Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/019/01

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 10/12-10/19, 2001

Monitoring

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 but it appears that only a wolf or two is present. 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 another elk calf into the corral in Tom Miner Basin early on the 13th. The manager picked up the male’s signal Friday night. On Saturday morning the ranch owner was extremely concerned because the new elk kill was even closer to the house than the one Friday morning and in the same pasture as their horses. No problems occurred but the wolves were too close for the landowners comfort. Asher from the TESF went to the ranch and trained them in less-than-lethal-munitions and did more training on the 17th. Some moths balls were also spread around outside the fence. The pack’s signal could not be located on Saturday and a flight on the 15th revealed they were back in the Park on Daly Creek.

 

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) were seen feeding on a calf carcass with the cow standing nearby. On the 13th, 10 wolves were seen about a mile from where the calf had been killed. WS put radios on a male pup and a young (pup or yearling) female and then wolf #195, the alpha male, was shot and killed.

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 comprised 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.

On the 15th, Bangs and Handegard (WS) met with Randy Vogel, a representative of Congressman Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), several (8) livestock producers, and Turner Endangered Species Fund biologists Asher and Phillips. The meeting was held at the TESF office in Bozeman and the issue of missing livestock, wolf locations, agency control, permits for landowners to shoot depredating wolves, potential effects of wolf predation on big game, and wild rumors were discussed. It appeared that several "issues" were either wild rumors or easy to correct (24 hr. trap check in experimental pop. areas) once folks simply discussed those concerns. Other issues remained very controversial (missing livestock) and will be much more difficult to resolve.

On the 17th, Bangs, Fontaine, and Smith attended the last meeting of the Montana Wolf Advisory Committee to review the final draft of the state wolf management plan. The meeting was held in Helena and went very well. The Montana state plan will now be prepared for public review this winter. It should be finalized in mid 2002.

Bangs received a beautiful plaque and certificate from Utah State University as a Professional Achievement Award from the College of Natural Resources and Utah State University. The honor is deeply appreciated. Thanks.

 

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 ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV