Wolf spotted in Deer Valley | ParkRecord.com
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Wolf spotted in Deer Valley

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Someone claims they saw a wolf in Deer Valley on Halloween, an extremely rare sighting in Park City if the animal that the person saw was indeed a wolf.

Wildlife authorities, however, do not confirm the sighting in Park City, and the Police Department, which was called about the animal, is unsure if it was a wolf that was spotted.

The Police Department is not providing details about the person who reported the sighting, but the person told the police he had not been drinking alcohol before he saw the animal.

The person, who lives on Deer Valley Drive, called the police at 6:02 a.m. on Oct. 31, reporting a wolf was walking on Deer Valley Drive near Snow Park Lodge. When police officers arrived, they did not see the animal.

The location is close to the mountains that ring Park City, and there are large swaths of wooded hillsides nearby. The spot, though, is also close to condominiums and construction sites.

Dave Swenson, a Division of Wildlife Resources officer assigned to the Park City area, said there is "no way to verify it," but he did not discount the sighting.

"It’s possible that they’re in the area," Swenson said, describing that a wolf several years ago was captured in nearby Morgan County.

Wildlife officers found that the wolf discovered in Morgan County was a member of a pack in Yellowstone National Park that had migrated to Utah. It was returned to the national park, in the northwest corner of Wyoming and directly north of Utah.

Swenson said wolves do not populate Summit County. If one is found in the county, it probably is a member of a Yellowstone pack, he said.

"It’s possible a wolf made it to Park City, but it’s not likely," he said.

He said wolves are known to feed on livestock and other animals, including dogs. Swenson said extra precautions are not needed, but someone should call the authorities if they see a wolf-looking animal.

Ryan also said Parkites should not be worried.

"The likelihood a single wolf would bother an individual person — it’d be pretty rare," he said.

At Deer Valley Resort, a spokeswoman said mountain crews have not spotted a wolf, and Park City Police Department Capt. Rick Ryan said he does not recall another wolf sighting in his 22 years with the force.

"It’s certainly possible. They’ve been reintroduced back as close as Yellowstone," Ryan said.

The mountains around Park City teem with wildlife, with deer and moose especially prevalent. The animals are regularly seen in Park City neighborhoods like Old Town and Deer Valley. On rare occasions, bears are seen in Park City, including one in 2006 in Deer Valley.

Parkites enjoy the sightings, saying they make living in a mountain town more unusual, and moose that amble into the city often draw crowds of onlookers.

Coyotes also inhabit the Park City area, leading some to wonder whether the animal that was spotted is a coyote. Swenson said he sometimes receives mistaken reports of wolves that are actually coyotes. He said large dogs are also occasionally mistaken for wolves.

"They’re pretty remote," he said of the chances that the animal is a wolf. "We don’t know of any wolves in the area for a long time."


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