Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/01/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 1/25 to 2/01, 2002

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s email is shut down by a court order. While the case did not directly involve the Service, the court order disrupted distribution of the weekly reports and prevented all email communication with the Fish and Wildlife Service. We do not know when we will be back on line. We appreciate everyone would pass the weekly along in their organization by fax or email.

Monitoring

Routine winter helicopter darting operations in the Greater Yellowstone Area are still on hold waiting for the weather to improve. Helicopter darting in central Idaho (16 wolves darted earlier this winter) is done for now unless more packs make themselves easily available.

The 6 Gravelly wolf pups were located early this week. Five of the Gravelly wolves were found in the Yaak valley again, 2 were together, the rest apart. One was still in Canada.. The yearling male still hasn’t been detected. The adult female is just south of the Canadian border in the middle of northern Idaho. Local FS and others were contacted.

The S. Wyoming wolves were located on the 30th. The young radioed female from the Gros Ventre that dispersed to Pinedale with an uncollared wolf earlier this winter was seen as part of a group of 9. Jimenez suspects it was the old unradioed Gros Ventre pack hooking up with their old packmate near an elk feed ground. The Teton pack (9 black and 3 gray) is now 13, so they picked up a new uncollared member in the past month. Agency and public reports from Big Piney indicate credible sightings of 2-3 wolves.

The Service is cooperating with the Univ. of Montana, MT FW&P, and a UM wildlife student Ty Smucher to organize a volunteer effort to locate and snow track wolves. Ty was a volunteer with the very successful volunteer tracking program in Wisconsin and offered to help set up and test the potential for such a program in Montana. This type of effort could help locate packs and greatly reduce monitoring costs. Fontaine, Meier, and Asher are suppose to meet with Dr. Dan Pletscher and Ty in Missoula on the 2nd to discuss strategies and logistics.

See the 2000 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt00/ for a map of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report is being prepared and should be available by February 2002. Because DOI email is down this site is not active at the current time.

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

Control

RAG boxes are being set out in an area of central Idaho where wolf depredations have occurred in past years. The Whitehawk pack is right in the area where several producers are calving.

Lethal Take Permits may be issued beginning in February 2002. This year the Service will expand the use of shoot-on-sight lethal take permits for depredating wolves. Livestock producers on their private land in the experimental population areas who have had confirmed livestock losses caused by wolves can receive these permits, which are authorized under the experimental population rules. Producers who have had depredations in the past, and the adjacent ranches, may be issued a permit that will allow them to shoot any 1 wolf. Permits will be issued after a ranch has a recent confirmed depredation and the Service has authorized agency lethal control. After 45 days or after a wolf is taken, the permits will be suspended until additional depredations are confirmed.

The Service’s program to loan radio telemetry receivers to livestock producers who have radioed depredating wolves near their livestock is being expanded. The Service has ordered several more receivers and antennas for use this summer. The receivers allow ranchers to know when radio-collared wolves may be near their livestock, allowing them to frighten the wolves off , move their livestock, or be more alert for problems. This type of information can also help target a specific depredating wolf for removal if livestock are attacked. As part of this expanded effort the Service will be making the program more formal by having sign up sheets with conditions for receiver use and limiting the time for use of each receiver so more ranchers have the opportunity to participate in this voluntary program.

Research

Next week the Park will capture and radio-collar another 25 adult female elk as part of the ongoing research program looking into wolf/elk relationships on Yellowstone’s northern range.

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs and Smith gave presentations to about 2 dozen people at an Executive Leadership Institute, Seminar Training Program at Chico, MT on the 28th. The class is through the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University. They used Yellowstone wolf reintroduction as one of their case studies. They will also hear perspectives from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, conservation groups, a Senator’s representative, and local ranchers. A field trip will include wolf watching in Yellowstone National Park.

On the 26th, Jimenez participated in a "Predatory Animal Management Symposium" in Casper, WY. Mike was on a panel with WY G&F, Wildlife Services, Univ. of WY, and Utah State Univ. titled "Lions, bears, and wolves, where are we today and where are we headed." Over 100 people attended the Symposium.

The Wyoming Senate had a draft resolution asking the federal government to manage wolves consistent with maintaining elk population objectives, use of elk feed grounds, and to reimburse the state an estimated $1,320,000 annually for "Wyoming" elk that were killed by "U.S." wolves.

Niemeyer, Mack, and others met with Dr. Jim Tate, Special Scientific Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, in Boise, ID on the 1st to discuss the wolf recovery program.

On the evening of the 31st, Jimenez met with about 2 dozen people, including a WY Game and Fish Commissioner, WY G&F Deputy Director Wichers and several local ranchers, at Lucille’s Café in Meeteetse, WY to discuss wolves. The WY state position is that until federal funding is available for a state wolf plan and wolf management post-delisting WY will not re-start a state planning process. The new but unradioed Greybull River pack is just west of there and local people were concerned about what happens if livestock are attacked.

On the 16th, Montana released it draft state wolf management plan for public review and comment. The draft "Planning Document for Wolf Conservation and Management in Montana" and the Wolf Advisory Council’s "Report to the Governor" are available via MT FW&P’s website at: www.fwp.state.mt.us . To request copies call 406-444-2612. Public scoping comments on wolf management issues and alternatives will begin to be solicited in March 2002.

There is a great opportunity opening up with the Mexican Wolf program. The job announcement for the Mexican Wolf Field Coordinator is out. It is a GS 11/12 for in Government and 9/11/12 for non-government applicants. It will be initially stationed in Alpine, AZ. Please look at USA Jobs for details or contact Brian Kelly (505-248-6656) for details. This is a specialized job and will be highly competitive. Please refrain from calling unless you have already looked at the job advertisement (www.usajobs.opm.gov/wfjic/jobs/IZ7956.htm vacancy # FWS2-02-005 and have the minimum qualifications to be competitive for such a position. The OPM (non-government applicants) list opened this week. Thanks and good luck.

THE ANNUAL WOLF CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD IN BOISE, ID INSTEAD OF CHICO, MT THIS YEAR. THE CONF. IS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 23rd and 24th at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel 1-800-233-4611. CONTACT Joe_Fontaine@FWS.GOV. Joe Fontaine (406)449-5225 x206. Please try to attend it should be a great conference. Joe is contacting potential speakers.

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