Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/10/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 8/25-9/10, 2001

Monitoring

Thirty breeding pair recovery goal was met in 2000. The Nez Perce Tribe confirmed that the Gold Creek pack, 10-15 miles south of McCall, ID contains at least 2 yearlings. A yearling and an adult were just collared in the pack and another yearling was just observed. Gold Creek counts as another confirmed breeding pair in 2000. This means that in 2000 there were 30 breeding pairs of wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, making it the first year of the 3-year count down toward achieving the 30 breeding pair recovery . This year 2001, will be the second year of the three-year count down to meeting the delisting criteria of 30 breeding pairs for 3 successive years. If the wolf population remains at or above 30 breeding pair in 2001 and 2002- the recovery goal will be met December 31, 2002. The delisting process, including extensive public involvement, could be proposed in early 2003, assuming state wolf conservation plans are in place.

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.

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. Efforts are still being made to remove 820 but none have been successful yet.

Two calves were reportedly killed by the Absaroka pack east of YNP. WS investigated and confirmed the losses the week of August 20th. WS confirmed that they have killed two more calves and a probable on two other calves. A yearling was collared and released in an attempt to displace the wolves but to no avail. The wolves were also harassed with cracker shells and chased but the calves were killed despite the effort being made to discourage them. It appears from radio collar locations that the alphas may not have been involved in the depredation and were killed by one or all of the 3 yearling wolves with the pack. The Service has requested that WS lethally remove one of the yearlings if further depredations occur. A special thanks to WY WS specialist Marshal Robin who quickly caught, radio-collared and released a member of the Absaroka pack that was involved in those depredations. Great job Marshal!!

On the 5th, a black wolf was seen killing 2 ewes on a public grazing allotment in the Gravelly Range south of Ennis, MT (YNP Ex. Pop. Area). The herder went for his gun but when he returned the wolf was gone. That night another wolf apparently joined the first and 3 ewes and a lamb was killed. WS confirmed the depredations on the 9th- it took a few days to get word out from the remote camp. It is suspected that the Freezeout pack was involved and a flight is being put up to confirmed their location. The herder reported that the first wolf did not have a radio-collar so it is possible it was the uncollared pair of yearlings that had earlier attacked sheep just southeast of Dillon, MT. WS was requested to shoot any uncollared wolves seen in these sheep and the herder already has a permit to shoot any wolves seen attacking livestock on the allotment. Additional control may be required if more sheep are attacked or if monitoring indicates a known radio pack has localized near the sheep band. On the 10th, a black wolf was reported in the sheep again but the herder drove it off.

Research

Dr. Smith attended a Bozeman, MT meeting with Montana State University researchers, and Montan Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists regarding the wolf/ungulate research in the Gallatin and Madison Valleys in late August.

Information and education and law enforcement

Fontaine gave a presentation at Wildlife Service’s annual meeting in Montana. About 30 WS trappers and administrators, along with representatives of Montana Stockgrowers and Woolgrowers, Department of Livestock and MDFWP wardens were in attendance.

Doug Smith gave talk to about 20 people at the Silvertip ranch (just north of Yellowstone Park) on the 5th.

The NBC Nightly News TV story on aversive conditioning of wolves ran on Sunday, Sept. 9th. It highlighted the non-lethal methods (RAG boxes, cracker shells, bean bag rounds, and dog training collar research) that are being used to try and resolve wolf livestock conflict in Montana.

Portions of interviews with Bangs, Asher and Phillips were used.

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

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