Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/14/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 2/07 to 2/21, 2003

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 Red Shale Pack (14 wolves) has been sighted on the east front of the Rockies west of Choteau. This pack spends most of its time in the North Fork of the Sun River, but apparently travels across the front ranges to the east side. There hasn’t a pack of wolves on the east front that wasn't eventually eliminated because of chronic cattle depredations, so we hope these wolves remain in the wilderness.

The Nez Perce Tribe hired Isaac Babcock and Jon Trapp to conduct winter searches for suspected uncollared packs. Four areas are being searched. An unradioed pack of 10-11 wolves was found in the Morgan Creek area north of Challis, ID, An unradioed pack of 3-4 wolves was found in upper Lolo Creek near Kamiah. The Slate Creek area north of Riggins and the upper reaches of the Boise River are still being surveyed.

Issac Babcock is in the Big Creek area now, helping with the Univ. Idaho wolf/lion/ungulate research program and Jim and Holly Akinson. Radio contact with the Chamberlain Basin pack was lost a year ago and Issac is attempting to trap and radio a pack member.

On the 7th, the Nez Perce pack couldn’t be located anywhere near the Jackson, WY area. Over the weekend graduate students with the MSU elk/wolf study in the middle of Yellowstone National Park and the pack’s normal territory reported "their back..."

Yellowstone National Park biologists caught 8 wolves in 4 packs on Feb. 12 & 13. Geode (2 caught including alpha female and beta male), a Druid sub-group (2 young males),Cougar Creek (2 males including alpha male), and Nez Perce (2 pups, one male one female). Good job.

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

Wildlife Service’s investigated a report of a possible wolf-killed calf on the 10th several miles north of Red Lodge, MT. A wolf might have been there but there was not enough evidence to know what happened. On about the 18th a rancher closer to Red Lodge who had depredations last year reported a suspected wolf kill but not enough evidence was left to confirm anything. The rancher reported seeing two gray wolves harassing a mare/foal about the same time frame and fired shots over their heads and scared them away. On the 19th he reported another probable calf kill and preserved the evidence. Wildlife Service confirmed it was a wolf kill on the 20th. Three wolves are believed to be in the Red Lodge pack but up to 5 were seen last summer when a cow and other calves were killed by that pack. Lethal control for up to 5 wolves was authorized.

In Meeteetse, WY a calf was confirmed killed by 2 wolves. The radio from the Grey Bull river pack was located in a distant location. WS was authorized to kill up to two wolves in the immediate area of the depredation.

A rancher in the Paradise Valley legally shot two uncollared wolves [out of 3] [2-yr-old male and female pup] in his cattle/calving pasture on the 12th. He had a shoot-on-sight permit for up to 2 wolves that were on private land and near his livestock. LE investigated and confirmed that all the permit conditions had been met. Control on the Mill Creek pack [now down to 2-4 wolves] has ended unless other depredations are confirmed. Asher met with a neighboring rancher and fencing contractor to investigate building a more secure night pen for his sheep.

The Taylor Peak wolves [2 adult and 2 pups- 2 radioed] harassed a mule in the Madison Valley on the 17th. Asher and WS investigated on the 18th and wolf tracks were abundant. The mule had a deep cut on its leg, a wire cut, that it probably received while dogging the wolves. The rancher was provided cracker shells and a receiver in case the wolves came back. The pack then went further down the valley and got into a fight with several dogs through a kennel fence but none of the dogs were injured.

The rancher who has lost several llamas to wolves in the Ninemile Valley reported that a pair of wolves have been seen hanging around the area on several occasions recently. The llamas reacted to the presence of the wolves, and she is concerned there will be trouble. Attempts may be made to haze the wolves, or to trap and collar them. They appear to be a splinter group off the Ninemile Pack. The collared Ninemile wolves seem to be staying higher up in the valley. Volunteers from the Univ. Montana will receive rubber bullet training and might respond if the problem persists.

WS confirmed that a calf was killed by 2 wolves on private property north of Mackay, ID on the 15th. Another calf carcasses found 3 days previously was classified as probable and one from 10 days ago was mainly consumed but a possible wolf kill. No radioed wolves were found and snares were set in an attempt to collar a wolf. On the morning of the 18th a 2-3 yr-old male gray wolf was seen in that vicinity and it was shot by WS that afternoon. It had calf hair in its stomach. A second wolf had been reported but aerial searches on the 18th and 19th did not locate it. Control is terminated unless other depredations are confirmed.

Research

Tom Meier et al. are finishing work on for the 2002 annual interagency wolf report. The 60 page draft was completed, and sent to more than 30 reviewers. The report will be finalized by March 3. Approximately 1000 hard copies are distributed, and it will also be available online in March.

