Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/16/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 11/30 to 12/16, 2002

Monitoring

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

On the 4th, a coyote trapper in the Paradise Valley (N. Of Yellowstone Park) caught a yearling male from the Lone Bear pack, which is believed to have 11 members. NPS staff helped Fontaine radio-collar and release it on site. This new pack now has three collared members. A thanks to the local trapper for his efforts to help out and to NPS staff.

On the 30th, a coyote trapper SW of Ogden, UT caught #253 a black male radio-collared wolf. He put it in a dog kennel and gave it to the local UT DNR warden, who gave it water, food, and made sure it was in good condition. On the 2nd, Jimenez picked the wolf up, replaced its radio collar and released it in Grand Teton National Park. The wolf was a 2 year-old from the Druid pack and was traveling with another wolf in UT. He has remained in the GYA. Another gray wolf was accidentally caught a week later but it pulled out just as the warden attempted to immobilize it. This issue was a major national news story. The Service’s policy on wolves that leave the experimental population areas is they will be handled on a case by case basis. They generally will be left alone if they aren’t doing anything wrong, killed if they attack livestock, and in rare situations like this where they happen to be in captivity, they may be returned to MT, ID, or WY, whichever is closest. The experimental rules 7(iii)(A-D) recognized lone wolves would disperse outside the experimental areas and gave the Service clear legal authority to actively manage them.

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.

 

Control

A livestock producer near Dubios, WY still has a shoot on site permit on private property. Wolves have repeatedly visited his horses that are in a corral near his house. No wolves have been taken to date.

Two wolves killed a ram on a ranch near Pray, MT. The radioed female of the Mill Creek pack was some distance away with several other members but it is suspected other pack members were involved. They traveled past fladry and a RAG box to kill the sheep on private land. This ranch has had at least three separate depredations this fall. A kill order was issued to WS to shoot 2 wolves on or near that property, likely from the ground.

Research

The Nov. 15 to Dec. 15 wolf predation rate winter study in Yellowstone National Park just ended. Wolves are tracked daily from the ground and air to determine kill rates. The Druid pack (8 wolves) killed a bison and 10 elk. The Geode pack (8 wolves) made 9 elk kills. The Leopold pack (15 wolves) made 10 elk kills. The elk kills were equally split between bulls, cows, and calves. The overall kill rate was typical of the early winter study (10 ungulates per pack for the 30 day period), but the percentage of bulls killed this fall was higher than normal.

Information and education and law enforcement

On Dec. 5th and 6th , Bangs gave a presentation and attended People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence? This international conference was attended by nearly 250 experts throughout the world to look at ways to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife, while conserving rare species. On the 7th, Bangs and Dr. John Linnell gave presentations to about 100 members of the UK Wolf Conservation Trust just outside London. After their talks and lunch they participated in a "wolf walk", where members get to hike through the English forest with 3 captive European wolves on leashes. About 25 people walked on our session and it was extremely interesting.

The Utah wolf management "plan" developed by students at Utah State University can be seen at http://www.cnr.usu.edu/nrei.

WY Special Agent Eicher, gave a presentation on wolves and the relationship of the WY state wolf plan to the delisting process to the WY Outfitters and Guides annual convention on Dec. 6th. About 40 people attended. On the 9th, he gave a presentation to the Cody Archery Club and about 18 people attended. Thanks Tim!!

On the 11th, Jimenez gave a presentation to about 20 people at the Wyoming, Park County Predator Board. On the 12th, he talked with nearly 25 National Elk Refuge sled drivers and interpreters in Jackson, WY.

 

Radioed female yearling wolf #276, one of the 03/01 relocated Parsnip wolves, was reportedly mistaken for coyote and shot on December 13th. She has been traveling alone on the Blackfeet Tribal lands for the past year or so. The hunter said he was trying to get a coyote pelt for his traditional dance costume. Once he realized he had shot a wolf he immediately reported the killing. It is under LE investigation.

The carcass of a 2-3 year-old female wolf #134, from the Jureano pack was recovered. The initial analysis indicates she was illegally shot on National Forest land west of Salmon, ID. The Service is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to a conviction. Female wolf #67 was located on mortality mode in the West Fork of the Bitterroot on November 30. The carcass of the female wolf was retrieved by FWP and LE on the 5th. The death is under investigation.

The carcass of a young adult male wolf was recovered south of Cayuga, South Dakota. It appears to have been shot and its death is under LE investigation. A reward is being offered.

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