Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/25/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/18 to 10/25, 2002

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- See http://WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, and summaries of scientific studies.

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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Fish and Game Agency, Forest Service, BLM, Tribal, or USDA Wildlife Services office. 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. We thank our cooperators for forwarding data to us.

WS concluded attempts to trap and 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 were seen on a couple of occasions but none were captured. Most calves have been shipped. Baiting/snaring/radio-collaring maybe tried here and in the area just southeast of Livingston, MT where 2 wolves were videoed stalking a horse, if conditions permit later this winter.

Snow tracking in Wyoming indicates that the Absaroka pack has 8-10 members and 4 pups. The Beartooth pack has 5-7 members including pups, and they appear mange-free. However, the former alpha male #164, still apparently has bad case of mange.

Fontaine recovered the carcass of a gray female pup from the highway right-of-way about 4 miles north of Avon on the 21st. The carcass was found by some local ranchers who were moving livestock on the 18th. She was probably from the Halfway pack. We thank the ranchers and local Forest Service biologist for reporting the road-kill. Another wolf was reportedly killed on Highway 200 near Bonner on the 23rd and the next day a live wolf was reportedly seen in the same area.

On a flight on the 21st, Fontaine located a missing former Wildhorse wolf [SE of Stanley in central ID] near Drummond, MT. Local ranchers said they’ve seen wolf sign in the area for at least the past year but haven’t had any problems. It could be part of a pack since we have had reports of multiple wolves near here this summer.

Control

A ewe was killed by a wolf in the Ninemile Valley at the same place that has had several previous sheep losses. No control is planned at this time. The elk/deer rifle hunting season in MT starts Oct. 27 and this area has been opened for either-sex white-tailed deer. The abundant supply of deer remains usually provides enough of a supplemental food source to reduce depredations.

Three ewes were killed on private land near Dillon, MT on the 22nd. The only radioed-collared wolf in the area was located nearby, but at least 2 other wolves, including a gray one, have been reported. Lethal control and a shoot-on-site permit were re-authorized. On the 24th, the radioed female and her pup (both black) were shot by WS. Agency control is completed unless further depredations are reported but the landowner still has a shoot-on-site permit that will remain active until December 6.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Doug Smith is in Germany and gave a wolf presentation at the invitation of a German Wolf Conservation Group.

On the 23rd, Niemeyer and Mack met with a rancher in the Gold Fork pack territory to discuss his concerns. He has had several suspected but unconfirmed depredations and fears he will be many calves short when his round-up is completed.

The WY Fish & Game Commission meets in Jackson, WY on October 28. The WY state wolf plan will be one of the topics that is presented and discussed.

On the 24th, Jimenez met with feeders from WY state elk winter feed-grounds from around WY. He discussed the 3 year study of elk and wolf relationships on the Gros Ventre feed-grounds. That basic data collection is being expanded to all WY elk feed-grounds. That effort is a cooperative project between the WY Game and Fish, Service and USDA Forest Service.

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.

Call for papers: Papers are now being accepted for the 2003 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 8 - 10, 2003 at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, MT. Please submit a one page single spaced abstract which includes your full contact information, affiliations, and authors, by email to Joseph Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov Topics include, but are not limited to, wolf biology and conservation, conflict management, predator and prey relationships, law enforcement, forensics, population status, state wolf management planning, national wolf reclassification and delisting, ethics, environmental education, and public outreach. Please submit a digital picture related to your research or topic to include in the agenda and on the website. We can also scan images sent by mail. Registration for the conference will begin November 1, 2002 and you may contact Suzanne Laverty at SLaverty@defenders.org for details.

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