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Nearly six years ago, we learned that two-thirds of all wild wolf carcasses examined in Idaho were infected with tapeworms of the echinococcus granulosus variety that, if contracted by humans can cause hydatid cysts on major body organs, such as lungs, liver, brain, etc. There also exists now human cases of hydatid disease in Idaho; extremely difficult to diagnose, more difficult to treat, surgery being the only option, and potentially deadly.
Now, it appears the possibility exists that wolves are being found in Idaho that have rabies.
During the drafting of the Environmental Impact Statement of 1994, before the reintroduction of wolves into the Greater Yellowstone area, some scientists shared their concerns over the impact of disease that wolves are known to carry; many of which are harmful to humans and livestock, and in some cases, potentially deadly. Echinococcus granulosis and rabies, only two of the approximate 30 diseases these canines carry. Those concerns were essentially ignored.
Now, citizens of Idaho, appear to have another canine disease to concern themselves with. Indications are that some wolves in portions of Idaho may have rabies.
I was included in an email exchange over the weekend of one person’s account of unusual wolf behavior and the role being played out by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Below is a copy of the email. I have decided to omit certain personal information about the author of the email, not because they requested it but because I believe it is a responsible thing to do considering the sick and mentally twisted freaks who dot our landscape. Enough said.
Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages” and the person to whom the email below was first sent to, sought permission from “Jennifer” to share the letter and information below. Graves made the following comment:
“In my opinion it is very strange under the circumstances you explained in this email that the Idaho FWP has not released the lab results on these two wolves. The public must be informed on what these two wolves died from. In my opinion it is grossly irresponsible not to release these pertinent lab reports to the general public.
It takes from one to three days to determine if an animal with rabid like symptoms was infected with rabies or not. There could possibly be some extenuating circumstances. Of course, if the animal were shot in the head to kill it, then rabies could probably not be confirmed.”
Graves was able to later confirm that the wolf had not been shot in the head.
“The wolf died on its own, no one shot it in the head ( it took 3 days for it to die ). The man told me they called Idaho F& G approximately 2 hours after the wolf died. He would not tell me the address of the house where it happened.He was really afraid.”
Here is the email letter.
We were awoken at 3:35 am on Saturday the 11th Feb. 2012, with wolves harassing our Akbash / Pyrenees cross guard dogs. We could hear one of the wolves growing from our bedroom window, it was on the other side of the fence along the road that goes by our home and barn. The two guard dogs were up against the front door of the house completely frightened and trying to hide. Kevin my husband went out and was growled at in the dark by one of the wolves from behind him on the road. He was trying to see them with a million watt hand held light. But they were ducked down in a snow filled ditch with water flowing from *** Creek across the road. They ran off.
In the morning at first light I went out to see were the tracks went and to try to figure out how many wolves there were as its very difficult to see tracks in the dark. The tracks were clear to see and the size of my hand 6″ X 3″ stride length of about 60″. They exited on the main road east towards Hailey.
A truck pulled into a turnout above our home. I was tracking in on the movement of the two wolves by our field and fence line. The man had his window down and asked if I had seen any wolves, I told him we had them at our place last night harassing the two guard dogs that were out in the fenced yard. We talked for about 30 minutes about wolves in the area. After that he mentioned to me that his friend that lives in Starweather subdivision had a really skinny wolf show up next to his drive way convoluting and drooling. He said his friend was hoping it would go away as he did not want the controversy from certain wolf defenders and people in town. He said It took three days for the wolf to die . The last night he thought it would perish because it was extremely cold, but when he went out in the morning it was still in convolutions but lying down and foaming on the muzzle and drooling from its mouth. A short time later he said it died. They decided to call Fish and Game. Local Lee Garwood of Fish and Game with another officer arrived and took the dead wolf carcus away. The man told me that they were told NOT to tell anyone and that they had picked up another wolf from the Fairfield pack in Fairfield that had the same symptoms months ago. The man told me they had been frightened to tell anyone and the following week his friend called Lee Garwood the Fish and Game Officer and asked him what the wolf died of. Lee Garwood told him they did not know and it would take weeks before they knew anything on why it died. The two men thought it was strange. When the man told me all of this he was really scared and did not want me to tell anyone about it. He drove away.
I went back to our house and called Will Graves immediately because I thought it could be rabies. Two years ago I sent Will graves and Steve Alder, Wildlife For Idaho the news paper articles on the fly fisher man that had a rabid bat stuck on his fishing vest on the Wood River in Green horn Gulch area.. Three other people had to have a rabies shot series because of rabid bats in that area too. There is a bad bat colony somewhere in that vicinity. Then I called Lee Garwood next and he told me that he did not want me scaring people right now and he had two wolf hunters out working on it, killing the wolves in Green horn and not to be worried or alarmed. I told Lee we had an very aggressive wolf growling by our fence early that morning. We thought it was unusual behavior. Then I called Steve Alder to report it and get his expert help as I was really concerned that it could be rabies not distemper or parvo. Distemper did not fit the convolutions and the length of time it took to die. Will Graves talked it over with Val Giest in Canada and both thought it sounded like stage three rabies. The last wolf that growled and charged me and my dog in my yard had an imbedded leather tracking collar with a dead battery. The collar was rotting in its neck and it was desperately trying to eat and it was starving. So we thought something must be really wrong with the growling wolf at the fence. Lee Garwood told me he would come by in person at 12:00 the next day to talk to us in person. He did come on Saturday and Lee informed my husband Kevin that it was a 60 pound very skinny looking and light in weight female wolf. He personally seemed very surprised that Fish and Game had not released the discovery on what killed the female wolf or the other one in Fairfield yet. He told Kevin my husband to not scare people and keep it quite as they did not need mass hysteria going around town. He said maybe an Elk kicked it in the head or it had a bone splinter in its guts.
Steve we are sending this to you in hopes that maybe you can get the Governor to get the report released from Fish and Game ASAP on what killed the wolf in Starweather subdivision Hailey, ID and what killed the wolf in Fairfield, ID months ago that they took away to be examined. Being extremely concerned and knowing information in other states on rabies it usually only takes 24 hours to find out if an animal is rabid, why are they waiting this long to release a report? And why is the Fish and Game officer having two hunters try and kill wolves in Greenhorn Gulch area. If it is rabies we have to inform the public now!! And take action. I thought that’s why we have Idaho Fish and Game to manage the wildlife, keeping hazardous heath information from the citizens of the United States Of America is not their job. I hope the wolves that died got kicked in the head by the elk, or bone fragments in the guts and that’s all. But the more time that goes by, the more guilty and withholding this appears. What say you!
*Update: February 14, 2012 – 8:30 a.m.*
Through inquiry by the Idaho for Wildlife, a response was received from Jerome Hansen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, concerning testing results and/or information about the two wolves referred to above. I’ll paste the entire comment from Hansen:
Thanks for the email. I have received feedback from Lee Garwood (Conservation Officer in Hailey, Dr. Mark Drew (our Veterinarian), and Steve Roberts, (Conservation Officer in Fairfield).
On January 22, 2012, Officers Garwood and Morris responded to a call about a sick or injured wolf in a driveway in the Starweather subdivision (North of Hailey). The wolf was collected and sent to our Veterinarian in Boise for necropsy. Dr. Drew told us today that he had necropsied the wolf about a week after receiving it. It was negative for rabies. The rest of the lab work is still outstanding, as to the actual cause of being so thin.
We don’t know what wolf north of Fairfield Jennifer is referring to. We did find 6 wolves dead north of Fairfield in the summer of 09, but after lab work, the most likely cause of death was determined to be Parvo. If we can provide any more info, don’t hesitate to ask.