Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/24/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 10/17 to 10/24, 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.

On the 18th, Frame collared a young (2-3 year-old non-breeding) female wolf (70 lb, # 351) in the Spread Creek area between the Yaak River and the Idaho border. She was 8 miles south of the Canadian border, on her first location she was near Yaak, MT. If it turns out to be a member of a pack, they will be called the Candy Mountain Pack. Frame returned to school in Canada to resume his MS thesis work.

Chad Hoover (Wildlife Services) was conducting some aerial activities in the Madison Valley on the 20th, and located part of the Sentinel pack near the cattle, but they were unable to dart and radio-collar any. However, he did dart and radio-collar a yearling gray male in the neighboring pack, Taylor peak. The male looked to have a touch of the mange on its belly. Thanks WS!

A male gray wolf collared as a yearling [#260] last May 13 at Apgar, MT was shot NE of Banff, Alberta Canada this past week we appreciate the hunter notifying Canadian wildlife officials and returning the radio-collar.

Two pups [33 and 40lbs] were trapped by Asher and Ross [MT FW&P] from the Taylor Peak pack in the Madison Valley. Both had severe mange, were in extremely poor condition, and were euthanized for humane reasons. Their carcasses were sent to the MT FW&P wildlife lab for a detailed examination.

Over the weekend of the 18th, a coyote trapper in the Big Hole Basin of MT, called WS to report he had a wolf in his coyote trap. WS specialist Graham McDougal responded, collared the young male wolf and safely released it on-site. Thanks to the trapper and WS. It will be monitored to determine if it just lone disperser, as suspected, or if an unknown pack maybe established in that area.

On the 22nd, a coyote trapper reported accidentally catching a yearling wolf in the Great Divide pack’s territory near Helena, MT. The trapper helped Fontaine collar and release the uninjured wolf on site [caught by only a toe]. Radio contact had been lost with the pack last winter and we greatly appreciate the trapper’s assistance and quick reporting of the accidental capture. The trapper thought there could be as many as 6-8 in the pack based upon the sign he had seen earlier this year. Thanks, we appreciate his help.

Trapping efforts in northwest Montana have ended due to cold weather and the upcoming hunting season. We hope to receive reports of wolf sightings from hunters, particularly from hunter check stations. These have been very valuable in identifying areas of new wolf activity. Thanks for reporting all observations of wolves or their sign to us as soon as possible. We need and appreciate your continued help.

Control

Last week, because of subsequent livestock depredations even after the removal of the Teton dispersing male that joined the Green River female, WS removed the 3rd uncollared male that joined up with the Green River female and her 2-4 surviving pups. It seems that as soon as another male joins up with her they again started killing cattle. Cattle are mainly off allotment now and hopefully this pack’s pattern of depredations will end, at least for this year.

A calf was killed between Cody and Powell, WY last week, by members of the Absaroka pack. Last month a horse was reportedly chased by wolves in that area but it was apparently unharmed. The calf was killed on private property. WS is trapping in the area and will kill any wolves caught at the carcass. If wolves are caught outside that area they may be collared and released.

Jim Hoover [WS] investigated a horse carcass discovered near Red Lodge, MT where cattle had been killed by the Red Lodge pack last year. It did not appear the horse died from predation, although the carcass wasn’t fresh and exact cause of death could not be pinpointed.

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

Rick Williamson (WS) and Niemeyer gave presentations at the California Wolf Center near Julian, California, on October 18 and 19. The audiences were given an overview of wolf recovery efforts in the northwest region and special topics about wolf impacts on livestock, ungulates, sportsmen and pets were discussed. Nancy Weiss from Defenders of Wildlife also made a presentation to an afternoon audience.

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

On October 13, Meier talked about wolves and wolf recovery to about 50 members of the Flathead Valley Audubon Society in Kalispell, MT.

On the 21st and 22nd, Bangs was in Albuquerque, NM to attend the initial meeting of the Service’s recovery team [technical and stakeholder sections] for the Southwestern Distinct Population Segment for the gray wolf.

This was 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 . 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. Limited copies [please- for educators or classrooms only!- others can buy them from the above website for $6-postage included] can be obtained from any of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf field offices or cooperators in Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming.

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