shootings are still under investigation. ‘‘Both of these packs were in the valley for two years, and we weren't having problems,'' he said. ‘‘When you lose the ones that normally lead the pack, you basically have a bunch of teenagers walking through cattle.'' Although the packs known to live in the Madisons are basically gone, Bangs said inevitably other wolves will wander into the range.
3.15.04 FAIRBANKS, AK (AP) -- Aerial predator control programs this winter have killed up to 114 wolves and attracted more than 50,000 protest messages from the Lower 48, state officials said. Aerial hunters killed 103 wolves in Game Management Unit 13, in the Nelchina Basin near Glennallen. Hunters have killed 11 wolves near McGrath in Game Management Unit 19D East. The state hopes to remove 140 wolves from the Nelchina Basin and 40 from the McGrath area to stop a decline in the moose populations. Friends of Animals, a Connecticut-based animal-rights group, has vowed a boycott of Alaska in summer. The group has organized more than 100 "howl-ins" in cities around the Lower 48 to muster support for the boycott. But Murkowski administration officials said only 14,376 letters and postcards from protesters and 36,739 e-mails have been received. That is far fewer than the 200,000 received in response to the last wolf-control plan 12 years ago, a Murkowski spokesman said. "I think people are beginning to see through this," said John Manly, the governor's press secretary. "They look at the rest of the issues in the world and put them in perspective and think, 'Gosh, maybe shooting a few wolves in Alaska isn't that big a deal.' " But the head of a national animal-rights group called the state's tally of letters "total bunk." "I can tell you we have sent 80,000 (letters and postcards) that we know," said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals. The board approved two more wolf-control programs that will start this fall in western Cook Inlet and the central Kuskokwim region, as well as a possible bear predation program near Tok. Feral also was appalled that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game wants to target moose calves as part of an antlerless moose hunt on the Tanana Flats south of Fairbanks to curb a growing population. "It's worse than a disgrace," Feral said. "To say you've got to knock wolves and knock down bears and now shoot moose calves makes them look crazy."
3.11.04 JUNEAU, AK (Juneau Empire) -- The Juneau Douglas Fish and Game Advisory Committee agreed Wednesday to ask the state Board of Game to review a regulation that restricts hunting and trapping wolves on Douglas Island. The Game Board will meet in Juneau from Nov. 2-5 to consider Southeast issues. The board, appointed by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski since Democrat Tony Knowles left office, has supported aerial hunting of wolves in the Interior to preserve moose populations for hunters. Meanwhile, the advisory committee put together a group of its members and the public to consider a more manageable solution. At its meeting in Juneau in November 2002, the Game Board prohibited hunting and trapping wolves on Douglas until state biologists estimate there are at least seven wolves there. Seven is the average size of a Southeast wolf pack. No more than 30 percent of the wolves could be hunted or trapped a year under that provision. The new regulation also said hunting and trapping will be reopened if there are wolves on the island and hunters' harvest of deer over two succeeding years falls more than 35 percent from the average of the preceding 10 years, assuming the same hunting effort. At that point, state biologists would decide how many wolves could be hunted or trapped. Some deer hunters fear that protecting wolves would lead to a growing population that depletes the deer in a popular, accessible hunting area. Hunters kill about 300 deer on the island each year, state biologists said, although the harvest has been near 200 in some recent years. The board's action in 2002 was provoked by public concern that a trapper had killed seven wolves, believed by some to be an entire pack and perhaps all the wolves on the island. But critics have said the regulation amounts to a perpetual ban because the state Department of Fish and Game doesn't have the capacity to accurately estimate the number of wolves on Douglas. Carl Rosier, representing the 1,200-member outdoors group Territorial Sportsmen, said Fish and Game can't manage the regulation. He also said the 35-percent provision, related to the decline in the deer harvest, would allow three years of wolf predation on deer before Fish and Game had the flexibility to implement a program to harvest wolves. Fish and Game wildlife biologist Neil Barten agreed it would be difficult for the agency to estimate or monitor the number of wolves on Douglas because the dense forest makes it impossible to see them from the air, and biologists would need good snow cover to track them on the ground and the manpower to cover the island. Joel Bennett of Juneau, a member of the Game Board in 2002, said the regulation was intended as a compromise between deer hunters and wildlife viewers. "There's no question that this is an imprecise solution to recognize a diversity of interests," he told the advisory committee.
