Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/21/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/11-8/21, 2000

Monitoring

Monitoring flights for Montana and Idaho have been curtailed due to intense smoke from the fires and increased air traffic for fire suppression. Yellowstone is still conducting monitoring flights but have recently been limited due to smoke and fire fighting activity. Most field work has been postponed due to extremely high fire danger.

The Rose Creek pack and the Leopold pack are in their normal home range. Wolf #18F and #156 F of the Rose Creek pack appear to be the females with pups and # 156 recently dropped her radio collar. Wolf # 152, in a separate area, appears to have 3 pups with her. The Nez Perce pack is in Alum Creek and the Chief Joseph pack is in new territory in the Sphinx Creek drainage in the Madison Range. The Soda Butte pack has 7 pups and is still at the den site in the Yellowstone River Delta. The Crystal pack was not located during the last flight. Five pups and 3 adults were observed in the Whitefish pack in NW Montana.

See the 1999 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.

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. When we are this close to 30 breeding pair, each wolf pack becomes very important.

Control

WS looked at a lamb near the town of Lincoln, MT that was attacked and bitten on the neck. There was not enough evidence to determine what attacked the lamb but was thought to be a wolf and that the guard dogs prevented the wolf from killing the lamb. The lamb is still alive and being doctored by the herders. WS also investigated the death of a cow near the same area. It appears that the cow died of natural causes and was being scavenged. There was no sign of any struggle and the cow died in a small stream. WS was unable to do a necropsy because of the cows deteriorated condition. It is very important for producers to contact WS as quickly as possible if they suspect that an animal has been attacked and killed by a predator. With hot conditions an animal can decompose very quickly leaving very little for WS to investigate.

On August 18, WS investigated a calf that was killed in the Bass Creek area. It was determined to have been killed by coyotes. A small group of wolves was seen in that area this spring but no observations have been reported since June.

A dog was recently killed by wolves in the Washakie pack territory on the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, WY. The rancher said that 2 gray wolves and 1 black wolf were in the area when the dog was killed. In a separate incident the Gros Ventre pack attacked and injured a dog in the Gros Ventre River drainage. The dog was injured but is doing fine.

Research

Wildfires caused all the cattle on the Diamond Moose Allotment to be removed. This effectively terminated the research on causes of cattle mortality on remote Forest Service allotments near Salmon, ID.

Information and education and law enforcement

Dr. Doug Smith gave a presentation to about 20 biologists in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories during his canoeing vacation in that area in early August.

NATIONAL WOLF RECLASSIFICATION PROPOSED

The Service announced a proposal to change the status of the gray wolf throughout most the lower 48 states. The gray wolf is currently listed as endangered everywhere but Minnesota and within the experimental population areas in MT, ID, WY and AZ, NM. The proposal will recommend keeping the experimental population areas as they are, downlisting the wolf to threatened status (where they will be managed with more flexible regulations than is allowed under endangered status) throughout most of their current or potential range, and removing the gray from the endangered species list where their presence will be unlikely (30 states). The proposed rules for managing wolves listed as threatened in the NW U.S. are discussed in detail in the proposal. They are very similar to what is currently allowed in the Yellowstone and central Idaho experimental population areas. The proposal can be accessed at http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf. There will be a 120-day public comment period. Anyone wanting to be placed on the Service’s mailing list should write to US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gray Wolf Review, 1 Federal Dr., Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056, use the graywolfmail@fws.gov email address, or phone 612-713-7337. A final decision is likely in July 2001. All comments on the proposal should be sent to graywolfcomments@fws.gov

National Reclassification Meetings

Public meetings on the wolf reclassification proposal were lightly attended. In Denver 10 people attended; in Grand Junction 8 people attended; in Salt Lake City 15 people attended; in Everett, WA 14 people attended; in Spokane 11 people attended. Reports from the Midwest also indicated the wolf meetings were poorly attended.

Upcoming meetings (1-3PM and 6-8PM) will be held in Helena (8/31-Cavanaughs Colonial Inn-Best Western); Kalispell (9/6-West Coast Inn), Missoula (9/7-Best Western Grant Creek Inn), and Bozeman (9/14-Windgate Inn), MT; and Casper, (9/12-Casper Events Center) WY; Idaho Falls (8/22-West Coast Idaho Falls Hotel), and Boise (8/24-The Grove Hotel), ID; Portland (8/29-Shilo Inn Portland Airport) and LaGrange (8/31-Blue Mountain Conference Center), OR. The same slide presentation will be given every half-hour. Questions will be answered but oral public comment will not be recorded. Hearings (oral comment recorded) on the proposal, which will be fewer in number, will be scheduled in October. Public comments can be submitted by mail, email, or during hearings and all comments will be incorporated into the final decision.

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