Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/4/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/27 to 7/4, 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.

WY LE investigated the carcass of yearling female wolf #280 in Wyoming and recovered the radio-collar- good job Tim! and thanks! The carcass had melted down considerably, it had been on mortality mode nearly 2 weeks. It was on a large ranch that has been very easy to work with and hard for the general public to access. No foul play was suspected.

Three wolves recently died in YNP. They were the only collared wolves in their respective packs and 2 of the 3 packs had pups. Wolf 105F was found dead on 6/9/03. She was originally from Druid Peak but established her own pack on the boundary of YNP and Gallatin NF. She had nursed pups this year and was killed by other wolves, likely Rose Creek wolves. Wolf 251F, also originally from the Druid pack, was found dead on 6/26/03. She had a territory in northern YNP and pups were observed at her den. She was killed by an unknown predator possibly a grizzly bear as her carcass was cached by a grizzly. Wolf 208M.was originally from the Rose Creek pack and was found dead on 6/17/03. He and his mate lived near the Tower Area. The exact cause of death is unknown but it appeared to be from natural causes.

In Idaho additional pups were documented in the Scott Mountain pack and this pack has at least 5 pups. The uncollared Twin Peaks pack also has pups as does the radioed Selway pack, and work is underway getting complete counts.

Reproduction has been confirmed in only 4 wolf packs in NW MT so far this year. Five pups were just seen in the Lazy Creek Pack, making it the fourth pack (after Fishtrap, Hog Heaven, and Whitefish) in which pups have been confirmed in northwest Montana. Investigations are continuing.

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 on June 16th. They couldn’t react fast enough other than to drive the wolf off the carcass. WS confirmed the loss and traps were set near the calf’s carcass. On the 29th, WS checked traps near Mackey, Idaho, that were set in response to the depredation. A gray uncollared yearling female wolf was captured and euthanized. The pelt and skull were not salvageable, so they were buried on site. Only one wolf was involved in the depredation so there will be no additional control.

A cow was killed in the Sunlight Basin, WY, Forest Service allotment, probably by the Absaroka pack. Trapping to radio-collar and release on site is being conducted. Lethal control may be initiated depending on the circumstances.

Five members of the Sunlight Basin , WY pack were reportedly seen inside an elk proof fence on private property feeding on a calf. Apparently they slipped through at some of the fence’s open low spots. WS investigated and found the remains of another calf carcass nearby. The two carcasses were largely consumed so while the wolves probably killed them, neither could be confirmed. The calves were just shipped to this pasture, and they sometimes die from shipping stress, so they might have just been scavenged. However this pack has killed cattle before and likely killed these calves. If they come right back into the pasture, we will take that as confirmation they are actively hunting cattle. That area is being trapped and some captured wolves will be removed.

On June 28, the Murphy Lake Pack (5 wolves) was located by aerial telemetry in Pleasant Valley near a dead cow. The herd manager was informed. He reported that it had not been killed by wolves.

Research

We were notified that papers for the Banff September World Wolf Congress were accepted on N. Rocky Mountain wolf issues including: Non-Lethal methods to enhance wolf recovery and deter wolf/human conflict in Montana; Restoration of a gray wolf population in the northwestern United States; Approaches to Wolf Management and Conservation;Wolf/elk Interactions on State Managed Elk Feed Grounds in Wyoming.

Prescott University M.S. graduate student Jon Trapp, who has been investigating den sites in Idaho and will begin den work in northwest Montana on July 6.

 

The pilot GPS wolf study in Yellowstone [backtracking wolves during the summer to determine summer predator rates] didn’t work out because the downloadable function of the Televilt collars did not work adequately.

Information and education and law enforcement

Idaho Fish and Game has a new wolf web page that will be posted on the Fish and Game Website starting July 1. It is located at www2.state.id.us/fishgame//info/programsInfo/wolves.

Niemeyer, Mack and Steve Nadeau [the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state-wide Wolf Coordinator] met in Stanley, Idaho to coordinate wolf management and the state’s transition into becoming more actively involved in wolf monitoring and field operations.

On the 27th, Smith gave a presentation at the Silvertip Ranch near Yellowstone to about 15 people. On the weekend of the 28th, he taught a course for about 15 people at the Yellowstone Institute in the Lamar Valley. Wolf watching in the Lamar Valley is amazing and more popular than ever. An average of more than 200 people are out each evening. Every overlook and pull-out is fulled to capacity as visitors search for wolves. Doug reports it just seems to get more and more popular.

Bangs organized, and on July 2, provided Service comments to Wyoming Game and Fish on their final draft Wyoming state wolf management plan.

During the evening of the 3rd Fontaine gave a presentation to about 50 people in the Ninemile Valley in NW Montana.

As confirmation of how far wolves can disperse, we pass along this story from the Midwest. A gray wolf that was born to the Wildcat Mound pack in Jackson County, Wisconsin was found dead in a soy bean field in central Indiana last month. He was born in April 2002 and was last located in Wisconsin in January, 2003. This was a 407 mile dispersal assuming he went straight through Chicago.

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