Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 1/3/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 12/30 to 1/03, 2003

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- See 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.

THE NRM WOLF POPULATION HAS ACHIEVED THE RECOVERY GOALS!! At this time our best rough guess/estimate of wolf numbers in late December 2002 indicates there were probably between 650 to 700 wolves in about 41 breeding pairs equitably distributed throughout Montana [about 120 wolves in 13 BP], Idaho [about 285 wolves in 10 BP], and Greater Yellowstone [270 wolves in 18 BP]. 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.

Winter wolf helicopter capture efforts to radio-collar wolves as part of the wolf monitoring program was scheduled to began in the Yellowstone area on the 2nd. It will be ongoing this winter. So far high winds have prevented any capture attempts.

Former alpha male #2, one of the original reintroduced wolves, was killed by other wolves, likely the Geode pack. Male #2 was replaced as the Leopold alpha male this fall and has been traveling either alone or with up to 4 black wolves since being displaced as alpha. Interestingly, the Geode pack killed the Leopold alpha female this summer.

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 male border collie was severely mauled on private land on December 20th. Three dogs were chased but an estimated 3 or so wolves and only the collie was caught. It survived the attack that occurred in the Buffalo Valley near Jackson, WY. The Teton pack travels in this area and several of the pack’s yearling appear to be splitting off as a separate group but it is uncertain whther it was Teton wolves. Defenders has been contacted regarding possible compensation for veterinarian bills.

A calf was killed by wolves near Pinedale, WY on private land on the 2nd. WS confirmed several wolves were involved and local residents have reported seeing up to 6 wolves recently. Suspicions are that a group from the Teton pack may and split off. A tracking flight will be conducted as soon as possible, and lethal control may be implemented since Teton wolves have been involved in several previous cattle depredations.

On the 2nd, Wildlife Service confirmed that a calf had to be euthanized after it was severely injured by an apparently lone wolf on private land about 6 miles west of Clark Canyon Reservoir, south of Dillon, MT. An unradioed lone gray wolf was seen in that area around Thanksgiving feeding on gut piles from hunter-killed elk.. If a wolf is trapped in that area it maybe radio-collared and released to see if any other wolves are involved.

Research

Project staff continue to work on several cooperative peer review publications, including compiling and correcting data organization and analysis. The Norwegian paper on the affect of alpha loss on the pack is progressing. Smith continues to work on his analysis of wolf survival rates based up on the fate of over 400 radio-collared wolves since 1979. Bangs et al. are completing a multi-authored book chapter for the London Zoological Society. Bangs provided final comments on the notes and synopsis of the Swedish wolf genetics/population conservation meeting held last spring. Meier et al. are working on compiling and summarizing data for the 2002 annual interagency wolf report.

Information and education and law enforcement

An uncollared wolf-like canid was reported found dead along Highway 12 near Syringa, ID on the 23rd. The carcass was collected and its origin and death are being investigated.

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 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