Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/26/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/19 to 7/26, 2002

Monitoring

See http://WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm for maps of pack locations and home ranges.

On 7/20 a pup was apparently struck and killed by a vehicle on the upper Ninemile road in NW MT. The carcass is being examined to confirmed cause of death.

A flight on the 16th, saw at least 3 pups in the Sunlight pack, and 4 in the Absaroka, and at least 2 have been seen from the ground in the Greybull River pack. Three radio collars that were on mortality mode from the Yellowstone Delta pack were recovered this week. All three had been chewed off, including one that was "studded" to prevent chew-offs. This pack did the same thing last year. A disperser from the Washakie pack returned and the pack now has three radioed members. Wolf packs are routinely moving pups to rendezvous sites.

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

Trapping/shooting control continues in the Dunoir Valley near Dubois, WY. Trapping will continue for another week and the next 1-2 uncollared wolves that are captured will be killed. Two attempts were made to fly the area and shoot any wolves in then open this week by a WS fixed-wing aircraft but none were vulnerable. The Diamond G Ranch reported that cattle on their Forest Service allotment where the radioed Washakie wolves are also often found, are being moved around but no depredations have been found. A Service biologist, Paul Hansen, is on the ranch checking traps, monitoring wolf activity, and identifying potential conflicts.

On the 20th, wolves from the Freezeout pack killed 2 ewes and probably 2 lambs (the carcasses completely consumed?) on a Forest Service grazing allotment in the Gravely range. The area is remote and the depredation wasn’t reported for a couple of days. On the 25th, an uncollared grey yearling female was shot by WS. The other radioed members of the pack were harassed by the helicopter in hopes of driving them from the area, in which 6 bands of sheep are being grazed. The bands have herders and guard dogs. Agency control has ended unless more livestock are attacked. The livestock producer has a permit to shoot wolves in the act of depredating of the public grazing allotment. In addition the WS trapper in that area was authorized to shoot another wolf if he believed it was chasing or "hunting" livestock.

Research

The Idaho wolf recovery team and the Defenders of Wildlife are maintaining several miles of fladry to separate wolves from cattle on a private ranch. Wolf movement patterns will be measured by RAG box monitors and track surveys in and outside the fencing/fladry to test its effectiveness. We thank the private landowners and the Defenders of Wildlife for their cooperation. To date radioed wolves have been picked up in the area but none are known to have crossed the fladry or come close enough to it to trigger the remote monitors.

Information and education and law enforcement

On July 19 the Federal District Court for Idaho issued a ruling on a preliminary injunction regarding livestock grazing in the USDA Forest Service’s Sawtooth National Recreation Area in central Idaho. The judge did not prohibit continued grazing in the area but did order the Forest Service to utilize more non-lethal tools to reduce the potential for wolf and livestock conflict. He also believed he had a legal nexus to order the Service to not conduct control within the SNRA for depredations within the SNRA before September 1. Because most depredations and wolf control near and in the SNRA were on private land the order will probably have little effect on wolf control this summer. However, the Service is committed to implementing the experimental population rules, including lethal wolf control, when warranted. The Service is reviewing its legal options, including an appeal or requesting a reconsideration of the Judge’s decision.

Wolf Recovery Coordinator Bangs expressed his concern over the source, experience, and ages of cattle being turned out on a Forest Service grazing allotment in the Gros Ventre drainage and the potential for wolf depredations. (SEE the response that was attached to the 7/19 weekly). The producer responded, clarified some mis-information, and is using nearly twice as many riders as usual to keep close track of his cattle- which is commendable. While still expressing some concern Bangs thanked to the producer for clarifying the situation and offered his apology. The Service gladly accepted the livestock producer’s offer, and shares his desire, to work cooperatively to resolve their respective concerns.

Swedish wolf/ungulate biologist Dr. Olof Liberg toured the Mid-West and West the weeks of July 8th-20th. He visited with various project personnel about wolf issues and research in the U.S. Olof is responsible for writing up the final notes/recommendations of the wolf PVA meeting that was held in Sweden this past Spring.

Niemeyer, Mack (Nez Perce), and Williams (WS) gave a presentation to about 20 school teachers at the Sawtooth Science Institute in Ketchum, ID on the 17th.

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