Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
|From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/31/03
Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 10/24 to 10/31, 2003
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.
Two wolf carcasses were recently recovered in the GYA. Wolf #207 from the Rose Creek pack was recovered on Nov. 23rd. On Oct. 20, Park employees recovered wolf #220 from the Leopold pack. Both apparently died from natural causes.
On the 29th, WS trapped, and Asher helped collar and released a female and a male [60 and 55 lbs] grey pups from the Sentinel pack in the Madison Valley. The pack now has 3 radio collared pack members. The pups were caught near an area where 2 cows were found dead a month ago under mysterious circumstances. Traps were pulled. Congratulations and thanks to Chad Hoover [WS].
Wolf 260, a yearling male that was collared in May 2003 in Glacier National Park (Whitefish Pack), was legally shot on October 18 near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He was with 2 other wolves when he was shot, 250 miles from his home pack territory. Some of the reintroduced wolves in 1995 came from this general area. We thank the hunter for returning the collar.
The Kootenai Pack, a pack with one collared wolf that spends most of its time in British Columbia, was found 6 miles inside Montana in the upper Yaak drainage on October 27. Newly collared Candy Mountain wolf 351 was 11 miles farther west, so there may be two packs of wolves present in the Yaak drainage, neither of which is descended from the 8 wolves released there in December 2001. All of those 8 relocated wolves (originally from the Gravelly Pack in south-central Montana) have died or dispersed out of northwest Montana.
The Nez Perce pack can’t be found again, but we suspect they are somewhere in NW WY. Any reports of this pack of up to 20 members would be appreciated. The radioed members were scattered on their last location so they may be tough to find. Many "Park" packs leave at times.
A livestock producer north of Gardiner, MT reported that his fall calves, that normally weigh about 620 lbs, only weighed 500lbs on average this year. He grazes on private land and adjacent Forest Service allotments close to the Sheep Mountain wolf pack rendezvous site. He only is missing one [fate unknown- no others appeared wounded] of 68 calves but the lack of weigh gain was a surprise. His neighbors did not report such low calf weights. He said he suspects but can’t confirm, that his cattle might have been hesitant to feed in the timbered areas because of wolves and as a consequence may have not been able to utilize abundant forage in those timbered areas.
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.
Drs. Bill Ripple and Bob Beschta just published a paper "Wolf reintroduction, predation risk, and cottonwood recovery in Yellowstone National Park" in Vol 184 Forest Ecology and Management. The paper suggests that the resurgence of willow and aspen may be due to wolf-induced changes in elk foraging behavior. It suggests that changes in elk behavior rather than elk numbers are responsible. The concept is being tested by the Park, who are comparing wolf/elk encounter location data to see if elk really do avoid areas where there is a high chance of wolf attack/encounter. Several national and local news articles covered the willow/elk/wolf theory. You can review the article on Greenwire.
As a continuing effort to better understand elk population dynamics, Shannon Barber [PhD graduate student], P.J. White and L.D. Mech released the first year progress report on their study of elk calf mortality in Yellowstone’s northern elk range. Abstract: During May 2003 the Yellowstone Center for resources, U.S. Geological Survey, and Univ. of Minnesota initiated a 3-year study of mortality in northern Yellowstone elk calves. The primary objectives were to: 1) estimate the relative causes and timing of calf deaths; 2) estimate calf survival rates; and 3) evaluate factors that may predispose calves to death. During May/June 2003, 51 calves less than six days old were captured, fit with ear-tag transmitters, and monitored daily. During May-through Sept. 2003, 34 instrumented calves died (31 predation and 3 other causes) and one transmitter failed. Preliminary determinations of causes of death were 19 killed by grizzly and black bears, 5 killed by wolves, 3 killed by coyotes, 2 killed by either bears or wolves, 1 killed by a mountain lion, 1 killed by a wolverine, and 3 non-predator deaths due to unknown causes. Monitoring of radioed calves will continue through winter 2004 and new captures are scheduled for May/June 2004 and 2005. The investigators caution that these data are preliminary. The radioed calves were only a small sample of the overall 2003 calf crop. The data to date represent only one part of a calf’s first year of life, and shouldn’t be widely extrapolated to yearly survival, other elk herds, other years, or seasons.
