Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/05/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/29 to 9/5, 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. We are in the process of compiling our preliminary monitoring information for this year and hope to provide a "best guess" of current wolf numbers and pack status in our September 12th, 2003 weekly reports.

Former Teton wolf #267 a black 2-yr-old male has been traveling with the Green River pack female and her 5 pups for the past few weeks. Her former mate was killed in a control action earlier this summer. Wolf #267 has been involved in previous depredations- it seems ‘she’ is attracted to those ‘bad boys’. To date no problems have been reported and that now makes them a "breeding pair" if they make it to Dec. 31.

An uncollared wolf escaped with a trap and 8' chain on its foot last week after the drag link separated. The Nez Perce tribe and WS organized an intensive search effort including a helicopter. They and some local ranch riders [and their cattle dog] finally managed to find and re-capture it. It was radio-collared, treated with antibiotics, and released, but sadly it died a couple of days later. All our trappers are re-reminded to give their trap chains a good check before use to try to detect any potentially weak or cracked links or swivels. Any capture of large wild animals involves some risk but we should do everything we can to minimize problems, so check gear closely and avoid trapping in very hot weather when possible.

The Washakie pack moved back into their old rendezvous site in Six Mile Creek on the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, WY. They cattle were all on private land on the 2nd, reportedly because wolves chased them off the allotment. The alpha pair is radioed and an unknown gray radioed wolf has joined them. A subgroup of the pack killed calves earlier this summer but the radioed wolves hadn’t been located on the ranch until recently.

On the 2nd, Taylor Peak yearling #281M was in the N. Fork of Squaw Creek drainage in timber. (Madison drainage), Sentinel #324F was in Buck Creek on the Gallatin side. Freezeout #115F and #161M traveling with four other grays in Tributary Creek off the East Fork of the Ruby. (W side of Gravelly’s). Chief Joe- 14 seen including 5 pups- No radio collars are in that pack but howling from the ground had the pups and some adults at a rendezvous site in the Park in Daly Creek. Trapping with #3 soft-catch, tranquilizer tabs, trap site transmitters, and double sets, was conducted in Daly Creek the night of the 1st. There were 3 pull-outs in a row and then 2 dug-up sets. All traps were pulled. Ground darting was attempted the next morning but the pack left the area that night [see control].

The radio-collar from a Red Shale pack member [NW MT] was recovered by Forest Service field crews [Thanks!]. It was just a shed collar. This primarily wilderness pack has one collar remaining.

Frame [good job] caught and radioed a 44lb. female pup in the Lazy Creek pack this week. The pup’s collar was set at adult size and padded with foam that falls out as the wolf grows into the collar. However, it is not uncommon for them to slip the collars during the first few weeks.

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

A range sheep operator on a Forest Service grazing allotment near Pearl Creek north of McCall, Idaho with a history of wolf depredation on his allotment has experienced repeated wolf depredation incidents again this year. In the most recent incidents, wolves killed and/or severely injured 5 sheep from one band on August 27, then killed/injured another 11 animals on August 31, and another 7 animals on September 1. In response to earlier wolf depredation on sheep in this area in mid-August, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had authorized WS to live capture, radio-collar and release on site up to two wolves. A local WS Specialist had trapped, collared and released 2 wolves in response to the depredations in mid August, but one of those animals has subsequently been found dead, and the other animal left the area. With the additional depredations that have occurred most recently, the FWS has now authorized lethal removal of any and all wolves from the local area, and has issued the sheep producer a 45-day permit which authorizes him or his herders to shoot any wolves caught in the act of attacking their sheep on their allotment.

Hartman trapped near Plains, MT [NW MT] where several llamas [and apparently some horses] were reportedly chased/attacked by a ‘wolf’, and caught a wolf-like dog. Apparently it turned out the owner just couldn’t keep her 2 dogs at home. They were taken to the pound at the owner’s request. Good job Therese!

Wildlife Services confirmed a report of a dead calf near McLeod, MT [GYA] in the Dry Fork of the E. Boulder River on Aug 30th. A producer reportedly jumped 2 wolves off the mostly consumed carcass on his Forest Service Allotment. He also reported his cattle were scattered and found an old cow carcass but cause of death is unknown. WS set traps to radio-collar and release a wolf on-site if possible, to determine if a new pack might be involved. On the 5th, WS specialist Jim Rost caught a previously radioed gray adult female and gray female pup near Moccasin Lake. Both were radioed and released, and control has ended. At least 2 other wolves were howling nearby. Great job Jim and thanks.

UT WS reported 5 dead sheep [4 ewes not fed on but a lamb was consumed] in several instances near where a wolf was captured last year [east of Ogden, UT], during the later part of August. From the wounds, it appears they were killed by a large canid but no tracks or sign could be found. No further depredations have occurred in the past 2 weeks. It could have been a large dog, possibly a wolf. If further depredations are documented control maybe conducted.

Chief Joe pack was apparently bumped out of Daly Creek [YNP] on the 1st, by our 1 night trapping effort. On the morning of the 2nd seven wolves were reportedly seen chasing cattle on private land in Tom Miner Basin which is just over the ridge from Daly Creek. That afternoon a calf was confirmed killed by wolves and another calf is missing. Trapping to collar and release on site is being conducted. At least 14 have been seen including 5 pups.

WS investigated a report of 2 horses being injured by wolves near Daniel, WY. There were cuts on the horses’ legs caused by the fence. Wolf tracks were in the area and it appears the wolves may have spooked the horses through a fence but did not attack them. The horses appear to be fine.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Niemeyer, Nadeau, and nearly 15 others including ranchers, hunting group representatives, agency managers, environmental groups, and tribal representatives participated in a public TV panel interview about wolf management and recovery in Boise, ID on the 3rd. Two hours of discussion was filmed which will be edited down into a 1 hour show. It will be aired during prime time on PTV "Predators of the West" program, which will air in Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana on Sept. 18. You can view video clips and lists of participants as well as a 1 hour version of the show when it is available at http://focuswest.org/index2003d.cfm .

On the 5th, Smith gave a talk for the Univ. Montana Ecology Lecture series in Missoula, about 300 people were expected. That evening he gave a talk for the Alliance for the Wild Rockies about 30 people were expected.

The Nez Perce Tribe released their annual "Idaho Wolf Recovery Program: Restoration and management of gray wolves in central Idaho" 2002 Progress Report. It is another great report and can be accessed at www.nezperce.org .

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.

The Service will send out the completed Idaho, Wyoming and Montana wolf management plans for independent scientific peer review in mid-September. Peer review is the next logical step in the process for the Service to determine if a delisting proposal is appropriate at this time.

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