Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/21/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/17 to 6/21, 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, WY Wildlife Services, caught and collared another adult male wolf in the Greybull pack near Meeteetse, WY. B58 was collared last week. He was from Idaho and moved about 330 miles east to start the Greybull pack. Marshall is going back in next week and will try to place one more collar in the pack. Great job Marshall! and Thank You.

The Chief Joe wolves denned in Daly Creek inside the Park, possibly in response to efforts again this year by Val Asher to disturb and scent mark (mothballs) several excavated potential dens in the Cinnabar and Tom Miner Basin areas (private land and livestock areas). There are 25 groups of wolves and several "loners" being monitored in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Druid and Teton had double litters. Pups counts are continuing.

The Nez Perce Tribe continues to document wolf dens in Idaho. To date of the 21 of the documented wolf groups 6 denned (Big Hole, Gospel Hump, Jureano Mtn., Landmark [2 dens this year], Selway, and newly named Buffalo Ridge pack (B93/95), 4 are suspected of denning, the status of 9 groups is unknown, and 2 groups (Wildlhorse and B45) probably didn’t den.

Fontaine saw 3 pups in the Boulder pack and at least 4 adults were also present. Sightings indicate that a black wolf has been observed in the Silver City pack (a pair denned but one disappeared with a trap, a suspected illegally killing). The pair are still raising pups in the area- good news. Given that up to 60 groups total in central Idaho, Yellowstone area, northwest Montana, may have denned, it is possible that 250 pups were born this spring. That means the wolf population (depending on pup survival and overall adult mortality) could be around 700 wolves (over 525 surviving adults plus over 150 surviving pups) this December when the three state wolf population achieves the Service’s recovery goal of having had 30 breeding pairs (pack raising at least 2 pups) for 3 successive years. Wow! what a recovery success story.

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 issued a shoot-on-site permit for private land and a 45-day permit to shoot a wolf in the act of depredating on livestock on the federal allotments. On the 19th, WS shot a unradioed nonbreeding adult female. Two or three other pack members will be killed from this pack of 12 (not including this year’s pups) ASAP. The Ranch is helping facilitate radio monitoring of wolves in the area. Removal of 2-4 other pack members will be conducted if other depredations are confirmed after the current control action is completed. The Ranch will begin turning cattle out on adjacent Forest Service allotment by this weekend.

A new permittee just turned out his cattle on a Forest Service allotment in the Gros Ventre Valley near Jackson, WY. The previous permittee had a number of grizzly bear depredations and some wolf-caused losses. Ongoing predator-caused losses, predator removal, and compensation on the allotment have been a very contentious issue for the past several years. The new permittee reportedly brought in about 1400 cattle that had never been on open range from feedlots in the mid-west. Of the 500 calves turned out nearly 300 are only a few weeks old and many weighed less than 100 pounds. Heavy losses are expected from a wide variety of causes, including predation. Our potential response to confirmed wolf-caused depredations may require additional research and extra precautions by the permittee. On the 20th, a calf was reportedly killed by wolves. Jimenez and WS investigated and it was a natural mortality. The Forest Service and producer were notified that because of the extreme vulnerability of these types of livestock and the decision to place them in this type of situation- agency control after confirmed depredations would, at least initially, only consist of attempting to place a radio on the pack and see how many wolves are involved and if they are denning and issuing the producer a 45-day permit to shoot a wolf seen in the act of biting, grasping, or killing livestock on the federal allotment.

Program personnel met with the Forest Service and livestock producers near Hailey, ID. The Wildhorse pack was around numerous sheep bands and has depredated in the past. Everyone was committed to trying preventative measures. Producers were trained and permitted to use rubber bullets. Fortunately on June 16 the pack moved about 20 miles to the north.

Research

Dr. John Shivik, the USDA Wildlife Services’ researcher leading the alternative methods of resolving livestock depredations program out of Fort Collins, CO has accepted a new job leading the USDA WS Research Lab at Logan, UT. Congratulations John! and we (and the wolves) will miss your innovative spirit and progressive positive attitude.

Wildlife Service’s National Research Center in Fort Collins, CO is initiating a research project on a private ranch near Salmon, ID. The project will evaluate the effectiveness of fladry (strips of flagging hanging form a rope) as a wolf barrier and tool to protect livestock. The project is a cooperative effort between the Idaho Wolf Recovery Program [Nez Perce and Service], Wildlife Services, Defenders of Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and private landowners.

Information and education and law enforcement

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

Bangs participated in a general wolf coordination call with other Service representatives from Region 1 (Northwest U.S.) on the 20th. Issues included the possible impact of the recent Idaho court ruling regarding the Forest Service Sawtooth National Recreation Area to future Service wolf control actions. The suit did not involve the Service and at this time has absolutely no impact on any future Service wolf control actions in that area or any other area in Idaho. The issue of wolves in outside the experimental population areas was also discussed. The policy remains that any wolf showing up in OR, UT, NV, CO (WA has had its own control plan since 1990) is certainly a disperser from the Idaho or Yellowstone Experimental areas. The special rules give the Service a wide range of management options. Each situation will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Usually, wolves that aren’t doing anything wrong will simply be monitored. Ones that are confirmed to have attacked livestock will probably be killed. Also if finalized, the proposed wolf reclassification and the associated special 4d rule may allow flexible management options to long range dispersing wolves.

On the 19th, Smith and Bangs did interviews in Yellowstone Park with Neil Rodgers who is doing a piece on wolf recovery in the GYA and the impending delisting for National Geographic TV.

Jimenez met with representatives from WY G&F, Forest Service, and Wildlife Services in Jackson, WY to discuss possible control action response on Forest Service allotments this summer.

Niemeyer and Mack met with LA Times reporter Elizabeth Shogun doing a field tour of central Idaho. Carter also visited with local groups and helped initiate the fladry project while in the area.

Doug Smith gave an evening talk to about 200 Park visitors this week.

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