Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/24/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/17-3/24, 2000

Monitoring

Core packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are generally in their normal home ranges and should be checking out denning sites in the next few weeks. 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

Two (or possibly up to 4) of the remaining uncollared wolves from the Twin Peaks pack wounded another calf and killed 2 others this week on the Broken Wing Ranch (total of 1 wounded and 4 killed). Tracks from 2 wolves were found near the last calf killed and one was captured by WS radio-collared and released on site. That sub-adult is being located via telemetry and when it joins up with other wolves in the area, it and any companions will be killed. Visual observations indicated the radioed wolf is still alone and control is being put off until, maybe next week, if it joins up with other wolves.

On the 21st, 3 sub-adult males (2 were radioed collared) from the Little Wolf pack (2 adults plus 8-9 young of the year) were traveling together and killed for depredation. The 2 radio collared wolves were the same wolves located at the site where the yearling steer was killed last week. They, along with another unmarked wolf, returned to the carcass to feed the next night. Hopefully their removal will prevent further livestock conflicts. An attempt was made to recollar the alpha male but it was unsuccessful because he slipped into the trees. No further control will occur unless other livestock are attacked. The alpha male and a sub-adult female remain radioed.

WS investigated a report of a wounded calf, possibly attacked by wolves, near Deer Lodge, MT on the 20th. The calf was bitten by what could have been wolves but no wolf sign was located. Ranchers in the area report seeing 4 wolves in what would be the Boulder pack territory. The situation is being watched now and if the opportunity presents itself a wolf will be trapped and radio-collared. When the Boulder alpha male disappeared in late fall 1999, radio contact with the pack was lost.

Research

The spring 30-day session of the Yellowstone intensive wolf predation study continuesuntil next week. The 45 radioed elk in Yellowstone National Park are being monitored by the 3 graduate students who are working on various phases of the project for their Master Degrees. Shaney Evans is working with Dr. Dave Mech, Julie Mao with Dr. Mark Boyce, and Greg Wright with Dr. Rolf Peterson.

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs gave a talk to about 120 Helena Middle School students on the 21st.

Fontaine gave a presentation to about 25 members and guests of the Society of American Foresters at a meeting in Kalispell on the 21st.

On the 9th, Fontaine gave a presentation to 20 biologists and managers from the Arid Lands National Wildlife Refuge and Department of Energy in central WA. Joe was there on a detail, helping the Refuge remove about 175 elk because of private and public land habitat damage complaints.

Dr. Dave Mech, a principle investigator on the elk study in Yellowstone National Park, gave a presentation in Gardiner, MT. Smith and Yellowstone National Park also hosted representatives and board members from the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN.

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.

Bangs will be on leave from March 25-April 2. Calls can be forwarded to Helena 406-449-5225 x206 Joe Fontaine, x207 Diane Boyd, or x219 Tom Meier.

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