Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/17/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/11-17, 2000

HAPPY ST. PATTY"S DAY

Monitoring

Core packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are generally in their normal home ranges. See the 1999 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.

Wolf pairs have bred and we anticipate that several new packs will form this spring. We have received many wolf observation reports that are helping us to look for wolf activity in some new areas and beginning to schedule potential spring/summer capture efforts. Please continue to report wolf sightings so that we can focus any aircraft searches for missing radio-collared wolves or our track surveys in areas of concentrated wolf activity this winter and spring.

Control

On about March 11, wolves from the Twin Peaks pack killed another calf at the Broken-Wing Ranch near Clayton, ID. WS captured the radio-collared alpha pair from that pack and they were relocated to the Selway area on the 15th. The male had a broken front tooth but after a veterinarian looked at it the decision was made that nothing could really be done and he was relocated. There are approximately 2-4 wolves left in that area- none of which have functioning radios. On the 16th another calf was examined and it had also been attacked by wolves but not killed. The examination indicated the wounds were made within the past day or so. On the17th, another calf was killed. Attempts are being made to collar and release one of the remaining wolves to better focus control efforts and remove the remaining pack members. WS also captured the remaining 2 pups from the now defunct Jureano pack that were frequenting a dairy near Salmon, ID. Those pups were also released in the Selway area at the same time but at a different airstrip as the 2 Twin Peak adults.

Early morning on the 15th, members of the Wolf Creek pack (2 adults plus 8-9 young of the year) killed a 700 lb. yearling steer about 100 yds from the rancher’s house NW of Marion, MT. The rancher also stated he saw 2 wolves that night interacting with his dog. The dog was not injured. The rancher did all the right things and immediately made calls to WS and the Service, covered the carcasses and tried to preserve wolf tracks in the area. WS confirmed it had been killed by wolves and signals from 2 male pups were located in the area. That night those 2 wolves and another were seen feeding on the carcass. Traps were set but nothing was caught. The traps were pulled the next day because of weather conditions and the radioed wolves left the area. Control options are being discussed but will likely remove some wolves from the pack next week when a helicopter and fixed-wing become available.

Research

Yellowstone National Park captured and radio-collared 45 adult female elk and 2 yearling female elk this week. The study will increase efforts to investigate the relationship of wolves to their primary prey in Yellowstone’s northern range.

Information and education and law enforcement

Boyd and Meier made a trip through NW MT to visit with local biologists and residents to renew contacts in preparation for trapping and radio-collaring efforts this winter.

A recent article in Outdoor Life about the Yellowstone wolf program stated "the ever expanding predators could devastate big game hunting"- that wolves will "conceivably move into Arizona"- "some biologists suggest hunting be reduced to "eliminate competition"- and ended on the note of "but it (via legislation to take wolf control away from the federal government and give it to the state) may be the only solution for a federal program that is on its way to disaster." While Crying Wolf!! is certainly entertaining, in all likelihood it will be years before any real pattern of elk movements can be associated with wolves movement and hunting behavior. Research in NW MT on radiocollared elk and wolves indicated that elk did move into cover when wolves were present but elk didn’t move off of natural wintering areas because of predators. The studies on the feed grounds in WY and as well as the new elk radio telemetry should provide some usually and interesting data.

NOTE: CORRECTIONS TO PREVIOUS WEEKLY REPORT - Elk movements between feeding grounds described in last week’s report were mistakenly identified as occurring on the National Elk Refuge. It should have stated that these elk movements were on the state of WY elk feed grounds in the Gros Ventre drainage 20-25 miles east of the elk refuge. Also, in the discussion of the Soda Butte pack reorganization, wolf #126 was mistakenly identified as wolf #124.

The Annual Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Conference is scheduled for Chico Hot Springs, April 11-13. Juan Carlos Blanco will talk on Wolf Recolonization in Spain for the banquet. Wolf management issues from around the United States will be presented. The tentative agenda is attached below.

Jimenez will be on leave from the 17th through 25th. Calls can be forwarded to Helena 406-449-5225 x204 or WY LE at 307-2616365 or 527-7604 or 332-7607 or WY Wildlife Services 307-261-5336.

Dr. Mark Johnson will be teaching a wolf immobilization and handling course on April 18-20. Interested people should call 406-586-4624.

JOBS! We are seeking experienced volunteers to assist with summer wolf trapping efforts in NW Montana. We are looking for volunteers with previous wolf and/or coyote trapping experience. We can pay a minimum per diem but no salary. We will furnish field accommodations. If interested, contact Diane Boyd (406-449-5225 x 207, diane_boyd@fws.gov) or Tom Meier (406-449-5225 x 219, tom_meier@fws.gov).

