In June 2012, campers in Idaho’s Smoky Mountains thought they were rescuing a puppy lost in the wild last week, but it turned out to be a wolf cub.
The out-of-towners saw the animal walking along Walm Spring Road northwest of Ketchum when they picked it up and took it to a local vet.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game are trying desperately to reunite the wolf cub with its pack after DNA tests confirmed the animal was not a dog, although it could still only be part wolf.
The cub is now in the care of Idaho’s Zoo Boise but is reportedly frightened of humans and reluctant to accept food.
The department and nature group Defenders of Wildlife have been searching for the cub’s family but haven’t uncovered any signs the pack is still in the area where the pup was found.
Since lone wolf cubs have a low survival rate, the department is now considering launching an aerial search to help find the pup’s family.
It is unclear whether the pack will welcome the pup back but authorities are keen to try.
'We haven't given up yet,' Suzanne Stone, a wolf expert with the Defenders of Wildlife, told The Idaho Statesman. We have weeks if we can find this pack.’
The tourists said they watched the pup for an hour and didn’t see any signs of the wolf pack before deciding to take the animal out of the wild.
Keckler said the parents were probably moving the pups from a den to a rendezvous site, usually within a mile or two.
The department is urging campers to leave baby animals alone if they see them in the wild, warning that taking them out of the wild does more bad than good.
'Chances are… its parents may have been just a few hundred yards, or even a few yards off the road,' Keckler said.
He said people should stay back, maybe take a photograph and then move along if they see baby animals, even if they’re cute.