Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/01/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/25 to 11/01, 2002

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- See 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 thank everyone for their cooperation.

A 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. A report of 2 possible wolf pups killed on I-90 was also received but nothing seems to have turned up from either of those reports.

A couple of elk hunters/biologists in the Red Desert of SW Wyoming watched as a black uncollared wolf trotted past them, heading East. This time of year is the beginning of peak wolf dispersal and we expect that lone dispersing wolves will be showing up throughout MT, ID and WY and possibly adjacent states. These reports are appreciated and important. Thanks!!

Flights just before the big game hunting season in Montana indicated the Lazy Creek pack is a breeding pair- 4 pups were seen with the 2 adults. The Ninemile pack [2 gr and 3 bk], Fishtrap [4bk and 1 gr.], Hog Heaven [only the 2 adults again], and several other pairs/loners were located.

Control

The Mill Creek pack [GYA near Chico, MT] [reports of up to 9 wolves] got into a 50 acre private pasture in the Paradise Valley with sheep and a guard llama on the 27th. Fifteen sheep were killed and tracks of 2 wolves were in the pasture. The llama was recovered unharmed 9 miles away. On the 30th, two wolves returned and killed a ram. On the 31st wolves returned but did not kill anymore sheep. Ongoing control includes burying livestock carcasses, neck snaring with stops, fladry, installing a RAG box, and issuing a shoot-on-site permit for 2 wolves to the affected livestock owner and his neighbors.

A report from Idaho indicated that members of the Marble Mountain pack might have harassed 3 horses that a hunter on public had tied up for the night during the week of the 21st. Apparently the horses went wild and before the hunter could get to them, one had broken its neck and had to be euthanized and 2 others had broke their halters and were gone. Unfortunately there was no timely report and consequently no investigation or confirmation. As far as evidence goes other than "the hunter said he saw wolves", it could have been anything. No control is warranted.

In Wyoming, a long-time hunter/outfitter reported he had his horse on a picket when it was apparently spooked by wolves west of Cody, likely the Absaroka pack (during the week on the 21st). The horse only had some minor wolf bites and scrapes but badly injured its front shoulder as it tried to escape and was throw to the ground as it hit the end of the picket. WS responded and confirmed this incident. No control is warranted.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

The WY Fish & Game Commission met in Jackson, WY on October 28. The WY state wolf plan was presented and discussed, including statements by Montana, and Idaho about their planning efforts. The Commission, ignored WY G&F Department’s recommendation, and instead directed WY G&F to prepare a draft state plan for public comment that would maintain predator status [allowing unlimited killing of wolves by any means at any time] for wolves in WY except in National Parks and some Wilderness areas. At the Commissions request for Service reaction, the Director had notified them in late September that such a state plan would not allow the Service to move forward with a delisting proposal. Bangs talked to several reporters about the ramifications.

Doug Smith met with the Northern Range Working Group in Livingston on the 30th. The group cooperates on northern range elk herd population monitoring, management, and research.

Niemeyer participated on a wolf panel at Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID on the 29th. Over 100 people attended. The discussion seemed to focus more on changing values than wolves but apparently was very entertaining, particularly the exchanges between the very vocal strong anti-wolf and pro-wolf representatives. Carter of course was the guy in the middle and got run over from both sides.

On the 30th, Jimenez gave a talk to students in a Wildlife Management class at NW College in Powell, WY.

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 also be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at WesternGrayWolf.fws.gov. This report is government public property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.

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