Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/10/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/3-8/10, 2001

Monitoring

A member of the Chief Joe pack was found dead along the side of the highway in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone Park. Its death is under investigation.

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.

Last year the Gravelly Pack in the Yellowstone area, NE of Dillon, MT contained 2 adults and at least 3 pups (this year they had 3 yearlings, in addition to their new 6 pups), so it counted as a breeding pair in 2000. This makes the known minimum breeding pair count last year 29. Finding one more 2000 breeding group will make 2001 the second year of the 30 breeding pair three-year countdown to proposing delisting.

Control

A host of volunteers in central Idaho were successful at protecting sheep over the weekend (4th). The Whitehawk pack was detected coming near the sheep and volunteers and herders began making noise. The pack, including pups, began howling and finally moved away without incident, other than some people not getting much sleep. Thanks to everyone {livestock producers and herders, Nez Perce Tribe biologists, Service, Forest Service, Wildlife Services, Defenders of Wildlife and volunteers) for an outstanding effort. Of course there is a lot of summer left but so far so good.

A calf carcass was reported as a possible wolf-kill in central Idaho. An investigation revealed it had been shot and partially butchered. The sheriff made an arrest a short time later.

Another llama was reportedly killed by wolves in the Ninemile Valley on the 8th. It was almost in the same spot as the one killed a couple of months ago. The WS trapper arrived to investigate and found a black wolf feeding on the carcass. An examination showed the llama had been killed by a wolf. That night WS shot and killed an uncollared black wolf that was feeding on the carcass. Wolf 820 from the Ninemile pack (involved in a previous horse and llama loss) was located near the carcass right after the llama was killed. He will also be removed.

On the 6th, a calf in the Copper Basin FS grazing allotment was killed by the Wildhorse pack in central Idaho. The pack has not had conflicts before. The Service, Nez Perce Tribe, and Wildlife Services attempted to capture a couple of yearling pack members on the 10th. A collared yearling female #103 was captured and relocated to the Clearwater Area in the Idaho experimental population area. Another attempt at relocating another yearling may occur next week. Cattle are being removed from the allotment soon because of the drought and overall poor forage conditions.

Two radioed wolves from Idaho (neither have been involved in previous depredations) have been located for the past couple of months in the Big Hole Valley of SW Montana. If they stay in that area we are considering moving them as a preemptive effort to reduce the potential for cattle depredations this winter when most of the elk have migrated to Idaho. As discussed last winter for another pair that ended up moving out on their own, this new pair may be relocated to Idaho, even as far away as north of I-90. As this situation develops cooperators will be contacted with specifics.

Research

Dr. Douglas Smith is taking the lead for writing up a major cooperative paper on radio-collared wolf survival and mortality rates in the northwester U.S. The paper will attempt to utilize all wolf radio-telemetry data and will hopefully be a cooperative effort between the Service, Nez Perce Tribe, National Park Service, Univ. of Idaho and Univ. of Montana.

Information and education and law enforcement

Fontaine met with representatives of the Discovery Wolf and Grizzly Bear Center in West Yellowstone, Montana on the 9th to discuss ways to improve the Center’s wolf information efforts.

Bangs will be out of the office from Aug. 15 until Sept 5th. Please contact Joe Fontaine for assistance during that time.

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