Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/22/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 3/08 to 3/22, 2002

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s email and web sites are back. Thanks for your patience.

Monitoring

A radio location flight (2/20) found the 5 relocated Gravelly pups still in NW MT but several miles from the town of Yaak. The relocated male and female weren’t found in the past 3 weeks. Meier and MT FW&P warden Jon Obst traveled to the Yaak Valley on the 22nd, to contact local folks and check on the location of the Yaak pups. No problems have been reported

On the 21st, 4 pups (3 males and a female) in the Teton pack were radio-collared. Another wolf was darted but lost in heavy timber. The pack of 12 now has 6 radioed members. Several attempts to place more radios in the Washakie, Gros Ventre, Taylor Peak, and Chief Joe were unsuccessful because those packs were either in closed areas (Wilderness or WY or Forest Service elk closures) or thick timber or there was bad weather. It has been a tough year for helicopter darting.

See the 2001 annual report http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt01/ for a map of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report has been prepared and should be distributed by April 1, 2002.

Please report wolf sightings!! If outdoors enthusiasts or AGENCY BIOLOGISTS report evidence of wolves to you please pass that information along to the Service. This appears to be a record year for wolf dispersal and evidence is mounting that there are several packs and pairs that have formed that do not contain radio-collared members. We find them primarily through public and agency reports- so please help!!

Control

Another llama was attacked by wolves in the Ninemile Valley. It was bitten in the hind quarter but survived. Control to remove 2 pack members has been authorized.

A cattle dog was killed on private property in the Madison Valley by the Taylor Peak pair on the 21st. Depredations on dogs are understandably the most difficult and emotional issues we deal with and our sympathies go out the owners/companions.

A lion dog was killed and eaten and another wounded by the Murphy Lake pack on the 15th. The attacks occurred near Deep Creek by Eureka, MT as the 2 hounds were chasing lions during Montana’s chase (not hunting) season.

The Sheep Mountain pack killed a calf on private land on the 18th. Control to remove 3-4 pack members has been authorized.

Research

The Yellowstone National Park winter predation study began on March 1 and will end on March 31. The 30-day study follows wolf packs every day on the ground and by aircraft [weather depending] to measure the predation rate and prey selection of wolves. This work has been conducted Nov.15-Dec.15 and March 1-30 for the past 5 years. This has been the worst winter weather on record for flying but ground crews are doing their best to keep up.

Information and education and law enforcement

February 27 a film the "Cost of Freedom" was shown at Boise State University in Idaho. The film was made by Savanna Pictures of Ketchum, ID. It was a critical look at the Service’s intensive management of wolves, including the control, capture, handling, and radio-collaring of wolves.

On the 13th and 14th, Bangs was in Cedar City, Utah to give a presentation and sit on a panel on "Ecosystem Health" for the annual meeting of the Utah Chapter of the Wildlife Society. Presentations on wildlife reintroduction and management including black-footed ferrets, prairie dogs, condors, lynx, and wolves were given.

Meier gave a talk to 25 students at Peterson Elementary School in Kalispell on the 21st.

On the 16th of January, Montana released its draft state wolf management plan for public review and comment. After seven community work sessions with four more to go Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks’ innovative scoping meetings are going well. So far, evening discussions have been held in Billings, Missoula, Glasgow, Bozeman, Gardiner, Dillion, and Great Falls. The sessions are well attended and well covered by local television, radio and newspapers. Nearly 90 participants came to Missoula, 30 in Billings, 10 in Glasgow, 130 in Bozeman, 65 in Dillion, 103 in Gardiner and 20 in Great Falls. The meetings have been defined by a welcoming open-0house atmosphere and by the civil tone of the participants who are eager to be a part of a community process where they can speak freely as FWP listens to and records every issue and point of view. FWP’s Carolyn Sime, Glenn Erickson, and Tom Palmer are coordinating the sessions with the help of FWP’s regional staff. They note that people attending the sessions have something important to say about wolf management and that the issues and concerns are being discussed with passion, yet respectful, from all sides.

FWP is working to have a wolf management plan complete and adopted by December. The effort is part of a year-long process to prepare and environmental impact statement whose proposed action is to develop and adopt a state wolf management plan to use when the wolf is delisted by the Service. 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 are being solicited in March 2002. FWP will host several additional community "scoping" meetings from 6:30pm to 9pm on. 2/26-Kalispell, Flathead Valley Comm. College; 3/27 Butte, Red Lion Inn, 3/28 Ennis, High School Library and April 1, Helena, Colonial Inn .

Fontaine gave a presentation to a group of about 20 Forest Service personnel preparing the budget for the Lolo National Forest. He did another presentation in the evening at the Ninemile Community meeting at the Ninemile Ranger District. About 20 people attended the meeting

Fontaine gave a presentation to 6 students at CR Anderson middle school on the 19th.

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.

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