Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/22/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/16-9/22, 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/likely- The Mt. Hagggin pair (relocated Twin Peaks wolves) are believed to have pups but a ground search was unsuccessful at finding them. Wolf B63 has apparently left the Wisdom area.

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 investigated a report that the Alice Creek pack killed a lamb and attacked the herding dogs. The dogs ran to the safety of the herder’s trailer and the herder was able to scare the wolves away. WS reported no wolf sign was found but will search the area for tracks next week. If sign is found trapping efforts will begin to place a collar in the pack.

A report indicated that wolves killed a calf in the Pleasant Valley area. Control will consist of continuing to trap the area in an attempt to place a radio-collar in that pack.

The Gros Ventre pack killed 1 calf and wounded another and killed 3 dogs. Apparently the pack killed the calf and left the area after having fed on it. When the pack returned they caught the producer’s dogs near the carcass and killed two dogs (Rhodesian leopard hounds). This was the second time wolves (the Teton pack killed a dog earlier in the year) killed his dogs. The Gros Ventre returned and killed a third dog. WS has captured the alpha female, a radio collared female, and an older female. The older female and radio-collared female were euthanized. The alpha female was radio-collared and released on site.

Wolves attacked another dog near the ranch house on the Diamond G Ranch but did not kill it. The dogs (Great Pyrenees) were being let out prior to being put in their kennel for the night and the attack happened within a few yards of the managers wife. The wolves killed a neighbor’s dog (Rottweiler) in their front yard a couple of nights later. The ranch manager will be issued some non-lethal ammunition after he has been trained in how to use it. The shotgun shells contain a lead filled bean bag that is designed to provide some negative reinforcement and condition them to stay away from the ranch house. We greatly appreciate the efforts of the ranch manager. WS will trap in the area beginning next week to try and trap and relocate an uncollared wolf from the area.

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 Public Hearings

Public hearings will be held at the same locations as the informational meetings to hear testimony from the public. A hearing officer will run the meetings and comments will be recorded by a court recorder. Hearings will be held 1-3PM and 6-8PM in Salt Lake City, UT on Oct. 12th; Helena, MT on Oct. 18th; Denver, CO on Oct. 26th; Spokane, WA on Oct. 17th; Everett, WA on Oct. 19th; Portland, OR on Oct. 24th; LaGrande, OR on Oct. 26; Boise, ID on Oct. 31 (Halloween); and Idaho Falls, ID on November 2.

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