Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/012/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 10/6-10/12, 2001

Monitoring

Tom Meir and volunteers Jochim Vos, and Vernon and Nancy Hawthorne are trapping near Pleasant Valley and Libby Dam in NW MT. Fresh sign and howling have been detected in both areas. Radio-collaring and trapping efforts will continue until the weather gets too cold or the big game rifle hunting season opens October 21.

The Chief Joe pack chased an elk calf into a corral in Tom Miner Basin early on the 12th. The ranch owner was concerned because it was next to the house. The Park loaned them a radio receiver and the alpha male was located nearby. Fontaine is discussing use of electric fencing, less-than-lethal munitions with the landowners who are very concerned about their horses.

See the 2000 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt00/ for a map of pack locations and home ranges.

Please report wolf sightings!! If hunters report evidence of wolves to you please pass that information along to the Service.

Control

The Absaroka pack (2 ad, 2 yr, and 3-4 pups) have killed another calf (8th so far) on a private ranch, 6 on USFS allotments and 2 on private land. Control by hazing and then trapping was unsuccessful at stopping further problems and thick cover and high winds delayed aerial gunning efforts. However, on 10/5 a black uncollared 125 lb. yearling male was removed. The alpha male will also be removed as soon as weather permits.

The Taylor Peak pack killed another calf in the Madison Valley (at least 3 now). The alpha male was located on the carcass and WS saw tracks of 6 wolves. It appears that the alpha female has still not rejoined the pack (she left over a month ago and was last located south of Virginia City, MT) and no pups were produced this year. A relocation flight immediately after the depredation revealed that Taylor Peak wolves #234 (ad male) and #238 (alpha male) were joined by 2 Chief Joseph wolves #198 (2-yr female) and #202 (yrl male). In response, 2 wolves, #238 and an uncollared adult-sized female, were removed on the 12th. These wolves were picked because they were directly involved and their removal will still leave a potential breeding pair (#234 and #198) in the group.

During a routine radio-tracking flight on the 10th, the Sheep Mountain pack (2 ad and 6 pups) was seen feeding on a calf carcass with the cow standing nearby. WS and the rancher were immediately contacted. The WS investigation confirmed the calf was killed by wolves on the FS allotment. Wolf #195, the pack’s alpha male, is the last survivor of the 3 Sheep Mtn. wolves that were involved with the WS research on aversive conditioning and then released back into the wild. One wolf accidently drowned last winter and the other was killed this spring after he was involved in a livestock depredation near Mill Creek. Radios will be put on other pack members and then #195, now the only radioed pack member, will be killed as soon as weather and wolf location permit. An attempt to dart and collar a pack member was unsuccessful on the 12th because of high winds.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

"Gray wolf restoration in the Northwestern United States"by Bangs, Fontaine, Jimenez, Meier, Niemeyer, Smith, Murphy, Guernsey, Handegard, Collinge, Krischke, Shivik, Mack, Babcock, Asher, and Domenici was published in Endangered Species Update 2001 July/August Vol. 18(4):147-152. The journal is published by the School of Natural Resources and Environment, The University of Michigan. This issue is compilation of papers selected from the Carnivores 2000 Conference that was hosted by Defenders of Wildlife in Denver, CO last November. Copies of the paper can be obtained by contacting Ed Bangs. Subscriptions to the Update can be ordered through Endangered Species Update, School Nat, Res. and Envir, Univ. Michigan, 430 E. University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1115.

October 14th-21st- is National Wolf Awareness Week. About 30 states and Governors formally recognize this event. On the 18-20th, Bangs and Smith will participate in a NWF conference, "Restoring Wolves to the Northern Forest" in NH. Carter Niemeyer, Rick Williamson, and Curt Mack will give presentations at Wolf Haven in Washington State October 20 and 21.

Susan Linner from the Service Denver Regional Office gave a presentation on the northern Rocky Mountain wolf recovery program for the CO NWF at Beaver Creek, CO. About 60 people attended the Oct 6th presentation and discussion.

Bangs was interviewed for a film documentary on the 11th. The film crew from Savanna Pictures out of Ketchum, ID has been working on the project for over a year.

 

Fontaine did a phone interview on the 12th for the Earth and Sky radio series. The story should air about January 6th.

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 ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV