Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/6/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 6/30-7/06, 2001

Monitoring

On the 29th, Frame and Meier "caught" a non-radio-collared black adult wolf in the new Fishtrap Pack (old Thompson River area) but had it pull out in front of them as they went to jabstick it. It was only caught by a couple of toes in a rubber-jawed trap. On the 30th, Frame caught and radioed a grey 2-4 year-old 89lb. male. With 2 radios now in the Fishtrap pack the traps were pulled and collaring efforts will begin in another area. Good job Paul and Tom.

Idaho tribal biologists will be investigating 23-26 potential wolf dens this summer. The Service and Park Service are monitoring about 17 potential breeding pair in the Greater Yellowstone area including a new pack near West Yellowstone started by a dispersing female #151 from the Leopold pack. Mollie’s pack was seen with 6 pups. In NW Montana the Service is investigating about 11 potential breeding pair. With an estimated 400 or so adults and yearlings and an estimated additional 200 pups born this spring the wolf population appears to be doing great. This appears to be at least the first year, possibly second year, of the 3-year count down to the Service proposing to delist wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains.

A Wyoming field crew continues to trap on the Diamond G ranch near Dubois, Wyoming. So far efforts to locate the Gros Ventre den have been unsuccessful and the old den and rendezvous site have not been used. Observations by volunteers at the Teton pack den site indicate both radioed females were attending pups and both may have breed. Blood tests after more collaring this winter will ultimately determine if that is true. Nine pups, 6 black and 3 gray were seen this week.

The Nez perce pack killed a yearling bison. The new 151 pack near West Yellowstone has at least 3 pups. The two druid females have 12 pups between them.

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 and rendezvous sites. Thanks to those who have been forwarding us reports it has helped located several potential new packs.

Control

Attempts to remove the lone gray wolf that killed 31 sheep near Humprey, ID several weeks ago is continuing. The Service authorized WS to lethally take up to two wolves.

Wolf #196 was flown repeatedly since last week so he could be lethally removed because of the calf depredation near Mill Creek, but he couldn’t be found. However, later this week he was finally located but an attempt to remove him early in the week was unsuccessful (he disappeared again). WS will attempt to remove him when aircraft again become available early next week. Efforts to place a radio-collar on other wolves, hopefully members of the Mill Creek pack, in the area are continuing.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 25th, Meier met with Forest Service personnel in the Spotted Bear area to discuss timber salvage sales, including one on top of this year’s Spotted Bear pack’s den. They agreed that the cut unit right on top of the den shouldn’t be worked with heavy machinery while the wolf pups are in the den, but otherwise logging was unaffected.

Fontaine provided rubber bullet training to several ranchers in the Ennis, MT area near where #155 has denned, on the 2nd. About a dozen people attended including WS specialist Chad Hoover and Turner Endangered Species Fund biologist Val Asher. By all accounts of those attending the training session it went well. Unfortunately a malicious rumor had been started by someone who was not at the first meeting with ranchers in that area. Even more disturbing was that the rumor was falsely spread by others who were not at the meeting and did not check the facts. The gossip alleged that the TESF biologist co-hosted the meeting and told everyone that TESF would be the one to respond if they had conflicts between wolves and livestock. This allegation was absolutely untrue. Service biologist Fontaine called and ran the meeting, the TESF biologist only attended at the Service’s direct request. TESF assists the Service on wolf-related issues in SW Montana only when specifically asked to do so by the Service. TESF fully supports all of Ms. Asher’s time, travel, and equipment so that she can provide help to resolve wolf/livestock conflicts, when requested to do so by the Service. It is entirely at the landowners decision whether they accept the offer of help or not. All livestock depredation reports are immediately forwarded to and/or handled by USDA Wildlife Services as has been the case since 1987. The Montana WS State Director did the right thing when he first heard this rumor- he called the Service and his trapper who attended to see what really happened. He was completely satisfied the rumor was untrue. If you hear some story about some wolf-related issue you are concerned about, please call to see if it is accurate before jumping to an unfair judgement of the wolf recovery program or especially before unknowingly passing along false and unfair gossip. None of us in the wolf program is anywhere close to perfect, however, we strive to be honest. If something doesn’t go right, we will be the first to admit it and try to set it straight.

The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw is supposed to run a news piece of the wolf aversive conditioning program and the Turner Endangered Species Fund’s assistance in wolf recovery, tonight Friday 7/6.

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