Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/17/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 10/10 to 10/17, 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 Ashland, OR Wildlife Forensics Lab determined that the cuts on the collar from a Red Shale pack member were made by teeth and that the collar apparently just slipped off the wolf’s neck this spring. LE investigations are concluded. Only one collar remains in that pack.

The frequency of wolf flights has increased in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming during and just before the firearm hunting season. Flights will be conducted at higher elevation than normal to avoid disturbing hunters. Jason Husseman was able to confirm a minimum of two pups in the new Morgan Creek pack in Idaho. This brings the total to 25 breeding pairs in Idaho. Curt Mack investigated a report of a dead wolf near Meadows, ID which turned out to be a domestic dog. The Moccasin Lake pack, collared as a result of a cattle depredation this summer, was found near McLeod, MT. A wolf captured and radio-collared southwest of Bozeman, MT this spring that immediately dispersed into Paradise Valley was located back southwest of Bozeman. It has not been seen with other wolves.

We are doing the last minute trapping and radio-collaring for our wolf monitoring program. The Tribe has let their field crews go and the rest of us are winding down as the cold weather and start of the big game firearms hunting season brings our trapping efforts to a close. Please report all observations of wolves or their sign to us as soon as possible. Thanks! we need and appreciate your help.

Control

An adult wolf from the Willow pack was shot off a wolf-killed calf carcass by WS as authorized by the Service on the 10th. WS continued to trap at the calf’s carcasses to collar another pack member and release it on site.

On the 11th, the Sentinel pack was seen near/feeding on another cow carcass in the Madison Valley. The cow had apparently been dead about a week before being discovered. WS examined the carcass as soon as they were notified and determined that the cow did not die from predation. Local landowners were still upset and suspicious since the pack had scavenged on another cow carcass on the same ranch about a week earlier. Traps were set at the carcass to try and radio-collar another pack member.

On the 15th, 3 ewe sheep were killed on private property near Nye, MT. This is the same area where sheep were killed by a suspected lone wolf earlier this summer. The landowner’s shoot on site permit for one wolf was re-activated. A neighboring landowner had photos of a black and a gray wolf in the area in mid-summer. WS set traps near the sheep carcasses.

On the 15th, 9 suspected members of the Sheep Mountain pack were reportedly feeding on a fresh 650lb. calf carcass near Daly Lake on private property, in Paradise Valley. Radio location data both from the ground and the air indicated the Sheep Mountain pack was in that area. WS confirmed the depredation and set traps at the carcass. On the 16th, 3 [full stomach] grey wolves, a 95lb ad male and two 70 & 75lb female yearlings or pups (since they were near both pup canine length and weight), were captured, radio-collared and released on site. Sign indicated another calf may have been attacked but WS could not find a carcass. The producer will continue to search for missing calves and has been riding both his ranch and the allotment intensively for the past several weeks based on suspicions of wolf-caused damage. Cattle are being removed from the Forest Service allotments and this producer and another that had no losses last year reported being 6-7 short this fall. A nearby rancher reported no losses but his calves were 100lbs lighter than normal. There is evidence that these wolves have been chasing/attacking cattle this summer. Earlier this summer a producer found part of a calf’s leg in the trail used by wolves and a bow hunter reportedly photographed wolves at a fresh cattle calf carcass. Efforts to locate the archer have been unsuccessful to date. Due to the apparent chronic nature of this pack’s pattern of cattle depredation, WS will be authorized to lethally remove 3-4 adult-sized wolves after we locate and monitor the pack a few times. The pack’s home range includes ranches with wintering cattle that have had depredations by this pack in previous years.

Research

The Univ. of Chicago Press is taking pre-orders for the epic all-encompassing book "Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation" Edited by L. David Mech and Luigi Boitani. 2003. University of Chicago Press. You can order from the International Wolf Center by calling 1-800-359-9653 ext 21. They are available now.

Information and education and law enforcement

National Wildlife Federation Online www.nwf.org has a great series of e-articles on wolves, and a photographic test to distinguish wolves from coyotes as part of their celebration for National Wolf Awareness Week Oct. 19-26.mailto:NationalWildlifeFederation@eNature.com

The Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the person who killed a gray wolf near Mores Creek Summit north of Idaho City, ID. The wolf, a collared female known as "B-158," was killed sometime between October 5 and October 11 off of Forest Road 323. Contact LE Agents Craig Tabor or Scott Kabasa at (208) 378-5333.

This week, Curt Mack gave a presentation at the Idaho Conservation League's annual north Idaho Conference in Bonners Ferry, ID. Jim Holyan gave a presentation at the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society in Ocean Side, WA. Carter Niemeyer and Rick Williamson gave talks at the California Wolf Center in Julian, California.

Bangs gave an evening presentation to the Helena Agriculture Forum in Helena on the 14th. About 25 people attended.

On the 14th, Bangs participated in a National conference call regarding litigation, (administrative record, work assignments, etc.), over the reclassification of the gray wolf from endangered to threatened status and the establishment of the Western, Eastern, and Southwestern Distinct Population Segments. Responding to litigation requires a substantial amount of work.

Next week is National Wolf Awareness Week. mailto:twa@northlan.edu The National Wolf Awareness 2003 wolf poster is available from the Timber Wolf Alliance www.northland.edu/soei/timber_wolf.html or twa@northland.edu . It is a stunning painting of an adult wolf in forest shadows called "The Glance" by Jim Turgeon. On the back is a map of wolves in the U.S. and current accurate information on gray and red wolves in the U.S. Copies are limited so please provide them to educators or classrooms only! Others can buy them from the above website for $6-postage included or they can be obtained from any of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf field offices or cooperators in Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming. This is an outstanding educational poster.

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

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

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