Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/18/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/11 to 7/18, 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.

The Murphy Lake wolf pack in NW MT continues to inhabit an area near Pleasant Valley, many miles from their ‘normal’ home territory. Local cattle producers are being kept apprised of the pack's location, and no depredations have been reported, though many cattle are in the area.

In Idaho, a Kelly creek wolf was collared and pups were confirmed in the pack. Wolf surveys and trapping will occur in the Kamiah, Elk City, and north of Challis were wolf activity is reproted but packs aren’t radioed.

On the 18th, Asher and Mike Ross {MT FW&P] caught and collared a 90 lb gray

non-breeding 2-yr-old female on the Flying D Ranch, southwest of Bozeman, MT. Monitoring will determine if she is with the Bear Trap pack since tracks indicated she was traveling alone. Great job, Val and Mike!

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

Wolf neck snares with stops were set under the elk-proof fence were wolves had been coming through and killing livestock in the Sunlight Basin, WY. Captured wolves were to be radio-collared and released on site. Over the weekend of the 12th, a sow grizzly bear with 2 yearling cubs came by and one yearling crawled under the fence and was killed by the snare. WY Game and Fish was notified and all snares and traps were immediately pulled. We now recognize that wolf neck snares should not have been used in bear habitat when bears are out under any conditions. Leg-hold trapping will continue to be used for both control and monitoring purposes. The ranch made several modifications to the fence to try and reduce the number of spots wolves can get in, but smaller wildlife can routinely go under the fence in various places.

The Green River pack [a gray and a black pair with pups] attacked a calf on the 12th on a Forest Service allotment. The calf lived but had its tail snipped off and hindquarters bitten. There was no control authorized at that time. Two other calves were confirmed killed on the 14th. The radioed pair was involved in calf depredations last year, and the alpha male was shot from the air on the 17th. If problems continue the alpha female will also be killed. We will attempting to place any sub-adults we can catch in captivity. This area is extensively used for livestock grazing.

On the 16th, two dead calves, that were about 100 yds apart, were discovered on a Forest Service allotment near Dubois, WY. Grizzly bear and wolf tracks were present. WS investigated and determined that the 2-day-old calf carcasses were wolf depredations. An uncollared suspected sub-group of the Washakie pack that uses this area has been involved in several other cattle depredations. The 2 radioed members of the main pack of Washakie wolves have denned some distance away and do not appear to be using the area where the depredations are occurring. WS will trap to radio-collar and release a member of the uncollared group. It will be briefly monitored via telemetry to make sure no pups are involved and then, if possible, the entire sub-group will be removed.

A calf was confirmed killed on private property east of Donnelly, ID by members of the Gold Fork pack. Control is ongoing.

Asher visited with the Madison Valley Ranchlands group to help them with pro-active efforts to avoid sheep depredations while they were doing a weed/sheep project in the Madison Valley. Seven hundred sheep will be on the Sun Ranch and another 30 on an island in the Madison River. These areas are within the Taylor Peak pack territory. Fontaine obtained electro-fencing from Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge- great job Joe and special thanks to the Refuge folks! The sheep bands will have herders with a guard dog and several herding dogs and the bands will be penned at night. In addition to the fence materials, spiked collars were provided for the dogs, fladry, a RAG box, rubber bullets and cracker shells [that likely won’t be used because of fire danger], and training/instruction on using all that stuff was provided.

Asher reported that the new Sun Ranch manager shot a rubber bullet and cracker shells at one of the uncollared Taylor Peak wolves while it was in the cattle and there were other stories of folks actively harassing wolves. They indicated that wolves are acting more shyly and starting to run from people as soon as they see them- which is a good thing.

Research

The World Wolf Congress 2003, announced the Scientific Advisory Committee selected the oral and poster presenters several form the northern Rocky Mountains. There are a wide ranging number of presenters and topic areas in wolf research, conservation and management. Please visit www.worldwolfcongress.ca for a tentative list (in alphabetical order) of presenters. On the Congress home page, click on the ‘July 7’ announcement. There are four (4) documents (in both ‘html’ and ‘Word’) that will explain these presentation areas. The Conf. is Sept. 25-28 in Banff Canada, check the website for details.

Prescott University M.S. grad student Jon Trapp is continuing to investigate wolf den sites in northwest Montana. Jon and his crew are being assisted by a host of cooperators in Montana. Plum Creek Timber Company biologist Henning Stabins, independent researcher Jay Mallonee, Meier and Hartman helped Jon Trapp and his crew of den researchers locate and examine wolf dens from the Lazy Creek, Hog Heaven and Fishtrap wolf packs.

Information and education and law enforcement

Service LE agents have authorized a $5,000 reward for regarding information on the death of 2-year-old male wolf B131, from the Wolf Fang pack in Idaho. He was found shot near Idaho City, ID and was believed to be killed around Memorial Day Weekend. The Service is requesting that anyone with information call LE agents at (208)378-5333.

On July 15, Meier gave an update on wolf recovery and classification to about 60 people at the North Fork Interlocal meeting at Sondreson Hall, north of Polebridge, MT.

On the15th Niemeyer gave a presentation to an Rangeland Ecology workshop at Ponderosa State Park near McCall, Idaho. Thirty five people, mostly teachers, attended. George Graves/Wildlife Services and I talked obout predator management issues in the livestock industry and demonstrated various lethal and non-lethal predator control tools. I talked specifically about wolf biology, management, monitoring, policy and issues concerning wolf predation on ungulates and livestock. The workshop included a range tour to a summering band of sheep owned by the Soulen Ranch. Margaret Soulen and her herders hosted the camp and talked about sheep management, their interaction with federal agencies and predator management issues.

Doug Smith was an invited speaker at the ‘Bohemian Grove’ meeting just north of San Francisco, CA the weekend of the 18-21. The group of nearly 2,000 is a Republican-based group that has had these retreats for over 100 years and invites speakers with particularly interesting general informational material.

Dr. Jim Halfpenny just published a 98 page book "Yellowstone Wolves: In the Wild" Riverbend Publishing, Helena, MT. The book is based upon the National Park Service’s research efforts, public observations, and various outstanding photographs of only wild wolves to give a "wolf watchers" overview of the first eight years of wolf restoration in Yellowstone Park. Contact Jim at www.tracknature.com for further information.

The new IDFG wolf page is online on our IDFG website. You may access the page at the following address: http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/info/programsinfo/wolves/wolf.htm. Also, the IDFG commission adopted a new wolf policy at the last commission meeting July 11, 2003 and it is posted on the Idaho website.

The latest final draft Wyoming Game and Fish wolf management plan was posted on their website http://gf.state.wy.us on Friday July 18th. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission has the wolf plan on their morning agenda for their July 29 meeting in Sheridan, WY.

Montana issued a news release saying their state wolf planning effort was proceeding on schedule. They anticipate completing their state Environmental Protection Act requirements in August and that the Service should have the completed record of decision in early September.

The "Yellowstone Wolf Project: Annual 2002 Report" by Douglas W. Smith, Daniel R. Stahler, and Debra Guernsey is available from Yellowstone National Park. This is the Park’s usual excellent report, for copies email deb_guernsey@nps.gov .

The Nez Perce Tribe completed their 2002 Progress Report "Idaho Wolf Recovery Program: Restoration and management of gray wolves in central Idaho." by Curt Mack and Jim Holyan. It is a great overview of wolf recovery in Idaho through 2002. Contact Jim Holyan at jholyan@nezperce.org for copies or further information.

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