A wolf pack that hardly anyone knows about has lived for three or four years northwest of Thompson Falls, a federal wildlife biologist says.
Tricia O’Connor, with the Forest Service’s Plains Ranger District, discussed the pack last week at a Plains-Paradise Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“We don’t know if it’s two animals or 10,” she said. “There’s some evidence the pack has split up recently. That’s common behavior once the pack gets to a certain size.”
She estimated the pack has fewer than 10 wolves.
O’Connor said little is known about the pack, which hangs out in the upper Thompson River drainage and has had no conflicts with humans in the sparsely populated area.
The wolves “have been fairly secretive and haven’t caused any problems.”
Their favorite prey apparently is the abundant deer in the drainage.
The pack apparently started in 1993 when a female from the Fortine pack to the north drifted into the area and had pups, she said. The female had been radio-collared, so federal wolf-recovery biologists kept track of her and later put a radio collar on one of the pups.
O’Connor saw some of the pack during a research flight in 1995 and since has seen many of their signs and heard their howling. Local residents also have reported their presence.
Residents seem to have accepted the presence of the wolves, O’Connor said. Few if any people live there year-round.
“Because they are coming back on their own, people seem more willing to accept them,” she said.