Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/20/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/13 to 6/20, 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.

The alpha female [and only radio-collared member] of the Buffalo Fork pack was found dead on the 14th. She had recently nursed pups but the remaining 4 pack members should be able to successfully rear them. She was apparently killed by other wolves and the Rose Creek pack only a mile or so away from her carcass.

The carcass and radio-collar of a pup from the Sentinel pack south of Bozeman that darted last winter was recovered. The carcass was intact but very decayed and the wolf had been dead for some time. Cause of death did not appear to be caused by illegally.

Therese Hartman, assisted by volunteers Kassy Holzheimer and Elizabeth Morton, captured and radio-collared a yearling female wolf from the Spotted Bear Pack on June 19.

Litters were documented for four additional wolf packs in central Idaho this week including Chamberlain, Jureano Mountain, Orphan, and Scott Mountain. Jim and Holly Akenson, University of Idaho researchers and caretakers at Taylor Ranch assisted the Tribe in documenting the litter for the Chamberlain Basin pack.. Good job Jim and Holly! A total of 14 wolf litters have been documented so far in Idaho this summer.

Capture efforts in the Grave Creek Pack territory [NW MT] have been suspended, after no fresh wolf sign was seen in more than two weeks of trapping.

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

Herders watched as a lone wolf killed a 200lb calf in central Idaho, just north of Arco. They couldn’t react fast enough other than to drive the wolf off the carcass. WS confirmed the loss and traps have been set near the calf’s carcass. If the wolf is captured it will be killed.

The remains of a calf, found near Trego, MT about June 5, were thawed out and examined by Wildlife Services specialist Ted North. He determined that the calf had not died of predation. WS specialist McDougal also examined a dead calf near Big Hole, MT from last week, and it was also not killed by predators. There have been very few depredations by wolves so far this summer.

Research

Yellowstone National Park was trying to examine summer wolf predation by monitoring members of the Druid pack using GPS locations [multiple locations are taken each day] were that are downloaded weekly. Unfortunately the GPS collars don’t seem to be functioning properly and were only transmitting a couple of locations per day. That isn’t frequent enough to determine of wolves route of travel and identify location clusters to look for summer kills.

Capture and monitoring of elk calves to document the cause and rate of neonate mortality is continuing in Yellowstone Park as part of a PhD. Research project.

Information and education and law enforcement

Doug Smith gave several talks this past week. He spoke to abut 200 people at the GYC 20th anniversary annual meeting in West Yellowstone on the 13th. He talked to about 100 park visitors at the Tower Hotel and several dozen a teachers at their workshop in the Park. He also talked to several Yellowstone Foundation members on the 20th.

Bangs talked with about 20 FWS R-6 Reality Specialists at their retreat and meeting at Big Sky, MT on the 17th. On the 18th Bangs spoke to about 30 Missoula Rotary members in Missoula, MT.

Asher met with several ranchers from the Taylor Fork area of Montana, south of Bozeman, MSU researchers, and MT FW&P. It appears there was some confusion among the local residents over who was ultimately responsible for wolf-related issues and who should be contacted. The rules are: for dead wolves you go to FWS law enforcement, livestock losses to Wildlife Services, and everyhthing else goes to the Service, although MT FW&P and the Univ. can certainly help out or pass information along. Val Asher is the representative for the USFWS in that area. The meeting went well and it was clarified that the USFWS is the only agency with direct wolf-management authorities while wolves are listed. After delisting MT FW&P would be the sole lead management agency. The University is simply conducting some cooperative research under a FWS and/or MT FW&P permits.

Asher is going down to assist the Mexican wolf program next week. She will be helping to relocate and release some wolves into their backcountry Wilderness using pack mules.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise, Idaho filed a request for a clarification of the Judge’s order regarding its prohibition of "any" wolf control in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area on the 18th. The FWS asked that non-lethal measurers be allowed by the court should there be a depredation. The Service assisted in preparing that request and appreciates DOJ’s efforts.

On Friday, Bangs met with a USA Today reporter who is writing about the success of wolf and grizzly bear recovery in the western United States.

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