Information and education and law enforcement
2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference Call for Papers
Papers are now being accepted for the 2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 6 - 8, 2004 at Chico Hot Springs, in Pray, Montana, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. This year’s theme is "Working Collaboratively Toward Long-Term Wolf Conservation." Past speakers include L. David Mech, Paul Paquet, Rolf Peterson, Doug Smith, and other leading wolf experts, forensics and law enforcement specialists, livestock conflict managers, and field researchers . The conference is sponsored by Yellowstone National Park, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nez Perce Tribe and Defenders of Wildlife. Please submit a single spaced abstract, up to 500 words, and include your full contact information, affiliations, and authors, by email to: Joseph Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov . Conference registration will begin November 15, 2003 and you may contact Suzanne Stone, Rocky Mountain Field Representative, Defenders of Wildlife at Sstone@defenders.org or (208) 424-9385 for details. Lodging registration is open now. Please contact Chico Hot Springs Lodge, Pray, Montana, 1-800-468-9232 or (406) 333-4933 and request a "wolf conference" room reservation to receive our group rate. The room rate is $45/bed/day (or $35/bed/day for Montana state agency representatives with ID).
Father and son trappers, Jim and Rusty Krammer from Fairfield, ID were given certificates of appreciation and a new catch pole by the Service and Wildlife Services. On Oct 3 they reported a large male wolf in their trap. Rick Williamson [WS] met them and safely radio-collared and released it on site. We have had several wolves accidently caught by coyote trappers. Their prompt reporting has allowed us to radio-collar and safely release the animals uninjured. Thanks!
This week Bangs responded to 2 separate captive wolf and wolf hybrid issues. Apparently some captive wolf/hybrids were released into the wild in S. CO, near a wolf ‘rescue’ facility. Reportedly some people brought some captive wolves there and were told there was no room for them. Then 4 wolf-like canids were reportedly seen nearby. CO DOW may remove the animals from the wild as they see fit. In other reported instance, a lady from Las Vegas who had dozens of captive wolves and wolf hybrids got divorced and gave them away. The Humane Society was preparing to euthanize some and a person at a wolf ‘rescue’ center asked if the Service could use or help to save them. We replied that "These type of canids are not protected by the ESA. If found in the wild we recommend they be removed and euthanized. This is a responsible pet owner issue, and we recommend people should not own wolf/dog hybrids. Certainly they should never be released to the wild for humane reasons. We recommended the canids in question be humanely euthanized as planned.
On the 28th, Bangs talked to the Wildlife Conservation Issues class at Univ. MT. in Missoula.. About 25 students attended.
Fontaine gave two presentations on the 23rd to two advanced biology classes, 15-20 students, at Capital High school in Helena.
On the 31st, Smith was interviewed for a 4-part Idaho Falls TV outdoors piece on wolves. Bangs is scheduled to be interviewed next week.
On the 23rd, Smith rode in with Forest Service biologists to retrieve a dead wolf #207 from the Rose Creek pack. It apparently died from natural causes. He also visited with a couple of outfitters who hunt areas north of Yellowstone National Park. They were concerned about elk numbers and hunter success, moose populations, and wolf predation. Earlier on Oct. 20 Leopold wolf [#220] was recovered and it had also apparently died of natural causes. Both the wolves had been largely consumed [just the head remained at one site] by the time they were examined.
Carter Niemeyer will be traveling to Krygyzstan, a central Asian republic in the old Soviet Union on November 2 and returning on November 21. An international corporation asked him to work with herdsmen and shepherds in that country to reduce livestock damage by wolves and jackals. He’ll be looking at husbandry practices and seeing if some low cost non-lethal measures to reduce depredations can be applied, especially in sheep flocks.
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
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 Us: WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov