In a wake up study it has been revealed that most of the gray wolf pups born in Yellowstone National Park last year have died. The reason attributed to this catastrophe is a dog disease.
In a staggering figure only 22 of the 69 pups born last year are still alive. This was revealed by Doug Smith, the park's wolf project leader.
"It's cause for concern, a great deal of concern," Smith said.
During the next few weeks, he said, officials plan to catch Yellowstone wolf pups and take blood samples to see if his suspicions about the disease, parvo virus, are true. The disease can cause extreme diarrhea and dehydration and kill more vulnerable animals, like young pups.
"It requires two vaccinations to build up an immunity, and we'd have to catch every wolf," he said.
If parvo virus is confirmed, there is little officials can do besides monitor the population and hope exposed wolves build a natural immunity to the disease, he said.
Terry Kreeger, supervisor of veterinary services for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said that while parvo virus could have a noticeable effect for years on wolf populations like Yellowstone's, he doesn't believe it will be devastating.
According to Smith it could be because how the wolves were being taken care of and said. The number of wolves in Yellowstone dropped last year from 171 to 118, he said. The largest single-year drop before that was 11 from 1998-99, when parvo virus also was suspected, he said.