Jimenez completed the 2002 Progress Report on wolf/elk interactions on state managed feed grounds in Wyoming. The 11 page report covering the past three years of field can be obtained at mike_jimenez@fws.gov .

Information and education and law enforcement

Fontaine was on a detail to help with the Partners for Wildlife Program in Washington D.C. Feb 10-22.

Meier checked out a report of a possible road-killed wolf near Olney MT but it turned out to be a large dog.

On February 12 Niemeyer met with representatives of Defenders of Wildlife, the ranching community, the medical profession, the insurance profession, a state senator and others in Tuscon, Arizona, to discuss and develop an insurance model that could resolve rancher/wolf conflicts and possibly provide potential solutions to rural West ranching community and environmental problems. An abstract of the concept will be presented at the April Intra agency Wolf Conference at Chico. The first meeting was very productive and all participants identified problems to be resolved that will help in the modeling process.

On February 19 Niemeyer and Mack met with 40 ranchers, BLM and Forest Service representatives in Grangeville, Idaho. During the 4-hour presentation, the group was informed about the wolf recovery program, the Final Rule, reclassification and delisting. Niemeyer presented two slide series on recognizing wolf depredations, protecting kill sites and applying non-lethal tools to ranchers. Mack gave an update on wolf biology, pack activities and wolf population dynamics in Idaho Three Wildlife Services personnel were in attendance and ranchers were encouraged to communicate wolf sightings and depredations to the management agencies. Attendees were cordial, appreciative and felt that the program was very informative. BLM set up this outreach opportunity.

Smith talked to about 25 students form the British Columbia Institute of Technology on the 18th. On the 22nd he will talk with a tour group from the International Wolf Center in Mammoth.

On the 11th Bangs, talked to about 30 students at an UM natural resource policy class. That afternoon he discussed analyzing public comment on a wolf delisting proposal with the Content Analysis Team with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service in Missoula, MT.

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/ungulate 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 registration website is http://keysecure.com/forwolves.org/confer2003.html

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

 

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

NEZ PERCE TRIBE

GRAY WOLF RECOVERY PROJECT

The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Project for the 2003 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho.

Work Environment: Work is conducted throughout the state of Idaho and SW Montana, including front-country (road accessible) and backcountry (remote and Wilderness) areas. This is a physically demanding position; extreme climate and terrain will be encountered. Volunteers may be required to carry up to 80 lbs. for varying distances over trail and cross-country conditions. Accommodations vary from cabins to backcountry houses to tent camping depending upon the locations of wolves and logistics. Travel is mostly by 4-wheel drive, ATV, fixed-wing aircraft, and foot.

Work Schedule: Typically 10 days on/4 days off, though work may extend beyond the 10 days depending upon conditions, Project needs, and logistics.

Duration: Expected approximately mid-May through September, but may be shorter depending upon workload, volunteer availability, and Project funding. Preference will be given to those able to commit for extended periods of time.

Compensation: Includes transportation and $15.00/day while on duty. Some housing (travel trailers, USFS accommodations, and bunkhouse-style quarters) is available for non-duty days. Volunteers are covered under the Tribal Workmen's Compensation program.

Primary Duties: 1) assist in locating, via ground and aerial telemetry, potential breeding packs/pairs of wolves to determine reproductive status, 2) assist in obtaining accurate counts of wolf pups at home sites, 3) assist in documenting locations of wolf home sites, 4) assist in collecting scientific data on the ecology of wolves in Idaho, 5) assist in capturing, processing/handling, and radio-collaring wolves, and 6) other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: 1) documented experience backpacking and camping for extended periods of time in remote settings, 2) proficiency with orienteering (use of map and compass for navigating) required, 3) good physical condition, 4) must hold valid driver's license and be insurable under the Tribe's insurance policy, 5) must be willing to comply with the Tribe's drug and alcohol policy, 6) possess the ability to get along with others in backcountry settings for 10-day + time periods, 7) possess the ability to communicate verbally with interested and affected publics, 8) enrollment in college/university Wildlife, or related, curriculum preferred, 9) radio-telemetry experience preferred, 10) capture, immobilizing, and handling/processing experience with wild animals preferred, and 11) experience flying in fixed-wing and helicopters preferred,

Application Period: Applications will be accepted from March 1, 2003 until March 31, 2003. Applications must be received at Gray Wolf Recovery Project office by March 31, 2003.

How to Apply: Submit a cover letter and resume detailing educational and employment backgrounds, along with the name and contact information of 3 work-related references. Send application materials to: Nez Perce Tribe

Gray Wolf Recovery Project
Attn: Volunteer
P.O. Box 1922
McCall, ID 83638
Telephone: (208) 634-1061