Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/13/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/6-4-13, 2001

Monitoring

The alpha female of the Druid pack reportedly denned April 4 and several other females are going into dens. The Taylor Peak female was laying by what look to be a freshly excavated den on the 7th. The Washakie wolf was located by the old den on the 9th. Packs in the Sunlight Basin are also near last year’s dens. Flights are being conducted to monitor and locate packs that have apparently denned. This year seems a little earlier than past years but maybe the wolves are just adjusting to being farther south. The average den date for NW MT was around April 21 but it appears that most will have denned prior to that date this year..

An attempt to capture members of the Washakie pack was unsuccessful on the 11th. Only the one radioed wolf was located and only tracks of one wolf were seen near the old suspected 1998 den site. Helicopter capture efforts in WY have ended for this spring unless special circumstances arise. This spring new radios were put in Taylor Peak pack (2, including 1 GPS), Teton pack (2), and Sunlight pack (2).

Northwest Montana wolves are being more intensively monitored during the denning season and after the release of 5 wolves in Kootenai National Forest. Volunteers Terrence McClelland, Kerry Healy, and Therese Hartman are monitoring wolves in and around Glacier National Park. On Friday April 6, a mortality signal was received from a male Whitefish Pack wolf (#251) in the North Fork of the Flathead River valley. The carcass was retrieved by agent Branzell and biologist Meier along with NPS ranger Scott Emmerich on April 7. MT FWP warden Lee Anderson also assisted. The cause of death is under investigation.

The 5 recently released (3/28) Boulder wolves had regrouped (the male separated initially) and had stayed a few miles north of their release site along the west shore of Koocanusa Res. until the 10th. Now, the male was by himself again and the 4 females had moved north and were a mile into Canada and about a mile from the west side of the Koocanusa Res. The "East Kootenai" pack containing a yearling female wolf originally from the Graves Creek Pack, was also located on the West side of Lake Koocanusa in Canada some 21 km north of the border.

Please report wolf sightings!! Thanks to those who have been forwarding us reports it has helped located several potential new packs. When we are this close to reaching the 30 breeding pair recovery goal, each wolf pack becomes very important.

Control

On the morning of the 6th, a rancher in the Paradise Valley called about dead calf in his correl. WS confirmed it was a wolf kill. Turner ESF biologists located the entire Chief Joe pack just about the ranch. Bangs flew on the 7th, and the pack was still there. On the morning of the 8th, TESF biologist Bradley found the Chief Joe trying to get a newborn calf from a very upset cow in Tom Miner Basin. She and the rancher drove the wolves off and the calf was apparently unharmed. The cow had broken out of a fenced pasture at night to apparently give birth in a more remote location. Discussions are being held on what to do with this pack of about 10 wolves. Right now we are monitoring the situation and trying to harass the pack as much as possible so it does not den in the Paradise Valley area. Chief Joe did move back into the Park on the 10th and all the radioed pack members were still by their old den site there on the 13th.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

CORRECTION OF ERROR- The Annual Alpha Awards received by Deb Guernsey and Dr. Doug Smith for their outstanding work in the Yellowstone area were given by the WOLF RECOVERY FOUNDATION, not the Wolf Education and Research Center. Sorry and again- Congratulations to Deb and Doug!!

The US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a news release that confirmed illegal poisoning as the cause of death of 2 Idaho gray wolves. Necropsies confirmed that Idaho wolves #37 (found on Salmon-Challis National Forest) and B-96 (found about 20 miles north of Fairfield, ID and had also been shot) were killed by baits poisoned with Compound 1080. Possibly 2 other wolves from the Moyer Basin may have also been poisoned. Compound 1080 is a highly toxic substance that is illegal to possess. Service Special Agent Paul Weyland cautioned anyone in the out of doors "If you see a carcass, pile of meat, or pile dead birds or smaller mammals, please contact a law enforcement office immediately. We are very concerned for the safety of dogs and children, as well as wildlife that may be harmed by this illegal practice." FWS Service agents can be contacted at (208)378-5333 [Boise, ID], (208)523-0855 [Idaho Falls, ID], (307)261-6365 [Lander, WY], (406)582-0336 [Bozeman, MT] or (406)329-3000 [Missoula, MT].

On April 9, Meier attended the Spring 2001 Montana FWP Region 1 Wildlife Program Meeting at Ant Flat Ranger Station. The meeting included about 30 representatives of MTFWP, USFWS, USFS, and British Columbia Ministry of Environment. The semi-annual meeting helps to coordinate wildlife and natural resource issues along the Canadian/US border.

On the 13th, Bangs met with Fred King, manager of the state’s Wall Creek Game Management area among other wildlife management areas, Forest Service managers, and talked with Dr. Irby’s Montana State University graduate level wildlife management class to discuss resource issues in the Madison Valley.

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. The 2000 annual report was completed. It will be mailed beginning next week and should also be available at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt00/ later in the week.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV