Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/15/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/08 to 2/15, 2002

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’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 us. We do not know when we will be back on line but it will likely be months. We would appreciate it if everyone would pass the weekly along in their organization by fax or email. Search Yellowstone Wolf, Ralph Maughan.

Monitoring

A radio location flight found the 5 relocated Gravelly pups in the Yaak valley of NW MT still (group of 4+1). The other pup is still 25 miles north into Canada. The relocated Gravelly alpha female is still in WA state. She was located on a fresh deer kill near Metaline Falls, WA on the 13th. The Gravelly yearling male has still not been located. Local contacts were made.

Meier found the relocated alpha female from the former Boulder pack (released last spring) and she was with another wolf in Brown’s Meadow. A former Boulder relocated female pup (now yearling) was with another wolf in the Thompson River area. We have had several reports of a pair of wolves, one with a collar, north of Clearwater Junction and south of Seeley Lake, NW Montana. An intensive telemetry search didn’t turn up any of our missing radioed animals so we suspect it is a wolf with a non-functioning collar. Four Spotted Bear wolves were seen last week indicating the pair (from a December 1999 relocation) successfully raised 2 pups in 2001. Although sample sizes are still small, it appears that relocation after holding wolves in a large pen for several months have greatly improved the success of problem wolf relocations. Still with the wolf population above recovery levels there will be few relocations in the future, except in extenuating circumstances such as occurred this year with a female with newborn pups.

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 trappers, hunters, outdoors enthusiasts or AGENCY BIOLOGISTS report evidence of wolves to you please pass that information along to the Service.

Control

Radio Activated Guards (RAG boxes) have been deployed in the Stanley/Challis area of central Idaho. Wildlife Services and WS research are conducting a more in-depth analysis of their effectiveness at preventing livestock depredations. Helicopter darting this winter put radios on a majority of the wolves in the 3 main problem packs in this area. Radios, more intensive field work, and the RAG boxes should help determine if they help prevent wolf-caused losses or can be used to identify (and remove) individual problem wolves.

Lethal Take Permits to private landowners can be issued beginning in February 2002. This year the Service will expand the use of the voluntary shoot-on-sight lethal take permits for chronic depredating wolves. Over the past 2 years 5 permits have been issued, all in Wyoming, but no wolves were taken. This year all livestock producers on their private land in the experimental population areas who have had confirmed livestock losses caused by wolves in previous years and have confirmed problems again this year, can receive these permits. These types of permits are authorized under the experimental population rules. Producers who have had depredations in the past, and immediately adjacent ranches, may be issued a permit that will allow one wolf to be shot. Permits can be issued after a ranch has a recent confirmed depredation by Wildlife Services and the Service has authorized agency lethal control. After 45 days or after a wolf is taken, the permits are suspended until additional depredations are confirmed. Only a few ranches have had chronic wolf problems on their private land and will qualify for the shoot-on-sight permits this year. By enlisting the assistance of local landowners the Service hopes to more effectively target the individual problem wolves that have been involved in chronic depredation situations. Contacts were made with various agencies in all three states to better coordinate efforts.

On February 1, 2002 a lion hound was killed by wolves from the Thunder Mountain (9 wolves) pack. It was on a lion track with a younger dog and couldn’t be retrieved that night. Next morning a young female dog was alive on the road but the 2 yr-old male was tracked and found dead.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 12th, Fontaine met with a rancher in Sula, MT (Idaho Ex. Pop. area) and issued him a permit to use less-than-lethal munitions. The 4th generation rancher has seen a pair of wolves around his place and is calving.

On the afternoon of the 17th, Bangs, Asher (TESF), Carolyn Sime and other representatives from MT FW&P, and graduate students from Montana State University met with local area ranchers in the Madison Valley to discuss wolves, elk, and livestock. About 70 people attended.

A volunteer group of students at Utah State University has prepared a draft document "Wolves in Utah: an analysis of potential impacts and recommendations for management." The report will be presented at several conferences this winter and spring and should be posted at www.utahwolves.org in the next couple of weeks. They are searching for possible funding sources to independently publish the manuscript. Contact Dr. Robert Schmidt at USU, (435)797-2459 or fishnwlf@cc.usu.edu .

On the 16th of January, Montana released its 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.

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