Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

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

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/9 to 8/22, 2003

Monitoring

The week of the 11th FWS, NPT and Nadeau with Idaho Fish and Game investigated reported wolf activity in the Boise River system just east of Idaho. During that same week Niemeyer captured and collared a male wolf, B155, in the newly documented Timberline wolf pack just east of Idaho City. Wolf pups were confirmed with the Timberline pack. This week, Niemeyer, Adam Gall, and Erin Simmons initiated a trapping effort just northeast of Idaho City to collar wolves associated with what was initially believed to be an additional litter and possibly a new pack. While working the trap line northeast of Idaho City, B155 wandered up from the Timberline pack and was observed with one other wolf in close proximity to the trap line northeast of Idaho City. The next morning an adult female and a pup were captured and collared. Although we still suspect the presence of two different litters, the presence of B155 in both areas is confusing. Additional monitoring will be required to determine the relationship between wolves in these two adjacent areas.

On the 19th during a monitoring flight a mortality signal was located from one of the two collared Red Shale Pack yearling wolves. An effort will be made as soon as possible to travel into the area and investigate the situation.

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.

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

As weve always known this is the yearly peak, mid-August, of livestock depredations by wolves as noted by the number of incidents listed below.

WS confirmed that the Sunlight Pack in Wyoming killed another calf, this makes 3 total. During each depredation investigation, WS repeatedly found Sunlight wolves at the scene. On Saturday the 16th , WS killed 2 sub-adult wolves near the last dead calf. The situation will be monitored to determine if the depredations have ceased.

Four Teton Pack dispersing 2 year-old wolves killed 3 calves in the Union Pass area in Wyoming. Two of the wolves are collared and have previously killed livestock near Pinedale, Wyoming. On Monday the 18th WS killed 2 uncollared wolves near the depredation site. We will continue to monitor the situation.

Green River pack consists of an adult female and 5 pups. Since the last control action she has not attacked any cattle but has been observed scavenging carcasses and carrying deer legs back to the pups.

WS confirmed at least 2 sheep were killed by wolves in the Wyoming Range near Daniel Wyoming. The producer found 12 -15 other dead ewes and lambs but they were too decomposed to determine what killed them. A decision was made to try and place a radio collar in the pack to better monitor the situation and as a non-lethal method to try and prevent additional depredations. Normally we dont trap when it is hot like it has been the last month but since we were trying to stop the depredations we decided to proceed. Two wolves were caught, one by FWS and the other by WS, but unfortunately they died from heat exposure. The traps were pulled and the situation is being monitored.

WS confirmed at least 4 -5 depredations this summer by the Greybull pack and is trying to lethally remove two of the wolves. This control operation is ongoing.

The Absaroka Pack killed 2 calves on one allotment the week of the 11th. There is only 1 collared 2-year-old wolf in this pack, so we are first trying to trap, collar and release on site in hopes of stopping the depredation. If the depredations continue then lethal control will be initiated.

At least 2 ewes were killed on the 4th or 5th, and several lambs and ewes are missing from Forest Service grazing allotments near Pinedale, WY. WS confirmed the wolf damage and when they howled they heard response from several adults and pups in the area. There are no known radioed wolves in that area. WS and the Service are trapping and will radio-collar and release any captured wolves on site to determine what is there and what control actions may be appropriate.

WS confirmed that wolves on a Forest Service allotment just north of Yellowstone National Park killed 8 sheep and grizzly bears killed 5 sheep. WS was authorized to shoot one wolf if it was in the sheep band. Although WS went in several times wolves were never seen in the sheep. On the 21st the sheep were moved off the allotment due to a fire in the area. No further control will be taken.

WS confirmed that wolves killed some sheep on a Forest Service allotment just north of McCall, Idaho. The depredation occurred within B45's territory but his radio collar failed about a year ago and the status of the wolves is not known. WS initiated a capture effort to collar and release on site and two wolves were captured; an adult female and an adult male. Unfortunately, the female died of apparent stress related complications during capture and processing. Tribal field crews are continuing capture and collaring efforts to determine the status of wolves in this area. The whereabouts of B45 and her mate is not known at this point.

WS confirmed wolf depredations on another Forest Service allotment also just north of McCall, Idaho. The Hazard Lake pack is suspected in this incident as they were located approximately 4 miles from the depredation site on a subsequent monitor flight. A control action is under way.

WS confirmed that wolves killed a calf near Challis, Idaho. Recovery Project personnel have been attempting to capture and collar one of a suspected 10-11 wolves in this area since last winter. WS initiated a capture and collar effort to better understand the status of wolf activity in this area.

An attempt to radio collar a possible lone wolf in the Trout Creek, Montana area is still ongoing. The wolf was observed chasing sheep into a corral and barn on August the 10th and 11th and 4 sheep are missing. The operation is still ongoing.

On the 12th WS confirmed that the Willow Creek pack southwest of Drummond, MT killed a calf and injured another one. The injured calf died on the 21st. Traps were set to radio collar and release on site. There are 3 wolves in the pack and the female is radio collared. A subsequent monitoring flight showed the wolves had moved approximately 8-10 miles away and the traps were removed. No further control will be done at this time due to the heat and extreme fire danger in the area.

A gray and black wolf in the Ninemile Valley, northwest of Missoula, have been frequenting a llama producer in the area. So far the electric fence that was provided by Defenders has prevented any depredations. We would like to radio collar one of the wolves but the Ninemile Valley was closed due to the fires in the area and the fire danger. Fire crews have been seeing at least 3 wolves just above the llama producer.

A calf was confirmed killed by members of the Chief Joseph pack on the 14th. WS tried to trap and collar one of the wolves but the grizzly bears in the area took over the carcass and all trapping ceased. The area is being scouted by Asher and Ross in an effort to locate trapping sites to radio collar one of the wolves. This would mark the pack and facilitate research by an MSU graduate student in the Gallatin Valley.

On August 17, a calf was verified killed by wolves in Pleasant Valley, west of Kalispell. The calf was probably killed by members of the Murphy Lake Pack, which has spent much of the summer in that area, 30-40 miles south of their usual range. The Murphy Lake Pack is the fourth pack of wolves that has been implicated in cattle depredation in Pleasant Valley over the past 13 years.

Research

Nothing new to report.

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.

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks released their final version of the EIS for the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan on Thursday the 21st. The final document will be posted on FWPs website www.fwp.state.mt.us and it will be available for review at all FWP offices and at many of the Montana public libraries.

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, probably 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 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