Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/1/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/25 to 8/1, 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 of the Sentinel pack was radio-collared on the 30th and traps were pulled. On the 31st, a 35lb. pup from the Taylor peak pack was captured, ear tagged [too young for a collar] and released. Great job,Val Asher and Mike Ross [MT FW&P]!

Large forest fires in and around Glacier National Park have not burned any areas where wolf packs have been found in recent weeks, but the Wedge Canyon fire has burned a significant part of the territory of the Kintla Pack. Much of the territory of the Whitefish pack burned in last year's Moose Creek fire. To date wolves have not been directly effected by any major fires over the past 10 years. Habitat changes have effected ungulate densities [except for moose, generally positively] which ultimately does affect pack territory size and demographics.

A gray and a black wolf were seen together near Fishtail, MT [just north of Yellowstone NP]. This is the same general area where some domestic sheep were killed earlier this spring. It is unknown if they have pups. The livestock producers has an active shoot on site permit for one wolf but no further problems have been detected.

In Idaho field crews continue their successful monitoring efforts. At least 2 pups were heard in the Kelly Creek pack of 6 adults. The Selway pack has 3 pups. Crews finally caught up with suspected breeding wolf B110, a disperser from the Moyer Basin pack. He was observed with at least one other wolf on numerous occasions over this past winter and spring. B110 has used areas along the breaks of the main Salmon River from the confluence of the South Fork Salmon River upstream to above Sabe Creek. This week, Tribal Biologist Jason Husseman documented 6 pups and accounted for 4 adult wolves associated with B110. This new pack is called the Magruder pack.

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

On the 27thth, the alpha female of the Taylor peak pack was killed in SW MT after she repeatedly was located where sheep were killed last week, even after she was harassed from the area several times. We will continue nonlethal methods [RAG box, electric fencing, dog, herder, less-than-lethal munitions, telemetry assisted harassment were already being used] to protect the sheep, but if the attacks continue additional measures will be taken. The sheep owner had a new electric fence installed for night penning the sheep and it seems to be working fine so far.

Nearly 2,700 sheep are being grazed on a very remote Forest Service allotment just north of Yellowstone National Park. Over the 27th, weekend 4 lambs were killed and another wounded. This area is a few miles from the Rose Creek rendezvous site and we suspect a member of the pack found the sheep. Wildlife Services was authorized to shoot a wolf if it was coming into the sheep. The herd is being guarded by dogs and herders. The sheep will be removed if attacked by grizzly bears.

Several lambs [6-8[ were killed and another 8-10 were wounded by a large canid in SE Idaho. WS investigations are continuing but it appears it was a dog, but possibly even a lone wolf. About a week or so ago 12 sheep were killed and 7 wounded in the same area but it wasn’t reported quickly and they were too decomposed to know what happened.

This week, WS investigated a calf, on private property within the Goldfork pack's [ID] territory, thought to have been attacked by wolves. The calf was still alive at the time of the investigation. It had sustained serious injuries, perhaps 10 days ago, that made it difficult to confirm the predator involved. The producer had observed wolf sign in the area around the estimated time of the reported attack. Based on available evidence, WS categorized the incident as a "possible" wolf-caused incident.

There was another calf killed on a Forest Service allotment in another part of the Green River pack territory [WY] but it appears that several wolves were feeding on it and it was likely killed by a sub-group of the Teton pack. In addition bears have been killing cattle. Cattle were away the Green River female and her 4 pups den/rendezvous site, which should help resolve that situation. Ground tracking of the female indicated she was hauling deer pieces back to the pups. Hopefully it will remain that way.

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.

Information and education and law enforcement

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a web page that has various links to state wolf management plans, information about wolf reclassification and delisting. It can be accessed at

http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/fnl-rule/index.html .

On July 30, Meier spoke to 10 students and faculty from a U of M conservation ecology class at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge.

The National Geographic Explorer TV program containing a 26 minute red wolf film segment is scheduled to premier at 7PM this Sunday August 3rd on MSNBC. So far, we are told the program will air on TV just one time. The red wolf segment is called, "America's Last Red Wolves."

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 Nez Perce Tribe and State of Idaho continued constructive discussions crafting an effective partnership to coordinate wolf management in Idaho. A draft Memorandum of Agreement is expected by the end of the year. The new IDFG wolf page is online on the IDFG website, http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/info/programsinfo/wolves/wolf.htm.

The final Wyoming Game and Fish wolf management plan is posted on their website http://gf.state.wy.us . The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission approved the plan on the 29th. The Service will look at the Idaho, Wyoming and Montana plans after they have been completed, likely early September, and at that time make the final determination whether they should be sent out for independent scientific peer review. Peer review is the next logical step in the process for the Service to determine if a delisting proposal is appropriate.

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