Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/05/03

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 11/21to 12/05, 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 22nd and 23rd, 9 members of the Geode and Agate packs were helicopter darted and radio-collared in Yellowstone National Park as part of the routine wolf monitoring/research program. Service Project leader for wolf recovery in Wyoming, Jimenez assisted. To date 17 wolves in 5 packs have been radioed, the earliest and quickest start to Park capture efforts so far.

Control

Two calves were confirmed attacked by wolves near Jackson, MT [Big Hole Valley] around the 22nd. No radioed packs are known to be in that area.

On the 4th WS killed a gray adult female, 90-100, in the Sheep Mtn pack that had a bad case of manage. This was part of the control to remove 3-4 wolves from that pack.

A rancher in the Mill Creek area shot and killed a wolf under a shoot on sight permit. This is the same area where two calves were killed by wolves on November 14th and they also killed calves in this area earlier this year. An additional wolf can still be taken under this permit.

Research

Yellowstone National Park continued their early winter study [Nov 15- Dec 15] to determine wolf predation rates. There is low snow cover and as would be expected- kill rates appear average or below average. The visiting scholar is Dr. Francisco Fonseca, from the Univ. Of Lisbon, Portugal.

Jessica Montag, Michael Patterson, and Bethany Sutton [Wildlife Biology Program, School of Forestry, Univ. of Montana] have published their final project report 2003 "Political and Social Viability of Predator Compensation Programs in the West". It is available at http://www.forestry.umt.edu/pcrp/

Information and education and law enforcement

Mark Johnson, DVM (Global Wildlife Resources), Rick Williamson (Wildlife Services, and Carter Niemeyer (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) conducted a Wolf Handling and Chemical Immobilization Course for approximately 36 personnel representing Idaho/Oregon Wildlife Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Umatilla Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Union County Animal Control, USDA Veterinary Services and Oregon State Police. All aspects of wolf handling under field conditions were presented, so that participants could perform thoughtful, professional and humane wolf management tasks when required. Federal, state and veterinary policies were also reviewed for adherance.

Bangs and Niemeyer participated in a conf. call with DOJ appeal attorneys on the 24th and 3rd in preparation for the Dec. 1, Ninth Circuit Court Appeals hearing on the SNRA litigation.

The 11 scientific peer reviews of the Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming state wolf management plans were sent to the states for their comment and response on the 28th. The comments were released to the media on Dec 1. WY G&F posted the comments on their web site on Dec 2. This is just one of the many steps in the Service’s process to decide whether a delisting proposal is warranted at this time. The states will be sent their response back to the Service in early December. The Service will develop its recommendations based upon both the peer review comments and the state responses by mid-December. These recommendations will go up through the chain of command in the Service and DOI in mid-December. The Service hopes to make a final decision on the adequacy of the state wolf management plans by early January. The decision to propose delisting is a subsequent and separate decision that should also be made in early 2004.

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. 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 .

The radio signal from a Sunlight Basin pack member was located on mortality in NW WY and is under LE investigation. Already this fall, the carcasses of one radioed and 2 unradioed other pack members have recovered and their deaths are under LE investigation.

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