3.10.04 CONNECTICUT (Norwich Bulletin) -- Revolutionary War Gen. Israel Putnam first gained fame in this section of northeastern Connecticut for tracking down a sheep-killing wolf. Now First Selectman Maurice Bowen and artist Tory Jean Bryant want to restore some of the luster to the statute that honors him. Putnam, who later rose to the rank of major general in the Continental Army, had moved to Pomfret at age 22 from his native Massachusetts to become a farmer. Soon after his arrival in 1742, he learned a large wolf was menacing the flocks of the local farmers. He joined four other farmers to track the wolf in what is now the Wolf Den State Park in the Abington section of Pomfret. Late at night, with a rope tied to his feet so his cohorts could pull him to safety, he crawled into the den and shot the marauding animal to death. It was the last known wolf in Connecticut. Sculptor Karl Gerhardt paid tribute to Putnam's efforts by adding two bronze wolf heads to the sides of the pedestal of the statue the town of Brooklyn commissioned him to create in 1877. The statue remained intact for more than a century on Route 169 next to what is now the Brooklyn Post Office, a short distance from the intersection of Route 6 in Brooklyn Center. But in the 1980s, a time when some metals carried significant monetary value, the wolf heads were stolen. Bowen wants to replace the wolf heads."The wolf heads symbolize an important part of Israel Putnam's history and I want to see that preserved," Bowen said.
3.10.04 MICHIGAN (AP) -- A two-month search for a rare Mexican gray wolf that escaped from a Battle Creek zoo has ended with the animal found dead, apparently struck and killed by a train. The body of the 19-month-old wolf, named Apache, was found Monday in Vicksburg, about 20 miles southwest of the Binder Park Zoo. Greg Geise, the zoo's president and chief executive, said the wolf probably died about three days earlier after being hit by a train. Geise said he and his staff members are "very upset." Apache and two other Mexican gray wolves escaped from the zoo Jan. 3. Zoo employees caught the other two animals within a short time, but Apache evaded capture despite the zoo bringing in expert wolf trackers and pursuing more than 400 possible leads, Geise said. The Mexican gray wolf is an endangered species and part of a national zoo program to reestablish the breed. The three that escaped from the zoo are owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the program. Colleen Buchanan, captive management coordinator for the service's Mexican gray wolf reintroduction team, said Apache would have been a good candidate for reintroduction into the wild. Geise said Apache's death saddened him, but he was glad the search was over. "This is closure to the situation, not the closure we wanted, but closure," he said. "When you work with living creatures, it doesn't always work out the way you want it to."
3.10.04 BOZEMAN, MT (AP) -- A second wolf pack is attacking cattle in the Madison Valley, and federal wildlife agents have been ordered to wipe out both packs. Two attacks that were discovered on the same ranch Tuesday were the work of a new, yet-unnamed pack, said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He had ordered the eradication of the Sentinel pack last Friday after the pack killed a yearling steer and a family’s dog near Cameron. The latest attacks took place farther north in the Madisons. The carcass of a 1-year-old steer was found Tuesday in a coulee east of Ennis Lake, Bangs said. A 1-year-old heifer on the same ranch was so badly injured by wolves Tuesday morning that the rancher had to kill it. “That indicates to me that they’re hunting livestock,” Bangs said of the wolves. “They’re not stumbling upon a calf and running off with it.” Bangs issued shoot-on-sight permits to two ranchers who have lost livestock to wolves in the past two weeks. Federal trappers are searching for the packs in helicopters. Madison County commissioners and ranchers have criticized the federal agency for not issuing the shoot-on-sight permits sooner. Ranchers are afraid they will be prosecuted if they shoot problem wolves, Commissioner Ted Coffman said. Bangs said he has explicitly told Madison Valley ranchers that they have the right to shoot a wolf without a permit if they catch it in the act of attacking livestock.
