Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/31/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 5/18 to 5/31, 2002

Monitoring

See http://WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm for maps of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report is available and has been mailed. Single copies can be obtained by writing to USFWS, Wolf Annual Report, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, Montana.

Wildlife Services caught a grey lactating female near Mill Creek on the 19th. She was collared and released on site and is being monitored. The den was near the mouth of Mill Creek and not far from where a depredation occurred this spring and a wolf attacking a calf was legally killed by a private landowner. She is still in that general vicinity. Hopefully when elk begin to calve the pack will move their pups into the upper part of Mill Creek. The local rancher reported that last year she (or a wolf looking like her in this same area) was repeatedly seen with 2 black pups. Thanks to Jim Rost and Jim Hoover for getting the collar out.

Wolf packs are denning and monitoring flights are still being conducted to determine the number and location of dens. The Teton pack has 11 pups so it appears that two females in that pack bred again this year as they did in 2001. The Greybull (WY) den was located and it appears they have pups. Trapping will be attempted to put a radio in the group as soon as feasible.

The Yellowstone Delta pack is at their 2000 den. Only the alpha female remains collared. Efforts are underway to retrieve the five collars that were put on last winter but are on mortality mode. We assume they have all been chewed off (one has been retrieved and was chewed off) but won’t know for sure about the others until we get them back. A dispersing male from the Druid pack has been hanging around the traditional Sheep Mountain pack’s den. We assume they have denned and he is the new alpha male. Last year’s alpha was removed because of livestock depredations last summer.

A black female Gravelly pup #233 (now yearling) that had been crossing back and forth into B.C., was legally harvested in B.C. Canada near Fort Steel on the 24th. She was in good shape. Of the 4 surviving relocated Gravelly pups (now yearlings) two (#232m and #230f) are still in the Yaak Valley. Male (#234) was located on the 30th on the MT/ID border north of Highway 2 and male #229 was last heard in mid-April, in the Yaak. The 2-year-old male (204) was last heard near Lakeside, on the northwest side of Flathead Lake. The relocated Gravelly alpha female is still assumed to be in Canada.

Monitoring indicates that Whitefish and Kintla packs are in Glacier National Park and are denned.

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.

Control

On the 19th or 20th, a female bear hunting hound was killed by 3-4 wolves near Garden Valley, ID. No control or compensation is authorized for hunting dog depredations by wolves on public land.

Wildlife Services confirmed from wounds and tracks that a calf was killed by wolves in the Red Lodge area on the night of the 25th. Plans were to try and put a radio in the suspected Red Lodge wolf pack (4-5 wolves?). That pack contains no radioed members but has been reportedly observed several times. Searches of the area did not reveal any concentration of wolf sign so trapping was not conducted. More cattle are going out on pasture in that area now and we are monitoring the situation.

A radio collared gray wolf was seen feeding on a calf in the Centennial Valley in SW MT on the 26th. The local rancher was contacted by the concerned citizen. The rancher shot near the wolf, which was standing and looking at them less than 50yds away, and scared it from the area. The rancher believed the wolf appeared ill. Necropsy indicated the calf died of natural causes and was simply being scavenged. An effort was made to search the area for missing radioed wolves but none were located.

A black wolf was reported feeding on sheep carcasses in the Hill City in east central Idaho (west of Fairfield) on the 28th. Two lambs and 2 ewes from 2 separate bands were confirmed killed. WS and NPT personnel set traps on the 28th and caught a sub-adult black male wolf the next morning. He was radio-collared and released on site. Follow-up investigation and monitoring suggest he may be the only wolf involved. No further control is planned at this time.

Research

Liz Bradley, an MS graduate student at the Univ. Montana is beginning her field work. Her study will look at cattle depredations and wolf control actions since 1987 to determine if there are patterns in depredations and what type of control is most effective. She is also doing a paired survey (those with problems and those without in the same area) of cattle ranches to see what factors may be involved in wolf/cattle conflict. She is scheduled to finish her thesis in late 2003.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 18th, wolf recovery personnel Curt Mack from the Nez Perce Tribe and Carter Niemeyer from the Service participated in the Idaho Conservation League’s annual meeting in Stanley, ID. Mack and Niemeyer led a nature walk for around 20 conference participants to discuss wolf biology, management, and recovery in Idaho.

On the 18th, Doug Smith gave a talk about Yellowstone wolves to 110 people at the California Wolf Center. The Wolf Center helps privately fund some of the research on wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Doug also spoke to about 75 people at the University of San Diego on May 17th about the impact of wolves on the Yellowstone ecosystem.

On the 21st, Smith gave presentations to about 100 Park Interpreters.

On the 23rd, Meier traveled to Cranbrook, B.C. and met with B.C. and MT FW&P biologists to discuss small carnivore conservation issues of mutual interest.

Seasonal biologist Paul Frame left for the summer to start his M.S. thesis research on denning wolves in the NW Territories. Seasonal biologist Paul Hansen began working with Jimenez in Wyoming on the 21st. The Paul’s both worked with us last year and we are fortunate to have had them come back.

This week’s issue of the High Country News had a front page major news article about wolf restoration and the painful part of wolf recovery- control, featuring Carter Niemeyer. High Country News radio show also has a segment on the same subject.

On the 31st, Montana’s Governor Judy Martz held a public/media briefing in the Montana Capital Building to discuss wolf recovery and the upcoming cooperative effort to complete state wolf management plans and the impending (2003) transfer of management authority to the states. Representatives for Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming’s Governors and Wildlife Departments attended, along with Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s Regional Director and Ed Bangs, the wolf Recovery Coordinator. The meeting was well publicized and attended.

On the 23rd, Jimenez was suppose to be in Jackson, WY at a meeting with grazing permittees on the Bridger-Teton NF and Grand Teton NP to discuss upcoming permits etc. in relation to wolves and grizzly bears. However, the permittees with wolf packs near their allotments couldn’t attend and so the meeting just dealt with grizzly bear issues. Wolf issues will be addressed by phone or in a subsequent meeting. Because of the drought conditions and lack of forage the grazing period and/or number of allowed livestock for many permits is being reduced.

Deb Guernsey gave her one and only yearly Yellowstone wolf presentation to a high school environmental science high school class from Minnesota. About 15 students attended the talk on the 24th. Rumors have it her presentation included a mixture of blues singing and interpretive dance- a bit unusual but reportedly it was very well received. Great job Deb!, but you could pick up the pace a little (maybe 2 talks a year) and relieve Dr. Smith from the hundreds of talks he conducts. It seems anyone even making eye contact with him gets his wolf lecture.

Smith gave a talk to about 15 National Outdoor Leadership School students on the 28th.

A wolf was reportedly killed in the Six-mile Drainage near Emigrant, MT and it is under investigation.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http://WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov   in addition to the regular distribution.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV