Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/24/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/11-8/24, 2001

Monitoring

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.

All wolf packs appear to be in their normal home ranges. Very little movement and activity this time of year with the packs localized around the rendezvous sites.

A grizzly cub was found dead in the Druid Peak pack territory and is believed to have been killed by the pack but couldn’t be confirmed.

On July 13th, Holyan with the Nez Perce tribe, captured an 87-pound yearling male and a pup from the Moyer pack. The yearling male was collared and released on site. The pup was too small to collar and was released.

NW Montana appears to have gained two additional packs just north of the Idaho border in the Fish Crk drainage west of Missoula. The Fish Crk pack, B79, 2-3adults and 2-3 pups have established a territory just north of the Kelly Crk pack. Adjacent to the Fish Crk pack is the newly established pack consisting of B81, an adult male and 1 black pup. That brings the total number of packs or pairs in NW Montana to 14. However, there has been little success in finding the Little Wolf pack, Whitefish-1 pup and Murphy Lake-no pups. Efforts are still being made to count the pups in the Boulder, Danaher, and Gates Park packs. Recent observations indicate that the South Camas pack has at least 3 pups.

A mortality signal from wolf 280 was located on the 3rd near Avon in NW Montana. Fontaine went in on the 7th and retrieved the collar which appeared to have slipped off the wolf. The collar was on a yearling female that had been relocated to Parsnip Creek on the west side of Koocanusa along with 4 other wolves from the Boulder pack. The collar was found approximately 6 miles from the Boulder pack territory, 185 air miles from the relocation site. She is probably back with the pack.

A cooperative effort was made by agency personnel and a livestock producer to locate and radio collar a member of the Gros Ventre pack. A livestock producer in the Gros Ventre area in Wyoming informed Jimenez of possible wolves in the area. A search was conducted on the 12th with the help of Forest Service personnel from the Black Rock Ranger Station. Wolf tracks were found and Nelson from WS initiated a trapping effort. On the 13th, a black yearling female from the Gros Ventre pack was radio collared and released on site. The wolf would not have been captured without everyone’s help. Great Job!!!!!

Control

A llama was 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. 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. WS attempted to remove 820 on the 17th but he escaped into thick cover. Another effort will be made next week.

On the 15th, Temple and Bradly with TESF captured an 89-pound 2-3 year-old male in the Taylor Peak pack. The male was radio collared and released on site. Trapping was conducted in an effort to keep the pack from going near ranch buildings and a small band (20 head) of sheep. On the 2nd, members of the Taylor Peak pack killed 2 sheep. A predator proof fence has now been completed and should keep the wolves away from the sheep.

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. Recently another pair of wolves was also located on the north end of the Big Hole valley. In an attempt to prevent possible livestock depredations when the prey base migrates from the valley this winter two gray wolf pairs, B80 and an uncollared gray male, B63 and 100, were successfully relocated to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in north central Idaho. The August 18-19 effort was completed by a multi-agency team consisting of Patton, Nez Perce Tribe, Williamson and McDougal, USDA Wildlife Services, Fontaine and Chavez, Service, Stradley, Belgrade Flying Service and Brown, Idaho Helicopters. Thanks for doing a great job everyone!!!

On the 19th, Chavez met with a sheep producer in the Gravelly Range, just west of west Yellowstone, and provided rubber bullet training. The producers were also provided with a receiver to warn them if the Freezeout pack came around the bands of sheep. This was done to try and prevent any depredation by the wolves. The pack has a rendezvous site about 3 miles from the nearest sheep band which is on Forest Service allotments. There have been no problems so far. Each sheep band is protected by guard dogs and watched by a herder.

 

Two calves were reportedly killed by the Absaroka pack east of YNP. WS investigated and confirmed the losses. It appears from radio collar locations that the alphas may not have been involved in the depredation but could have been done by one or all of the 3 yearling wolves with the pack. Trapping is ongoing to radio collar and release on site any wolves that are captured

Three ewes were recently killed near Pinedale, WY by a radio collared wolf believed to be by itself. This is the third time that this wolf has preyed on sheep. The herder has tried to chase it away by firing shots. The wolf runs just out of range and stays there. It has also been socializing with the guard dogs. It will be lethally removed by WS when possible.

Research

Jennifer Sands, MSU, Bozeman graduate student, defended her masters thesis on the 22nd. Her thesis is on Stress Hormone Levels in Gray Wolf Scat in Yellowstone National Park. Congratulations Jennifer!!!

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 14th, Senator Mike Crapo, Idaho, hosted a meeting in Salmon, Idaho to take public testimony about the future of a nearly recovered wolf population in the northern Rockies, which may eventually be managed by the states. Approximately 100 people attended the meeting. Giving short statements about the de-listing process, and later listening to the testimony, were Ed Bangs of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dr. Jim Tate, science advisor to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, and Greg Schildwachter, advisor to the governor's Office of Species Conservation. About 20 agency people met with the Senator prior to the public meeting.

Niemeyer and Smith(age before beauty?) gave a presentation to about 20 people at the Defenders of Wildlife class in the Lamar Valley, YNP, on the 18th and 21st.

On August 21, Meier gave a talk to about 12 students from the Montana Academy, at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge.

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

Niemeyer will be out of the office on annual leave until September 7th.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf in addition to the regular distribution.

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