Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/24/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/18 to 7/24, 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 Green River pack [just the alpha female remains] has 1 black and 3 gray pups.

Nez Perce biologists finally caught up with wolves in the Slate Creek area that were implicated in a recent confirmed depredation on sheep just north of the main Salmon River upstream (east) from Riggins. This week, three adult and two pup wolves were observed in this area by project personnel. Trapping efforts to collar pack members is ongoing. We would like to thank the Nez Perce National Forest with special recognition to Joanne Bonn, Wildlife Biologist for the Salmon River District, for all of their help and support in documenting wolf activity in this area. Joanne has done a great job in tracking reports of wolf activity in this area and relaying timely information to us. Joanne has spent many days out in the field helping to verify reports.

With the help of Sharon Seim, Wildlife Biologist for the Red River District of the Nez Perce National Forest, Nez Perce biologist Holyan documented a new litter of pups south of Elk City, Idaho. Although a trapping effort was initiated, no wolves were captured. At this point it is not clear if this litter represents a new pack of wolves or the pups from the close-by Gospel Hump pack. We would like to thank Sharon Seim for all of her help, and assistance.

To date field crews in Idaho have documented the presence of 18 litters including 9 new, first-year, wolf packs. Three of the 9 new packs were documented in areas of previously undocumented, but suspected wolf activity; with the help of agencies and the public. We appreciate all of the help, particularly from the general public, to assist us in our efforts to document the status of wolves across the state.

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

At daybreak on the 18th, 2 uncollared gray wolves killed three sheep [2 ewes and a lamb and wounded another ewe] in the Madison Valley. The herder saw the sheep being killed but did not have a rifle or shotgun with him but did finally run them off. Guard and herding dogs were with the band, which is being used for weed control. The guard dog watched the wolves but didn’t even bark [but he is alive so we don’t fault him]. The ewes kept knocking the night electric fence over and the lambs kept getting caught in it, so the herder had to shut it off. On the 23rd a lamb was killed and on the 24th the alpha female of the Taylor peak pack was located near sheep. For now we will attempt to continue nonlethal methods and trap, radio-collar, and release on-site, but if the attacks continue additional measures will be taken.

A calf was confirmed killed on private property 5-6 miles east of Donnelly, ID by members of the Gold Fork pack on July 8. Wildlife Services investigated on the 11th and confirmed a 200lb, small for this time of year, calf had been killed. Traps were set on the 15th and authorization was given for two wolves to be killed [except the alpha female which would have been collared and released on site]. No wolves returned to the area and traps were pulled on the 21st.

While Wildlife Services were trapping for wolves on a ranch near Dubois, WY, this week, brown bears killed two calves. No fresh wolf sign had been seen and traps were pulled. On the 23rd- another calf was killed by the Absaroka pack on an allotment. Trapping will continue in order to collar a wolf so that lethal control can be applied without losing contact with the pack. There is only one collar left in the pack.

Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves, likely the Greybull River pack killed a calf near Meeteese, WY. Also on the 23rd, Wildlife Services investigated a report of a wounded calf on a Forest Service allotment in the Gros Ventre [Teton pack territory].

Research

The World Wolf Congress 2003, announced the Scientific Advisory Committee selected the oral and poster presenters and several were from 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. Fontaine was assisting them in finding dens in NW Montana this week.

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.

The alpha male #238M of the Sentinel pack in SW Montana was found dead in a field next to the highway on the morning of the 22nd. LE is investigating. He was the only radio-collared member of the pack.

A meeting was held this week in Mountain Home, Idaho between the Nez Perce Tribe, Wildlife Services, Boise National Forest, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and livestock producers to coordinate wolf and livestock management activities this summer on Forest Service grazing allotments in the Steel Mountain area.

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 more than 100 years and invites speakers with particularly interesting general informational material. About 500 people attended Doug’s talk.

The Idaho Woolgrowers Association held their 2003 Range Tour on Sunday and Monday, July 20-21 in Ketchum, Idaho. Niemeyer gave a short presentation on the Idaho wolf recovery efforts to nearly 100 participants ( 2 buses) in the field while touring sheep range operations of woolgrowers in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area. Other topics of discussion were issues involving state lands, BLM, Forest Service, Fish and Game, SNRA, and recreation vs sheep grazing. Representatives from BLM, Forest Service, state lands, Fish and Game, Wildlife Services, state land board, Attorney General's office, Senator Craig and Crapo and Idaho Cattle Association were also on the tour. The tour provided a great opportunity to discuss livestock grazing issues with federal, state, and private land managers.

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 , or a much better idea is go to- www.nps.gov/yell/nature/animals/wolf/wolfup.html.

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