Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/17/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 5/31 to 6/17, 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.

Marshall Robin, Wildlife Services, in a cooperative effort with the Service to place a radio collar in the Greybull pack for monitoring purposes, caught B58 near Meeteetse, Wyoming. B58 is a disperser from the Thunder Mtn pack in Idaho and was missing for about 2 years. This is approximately 304 airline miles from the Thunder Mtn. pack. Great job Marshall!

Wolf packs are denning and monitoring flights are still being conducted to determine the number and location of dens. During the last flight in Yellowstone pups were observed in Swan Lake (4), Leopold (6), Druid (Double litter 3 & 3), Geode (#106 6 pups), Agate Crk (#103, ?), Garnet (4), Yellowstone Delta (2).

During the last monitoring flight in NW Montana the Whitefish pack was seen with 4 pups and the Grave Creek pack had 5 pups. Two of the 3 Yaak wolves are in the Yaak Valley or just SE of the town of Yaak. The third Yaak wolf is on the Idaho/Montana border. All appear to be doing fine. Other packs in the tri-state area are still being monitored to determine pup production.

Some sporadic wolf activity near Browning, Montana prompted a search flight for any missing radio collared wolves along the northern portion of the east front. During the flight wolf #760 from the Castle Rock pack was located near Chief Mtn. Wolf #760 dispersed from the Castle Rock pack about this time last year and was last located near Ovando, Montana. No visual was obtained to determine if this wolf was with other wolves.

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 11th, WS confirmed that the Washakie pack killed a calf on the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, Wyoming. The ranch manager was given a shoot on site permit. Three or four of the non-radio collared wolves will be lethally removed from this pack of 12 (not including this years pups) ASAP to try and prevent any additional livestock losses by hopefully removing the wolves most likely responsible but also by reducing the overall nutritional demands of the pack. The pack was also involved in depredations last year. The alpha female is radio collared.

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

A radio collared wolf from the Kintla pack in Glacier National Park was found on mortality mode. The death is under investigation.

In April a bear hunter shot and killed a radio collared wolf near Seeley Lake, Montana thinking it was a coyote. Upon inspection of the animal he realized it was a wolf and immediately called 1 800 TIP MONT and informed authorities. The hunter was fined $1,000 for illegally killing the wolf. He had broken the number one rule of hunter safety, know what you are shooting before your shoot. The wolf that was killed was #96 a disperser from the Ninemile pack in NW Montana. There had been numerous reports of a pair of wolves in the area and the sightings were confirmed by Ty Smucker and the searching crew from the University of Montana. A necropsy will be done to determine if she had whelped pups. It is doubtful that any pups would have survived. Great job Rick!

On the 11th a taxidermist, Wayne Rose from Darby, Montana, pled guilty to shooting 2 wolves in the Big Hole Valley in southwestern Montana. He said he first thought they were coyotes but then realized they were wolves. He will be sentenced on Sept. 10 and faces a possible penalty of one year in federal prison and/or a $10,000 fine. One of the wolves, B63 which was radio collared, was located on mortality mode in February and later retrieved by law enforcement. The second wolf was retrieved in March when additional information was obtained about the killing of the wolves. The wolf was found under the snow by search dogs trained to locate wolf sign. The rifle used to kill the wolves was located in the owners septic tank. It appears there are still 3 adult wolves near the area where the killing took place. Great job Rick and Doug!

On the 3rd Bangs gave a presentation for the Forest Service’s Annual Carnivore Conservation class for federal agency line managers in Yellowstone National Park. About 24 people attended.

On the 5th Bangs and other Service representatives participated in a briefing on the status of wolf restoration in the lower 48 states in Washington D.C. for the new Service Director Steve Williams. That afternoon the group also briefed Assistant Secretary Paul Hoffman.

On the 8th, Fontaine and rancher Bruce Malcolm gave a presentation to 100+ Hunter Education teachers for MDFWP in Billings at the Hunter Education banquet. A big thanks to those instructors for teaching our youth about firearm and archery safety.

Mark McNay, Furbearer Biologist with Alaska Fish and Game recently published "A Case History of Wolf-Human Encounters in Alaska and Canada". It will be available soon at http://www.state.ak.us/adfg/wildlife/geninfo/pub/reports.htm

High Country News radio did an recent program on wolf recovery, delisting and the recent control actions. Niemeyer and Bangs were interviewed among others. Search for hcn.org and then click on radio to listen.

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