Wolf Pack Sighted in Nevada After Over a Century, Wildlife Managers Confirm

Wolf Pack Sighted in Nevada After Over a Century, Wildlife Managers Confirm

On Wednesday, Nevada wildlife managers said they might have seen a pack of wolves for the first time in more than 100 years.

Last week, a helicopter crew surveying for moose saw what they thought were three wolves moving together near Merritt Mountain in northeast Nevada, which is north of Elko. They are now working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm that one of Nevada’s most famous native predators was seen.

“The Nevada Department of Wildlife saw what they thought were three wolves, but we haven’t confirmed the sightings yet.” The public information officer for NDOW, Ashley Zeme, said, “We are still looking into it to find out more about the animals.”

State scientists who surveyed the area right after the sighting said that new tracks in the area were consistent with wolves. There were tracks that went to the border with Idaho before they disappeared in the broken snow. NDOW says that within the next few months, DNA testing from two scats and hair samples gathered in the area will prove for sure that the pack that was seen was in fact a pack of wolves.

In 2016, one gray wolf was seen in Nevada, west of the Black Rock Desert. Before that, the last known sighting of a wolf in Nevada was in 1922, near Gold Creek in Elko County.

“We are doing everything we can to find out more about this sighting,” said Alan Jenne, director of NDOW. “Wolves haven’t lived in Nevada in the past, and there haven’t been many confirmed sightings in the state.” Wolves are not known to live in Nevada, but they have been known to cross state lines for short periods of time.

The Nevada pack of wolves may be a different type, but it’s likely that they are gray wolves, which are native to the area.

Nevada hasn’t had many proven wolf sightings in the last 100 years, but the states around Nevada have large and growing populations of gray wolves. According to Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game, there were 1,337 gray wolves in the state in 2022, which is 37% more than the original plan for the animals’ recovery.

In 2023, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said that there were about 200 gray wolves living in the state in about 25 packs. However, biologists from the state of Oregon also said that the number of gray wolves in the eastern third of the state might have hit its ecological limit. They said that packs would likely move to the west and south in larger numbers.

Since 2024, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has known of six packs of gray wolves in the state. These packs have a total of 45 adult wolves, young wolves, and pups.

The senior wolf champion at the environmental group Center for Biological Diversity, Amaroq Weiss, said that the pack was great news for the recovery of the gray wolf. The wolf used to live in parts of Nevada but was wiped out decades ago.

“All three of those nearby states can become places where more wolves come from and spread out into Nevada,” Weiss said.

“Wolves are a sign of how wild the West is, and Nevada is the wildest place in the world.” Their return shows how important it is to keep the Endangered Species Act in place so that wolves can continue to heal, she said.

Young wolves often move hundreds of miles to find new food and territory. Weiss said it’s possible that the wolves were following deer and moose across the land.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife hired a helicopter survey crew to look for wolves in Nevada. While on a routine project to collar moose, the crew saw the three wolves.

Moose in northeastern Nevada have been collared and watched by the Nevada Department of Wildlife for four years now. This is to find out why the animals are moving into the state so quickly. More than 100 moose have been seen in Nevada in the last five years, according to people in charge of wildlife.

“The fact that moose are moving into the state from places they have never been before is again proof of how amazing it is that animals don’t stay in one place. Weiss said, “If the state is okay with moose coming back, they can be okay with wolves coming back too.”

Gray wolves used to live all over North America, even in the western United States. But decades of government-funded schemes to get rid of predators have almost wiped out gray wolves in the lower 48 States. When the Endangered Species Act of 1973 was passed to protect wolves, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that there were only a few hundred left in northeastern Minnesota and on Isle Royale, Michigan.

In this country, we didn’t lose wolves because their territory was destroyed, as is common when a species is in danger. Instead, Weiss said, “We killed them all.” “Every time you see a wolf in a state where they look like they’re brand new, they’re going back to places they used to live.” Very rarely does a wolf appear out of nowhere in a place that its species has never been before.

The Western U.S. also almost lost all of its gray wolves because people killed too many bison, elk, deer, and moose, which the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says are important for wolves to survive.

It’s too early to tell if the sighting of a pack in northeast Nevada near Merritt Mountain means that wolves will stay in the state. Gray wolves are very good at adapting to new environments, but in the west, they like to live in places where there are lots of elk, deer, and moose.

A spokesperson for NDOW told the public that they would work with state and federal agencies to keep people safe and make sure that “wolves in Nevada do not have a negative effect on ecosystems or natural resource industries.”

People are always worried that wolves could be dangerous, but the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says that wolf attacks on people are very uncommon in North America, even in places like Canada and Alaska where there are big populations of wolves.

A 2015 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on cow deaths also found that wolves often do not kill their prey. It is stated that wolves killed 0.004% of the state’s 2.73 million animals, making Idaho the western state with the highest number of wolves. Attacks by predators on cattle killed only 2% of all adults and 11% of all kids across the country. Four out of five deaths were caused by coyotes, sixteen by unknown animals, and eleven by dogs.

“In fact, it’s a very, very small amount.” But “that history and those feelings still exist because in this country we have a history of hating wolves and getting rid of them,” Weiss said. “These days, people know a lot of ways to live with wolves. All they have to do is learn and remember these methods.”

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