Howl boxes: Scientists experiment with tracking wolves by recording howls

Scientists experiment with tracking wolves by recording howls. BY Joe Jaszewski. Idaho Statesman.

We, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, are one of the groups providing financial support to test this innovation. A lot of folks will be happy to see the gradual disappearance of the radio collars outside of Yellowstone National Park. However, it is important to get a pretty good wolf count, given that conservationists are not confident that states will do a good count. The suspicion is that they might overestimate their numbers.







  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Just as they’ve done with grizzly numbers.

  2. Buffaloed Avatar

    I saw this the other day and it seems that remote video cameras are finding interesting events.

    Wolf ‘plays’ with grizzlies

  3. tim zaspel Avatar
    tim zaspel

    The video of the bears (there are 2 videos) is actually on, it’s very cool

  4. Linda Hunter Avatar

    I hope that the tests of a howl box turn out to be somewhat accurate but it seems kind of iffy to me. I am sorry but there isn’t a mechanical means of tracking which replaces old fashioned tracking yet. It is work intensive to learn to track but check out this website:

    If you read it you will find that there are trackers in the US who are very very good. . They have further refined the ancient art to include some new technology to make it easier to handle the data collected.

  5. Salle Avatar

    I spoke to one of the primary investigators in this study and was assured that the baxes are only a component in a population study. The boxes are actually in the next phase of testing using tracking and other methods to verify the boxes’ accuracy in areas where there are probably wolves to see how well it can assist in a population count where probability is a variable.

  6. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Salle thanks for the clarification. It makes much more sense used with other means. The one survey I have taken part in so far used tracking, cameras and scent lures. It found lots of other animals but no wolves. Two weeks later I found clear wolf tracks very near two of the count sites after they were over. . it is very very hard to count wildlife without being out there with them 24/7 and being able to track well enough to follow an indistinct trail until you get a good track for confirmation. I would love to see animals not having to wear radio collars, but if it keeps them from being killed it is worth it. There is a new development in the use of tracking using digital cameras and a computer. The system has been able to detect individual animals based on tracks with a 99% accuracy. The only drawback is they need a relatively clear track to photograph as the system measures a whole bunch of individual points within the track to get a individual “fingerprint” so to speak. It works well in areas where tracks register well. The system was able to help save a rhino population where they thought they had two males in an area and discovered with this system it was just one who was covering a lot of territory. Along with the cybertracker system they are going to take this old fashioned method to a useful status one way or another but people still need to be able to “trail” to find that clear track.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan