Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/18/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/11 to 10/18, 2002

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- See WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm  for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges.

The Service is once again asking for help from big game hunters in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming during the big-game hunting season. Please report any sightings of wolf activity to the nearest office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Fish and Game Agency, Forest Service, BLM, Tribal, or USDA Wildlife Services. We will likely achieve the wolf recovery goal this winter and reports by hunters are important to ensuring the wolf population status is thoroughly documented so that wolf management can be turned over to the state and tribal fish and game agencies in a timely manner. Depending on the status of state wolf management plans delisting from the Endangered Species Act could be proposed in early 2003 and completed by early 2004.

On the 16th, a UM graduate student trapping coyotes for his MS thesis in the Garnet Range in NW MT [1/2 way between Helena and Missoula] caught a young adult wolf in a #3 soft-catch coyote set. The wolf pulled out as he approached but its capture suggests there could be a wolf pack in that area because we have also had multiple wolf sightings this summer, including one of pups. The graduate student will be trapping for the next two weeks and will keep an eye out for wolf sign and collar any incidental wolf captures.

UT WS reported that the herder near Logan, UT that had wolf depredations and saw a wolf earlier this summer, saw one again. The WS specialist also heard it howl. It could be the same one or a different one, since dispersing wolves tend to use the same route and end up in the same place. There haven’t been any depredations and the sheep will be moved from the area soon. No agency action is planned.

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

 

Control

Wolves from the Ninemile pack (3-5 wolves remain) killed sheep on private land earlier this month. Control trapping was concluded on the 17th but no wolves were taken. Service personal received many e-mails from angry local residents and others who did not believe livestock were being adequately protected and that wolves should not have been removed. Wolves harassed llamas again on the 17th PM but did not enter the night pen and were driven away by the owners.

Aerial lethal removal of several wolves in the Dunoir Valley of WY was attempted on the 13th

and 14th. On the 13th wolves were in the trees, plus the plane had to quickly return to base for a magneto check. On the 14th Washakie II wolves were away from where the cattle depredations had occurred and were in trees and very steep terrain, plus the wind then came up. Control efforts have been terminated unless there are further depredations or conditions change.

A calf was confirmed attacked by 5 wolves {Teton pack] when it wandered into Grand Teton National Park from a nearby Forest Service grazing allotment, but it lived. No control is planned as it wasn’t suppose to be there, and cattle are being rounded-up and shipped from the area.

Wildlife Service investigated reports that a colt may have been killed by wolves in the Tom Miner Basin, near Gardiner, MT. Wolves [likely the Chief Joe pack] fed on the carcass but it did not appear to die from predation and no control was warranted. TESF biologist pulled traps that were set to radio-collar members of the Chief Joseph pack this week because night-time temperatures were getting too low. WS investigated a report of 2 calves killed by wolves at the southern end of the Madison Valley [Cliff Lake] in SW, MT. The carcasses were at least a week old and cleaned up, but it looked like a wolf feeding pattern. Wolf-caused depredations occurred in this area last year. No wolf sign was found and no radioed wolves were found in that area. The calves were classified as unknown cause of death.

WS is trapping to radio-collar a wolf in the Red Lodge, MT area. A pack has been reported there for 2 years now and a couple of calves were killed by wolves earlier this spring/summer. Wolves have been seen on a couple of occasions but none have been captured. Trapping will continue until night-time temperatures drop too low or the big game hunting season begins Oct 27th.

Research

Philip S. Gipson, Bangs, Bailey, Boyd, Cluff, Smith, and Jimenez had a paper on "Color patterns among wolves in western North America" published in the newest Wildlife Society Bulletin 2002, 30(3):821-830. The same WSB issue had articles about Wolf-human encounters in North America and "Computer simulation of wolf removal strategies for animal damage control."

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs and Fontaine attended a public meeting in the Ninemile Valley Community center on Sunday afternoon the 13th. Wolf management and the upcoming reclassification were discussed. The meeting is being hosted by MT Senator Jim Elliot, Defenders of Wildlife, and local residents. Representatives from MT FW&P, and Wildlife Services and about 25 local folks attended.

Jim Holyan (Nez Perce Tribal Biologist} gave a presentation to the advanced biology class at New Meadows High School in Idaho.

A Big Hole, MT man was convicted of illegally shooting 2 wolves in that area last year. As part of that court decision, an anonymous informant received $2,000 and 2 search-dog owners who volunteered their dogs and time to search for the wolf carcasses [successfully] were awarded $200 each. Congratulations to LE for a job well done and thanks to all the people who assisted in this case.

The Fremont County Commissioners agreed to consider a petition from a local rancher who grazes on public land to get permission to eradicate predatory animals, ie. wolves. He indicated he is 200-300 short and bears have scattered cattle everywhere complicating round-up and shipping. The county attorney advised against such a position and correctly recognized federal law supercedes state law. If WY changes the status of wolves under state law then state law would also supercede county law/regulation. This will be an interesting situation since Wyoming must change state law before wolves can be proposed to be delisted. Fremont county has already "declared" wolves and grizzly bears were not welcome in their county.

Service seasonal biologist Issac Babcock completed his field activities with the MT program this week. Issac will continue with his wolf/wildlife photography efforts this winter. Issac a big THANKS!! for helping us out.

The following full text documents are available at www.ladywolf.com/wolf1.htm

-Gray wolf annual reports- 89, 90, 91-92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97 & 98 (YNP), 99, 2000, and 2001.

-Idaho progress reports- 1995-98 and 199-2001.

-1987 Gray Wolf Recovery Plan.

-Final 1994 Experimental Population and Reintroduction Rule.

-1988 Interim Wolf Control Plan.

-1999 Evaluation and Modifications to 1988 Control Plan.

-2000 National Wolf Reclassification Proposal.

-Final Wolf Reintroduction Environmental Impact Statement- (full text- 7 files).

-Endangered Species Act.

-Latest version of draft Montana state Wolf Management Plan.

-Latest version of Idaho state Wolf Management Plan.

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

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