Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/18/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 4/11 to 4/18, 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.

As usual, about one half of the breeding females have denned so far. Field work to identify 2003 den sites and pack status has begun. Good news and great piece of work- the Yellowstone Delta pack was found [2 radios, plus a Washakie radioed wolf] along the south shore of Yellowstone Lake on the 17th. One Teton female denned at the usual den site in Grand Teton National Park, but the other was by herself and looking thin/scruffy in the Gros Ventre.

Paul Frame (with Dean Cluff, Canadian wolf biologist) checked out some MT areas in the Big Hole and Clearwater Junction areas, but spring conditions and lack of wolf sign weren't conducive to trapping. Paul then went to the Noxon area, where he has begun trapping for the Green Mountain Pack. He will also be looking at other areas in the Bull River and Clark Fork drainages.

Meier saw the Hog Heaven female wolf traveling with the pack on April 17, and she appeared very pregnant. Other packs seem to have begun localizing at den sites.

USFWS, NPS and NPT biologists began coordinating efforts to search for missing radio collars in the three (or more) state area. About 40 wolves, collared in the last 5 years, are currently missing. Searches will concentrate on likely wolf habitat where no wolves are known to be radio-collared.

Tom Meier [and National Bison Range staff] visited with a lion hunter who reported finding a wolf-killed mountain lion in the Pleasant Valley area around Feb. 5th. A pair of wolf tracks are still being seen in the area.

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

A calf was killed by the Greybull River pack near Meeteetse, WY on the 10th. The pack had killed a cow earlier this year. Wildlife Services was authorized to trap, radio-collar and release, or depending on which class of wolves were captured, lethally removal a couple of wolves. The dens’ traditional den is usually not in these area and it is hope they aren’t trying to localize in these area of intensive livestock production.

On about March 4th, Wildlife Services confirmed that a lone wolf killed 9 goats near Farson, WY [between Pinedale and Rock Springs]. Wildlife Services was authorized to take a wolf if one was found in the vicinity of where the goats were killed. These were the first goats known to be killed by wolves out West. This is more a reflection on the low numbers of goats rather than wolves choosing not to kill them.

Research

Congratulations to Doug Smith, Rolf Peterson, and Doug Houston who co-author an article "Yellowstone after Wolves". It was the cover story and was just published in Bio-Science [April 2003, Vol 53 No. 4: 330-340. Great piece of work- Doug, Rolf and Doug!

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 16th, Idaho’s Governor signed an Idaho law that will increase Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s ability to help become more activity involved in every phase of the wolf recovery program. The U.S. Assist Sec. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Judge Craig Mason attended the signing. The wolf recovery program will benefit from the addition of Idaho’s direct involvement in wolf conservation along with the continuing efforts of the Nez Perce Tribe and Service. The Secretary of the Interior added her support to Governor Kempthrone’s suggestion for modification of the nonessential experimental population regulations to enhance their effectiveness and provide opportunities for increased state/federal partnerships.

TWO RESEARCH JOBS- Two research technician jobs are available for carnivore-cattle study in Arizona for 1 year starting May 19, 2003. If the program is extended opportunties for graduate study will be available. A multi-agency and partner team is investigating causes of cattle death and grazing rotation schedules on very remote grazing allotments in Arizona. Mountain lions, wolves, coyotes and black bears are in the study area and their sign will be monitored. Applicants must have college degree or closely related field. Horseback, hiking and ATV travel is required. Contact Dr. Stewart Breck at stewart.w.breck@aphis.usda.gov or (970)266-6000 or amil cover letter, resume’, college transcripts, and GRE scores to Dr. Stewart Breck, USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, 4101 LaPorte Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80521.

On the 14th, Jimenez gave presentations to about 60 students in two advanced placement biology classes at Sheridan High School.

Doug Smith traveled to the East coast over the weekend of the 12th, and gave several talks. He spoke to 1,000 people at the private Phillips Exeter High School, about 30 folks at the Defenders of Wildlife headquarters in D.C., and 400 people at a talk arranged by National Geographic.

Gray wolves throughout the eastern and western United States were downlisted from endangered to threatened status effective April 1, 2003. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it established three Distinct Population Segments (DPS) for the gray wolf. Wolves in the Western DPS and Eastern DPS were listed as threatened but in the Southwestern DPS wolves remain listed as endangered. The experimental population areas in central Idaho, Yellowstone, and the southwest remain unaffected by this listing action. The new threatened status in N. Montana and N. Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the northern portions of Colorado and Utah [N. Of I-70] is accompanied by a special 4d rule that allows wolf management very similar but slightly more flexible than that already allowed in the experimental population areas. The new regulations can be viewed at the Federal Register April 1, 2003 or at http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/fnl-rule/ .

In the western DPS [outside the experimental areas which remained just as they were] the 4d rules allow: 1. Anyone to harass any wolf at any time as long as the wolf is not injured; 2. Landowners may shoot any wolf that is physically attacking [biting, grasping] livestock [defined as- cattle, sheep., horses, or mules, and guarding and herding animals- such as llamas and certain breeds of dogs] and domestic dogs on private property [it must be reported within 24hrs]: 3. Federal grazing permittees that have a confirmed wolf depredation may receive a permit from the Service to shoot wolves seen attacking livestock on their federal grazing allotments. 4. The Service may issue permits to injuriously harass [rubber bullets, etc.] wolves; 5. The Service may issue permits to private landowners to shoot wolves on-sight after 2 or more livestock depredations; 6. People who accidentally kill a wolf will not be prosecuted if they were involved in otherwise legal activities and they took reasonable steps to not kill a wolf [Note- hunters are always responsible for identifying their target and "accidentally" shooting a wolf may be prosecuted]; 7. The States and Tribes, or-if 10 or more breeding pairs are established- the Service, may relocate wolves that are causing excessive predation on native ungulate herds; 8. No land-use restrictions are envisioned unless the federal activity may kill wolves. There are no land-use restrictions on private land. 9. The Service and other Service-authorized agencies may take wolves under permit for a variety of other reasons, including research or wolves that look or behave strangely. 10. Of course, as already allowed by the ESA, anyone may kill any wolf that is posing a direct and immediate threat to human life.

Montana Wolf Management Draft EIS was released and public meetings set. Public meetings on the future of state wolf management in Montana will be held from 6:30 till 9:00PM April 21 in Great Falls; April 23 in Kalispell and Whitefish; and April 24 in Rexberg. In addition mail-in and on-line comments will be accepted through May 12. Visit www.fwp.state.mt to review the plan and submit comments or write Wolf Plan EIS, MT FW&P, 490 N. Meridan Rd, Kalispell, MT 59901. To request a copy of the draft EIS call 406-444-2612.

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. A select group of papers will be compiled into a book, that represents significant aspects of the Conf.

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