Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/23/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/16 to 8/23, 2002

Monitoring

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

Summary of the potential breeding success of known/highly suspected wolf groups in the northern Rocky Mountains as of August 23, 2002.

The wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming continues to grow each year. There are potentially 70 groups of two or more wolves that often travel together. Forty of those groups appear to have denned and have produced at least 192 pups. No groups of wolves have been documented in any states adjacent to Montana, Idaho or Wyoming. Caution- these are estimates only and will undoubtably change as more field work is conducted this fall and winter. But, at this time it seems almost certain that the wolf population recovery objective will be achieved in December 2002.

Northwestern Montana- 23 groups >2 wolves- 12 denned, 6 maybe, and 5 no [48 min. pups].

DENNING- Kintla [4], Murphy Lake [+2], Ninemile [+4, but 3 have died recently], Castle Rock [3], Whitefish [10], Grave Creek [5], Spotted Bear [4], Gates Park [7], Hog Heaven [3], Trout Creek [2], Great Divide [5 pups reported early in year and the male is suspected to be dead. Two adults have been observed since and on 8/13 two pups were seen], and Green Mountain [6- new pack near Noxon, MT]:

MAYBE DENNED Danaher [pack status unknown], Fish Trap 2 [pups reported in Elk Creek], Fish Creek, Lupine, Lazy Creek, and Chief Mountain:

NOT DENNED Apgar, Fish Trap 1, Yaak, Little Thompson, and Clearwater [the female that was illegally shot in late April had 7 new placental scars].

Central Idaho- 23 groups >2 wolves- 10 denned, 9 may have denned, and 4 did not den [44 pups min.].

DENNING- Big Hole [3], Buffalo Ridge [6], Gospel Hump [+2], Jureano [5], Kelly Creek [6], Landmark [11, double litter], Marble Mountain [3], Moyer [2], Selway [+3], and Como Lake [3]

MAYBE DENNED- Chamberlain Basin [suspected denned], Gold Fork [suspected denned], Thunder Mountain [suspected non-reproductive], Twin Peaks [pack status unknown], Wolf Fang [suspected denned], B67 [suspected denned], B100 [suspected non-reproducing], B105 [suspected non-reproducing], and B133 [suspected non-reproducing].

NOT DENNING- Orphan, Scott Mountain, Wildhorse, and B45.

Greater Yellowstone Area 24 groups >2 wolves-18 denned, 5 may have denned, 2 no [100 pups min.]-

DENNING- Swan Lake [11, double litter], Leopold [8], Rose Creek II [3], Druid Peak [6], Geode Creek [8], Agate/Garnet [4+4- 2 females denned separately but recently combined their pups], Mollie’s [2], Nez Perce [2], Yellowstone Delta [4], Cougar Creek [5], Chief Joseph [8], Teton [11, double litter], Washakie [4], Sunlight [6], Absaroka [4], Greybull River [+2], Freezeout [7], and Taylor Peak [3]:

MAYBE DENNED Pinedale/Green River, Sheep Mountain, Beartooth, Gros Ventre, and Mill Creek [had pups earlier]:

NOT DENNING- #105 and Gravelly.

Wildlife Services wolf specialist Rick Williamson collared a 53lb pup in the Jureano pack. Nez Perce Tribal biologists collared a pup in the newly discovered Marble Mountain pack. The local Wildlife Service’s trapper found and then howled up the pack to help Tribal biologists get a radio in that pack. A big Thanks!! again to Wildlife Services.

The Kintla Lake male was seen with 4 black pups, the first confirmation of pups in that pack this year. Seven pups were seen in the Freezeout pack.

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

Control

Two adult male members of the Castle Rock (formerly Boulder) pack near Helena, MT were shot on Monday August 19th in response to several cattle depredations by the pack. Ten adult wolves were seen, 2 were killed. An attempt was made to capture and radio-collar other pack members on Tuesday. The effort was not successful because the pack got into the timber.

In the Ninemile drainage [NW MT], Ted North and Bart Smith, WS, caught an uncollared yearling and collared yearling. They were radioed and released on site. The last of the new electric fencing was also installed this week. That will hopefully resolve the pattern of depredations that have occurred on llamas in the valley this year. Thanks to Defenders and cooperating landowners. Fladry was put up around one pasture on August 8th but early this week [20th] a local fisherman watched as a black wolf ducked under and went through it. As suspected, fladry is probably only effective for a very limited time.

One male and one female adult in a group of 4 wolves near Fairfield, ID were killed this week. The group had been involved in killing 5 sheep and wounding a guard dog on August 10. The remaining black radio-collared wolf and a gray that is traveling with it are being monitored. They will be killed if further depredations are confirmed.

Another calf was killed in the Upper Green River late last week.. It is unknown which wolves are involved seen both the Washakie and Green River wolves occasionally use this area. Trapping was not attempted because the area is heavily used by grizzly bears.

Wildlife Services investigated the death of an adult horse in the Gros Ventre Valley near Jackson, WY. It did not die from predation but had been fed on by scavengers. The death of a calf that died in the Freezeout pack territory that was examined late last week was not the result of predation.

A calf carcass was tangled in a fence and fed on by wolves in Tom Miner Basin. It doesn’t appear to be a wolf kill and no control is planned. The carcass was largely consumed by week’s end.

Research

Montana State University has a great web site established where you can see what they are doing on their research about wolf and elk relationships in and adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. See http://www.montana.edu/ecology/staff/garrott/index.htm for access and click on wolf-ungulate dynamics.

Information and education and law enforcement

Seasonal wolf biologist Paul Hansen returned to Minnesota to his job as a teacher. Paul did another great job for the wolf program this year and we appreciate his efforts. Thanks Paul and maybe we’ll see you again next year.

Kalispell wolf and MT DFW&P volunteer Therese Hartman is continuing her education at the University of Montana in late August. She has greatly assisted Tom Meir and the wolf recovery program by radio-telemetry monitoring wolves and carrying out the summer trapping and wolf collaring program. Thanks Therese and good luck in school.

Meier met with Deborah Weatherly and Loretta Bowman, staffers for the U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committee. They were visiting the Glacier National Park area to study Interior Department spending needs.

A dead wolf pup from the Taylor Peak pack (GYA area) was found along the highway near the Madison River. Its death 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