Wolves rescued from traps at Fort McCoy, then collared for satellite tracking
U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services staff Dewayne Snobl, Phil Peterson, and Wyatt Puent, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Paul Napierala monitor vital signs and collect biological data Oct. 19, 2022, during while collaring a male wolf at Fort McCoy, Wis., after the wolf was safely released from a trap. The wolf was accidently caught in the trap and sustained no injuries. It was collared for tracking and research purposes. (Photo by Kevin Luepke/Fort McCoy Department of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Personnel with Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB) were alerted Oct. 19 and Oct. 27 by a family of trappers permitted to trap at Fort McCoy, that a wolf was caught in a trap within one of the training areas. Immediately, in both instances, staff responded to where the wolf was located.

“Both wolves were caught by a family — Dan, Jacky, and Jaydan Willis,” said Wildlife Biologist Kevin Luepke with the NRB who responded to the calls. “The wolf caught incidentally on Oct. 19 was a 3- to 5-year-old male, 87 pounds, and had a darker coloration to his coat. This wolf was caught on the south end of South Post. The wolf caught incidentally on Oct. 27 was a 3- to 4-year-old male, 79 pounds, and had more of a reddish coloration. This wolf was caught on the northern part of North Post.”

With both wolves, Luepke said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) was contacted.

“We were put in contact with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Wildlife Services staff to coordinate collaring each wolf,” Luepke said. “And in both incidents, Dewayne Snobl with USDA-Wildlife Services was present to complete the collaring.”

Additional staff with USDA-Wildlife Services were on hand to help with the wolf collaring and release, Luepke said. And Paul Napierala, WDNR-La Crosse/Monroe County wildlife biologist, was also present.

“The trappers had set traps to target other furbearers and incidentally caught the wolves,” Luepke said. “Both times, the trappers were able to contact the NRB and that set the wheels in motion to check with the WDNR to see if they would like them collared. In both cases, they wanted to get a collar on the animals.”

In February 2022, a similar incident happened when NRB staff were alerted Feb. 10 by Mike Borchers, a registered trapper, that a wolf was caught in a coyote trap at Fort McCoy.

NRB staff responding to that February event were NRB Chief Tim Wilder, Luepke, and Endangered Species Biologist Jessup Weichelt. Also responding were Snobl who also collared that wolf, which was a 3-year-old, 73-pound female.

Luepke said the collars that are used with the wolves provide valuable and interesting data to the WDNR, USDA Wildlife Services, and the NRB staff at Fort McCoy, and other agencies for roughly three years.

The collars have a satellite tracking device embedded within them and records the animal’s location at fixed intervals.

“This data will assist in identifying the territory boundaries and how wolves utilize the habitat within that territory,” he said.

Although wolves being inadvertently captured in coyote traps is a somewhat rare occurrence, it has happened on Fort McCoy in the last 20 years, Wilder said. In December 2011, a female wolf that was captured in a coyote trap on South Post also had a telemetry collar placed on her. This wolf eventually left Fort McCoy and traveled in a southerly direction.

By December 2012, she had crossed over the Wisconsin border and was located in northern Illinois. Unfortunately, in March of 2013, she was hit by a vehicle and was killed. At the time of her death, she was 108.5 miles south of where she had been captured and collared on Fort McCoy.

Fort McCoy NRB staff members are responsible for all wildlife management support and programs at the installation. The NRB team regularly works with numerous federal, state, and civilian organizations and agencies to complete that mission.

For more about the wildlife mission at Fort McCoy, visit the post iSportsman page at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.