Wolf and Wildlife Studies
   
Territory Of The Fishtrap Pack

Below is an example of the Fishtrap pack's territory, in this case 2004. I could superimpose this map onto topo maps and then add the pack's known travel routes, along with their den site and rendezvous site locations. This gave me an idea of how the wolves were utilizing their territory throughout the year.

Territory of the Fishtrap pack

One feature of the wolves' annual movement was their seasonal shift from one side of the territory to the other. Despite the seasons, the wolves still patrolled most of their territory unless the climate, i.e., winter snow, prevented them from doing so.  However, the wolves' prey items such as deer, elk, and moose, were also at the mercy of the weather. Consequently, when the prey moved in response to climatic conditions the wolves followed, thus the seasonal shifts. 

I chose the geographic center of the pack's territory as a reference point for seasonal movement, and in 2004 it was generally in a north-south direction. In other years the seasonal shifts were in different directions. For example, through the fall of 2002 and into the winter of 2003, the pack's movements were often east-west.  This corresponded to the pack's travels over the Cabinet Mountains to the west side of this range.

These movements began when the pack apparently split in the winter of 2003 and ended when one of the wolves was killed by a vehicle on the west side of the Cabinet Mountains. During this time, one of the two branches of the Fishtrap pack was apparently "visiting" the other branch which lived on the western side of the Cabinets. The western branch was called the Green Mountain pack which disbanded when one of their members was killed by a vehicle in March 2003. 

This is all theory of course. However, there were several indications that the two groups were visiting:

1. The behavior of crossing the Cabinet Mountains began when the pack split.

2. This behavior ended when the wolf was hit and killed by a motor vehicle.

3. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's annual report for 2003 showed that the territory of the Green Mountain pack was completely "engulfed" by the territory of the Fishtrap pack (see the 2003 annual report).  In my opinion, this would not have happened unless the two packs knew each other or were related in some way. Tom Meier, the USFWS biologist responsible for wolf management at the time, agreed with this assessment.

During the summers, the Fishtrap pack tended to stay in other areas of its territory. This corresponded, at least in part, to the movement of prey which was no longer hindered by winter snow and were now more dispersed. During this time of the year, however, the pack had reproductive and social issues to deal with which helped to limit the pack's movement within their territory, at least for the pack as a whole. For example, a den site area must be located and prepared for the arrival of pups. After that, rendezvous sites are necessary to train the pups to become active and contributing members of the pack. 

Although the wolves were freer to move around in the spring and summer time, their movements still incorporated the locations of the den and rendezvous sites.  Consequently, the pack as a whole had limited movement during the denning and rendezvous site season. Individual pack members, however, still moved around a great deal during the spring and summer, and the extent of their movements rivaled those of the nomadic time of year.

   

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