Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/19/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/12 to 5/03, 2002

Monitoring

See http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualreports.htm for maps of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report is available and we should begin mail distribution around April 20th 2002.

Wolves should be denning. Monitoring flights will be conducted to determine the number and location of dens.

In Idaho, Jureano Mountain, Landmark, and possibly Gold Fork, Wildhorse, and B93 and B97 are now suspected to be denning. Preparation for summer field work is in full swing. Tribal field crews, with assistance from Wildlife Services and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be documenting the reproductive status of known wolf packs across the state starting in mid May. In addition, program staff will also be documenting presence of un-collared packs and trapping and collaring additional wolves.

In Montana, It appears that Taylor Peak, Fish Creek, Ninemile and Castle Rock packs have localized and possibly denned

On the 16th, Wildlife Service caught and released a gray male wolf just north of Avon, MT. There have been several sightings in the area and several wolves were using a bone yard so WS set traps in the area to get a radio in the pack. The same night the wolf was caught, a neighbor reported seeing wolves and having some cattle approached by wolves. The wolf was located several times since its capture and was last located at what is believed to be the Castle Rock’s den site. It is not known when this male wolf arrived in the area. The site of the depredation was outside the normal home range of the Castle Rock pack. Thanks for a job well done WS!

Please report wolf sightings in MONTANA, IDAHO, OR WYOMING!! 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

Two calf carcasses were investigated by Wildlife Services as potential wolf kills in the Riggins, ID area. Neither was confirmed, however, wolf activity has been documented in the area. Program personnel continue to work closely with Riggins area producers to minimize the potential for wolf-caused livestock losses.

On the 16th three sheep were confirmed killed on private property and a llama was attacked by wolves on another private pasture in the Ninemile drainage. Wildlife Services set traps at the sheep carcasses and a gray female was caught and euthanized on the 17th. There have been no additional problems since then. It appears that the pack has localized and probably denned.

On the 25th, WS confirmed that wolves had killed a calf northwest of Wisdom in southwest Montana. Wolf B100 was thought to be in the area but it was not known if she had denned or not. An effort is being made to radio collar and release a wolf back on site to deter any additional depredations and determine the status of the pack. While setting the traps another calf was found that had been killed by the wolves. An additional calf that had died of natural causes was also consumed. B100 was later located near the area and is thought to have denned. A flight will be taken as weather permits to try to confirm denning. The wolves have not returned to the vicinity of the depredation.

Research

Fontaine, and returning seasonal biologist Paul Frame visited Paradise Valley on the 16th to check on the RAG box and the old Chief Joseph den. They determined that the old den holes were still filled in. On the 2nd Asher rechecked the dens and discovered that one had been partially reexcavated. The hole was refilled.

Information and education and law enforcement

The 14th Annual North America Interagency Wolf Conference was held April 22-24th in Boise, Idaho. The meeting had a number of new participants, especially from Oregon and Washington. A field trip was taken to the Soulen sheep ranch with a RAG box demonstration by Williamson and Niemeyer. Val Asher received the Alpha Award from the Wolf Recovery Foundation. Congratulations Val!!! A big thanks to all the speakers and to Margaret Soulen for the opportunity to see your sheep operation and discuss issues. A big thanks to Susan Laverty, Margo Johnson and all the other that helped put on another excellent conference.

On April 10, Wyoming project leader Jimenez gave a presentation at the annual Wyoming USDA Wildlife Services Conference.

PBS will show the film "on Nature’s Terms" on Earth Day. The film depicts a lot of issues but shows various ways livestock producers are living with large predators and minimizing damage through preventative measures.

On the 19th Fontaine gave a presentation to about 25 Helena High School Social Studies Students.

On the evening of the 26th Fontaine gave an update on the state of wolf affairs in the Ninemile Valley to more than 100 local residents. Residents were feeling frustrated over not being able to deal with the wolves due to Endangered Species Act constraints. Most residents wanted the ability to protect their property and harass the wolf when it came near. Trapping to place additional radio collars in the pack has started. There is only one radio collar in the pack at this time.

Fontaine gave a presentation to about 15 Forest Service employees at the Whitehall Ranger Station.

Meier gave a presentation to about 50 people at the Montana Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society annual meeting in Great Falls on May 1st and 2nd.

The necropsy results on the Fishtrap (northwest Montana) alpha male indicated that death was due to natural causes. Evidently a lung had been punctured by an antler or a sharp stick.

Wolf #96, disperser from the Ninemile pack, was recently found dead near Seeley Lake, Montana (NWMT). The case is currently under investigation.

One of the Gravely Pack wolves translocated to the Yaak River valley in December 2000 was found dead on April 11. The carcass of twelve-month-old female 231 was retrieved by Troy game warden Jon Obst, and was found to have a broken-off coyote snare around its neck. A necropsy will be done to determine whether the snare was the cause of death.

Niemeyer presented a wolf recovery update to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Commission on Friday, 26 April.

On 29 April, Nez Perce Tribal program staff met with staff of the Cascade District of the Boise National Forest to coordinate summer activities. They also held a community meeting in Cascade, ID

Nez Perce Tribal program staff attended a two-day chemical wildlife immobilization class provided by Idaho State Veterinarian, Dr. Mark Drew.

The State of Montana’s 60-day wolf management scoping effort, the first phase of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ year-long process to develop and adopt a wolf management plan, closed April 30. Later this year, a draft EIS will be released for public comment and a second round of public meetings will be scheduled.

 

*Volunteer Opportunity*

The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Program for the 2002 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho. Volunteers will work with Tribal wolf biologists to document the reproductive status of known wolf packs across the state, survey for new wolf pack activity, capture and radio-collar wolves, and work with cooperating agencies to manage wolves.

Term and Compensation: Field season runs from May 15 through 30 September. Work schedule is based on 10 days on and 4 days off. Volunteers willing to commit for the entire summer will be given preference. Transportation will be provided as well as a daily per diem of $15.00 while on duty. Some housing may be available.

For more information please contact the Nez Perce Tribe Gray Wolf recovery Project by phone at (208) 634-1061 or by e-mail at cherir@nezperce.org. Please submit a current resume by 30 April 2002 to:

Cheri Ramos
Nez Perce Tribe
Wolf Recovery Project
PO Box 1922
McCall, Idaho 83638

 

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