Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/10/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 11/06-11/10, 2000

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are moving throughout their homes ranges. See the 1999 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.

A young, thought to be a pup, black wolf was accidently captured in a coyote foot trap in the Taylor Fork drainage. It was released unharmed by a MDFWP warden, who reported that tracks of up to 5 other wolves were in the area. A report from Idaho indicated that a coyote trapper released 3 incidently captured wolves a couple of weeks ago. Details are being gathered.

A hunter reported seeing a gray wolf, and tracks of 2 wolves in the Mount Haggin area. A rancher reported seeing 11 wolves unsuccessfully chasing a calf in the Deerlodge area (Boulder pack).

Please report wolf sightings!! Signs were posted at several trailheads asking hunters to report wolf observations. We have copies of these signs for any agency folks willing to post them at trailheads, information centers, offices, or hunter check stations, etc. 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.

Last week we received a call from the British Columbia Wildlife Branch about wolf #102 which had been harvested by a hunter NW of Fernie, BC. Wolf #102 from the Whitefish pack was a 45 pound female pup when she was radio collared in September, 1998. In March, 00 the radio signal could not be located. Meier retrieved the collar from the Canadian warden and they determined the coordinates of where the wolf had been killed. The hunter requested some background information on the wolf and we will be sending him the capture sheet for wolf # 102. There were 7 other wolves in the pack with #102 in BC. Thanks for the assistance from the warden and the BC Wildlife Branch.

Control

Fontaine traveled to the Ninemile Valley to fine tune the radio activated light/siren device near where the Ninemile pack fed on a horse that impaled itself on irrigation pipe last week. Immediately after a young wolf was trapped at the carcass, radio-collared and released on site. The pack, including the newly radioed wolf, left the area and have been in the north end of their territory and haven’t returned to the area. The scaring device has went off numerous times, malfunction do to background noise, even though it appears that wolves have not returned to that area. The device has since been adjusted and appears to be operating normally.

 

Research

Aversive conditioning trials for the 3 Sheep Mountain wolves began again this week. Last week weather conditions prevented the calf from being transported to the pen. The shock collars have been repositioned and the TESF biologist believed the problem during the last test was because the collars were not making proper contact through the wolves’ thick winter fur. The procedure will be video taped and shared with other reporters who participated in the media tour/pool last month. Tests went well but the calf appeared to follow/chase the wolves around a little (payback is heck!).

The month-long Yellowstone National Park winter predation study starts November 15th . Volunteer training was conducted this week.

Information and education and law enforcement

During the week of November 13th several of the wolf program’s biologists will be giving papers at or attending the Carnivores 2000 Conference in Denver, CO. Fontaine will be acting recovery coordinator and can be reached at (406)449-5225 x206.

NATIONAL WOLF RECLASSIFICATION PROPOSED

The proposal can be accessed at http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf. The 120-day public comment period ends MONDAY- NOVEMBER 13th. 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

A wolf hearing was held on Oct. 24 in Portland, OR. Ninety-six people attended and 25 people spoke. The Boise, ID meeting on Halloween was attended by about 33 people and 11 testified. The informational/hearing in Orono, Maine was held on Oct 12, 153 people attended and 32 spoke. Generally most liked the NE DPS but wanted full protection under the Act. The last hearing was held in Twin Falls, ID on Nov. 2. A total of about 40 people attended and 15 spoke. Most were pro-wolf who wanted more protection for wolves in more places under the ESA.

Public comments, including all testimony will be analyzed this fall/winter and a final decision should be made and finalized by July 2001.

Fontaine gave 2 presentations to about 25 teenagers and teachers at the Alternative Youth Adventure school in Boulder on Nov. 8th.

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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