Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/15/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/09-9/15, 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.

Breeding Pair update- the latest potential numbers of packs with pups indicate that there are probably more than 30 breeding pairs in the northern Rocky Mountains. It is still possible that 2000 could be the first year of the 3-year count down toward delisting but unlikely because the "official" count is made on December 31 and some loss of adults and pups are expected before then due to illegal mortality, agency control actions and natural causes.

The tentative counts are as follows: NW Montana- 6 yes and 4 maybe/likely- included in yes- Camas, Whitefish, Murphy Lake, Ninemile, Spotted Bear, Boulder, and maybe/likely- Graves Creek, Little Wolf, Danaher, and Alice Creek.. Little Wolf, Danaher, Boulder, and Alice Creek are uncollared packs which we will try and get radios in this fall/winter.

In the Yellowstone Experimental Area- 11 yes, 2 maybe/likely, and 3 no. Yes are- Druid, Rose, Leopold, Chief Joe, Nez Perce, Soda Butte, Gros Ventre, Sunlight Basin, Absorka (#153), #152 group, and Taylor Peaks ( #115 Group). Maybe/likely is Beartooth (#9) and Wall Creek (uncollared). The actual count of pups is about 75. Packs that didn’t breed are Crystal, Sheep Mtn. (3 males in captivity), and Teton.

In the central Idaho Experimental Area-16 yes, 1 maybe/likely. Yes are-Selway, Kelly, Chamberlin, Thunder Mtn., Landmark, Jureano, Moyer, Stanley, Orphan, Wildhorse, Big Smokey, White Cloud, Marble Mtn., Chamberlin #2 (female from the Chamberlin pack with pups but separate from the pack), Whitehawk, and B36 (relocated White Cloud female) which has traveled into the Big Hole in southwestern Montana. 1 maybe/liekly- The Mt. Hagggin pair (relocated Twin Peaks wolves) are believed to have pups and that will be determined this coming week. Wolf B63 is still in the Wisdom area.

A bow hunter reported hearing several wolves howl in the Gravelly Range in SW Montana. This is the same area where wolves and guard dogs had a confrontation and permits to shoot a wolf that was seen actually attacking livestock (cattle, sheep, horses and mules only) was issued to 2 sheep producers. Hunters are an important source of wolf observations so please ask them for help and forward any sightings to us.

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.

Jimenez reported seeing members of the Teton pack chase cattle in the Upper Gros Ventre. The wolves ran a small bunch with calves to the edge of a pond after a short chase, but the wolves immediately backed off and left the area as soon as the cows turned to defend the calves. No cattle were believed wounded or lost and the producer was notified. This fits the pattern we have observed a couple of times where wolves apparently "test" cattle just like they do wild prey. If the wolves find nothing "wrong" and the prey does not appear vulnerable, in most cases the wolves simply move off searching for more vulnerable animals. This also supports scattered observations where cattle/calves that were in poor health appeared to be of particular interest to wolves. This apparent "testing" is not evident with domestic sheep.

 

Control

Wildlife Service confirmed that 2 more sheep and 2 calves had been killed by the Stanley Basin pack in central Idaho. Wildlife Service was requested by the Service to lethally remove 1-2 wolves from the pack in an effort to stop additional livestock depredations. Traps have been set but no wolves have been removed yet.

Several wolves from an apparent uncollared pack have killed sheep on 2 occasions southeast of McCall, ID. No wolves have been controlled, in part due to the remote location of the grazing allotment. Future control may be implemented if depredations continue but at this time we are in a monitoring mode.

WS checked 3 reports of possible wolf damage near Big Sandy, MT, Stevensville, MT, and Jackson, WY. In all 3 investigations the calves’ deaths resulted from natural causes (confirmed pneumonia in 2) and not predation.

A black wolf killed 2 sheep near Pinedale, Wyoming on a public grazing allotment. The Wildlife Services specialist watched the wolf return to the kill site and called it to within 100m. Wildlife Services immediately notified the Service of the depredation. The decision was made to kill the wolf if it could be called in again, since it was in an area with many livestock and the wolf appeared to be a lone dispersing animal.

 

Correction- The collared wolf in the Dunior Valley is #147 not #114 as mistakenly reported. WY Project Leader Mike Jimenez pulled the trapline on the Diamond G Ranch this week. He left a receiver with the ranch manager to help monitor the wolf. At last location it had moved into the upper Dunoir valley.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

NATIONAL WOLF RECLASSIFICATION PROPOSED

The proposal can be accessed at http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf. There will be a 120-day public comment period that ends Nov 10th. 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 or by mail to: Content Analysis Team, Wolf Comments, 200 East Broadway, P.O. Box 7669, Room 301, Missoula, MT 59807.

National Reclassification Meetings

Attendance remained low at the reclassification meetings with the last one being held in Bozeman, MT on the 14th. Media exposure has been thorough and the reclassification effort was widely publicized by print, radio, and TV media. A summary of attendance follows: There were about 10 in Denver, CO; 8 in Grand Junction, CO; 15 in Salt Lake City, UT; 35 people in Portland, OR; 25 in LaGrange, OR; 11 in Spokane, WA; 14 in Everett, WA; 4 in Idaho Falls, ID; 4 in Helena, MT 14 in Kalispell, MT; 14 in Missoula, MT; 25 in Bozeman MT; and 8 in Casper, WY. Bangs gave a brown bag talk about wolves to the R-1 Regional Office while in Portland for the 8/29 wolf reclassification meeting, about a dozen people attended.

Public hearings will be held in Salt Lake City, UT on Oct. 12th; Helena, MT on Oct. 18th; and Denver, CO on Oct. 26th. Other Hearings will be held in October in ID, WA, and OR.

Fontaine gave a presentation in Missoula, MT on the 11th for a class on Implementation of Recovery Plans for the Service’s National Conservation Training Center. About 25 people attended the class.

Carter Niemeyer started with his new job as the Idaho Wolf Recovery Coordinator this week. He gave a wolf presentation to a meeting of the Northwest and Southwest Cattleman’s Association in Jackson, WY on the 16th. On the 15th he participated in a field trip with members in the area.

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