A submissive wolf which bore the brunt of her pack's aggression made an acrobatic escape from an enclosure at the Wolf Education and Research Center in the Winchester area. Biologists hope the wolf, known as Chemukh, will return on her own after her Oct. 6 departure from the enclosure operated by the tribe. The wolf is not considered to be a threat to people, pets or livestock. Pack manager Jeremy Heft said it is likely she has stayed in the general vicinity. Chemukh is the omega female of the Sawtooth Pack, formerly owned by filmmaker Jim Dutcher who turned its over to the nonprofit foundation. Chemukh has no developed hunting skills and the wolf center is trying to lure her back with food. The wolf scaled the 12-foot fence surrounding the enclosure despite a 1-foot overhang and an electric charge running through the fence. "She is known as being one of the more agile members of the pack, but she defied everything that we know about as far as wolves getting out of enclosures,'' Heft said. An intern reported it appeared she was afraid of the rest of the pack. Plans are in the works to secure the enclosure against future breakouts.
Officials deny a last-minute delay in announcing federal plans to reintroduce grizzly bears in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is political. The Oct. 11 release of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision and special rule on reintroduction of 25 Canadian bears was halted when the Interior Department decided to review the project. Laird Robinson, spokesman for the Interagency Grizzly Bear Recovery Team in Missoula, Mont., said he is unsure when the plan might surface. Gov. Dirk Kempthorne vowed to tap the state's constitutional defense fund to challenge the plan in court. Vice President Al Gore has taken heat from Republican presidential rival George W. Bush for refusing to take a firm stand against breaching the four lower Snake River dams. Grizzly advocates say Gore has nothing to fear. "The polls do indicate the vast majority of Americans support grizzly bear reintroduction,'' said Sterling Miller, a biologist with the National Wildlife Federation. He and others helped craft a reintroduction plan backed by some environmental groups, labor unions and the timber industry. The blueprint, adopted by Fish and Wildlife as its preferred alternative, has a committee of citizens from Idaho, Montana and the tribe manage the bears' return. The Interior secretary would have veto authority.