BOISE, Idaho --The pup is awaiting his fate at Zoo Boise.
Tracks on Warm Springs Road in the Smoky Mountains northwest of Ketchum appear to show he was part of a wild pack that lived in the area, said Suzanne Stone, a wolf expert with the Defenders of Wildlife.
Stone and Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers searched in vain Saturday through Monday looking for his pack.
Stone sent an email to wolf biologists worldwide seeking guidance on whether the pack would accept the pup if he were returned. She was deluged with replies - from Europe, Africa, Canada and across the U.S. - giving her enough hope to launch an aerial search and keep looking.
"We haven't given up yet," Stone said. "We have weeks if we can find this pack."
Fish and Game officials still aren't absolutely sure the pup is a wild wolf; he could be a hybrid someone had as a pet. Fish and Game biologists took a blood sample and sent it away for DNA testing.
The out-of-state campers watched the wolf for about an hour with their car running before picking it up, Stone said. That might have kept the pack from coming for the pup.
For Fish and Game officials, it's an old story: A mother is scared off, leaving a baby that people take, thinking it abandoned.
Officials warn people to leave them be.
"They didn't know that the pack would have been right there," said Mike Keckler, Fish and Game communications chief.
Keckler said the parents were likely moving the pups from a den to a rendezvous site, usually within a mile or two.
The road had been blocked by snow until recently, Stone said. That might explain why the wolves were there in the first place.
The campers took the pup to a veterinarian, where a technician recognized it as a wolf and called Patrick Graham of Defenders of Wildlife. Defenders contacted Fish and Game, and together they agreed to try to find his parents.
The wolf pup was thin but not seriously injured. Fish and Game officers took him to Zoo Boise, where he will await tests and search results.
Zoo Boise vet Holly Peters looked him over and got him to eat some ground meat. But she wanted to wait to do a full exam.
"He was pretty stressed," said Steve Burns, Zoo Boise director. "She wanted to give him some time to settle down."
The pup will be quarantined, because officials don't know what if any diseases he may be carrying, Burns said.
"We want to ensure the health of our collection, as well as him," Burns said.
Burns is helping Fish and Game by checking with other zoos to determine if they would want him, should he remain in captivity.
)2012 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)
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