Campers in Ketchum, Idaho found what they thought was a lost puppy by the side of a road in need of help on Friday. The concerned family brought the small pup to a local veterinarian, where they learned they may have picked up a wolf pup instead!
A vet technician looked at the lost male pup and thought it might be a wolf. He contacted Defenders of Wildlife, who in turn contacted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. A DNA test is being run to determine if the puppy is a wolf or wolf-hybrid.
The little canine is in poor health and was taken to the local zoo temporarily for care and to help find him a permanent home at wildlife reserve, if his pack cannot be located.
Fish and Game workers went to where the puppy was found to see if they could find traces of a wolf pack in the hopes of returning the puppy to his family, but they were unable to find them. Trackers on Wednesday had seen a wolf pack travelling with pups near the national forest. That suggests the pack was disturbed near the road where the cub was found when they became separated from one another.
Story Update June 1, 2012
Defenders of Wildlife have been helping the Idaho Fish and Game try and locate the lost wolf pup's family. The group's wolf expert, Suzanne Stone, described how the pup was when he was brought in a few days ago. "He's very frightened of people, and it looks like he hasn't eaten in days. We're trying to find some goat's milk and bison meat to feed to him, but he really needs to be returned to his pack as soon as possible. Wolf pups are extremely vulnerable at this stage, and their chances of survival on their own are very low."
Group members went out searching for the lost wolf pup's family in the central Idaho wilderness on Wednesday. They were able to find tracks of what appear to be the mother and several other pups.
Defenders of Wildlife said, "The tracks indicate that the mother wolf was using the road to move her litter through Sawtooth National Forest where they were disturbed by human activity and the one pup got separated from his family." They plan to head back out to search for the den site and hopefully find the rest of the pup's family.
Zoo Boise's director says there are no plans to allow the public to view the wolf cub and Fish and Game officials say they are limiting the pup's human exposure to increase the chance that it could be reassimilated into its pack. However a video of the pup has been relased.
Suzanne Stone from Defenders of Wildlife with wolf tracks
that may be from the lost pup's family
Update June 8, 2012
Wildiife conservation officers and Defenders of Wildlife said they have been unsuccessful in locating the lost wolf pup's family after over two weeks of searching. Despite aerial and ground searches and a few signs of wolf activity, they could not find the pack.
The pup will be leaving the Boise Zoo soon for a permanent captive facility. Several well-established wolf rescues have offered a new home for the pup.
Defenders of Wildlife wrote: "In the end, the sad saga reminds us all that wild animals, no matter how apparently helpless or irresistibly cute, are best left alone. The out-of-town campers who found the pup can't be blamed for trying to help, but the result is still one less wolf in the wild."