Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 1/14/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 1/10-1/14, 1999

 

WOLF RECOVERY PROGRAM WINS ON TENTH CIRCUIT COURT APPEAL!!!

On January 13, 2000, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the December 1998 Wyoming District Court ruling that the reintroduction program was unlawful and should be revoked. The Tenth Circuit ruling stated "We reverse the order and judgement of the district court, vacate the district court’s stay order, and remand with instructions to the district court to enter an order upholding the challenged wolf reintroduction rules." In its opinion the Tenth Circuit also stated that "Discerning no conflict between the challenged experimental population rules and the Endangered Species Act, we reverse the district court’s order and judgement." The Secretary of the Interior issued a statement "I am very pleased that the courts have given a ringing endorsement to our wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. The court clearly agreed that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s reintroduction program is fully consistent with the Endangered Species Act. Wolf reintroduction is a powerful demonstration of this Nation’s commitment to protecting and restoring endangered species. Today’s decision is a welcome vindication of our efforts to preserve this magnificent species."

Monitoring

Core packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are generally in their normal home ranges but many packs have members missing, in all likelihood due to dispersal.

The Gros Ventre pack is hunting on the National Elk Refuge. The Teton pack is staying in the Gros Ventre drainage.

The Little Wolf pack was in Bear Springs Creek, their farthest south movement to date.

The Spotted bear pack (the male was relocated from Pleasant Valley in NW MT a year ago, and the female and 5 pups were relocated from the Bass Creek area in the central Idaho ex pop. area.) is continuing to stay together and in the Spotted Bear/South Fork drainage. So far the relocation using the modified soft release has exceeded all our expectations. We thank Wildlife Services, Nez Perce Tribe, Forest Service, and all our other cooperators who made this experiment possible.

Helicopter capture and radio-collaring operations began in Yellowstone National Park on the 14th. This year up to 20 wolves will be collared. Service Biologists Boyd and Meier will be assisting.

Wolves are dispersing and we anticipate a sharp increase in new wolf pack formation. Please report wolf sightings so that we can focus aircraft searches or our track surveys this winter.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Control

On the 13th, the Service issued special permits to 2 Wyoming residents that will allow them to take a wolf on-sight on their respective private property. The permits were issued to resolve a chronic series of livestock and pet depredations that occurred on private property in 1999. Confirmed losses include a foal, 3 calves, and 2 dogs. Each permit allows each landowner to shoot a wolf on their private property. Once a wolf is taken, the other permittee will be notified by the Service that their permit is no longer valid. These permits expire March 1 and also become invalid if a radio-collared wolf is discovered in the area. These permits are being issued because of occasional confirmed wolf-caused losses on private property that Service control actions have been unable to resolve.

Investigation of a possible wolf depredation on a horse in the Paradise Valley, just south of Livingston, MT was investigated by WS. They determined that the horse died from causes other than predation and was scavenged by canids.

 

 

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs and Smith gave presentations and answered questions during the day-long Predator Management in Montana Conference hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and the Montana Guides and Outfitters Association. Service biologists Fontaine, Meier, and Boyd also attended so they could hear, first-hand, the concerns of Montana Guides. About 400 people attended the January 8th meeting in Billings. Most of the discussion and attention focused on wolves and wolf management. Proceedings of the Conf. Are being prepared and will be distributed by MT Dept. Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Meier and Boyd completed the rough draft of the 1999 annual report. It will summarize all depredations, wolf numbers, and contain a map of pack territories in MT, ID, and WY. We hope have it reviewed and finalized by February 1.

Numerous interviews were conducted for TV, radio, and print media regarding the 10th Circuit Court’s decision. That along with a five year update of the wolf reintroduction program has made wolves a hot news item this week.

Fontaine gave a presentation to about 15 landowners at a Blackfoot Challenge meeting at Lubrick State Forest on the 11th.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http://www.r6.fws.gov/wolf in addition to the regular distribution.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV