Conservation officers in southeast Idaho found a young female wolf injured so badly they were forced to put it down.
The officers were responding to reports by mountain lion hunters about signs of wolf activity in the Big Bend Ridge area northwest of Ashton. On Thursday, February 24 senior conservation officers Bruce Penske, Charlie Anderson and Shane Liss set out on snowmobiles to search the Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area for wolf tracks. Once they found a lone set of tracks, they continued on snowshoes tracking the wolf for about two miles. They eventually saw the un-collared wolf dragging its hind quarters.
The officers eventually caught up with the animal in a steep canyon where they got close enough to determine that it was severely injured. Using cell phones, officers conferred with Idaho Fish and Game and United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USWFS) officials to receive the proper authorization to put the animal down.
The officers were able to get close enough to the animal to use their department sidearms to dispatch it. Upon closer investigation, the animal not only appeared to have a broken spine, but was missing an eye and had injured paws from dragging itself. There is no evidence to suggest humans injured the wolf. Investigators believe the injuries may have been caused by a moose, but the exact cause is still under investigation, pending a necropsy.