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Wolf sighting sparks concern in Polson

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Jan 02 2013 07:16:59 PM MST
POLSON, Mont. -

Joyce Norman is no stranger to wildlife in her backyard, but recently she was looking outside while on the phone with a friend, when she noticed a large herd of deer - and something else.

"There was a dark movement from the side and then I realized it was a canine," said Norman. "And then I stopped myself and I said 'I don't think it's a dog it's too big.' And she said 'Oh my gosh, you have a wolf chasing the deer.'"

A tribal wildlife biologist measured the tracks left in the snow, which are about the same size and show the same stride as wolves. He tells NBC Montana that the possibility that deer are bringing the wolves to the area is, "Most likely."

But Norman noticed something else - a yellow tag on the second wolf. That's the kind of collar used to monitor them. CSKT Wildlife Biologist George Barce spoke with a wolf coordinator who said these wolves could have traveled a great distance.

"[He] didn't believe that anything in the lower 48 was tagged with those types of collars," explained Barce. "But he thought they did use those types of collars in Canada."

Norman hopes the wolves leave Polson and head towards the mountains. But she's worried they'll stick around since they've found food here. The problem is that they're close to kids.

"There are kids that kind of have to walk up the hill a little bit," said Norman. "They're always running. And kids that are running are like prey."

Barce advises folks to stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings.

"Have your guard up. If you're walking at night I'd say walk in a group," said Barce.

Polson Police and the tribe's Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation will continue to monitor the situation. They recommend anyone who has had a close encounter with a wolf to report the incident within 24 hours.