Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/9/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 6/23-7/9, 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.

Very tentative pack counts for each of the recovery areas are as follows:

There is a minimum of about 16 packs or groups of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area. Early observations suggest that 16 litters were born to 13 separate groups. The 13 packs that may have pups are: Druid (3 litters), Rose (2 litters), Leopold, Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, Soda Butte, Gros Ventre, Sunlight, #9 (west Cody), #115 (Madison Valley), #152 (Gardiner), #153 (west Cody), uncollared black female (Madison Valley). Three groups without pups are: Crystal, Sheep Mtn (in captivity to be released Oct 2000), and Teton Pack (just located in Green River Area).

In northwestern Montana there is a minimum of about 9 packs or groups of wolves. Based upon movements of collared females or reliable observations, 7 have litters. The groups that probably have pups are: Graves Creek, Whitefish, Murphy Lake, Little Wolf, Ninemile, Spotted Bear, Danaher, and Boulder. South Camas did not apparently den. Wolves, that probably travel into Glacier National Park in winter, were spotted just above the border in Canada at the old Spruce Creek den. Searches for reported wolf activity continue in the Lincoln, Thompson River, and Libby areas.

In central Idaho there is a minimum of about 14 potential packs that have apparently produced pups. Pups have been confirmed in 10 of these and field work to confirm reproduction in the others is ongoing. Reproduction has been confirmed in 7 established packs (Kelly Creek, Chamberlain Basin, Jureano Mountain, Moyer Basin, Stanley Basin, Landmark, and Thunder Mountain packs) and 3 newly formed first year packs (Orphan, Wild Horse, and Big Smokey packs).

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

A wolf-like canid apparently killed 3 lambs near Kemmerer, WY where about 7,000 sheep are being grazed. Two lambs were totally consumed but examination of a 3rd nearly an intact carcass indicated wolf-like bites across the top of the back. A single set of wolf tracks was found beside the carcass. A dark wolf-like canid was seen in the general area prior to the depredations. Wildlife Services was given authority to take any single wolf-like canid in that area over the next several weeks unless a sign of a possible litter or multiple wolves is documented. No specific control action was otherwise taken unless more losses are documented. This is the same area where a wolf-hybrid killed sheep a couple of years ago.

The Stanley Basin pack killed 16-18 sheep. Three additional pack members were collared, making a total of 6 radio collared animals in the pack. The situation was resolved by the Tribe, Forest Service, and allotment holder when the sheep were moved across the highway and onto a grazing allotment less used by the Stanley pack.

A new wolf pack was discovered when members of the Thunder Mountain pack killed 7 buck sheep along the south edge of the Sawtooth National Forest. It turned out that a radioed collared male was in the area. Two additional collars were placed on pack members. No control will occur unless further depredations are documented.

 

Research

The cattle mortality study in Idaho is continuing. Some ear tag transmitters have been recovered after being pulled out of the calves’ ears, but no mortalities have been documented.

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs was part of a LA radio talk show, with a sheep producer from Idaho, and a Defenders of Wildlife representative on the 29th.

The aversive conditioning research program using dog training collars for the 4 remaining members of the Sheep Mountain pack was the subject of many email/fax complaints initiated by the Fund for Animals. A detailed letter (attached) was prepared to respond to those concerns about the humane treatment of animals and that ranchers should just accept depredations as a part of doing business in areas with large predators.

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