Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/29/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/22 to 8/29, 2003

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- See the 2002 annual wolf report at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies. We are in the process of compiling our preliminary monitoring information for this year and hope to provide a "best guess" of current wolf numbers and pack status in our September 12th, 2003 weekly report.

Per Larsson, an experienced large carnivore biologist from Sweden is volunteering to help with field work for the next month. Paul Frame is back on board after his summer of field work in the Canadian Arctic and Therese Hartman is also beginning to trap and look for wolf sign in NW Montana.

NPT biologist Jim Holyan observed 2 gray wolf pups in the Timberline pack. NPT biologists continued trapping in the Pearl Creek area, but haven't been able to determine the reproductive status of this group yet. Efforts are ongoing.

WE NEED HELP FROM COOPERATORS AND PUBLIC- We are currently into the trapping season, when we try to radio-collar wolves from previously unknown packs and beef up our collar coverage in known packs. 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.

Control

In response to a wolf depredation on sheep in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming WS was authorized to conduct control. On the 23rd, a lone male gray wolf was shot while feeding on a fresh sheep carcass about 25 miles east of Ten Sleep, WY.

Wildlife Services' Wolf Specialist Rick Williamson trapped and radio-collared 2 wolves in Morgan Creek, near Challis, ID in response to a depredation there. Male wolves B160 and B161 are part of what will be known as the Morgan Creek pack. NPT crews will monitor these animals to determine whether there are pups present with this newly-discovered pack.

A group of 4-5 wolves was reportedly involved in killing a calf north of Idaho Falls, Idaho [GYA] on the 28th. A wolf reportedly in the act of depredating was killed by the landowner. WS confirmed the calf had been killed by wolves and a LE investigation is ongoing. If possible a wolf will be collared and released on site. Frequencies of possible ‘suspects’ from YNP were given to WS to aid in the search for these wolves.

Wildlife Services completed a control action for the depredation attributed to the Hazard Lake pack. A large gray male wolf was captured and euthanized. It was thought that the Hazard Lake pack was comprised of B105M, his uncollared mate, and their pups of the year. This depredation occurred fairly close to the one that took place in Pearl Creek north of McCall (in what is assumed to be B45's home range). It is not known if the wolf that was lethally controlled was associated with the Hazard Lake pack, the wolves in Pearl Creek, B45, or was a lone disperser.

Wildlife Services is investigating a report of a dead calf near McLeod, MT [GYA]. A producer reportedly jumped 2 wolves off the mostly consumed carcass. WS will set traps to radio-collar and release a wolf on-site if possible, to determine if a new pack might be invovled.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 15th Fontaine and Asher participated in a meeting with Madison Valley ranchers. A National Geographic film crew conducted interviews for an upcoming segment on the ecological changes and social issues involved with wolf restoration in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Fontaine attended the annual meeting for Montana Wildlife Services near Red lodge, MT. On the 26th he presented a program overview and discussed delisting issues. On the 27th, he conducted a workshop on wolf immobilization, handling, and radio-collaring.

On the 26th, Smith attended a Forest Service meeting in the Paradise Valley along with Defenders of Wildlife representatives to discuss management concerns regarding a sheep grazing allotment that has incurred chronic grizzly bear and wolves depredation, in addition to disease concerns with wild sheep in that vicinity. The meeting was solely informational and apparently went well.

Niemeyer attended the annual meeting for Nevada Wildlife Services in Elko, NV early this week. He gave a 3 hour presentation on wolf biology, monitoring, damage investigations, control, the new 4d rules, and potential delisting to 25-30 specialists and reportedly the meeting went very well. As usual- Good job Carter!

On the 25th Niemeyer participated in a meeting of the Defenders of Wildlife Board of Directors in Yellowstone National Park. He discussed the overall wolf recovery program and recovery issues.

The Nez Perce Tribe just released their annual "Idaho Wolf Recovery Program: Restoration and management of gray wolves in central Idaho" 2002 Progress Report. It is another great report and can be accessed at www.nezperce.org .

Curt Mack, NPT Project Leader, met with livestock producers in the area used by the Steel Mountain pack, near Atlanta, ID, to discuss methods to minimize wolf-livestock interactions and provide training in less-than-lethal munitions. He also met with representatives from the state of Idaho to work out a memorandum that will delineate NPT and State roles in future wolf management in Idaho.

Idaho wolf B72, a disperser from the Thunder Mountain pack was found dead. Her carcasses has been sent to the Ashland lab as part of an ongoing LE investigation.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a web page that has various links to state wolf management plans, information about wolf reclassification and delisting. It can be accessed at

http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/fnl-rule/index.html.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks released their final version of the EIS for the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan on Thursday the 21st. The final document is be posted on FWP’s website www.fwp.state.mt.us.

The final Wyoming Game and Fish wolf management plan is posted on their website http://gf.state.wy.us. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved the plan on the 29th.

The Service will likely send out the completed Idaho, Wyoming and Montana wolf management plans for independent scientific peer review in mid-September. Peer review is the next logical step in the process for the Service to determine if a delisting proposal is appropriate.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now also be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at  http://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