Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/30/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 12/21 to 12/30, 2002

Hope your Christmas was merry and you have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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.

WOLF POPULATION WILL ACHIEVE RECOVERY GOALS!! At this time our best rough guess of wolf numbers in late December 2002 indicates there are between 650 to 700 wolves in at least 40 breeding pairs equitably distributed throughout Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. 2002 is the third year that the wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains has had 30 or more breeding pairs, meaning the wolf population has achieved the numerical and distributional recovery goals. Wolves can be proposed to be delisted once adequate state wolf management plans and state laws are in place in MT, ID, and WY. Final numbers are being tallied and will appear in the 2002 annual wolf report that should be completed by early February 2003.

A wolf was incidentally captured by a coyote trapper on the 24th. It was captured on private ranch land and within a mile of a sheep band northwest of Helena and southeast of Lincoln. The trapper released it about 20 minutes before WS arrived to collar it.

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 650 pound calf was killed but the Great Divide pack on the 22th. WS examined it on the 24th. The calf was not collected during the regular round-up despite intensive efforts and had been left out on the private pasture. It finally starting coming in near a cabin for hay but was killed by the pack. The Great Divide pack consists of the alpha male and several pups- the alpha female was killed by a vehicle this fall. WS confirmed the depredation and is attempting to collar wolves in the group using snares with stops.

A pregnant ewe was killed on private land by at least 2 members of the Mill Creek pack on the 26th. Other sheep had been killed there this fall. Fladry was crossed. A RAG box was being used but none of the wolves involved was believed to be radioed and so it wasn’t activated. The alpha female has been located far up the mountain when the last two depredations occurred so we suspect it maybe a subgroup that is working the lower elevations. WS is authorized to removed 2 wolves. Asher is assisting with trapping efforts. WS may radio and release a trapped wolf to see who and how many wolves are involved, and then aerial gunning maybe employed. The private landowner also still has an active shoot-on-site permit for his property. He is penning the sheep in a smaller night pasture next to a house.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

The CENTRAL ROCKIES WOLF PROJECT is pleased to announce that registration has begun for the WORLD WOLF CONGRESS 2003 - BRIDGING SCIENCE AND COMMUNITY, to be held at the Banff Centre (Banff, Canada) from September 25-28, 2003. Please visit www.worldwolfcongress.ca for complete information.

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. The theme this year is wolf/ungualte relationships. 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 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