3.9.04 WYOMING (AP) -- Sen. Mike Enzi on Monday asked the federal government to investigate allegations that one of its wolf biologists trespassed and planted four wolves on private land near Meeteetse. Enzi, R-Wyo., sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton asking for an inquiry by the Interior and Justice departments, citing the "liability and threat posed to local communities from actions taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service." Park County commissioners requested the congressional probe last week. Because wolves can be dangerous, "any agency action on this matter should be treated with a strict liability standard," Enzi said. "The potential for harm that could occur to private landowners and their livestock is significant enough that any relocation effort should, at a minimum, always consider the proximity and location of the point of release," he said. Meeteetse rancher Randy Kruger alleges wolf biologist Mike Jimenez and a companion trespassed on his property Feb. 14 to tranquilize and collar four wolves, which were later revived and left the area. Kruger said the wolves were situated near his calving pasture and posed a risk to his herd. The incident has raised suspicion among some residents and county officials, and resulted in a trespassing complaint from Kruger. The state Department of Criminal Investigation is also looking into the allegations. Jimenez has said he had no time to consult maps, and didn't know he was on private property when he moved the drugged wolves from rocky, rough terrain to a flat spot nearby. He also said his helicopter was running low on fuel, and that Kruger never told him he was trespassing when the rancher stopped by.
3.6.04 CAMERON, MT (AP) -- A federal wildlife official ordered the Sentinel wolf pack destroyed Friday after it killed a Cameron family's dog near their house. The pack of six wolves has been hanging around Todd and Barbie Durham's home since mid-February. Earlier this week, the wolves killed a neighbor's yearling steer within 200 yards of three homes. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents darted one of the female wolves and fitted a radio collar on it after the pack killed the steer. FWS officials said then that three of the six wolves in the pack would be destroyed. However, the collared female wolf was found shot to death later Friday in a field several miles away from the Durham home. The killing appeared to be illegal, but it was ''absolutely not'' the Durham family that did the shooting, Bangs said. The killing of the Durhams' dog changed everything, said Ed Bangs, the agency's wolf recovery leader.  ''It was an Australian shepherd that we had had for quite awhile,'' Barbie Durham told the Montana Standard. ''It was one of the dogs that my kids loved the most. We're just really, really frustrated right now.''
3.5.04 MICHIGAN (ScienceDaily News) -- Wolves are up and moose are down this spring at Isle Royale National Park, the home of a 46-year study of predators and their prey. Researchers suspect that a global warming trend may be behind the shift. The moose population has slid to 750 on this Lake Superior wilderness island park, down from 900 last year and 1,100 in 2002. In the meantime, the number of wolves has seesawed upward over the past decade and is now up to 29, as many as the park has seen since 1980 and 11 more than last year. What's bad for moose has been good for the wolves, and moose throughout North America have been hit hard by warmer temperatures that began in 1998 with El Nino and never let up, according to Professor Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University, who has lead the study of Isle Royale's wolves and moose for 34 years. "What we think is happening is that wolves are cashing in on moose vulnerability that's been induced by a warmer climate," Peterson said. The moose population has been stressed by higher temperatures, particularly the drought of 1998 and then warm fall of 2001. "Moose can't feed in the summertime if it's too hot," Peterson said. "They have a big fur coat on, and they can't sweat. They just sit in the shade or in the water." When moose don't eat enough in summer, they can become weak, sickly and easy prey for wolves during the winter. And heat precipitates another blight for the big herbivores: ticks. As the moose population struggles against the heat and ticks, the wolves have thrived, largely because it's been easier for them to bring down their biggest prey. "The wolves are killing about twice as many moose as they did last year," Peterson says, which allows them to maintain their peak population.
3.4.04 FAIRBANKS, AK (Juneau Empire) -- The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is expanding the boundaries of a controversial aerial wolf-control program near McGrath.  The decision Tuesday - two days after hunters killed the first wolves near the Interior village - widens the program area from about 1,750 square miles to 3,600 square miles.  "When we came up with the first control zone, it was an educated guess that it would be large enough and it turns out it wasn't," said David James, regional management coordinator with the Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks, who is overseeing the program. State wildlife biologists said the five wolf packs that are being targeted by aerial hunters have larger ranges than originally thought. Hunters have consistently been tracking wolves outside the boundary area where they can't shoot them. The state is trying to eliminate predation on moose to produce more moose for villagers in and around McGrath. More than 80 bears were moved from the same area last spring to reduce bear predation of moose calves. The McGrath wolf hunt began in November, after the Alaska Board of Game set a limit of 40 wolves. The board instituted a similar but larger plan in a 8,230-square-mile area in the Nelchina Basin south of Fairbanks two months ago to kill 140 wolves. The hunts have outraged animal rights activists, who are calling for a national tourism boycott against Alaska to protest the program. The game board, meeting in Fairbanks, held off on a third aerial control program in an area west of Anchorage. Board members plan to revisit the issue later in the 2-week session, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Nearly 90 wolves have been killed in a land-and-shoot hunt in the Nelchina Basin. The first three McGrath wolves were killed Sunday by one of two pilot-gunner teams holding permits to hunt. Game board members were enthusiastic when they heard that the first wolves had been taken near McGrath. But the head of one of the groups opposed to wolf control in Alaska expressed dismay at the expansion of the control area.
