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Are there wolves in the Bear River drainage?

Posted: Tuesday, Jun 25th, 2013

Ed Close

On May 21 of this year, Charles Porter of Old West Solutions LLC, out of Big Piney, attended a Uinta County Commissioners meeting to introduce himself and his company. Porter stated he has contracts for predator control with Lincoln, Sublette and Sweetwater counties. The alarming statement Porter made during the meeting was that there have been wolf sightings in the Bear River drainage.

This statement prompted a great deal of research on my part, as there are a great many sheep and cattle ranchers within Uinta County’s borders, and a great many residents who camp, fish, hunt and vacation in the Uinta Mountains. It seemed only prudent to verify any wolf sightings in the area.

After hours of exhaustive investigation, only two reported sightings could be found for this area. The first sighting occurred before gray wolf reintroduction in January 1984, when six seismographic workers gave a “Class A” report to the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish. Class A sightings are those believed to be true and valid after all the evidence is taken into consideration.

The only other sighting found for the Bear River Drainage occurred in November 2005. This was a sighting along Highway 410 near its junction with Highway 411, and was reported by a newspaper delivery person. This was also a Class A sighting.

As far as the research shows, the nearest wolf packs to Uinta County are in Soda Lake (three wolves), Big Piney (two wolves) and Prospect near the Red Desert (three wolves).

The research included studies by the USDA, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Department of Fish and Wildlife, newspaper articles from around the region and, finally, the 2012 Wyoming Gray Wolf Population Monitoring and Management Annual Report, prepared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

My conclusion at this time is that Porter is mistaken, and there are no wolf populations within Uinta County, though some wolves range great distances and may pass through the area on their way to other destinations.

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