Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/08/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/29-9/08, 2000

Monitoring

Denning packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are moving pups more frequently. 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.

So far there is no indication that the fires have hurt any wolves. In fact the burns will likely help wolves by providing more forage for elk and deer when the habitat regenerates. The only complicating factors will be snow depth and a persistent winter. Because of the drought and in some areas the fires, winter forage for wildlife is lower than normal. If we have a bad winter, we could expect a larger than normal winter die-off of ungulates due to starvation.

Tribal biologists collared new wolves in the Selway and Stanley packs. They continue to verify pup counts and radio collar wolves.

Good news from Glacier National Park in NW Montana, the radioed collared male has been located with other wolves (estimate 4-5) and at least 2 pups in the North Fork of the Flathead river drainage, inside of the Park.

Cooperation between Wildlife Services, the Diamond G Ranch manager Jon Robinett and the Service has resulted in a wolf being re-radio-collared in the Dunoir Valley. Diamond G Ranch manager Robinett called to report that 3 wolves had been seen circling a calf that was dying from High Altitude sickness. Jon ran the wolves off and called the Service to see if that calf, which was going to be euthanized, could be used to trap and radio-collar a wolf. WS specialist Tracy Frye went into the area and set traps near the calf’s carcass after it was euthanized. Within 2 days wolf #114, a young gray male that dispersed out of Yellowstone was captured, collared by Tracy, and released on site. It has remained in the area and is believed to have joined with the other wolf or 2 that has been using the ranch for the past year or so. A big Congratulations! and Thank You! to Jon Robinett and the Diamond G Ranch for recognizing and making that opportunity available, and to USDA Wildlife Services for letting Tracy use his expertise to help in our non-depredation related wolf monitoring effort. WY Project Leader Mike Jimenez will run the trapline for the next few days to try and radio collar another wolf.

Control

Wildlife Service confirmed that another ewe had been killed by the Stanley Basin pack in central Idaho. Wildlife Service was requested to lethally remove 1-2 wolves from the pack in an effort to stop additional livestock depredations. However, the wolves have moved about 10-15 miles away from the sheep into and inaccessible area. WS has ceased any attempts to remove the wolves but have provided the herders with a radio receiver to try and determine which wolves are killing the sheep if they go back to the area. There are 7 of the approximately 14 Stanley pack members are radio collared.

 

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

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

Attendance remains low at the reclassification meetings. There were about 35 people in Portland, OR; 25 in LaGrange, OR; 14 in Kalispell, MT; and 14 in Missoula, MT. The last informational meetings will be held in Bozeman (9/14-Windgate Inn), MT; and Casper, (9/12-Casper Events Center) WY.

On the 29th, Fontaine gave a presentation in Cascade to about 25 members of the Land Reliance. The organization consists of MDFWP biologists and managers, landowners and livestock producers and sportsmen in the area of Cascade, MT that meet to discuss environmental and management issues that relate to land use.

The Montana Wolf Council met on the 6th in Helena and will meet again September 27th in Helena. The technical committee will meet in Helena on the 18th to gather information requested by the Council and provide that to them before the next meeting.

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