3.4.04 BILLINGS, MT (AP) -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed changes yesterday that would give Montana and Idaho more flexibility and allow them to take on a greater role in managing gray wolves in their states. The proposal would, among other things, also give landowners more leeway to protect livestock, pets and other animals from wolves. The move follows the agency's approval earlier this year of plans the two states drafted to manage the animals once they are removed from federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. But that process has been delayed indefinitely because the Fish and Wildlife Service said Wyoming's management plan was not acceptable. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said the agency believed that it is "appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." She also expressed confidence in the two states' abilities to assume "significant management responsibilities." Governors of both states welcomed the proposal. Under the plan, wolves caught attacking or about to attack livestock, pets or livestock-herding or guarding animals on private land could be killed without a permit, the department said. Wolves also could be killed if they are deemed to be causing "unacceptable impacts" to populations of wildlife such as deer and elk. The agency said the proposal would apply in the "experimental population" areas established in the two states when gray wolves were reintroduced in 1995. It includes much of Idaho and roughly the southern half of Montana.
3.3.04 ONTARIO (Canadian Press) -- The Ontario government has announced a permanent ban on hunting wolves in Algonquin Provincial Park. Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay proposes a permanent ban on hunting and trapping wolves and coyotes in Algonquin and in townships surrounding the park. As well, chasing of wolves will be illegal. Ramsay also announced that he is adding eastern wolves to the list of species at risk in Ontario. He also banned the use of dogs in hunting wolves. The ministry estimates the wolf population in Algonquin is made up mainly of the more endangered eastern wolves. A moratorium on wolf hunting, instituted because of a dramatic fall in the wolf population in the park and nearby townships, was scheduled to expire in June. Although wolves in Algonquin have been protected from hunting for years, biologists believe the population is declining because wolves wandering from their sanctuary in the park are shot or snared outside the nature reserve. The Natural Resources Ministry does not keep precise records of the number of wolves killed each year, but last estimated the population in the park was 200 animals in 2002.
3.2.04 DENVER, CO (Denver Post) -- One of the West's most symbolic and divisive environmental battles is expected to heat up this month as the state Division of Wildlife asks Coloradans to tell them how to manage gray wolves. With wolf packs slowly moving south from Yellowstone National Park toward the state line, Colorado officials are hoping to formulate a plan before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removes the predator from the endangered species list, perhaps as soon as late this year. "We may get single wolves crossing into Colorado at any time," said Division of Wildlife biologist Gary Skiba, who heads the effort. "But it may be a while before we get a pair of wolves that form a pack." The meetings will give the public an opportunity to offer their hopes and concerns about wolves. The agency will then appoint a working group of 20 environmentalists, stockmen, sportsmen and biologists to draft a management proposal by August, with the final plan due by December. Support for wolves in the state is strong: Two polls since 1994 show 66 percent of Coloradans favor the wolf's return. Wildlife biologists say parts of Colorado, like Yellowstone in the early 1990s, are suffering from elk overpopulation. Rocky Mountain National Park officials are considering whether wolves could help scatter bloated elk herds, allowing ecologically important stands of aspen and willow in the park to recover. But the livestock industry is concerned that wolves will eat their cattle and sheep. Some sportsmen worry the predators will prey on deer and elk herds that they think should be reserved for hunters. Colorado falls into two different federal wolf-management zones. North of Interstate 70 wolves are listed as threatened but would be managed by the state once federal protection is removed. South of I-70, wolves are considered part of a southwestern population that would remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.