If you want to know where Yellowstone National Park wolves are roaming, the information will soon be just a phone call away.
Within the next few weeks, park wildlife managers will install a dial-up wolf hot line. Callers will reach a digital answering machine with up-to-date information on the movements of wolves released in the park under the federal wolf reintroduction plan. Long distance calls will carry a toll because the park could not afford a toll-free number.Federal biologists now believe that at least five wolf packs in and around Yellowstone have produced litters of pups this spring. If the litters are all of average size, they should add 15 to 30 animals to the previously known wolf population of 34.
Word of wolf reproduction this year has boosted interest in the already high-profile wolf program. The wolf hot line is a response of park managers to persistent complaints that biologists have not monitored the wolves carefully enough to inform ranchers and others of their whereabouts.
There were complaints when a pack roamed to the Beartooth Front in Montana and established a den and when a ranch hand shot a wolf near Meeteetse, Wyo., thinking it was a coyote because he was not aware wolves were in the area.
"Once we have this in place, if you don't know where the wolves are, you have nobody to blame but yourself," park biologist Mike Phillips said.
He said biologists simply do not have time to call everyone who wants to follow the wolves after every tracking flight.