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    Wolf shock collar program to go on despite deaths
By Gary Gerhart, Staff Writer, Denver Rocky Mountain News

Thursday, September 14, 2000

An experiment using shock collars on wolves in hopes of training them to stay away from livestock will go on despite the loss of the pack's matriarch, federal wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Ed Bangs, who heads wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said three males a 2-year-old and two 1-year-old males remain out of a pack of 11 that once had been attacking cattle on private property north of Yellowstone National Park.

"We had two alternatives," Bangs said. "We already shot six that were caught preying on livestock, and we could shoot the other five or capture them and try the shock treatment."

During the capture process, one wolf was killed by a tranquilizer dart, while the matriarch, known as No. 16, and three of her offspring were captured and put in a pen on Ted Turner's Flying D Ranch south of Bozeman, Mont.

Bangs said the idea was to let them get used to the pen, then recapture them and put on shock collars. Calves would be outfitted with shock transmitters; the wolves would get a shock when they got too close to the calves.

While capturing No. 16, she became overstressed, Bangs said. A veterinarian got her temperature down and she seemed to be recovering, then unexpectedly died.

A necropsy indicated she suffered from liver and kidney failure, probably associated with overheating, stress, exhaustion and tranquilizers, Bangs said.

"But we are going ahead with the experiment, he said.

He said researchers watched from a distance as one wolf approached the hide, jumped back as if it may have received a shock, and from that point, none of the wolves would go near the hide.

Not everyone is happy with the experiment. Bangs said he received "hundreds of e-mails" from people who said they shouldn't tamper with nature, or simply "snickered" at the procedure.

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