Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/13/00

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 7/06-7/13, 2001

Monitoring

Idaho tribal biologists will be investigating about 24 potential wolf dens this summer. To date the Tribe has investigated 18. So far 54 pups have been documented in 12 of those packs, and 6 packs (mainly new pairs) did not seem to have pups. The old naturally dispersing male that formed the Kelly Creek pack died this past winter at the age of 13, one of the oldest wild wolves yet documented. He is suspected to have died of natural causes. He had a very successful life as alpha and successfully raised litters every year from 1996 to 2000. The Service and Park Service are monitoring about 17 potential dens in the Greater Yellowstone area including a new pack near West Yellowstone started by a dispersing female #151 from the Leopold pack. In northwestern Montana the Service is checking out about 13 potential dens and radio-collaring and trapping efforts are continuing. With an estimated 400 or so adults and yearlings and as many as an additional 200 pups born this spring, the wolf population appears to be doing well. 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. This is a true cooperative effort with Wildlife Services, volunteers, and the Service all helping to set and check traps for radio-collaring purposes. On the 6th they caught an 85lb female that had lactated. She was in great shape and was radio-collared and released on-site. Trapping will continue in an effort to get one more radio collar in the pack. The Gros Ventre pack may have not denned this year. They continue to be occasionally observed but the 2000 den and rendezvous sites have not been used this year. There have been several observations of a lone wolf in sheep near Kemmerer, WY. No depredations have occurred but herders have shot near it and driven it away from sheep a couple of times.

The Service crew is trapping for the Little Wolf pack in northwestern Montana. Pups were heard howling this week so hopefully new collars can be put on some of the adults soon. The Graves Creek pack was chasing cattle and the Service started trapping the area to get another collar in the pack and possibly push them out of that immediate area before something more serious occurs. On the 13th, a 70lb. yearling female was collared and released.

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 ongoing but not a high priority. The Service authorized WS to lethally take up to two wolves.

Wolf #196 was flown repeatedly the past several weeks so he could be lethally removed because of the calf depredation earlier this year near Mill Creek. However, he has been hanging out in the upper Mill Creek area that is heavily timbered and rugged terrain. WS will remove him when the opportunity presents itself. 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

Bangs, Asher, and nearly 20 other people representing federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and livestock producers participated in a workshop on evaluating compensation programs for predator-caused property damage on the 11th. The workshop "Wolf and grizzly bear compensation trusts evaluation study" was held at the University of Montana in Missoula on the 11th. The study is a cooperative program involving many private and federal agencies. The first phase of the program was drafting a comprehensive overview of compensation programs for wildlife damage throughout the world. The second phase will compare government agency and private compensation programs with the purpose evaluating and improving their effectiveness.

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