Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/28/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/21-8/28, 2000

Monitoring

Monitoring flights for Montana and Idaho have been limited due to intense smoke from the fires and increased air traffic for fire suppression. Most fieldwork has been postponed due to extreme fire danger. At least 27 counties in western Montana have been closed to use of public lands, state and Federal. See the 1999 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.

Firefighters on the18,000 acre Monture Creek fire saw 2 wolves near the fire line watching ongoing activities. One of the wolves was radio collared with an apparently non-functioning collar. Firefighters on the fire near Bunker Creek also indicated that there were 3 radio collared wolves watching the fire vehicles going up and down Bunker Creek Rd. The 3 wolves are members of the Spotted Bear pack. Normally the road is closed year round but was opened to suppress the fire.

Please report wolf sightings but especially reports in localized areas or reports of wolves Abarking@ 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

A wolf from the Spotted Bear pack recently harassed horses at nearby resort causing them to break through their electric fence. No damage was done. A wolf was also seen in the Spotted Bear Ranger Station compound and could possibly be the same wolf. Meier conducted a monitoring flight and discovered a radio collared yearling close to the area but there was no indication that it was the wolf frequenting the sites. He will try to do some aversive conditioning if the opportunity arises.

The caretaker for a Ninemile ranch reported that the Ninemile pack was within 20 yards of the house during the evenings of August 23rd and 24th. He was able to scare the wolves away only a short distance from the house. He counted 8 adult wolves and 5 pups. The house was built on the original Ninemile pack=s rendezvous site and the pack visits the area from time to time. He has several small children and was worried about their safety. There have been no other incidents at this time.

The draft of the Research Protocol for less-than-lethal munitions (LTLM) was completed this week. The Service’s goal is to use LTLM to haze/aversively condition nuisance wolves from undesirable situations before the wolves become chronic offenders. This may reduce the need to control wolves in some situations.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Personnel

Dr. Diane Boyd will no longer be with the wolf recovery program because she will be the new Executive Director of the Teller Wildlife Refuge near Corvallis, MT. She is looking forward to the new challenges and we wish her good luck with her new job.

Wyoming Wolf Project Leader Mike Jimenez received a special achievement award from the Service for his efforts at promoting working relationships among other agencies and the public to advance wolf recovery and management in Wyoming.

A farewell party was held for Carter Niemeyer (who has accepted the position as Idaho Wolf Recovery Coordinator and who will be moving to Boise in early September) and Diane Boyd who is leaving the Service to take a position in the private sector. Carter and Diane’s efforts on behalf of wolf restoration have made a difference and are appreciated.

 

Information and education and law enforcement

The confirmed wolf attacks on humans in Alaska and on Vancouver Island this year has generated concern among wolf managers, biologists, and the public. It appears that habituation by humans feeding wolves was a prime component in these recent problems. A group of biologists has initiated a wolf working group to investigate and address these concerns by 1) compiling a database on wolf-human encounters, and 2) drafting a wolf safety brochure similar in scope to the excellent informational pamphlets published by MT Dep. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks for bears and mountain lions. If you have information to offer this wolf working group please address email to: dianeboyd99@hotmail.com.

 

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. A meeting in Twin Falls, Idaho was attended by 4 people.

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