 

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

 

DRAFT AGENDA

 

12th Annual Rocky Mountain Interagency Wolf Recovery Conference Chico Hot Springs April 11-13, 2000

 

Tuesday April 11th

8:00-8:15 Introductions

8:15-8:45 National Delisting Strategy. Ed Bangs, Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Coordinator, and Ron Refsnider, Minnesota, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

8:45-9:15 Status of Legal Issues. Tom France, National Wildlife Federation; Pete Frost, Western Environmental Law Center

9:15-9:45 The Yellowstone Wolves: the First Five Years. Doug Smith, Kerry Murphy, Wayne Brewster, Yellowstone National Park; Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund; Mike Jimenez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

9:45-10:00 Montana Wolf Update. Tom Meier and Joe Fontaine, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

10:00-10:30 Break

10:30-11:00 Wolf Recovery Efforts in the Northeastern U.S. Nina Fascione, Defenders of Wildlife; Mike Amaral, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

11:00-11:30 Status of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program. Wendy Brown, Mexican Wolf Recovery Project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

11:30-12:00 Wolves, Trout, and Condors: a Private Effort to Save Nature.

Mike Phillips and Kyran Kunkle, Turner Endangered Species Fund

12:00-1:00 Buffet Style Lunch

1:00-1:30 Denning Behavior of Wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Linda Thurston, Yellowstone Center for Resources; Jane Packard, Texas A&M University; Doug Smith and Kerry Murphy, Yellowstone National Park; Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund

1:30-2:00 Mexican Gray Wolves: Status Report and Challenges Facing The Captive Breeding Program. Patrick Valentino and Daniel Moriarity, California Wolf Center

2:00–2:30 Wolf Compensation Program and White Mountain Apache Role in Wolf Recovery. Craig Miller, Defenders of Wildlife

2:30-3:00 Break

3:00-3:30 Wolf/livestock Interactions in the Rocky Mountains. Carter Niemeyer, APHIS Wildlife Services

3:30-4:00 Restoring the Gray Wolf to Idaho: progress report 1995-1999.

Curt Mack, Isaac Babcock, and Keith Lawrence, Nez Perce Tribe

4:00-4:30 Status of Wyoming Wolf Recovery. Mike Jimenez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

4:30–5:00 Washington State Wolf Restoration. Gerry Ring Erickson

ON YOUR OWN FOR DINNER

***After dinner, dance to the Howling Wolf Blues Band, Chico Tavern 8:30 PM***

 

Wednesday April 12th

8:00-8:30 Status of Wolf Issue in Oregon. Roy Heberger and Jerry Cordova, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Suzanne Laverty, Defenders of Wildlife.

8:30-9:00 Status of Wolf Restoration in Michigan. Jim Hammill, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

9:00-9:30 Wolves and Mountain Lions in Yellowstone. Tony Ruth, Hornocker Institute

9:30-10:00 Assessing Wolf Recovery for the Northeast U.S.: a Predator/prey Simulation Model. Peggy Struhsacker, Antioch New England Graduate School and National Wildlife Federation

10:00-10:30 Break

10:30-11:00 Grizzly and Wolf predation on Elk Calves. Bruce Smith, National Elk Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

11:00-11:30 Concerns of the Livestock Industry. Martin Davis and Margaret Soulan, Wyoming Farm Bureau

 

11:30-12:00 Law Enforcement Panel

12:00-1:00 Buffet Style Lunch

1:00-1:30 Red Wolf Recovery: Current Status and Future Challenges. Brian Kelly and Gary Henry, Red Wolf Project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

1:30-2:00 Wolves in Wonderland. Carolyn Callaghan and Tim Kaminski, Central Rockies Wolf Project

2:00–2:30 Jay Malonay

2:00-2:30 Break

2:30–5:00 Panel Discussion: Wolf Depredation/nonlethal Control Methods and Defenders Compensation Trust. Marco Musiani, Canada; Diane Boyd, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Jeff Green, John Shivik, Rick Williamson, APHIS Wildlife Services; Hank Fischer, Northern Rockies Representative, Defenders of Wildlife; Ray Coppinger, New England Farm Center.

 

7:00-9:00 Banquet Banquet Speaker Juan Carlos Blanco, Wolf Management Project Leader, Spain

Alpha Award presented by Wolf Recovery Foundation

Bob Landis, National Geographic Film

Thursday April 13th

8:30-9:00 Assessment of Wolf Predation on Livestock on the Diamond Moose Allotment in Central Idaho. John Oakleaf, University of Idaho

 

9:00-10:00 Forensics Update. Richard Stroud, Bonnie Yates, and Steve Fain, Ashland Forensics Lab, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

10:00-10:30 Break

10:30-11:00 Using Logistic Regression and Multiple Mapping Units to Model Gray Wolf Habitat in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Michael E. Houts, S. L. Egbert, D. A. Bennett, and K. P. Price.

11:00-12:00 Mission Wolf

12:00-1:00 Lunch

1:00-3:00 Paradise Valley Wolf Depredations: Tour and Discussion. Doug Smith, Wolf Project Leader, Yellowstone National Park

Friday April 14th

Field Trip to Yellowstone