Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/23/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 6/3-6/23, 2000

Monitoring

Denning packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana beginning to move pups around and some pups are being seen about ground and at new dens/rendezvous sites. See the 1999 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.

A tracking flight west of Cody WY indicated that #9 was traveling near her suspected 2000 den site with a large gray wolf. The Sunlight Basin pack is still near their suspected den. Wolves #153 and #164 were seen near their den but #164 was limping badly from what appeared to be a severely injured front leg. Wolves in that area are being closely monitored by student volunteers from the local community college in Powell, WY. Jimenez and Special Agent Eicher are coordinating that effort. The Teton pack continues to travel widely and was last located near the Pinto Ranch on the edge of Teton National Park. The Gros Ventre pack continues to stay near their den site. Den monitoring efforts in Yellowstone park resulted in 16 pups being counted in the Druid pack.

Trapping crews had no luck on the east side of the Whitefish divide and have pulled the traps. A wolf was caught in the Boulder pack but managed to slip out of the trap. Trapping efforts will resume again the week of the 19th.

Idaho reports that 6 new collars have been placed on wolves and reproduction has been confirmed in at least 7 packs so far. Three new packs have been documented, one in the old Jureano pack territory, B-61 and B-28 just west of Cascade, and old wolf B-2 (missing for years but recently "found") and B-66 have formed a pack near Cooper Basin. Neither of the pregnant females relocated from the Whitecloud and Twinpeak packs this spring have been located despite continued telemetry searches. It is likely that they and perhaps other additional breeding pairs will be discovered this summer as field work progresses.

 

Please report wolf sightings but especially reports in localized areas or reports of wolves "barking" when people are near to help us locate any new wolf dens. Thanks to those who have been forwarding us reports it has helped located several potential new packs.

Control

On the 8th an attempt was made to dart the last Sheep Mtn wolf, which is radio collared. The other non-collared black wolf has not been observed for about 2-3 weeks and may have left the area although a wolf matching its description has been seen in Cinnibar basin and near Highway 89. The radio collared wolf escaped into dense forest before she could be darted. Another attempt to dart her was made on the 23rd. She was pushed from the timber but couldn’t be darted and was killed before she could get back into the forest. The aversive conditioning program will involve the 4 Sheep Mountain pack members, including the alpha female that are in the pen on the Flying D Ranch. Aversive conditioning is scheduled to begin mid-July. Another pen was transported to the Flying D Ranch and will be constructed soon and will allow the sample size of the study to be doubled.

A local rancher observed pups at the 2000 Chief Joseph den in Cinnibar Basin. WS, Service and YNP biologists and local ranchers attempted to locate and move the pups on the 20th but were unsuccessful. They found only fresh sign from a lone wolf or 2. A telemetry flight that afternoon located all the radioed wolves near their 1999 den, well within Yellowstone National Park. A search was made that night near the 2000 den by Boyd, volunteer Daly Sheldon and WS MT State Director Handegard. They observed a lone uncollared black male which repeatedly howled and searched the area without response (looking for his buddies). Efforts to locate pups near the 2000 den site were unsuccessful and it appears that the entire pack has moved back to their 1999 den site and out of cattle country. A telemetry flight on the 22nd supported these observations. The pilot located all 4 radios, saw 3 adults and 8 pups on top of Specimen Ridge. The move was interesting because it was 15-20 miles, over a 9,000' mountain, and apparently accomplished in less than 24hours. We just hope they stay there for a while.

On the 13th, Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves killed a 350-pound calf in Pleasant Valley. A radio collared male from the Little Wolf pack was located near the kill. Traps were set but nothing was captured. The radioed male was removed by helicopter gunning on the 16th. The male was killed because this was the second time that the Little Wolf pack has killed livestock and the male was located near the kill and continued to remain close. One yearling from the Little Wolf pack remains radioed.

The training on the use of rubber bullets, bear spray, and gun safety to be held in Helena on July 26th was postponed until (tentative) July 7 because of a scheduling conflict with the LE instructors. Agency representatives that are interested in attending should contact Ed Bangs 406-449-5225 x204 ASAP.

 

 

Research

The 4 Sheep Mtn. wolves in the Nez Perce pens were transported to the Flying D Ranch on the 8th. The research protocol is being finalized by WS researcher Dr. John Shivik and WS will initiate the aversive conditioning research program in mid-July. Material to construct another pen was transported to the Flying D Ranch.

Information and education and law enforcement

Carter Niemeyer, Doug Smith and Joe Fontaine gave presentations to the newly established Montana Wolf Council on the evening of the 13th. Niemeyer and Fontaine also attended the formal meeting and responded to questions by the Council on the 14th.

Doug Smith gave a presentation to about 150 people attending the annual conference of the Wildlife Veterinarian Association on the 7th in Jackson, Wyoming.

Jimenez gave a talk to about 130 people as part of the noon lecture series at the Draper Museum, Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody on the 13th.

Boyd gave a paper on human perceptions of wolf behavior as people become more accepting of the presence of large predators at the Annual Conference of the Society of Conservation Biology in Missoula on the 9th. Diane also led a predator/wolf tour group from the Conference in Glacier National Park early the week of the 12th.

 

Tom Meier is in the process of moving to the Kalispell area to conduct/oversee the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf management operations in northwest Montana. He will be operating out of the MT Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Regional Office. This is being done to place a highly experienced Service wolf biologist closer to wolves in that area. As soon as he is settled, we will provide his contact numbers and addresses but for now the best way to reach him is to leave a message at his Helena number 406-449-5225 x219.

Bangs attended basic and supervisor Aviation training in Bozeman on the 16th. He also briefly met that afternoon with representatives from several conservation groups headquartered in Bozeman to discuss their concepts of where the Service’s recovery program should be headed over the next 3-4 years before wolves are recovered and delisted.

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