Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 1/09/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 1/2-1/9, 2004

2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference Registration Available Online

Online registration is now available for the 2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference taking place April 6-8 at Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Montana. Please register online at

https://www.keysecure.com/forwolves.org/confer2004.html

This conference, now in its 16th year, involves state, tribal and federal natural resource agencies, university and related organizations participating in active wolf management and recovery efforts. This year's theme is "Working Collaboratively Toward Long Term Wolf Conservation." The keynote speaker is Dr. Lu Carbyn, author of "The Buffalo Wolf: Predators, Prey, and the Politics of Nature" and renowned wolf biologist and research scientist emeritus for the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Past conference speakers include Ed Bangs, 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 US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, Yellowstone National Park, andthe Nez Perce Tribe.

Papers are now being accepted for the conference. Please submit a one page single-spaced abstract which includes your full contact information, affiliations and authors, by email to Joe Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov, and please cc an additional copy to Suzanne Stone at sstone@defenders.org. If possible, please submit a digital picture related to your research or topic to include in the agenda and on the website. Abstracts should be received by February 1, 2004.

We can also scan images sent by mail to:

Joseph Fontaine, Asst. Recovery Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
100 N. Park St, Suite 320
Helena, MT 59601

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 2003 annual report is in preparation.

On December 11, 2003 the Nez Perce Tribe Wolf Recovery Program received a report from an IDFG C.O. that a coyote trapper had incidentally caught a wolf which had broken the trap chain and was running free with a #3 trap and 12" of chain on its foot [as reported in the Dec 12 wolf weekly]. He felt certain the animal was a wolf, based on the fact that it broke the chain and size of track. We thank him for quickly reporting the incident. The trap site was near where uncollared members of the Wildhorse Pack are often seen. On December 13, WS specialist Williamson and NP biologist Babcock arrived at the trap site. Snow tracking revealed it was a coyote, not a wolf. They followed the tracks several hours and finally located the trapped coyote. It had a sore foot but was safely released from the trap. This incident reminds us that coyotes can be easily mistaken for wolves and that verification of field evidence by trained professionals is a must to obtain accurate information. It also reminds trappers to use heavy well-secured trap chains and to check them regularly while trapping. Even heavy-duty chains can be accidentally hit with hammers or axes while making or retrieving sets, and the resulting breaks/cracks can result in lost traps and animals.

An adult female from the Slough Creek pack in YNP was found dead on 1/11. The pack was feeding on an adult cow elk kill at the top of a cliff and the female’s bloody carcass was at the bottom of the cliff. We are speculating that she fell/pushed off the cliff while the pack was attacking the elk. The carcasses will be examined as soon as possible.

Nez Perce Tribal biologists are preparing for their winter helicopter capture effort in central Idaho that starts the 19th.

Control

A three-some of adult wolves [one radioed] near Thermopolis, WY [Owl Creek] killed an adult cow on private land on the 6 or 7th. Cattle had already been moved from the area and the area was being searched for strays when the cow’s fresh carcass was found. It was confirmed as a wolf depredation by WS. No control is planned at this time since cattle were already moved from the area.

The wolf[ves] did not return to the area where several calves were killed near Baggs, WY. No specific control is being conducted but if a wolf is seen in that area WS is authorized to lethally take up to two.

The wolf control action near Pinedale, WY is also on idle mode. There are 2 feed grounds in that area and WY G&F does not want aircraft flying low near the elk so it is not being intensively searched by air. No other problems have been reported. The ranch still has an active shoot on site permit but no wolves have been taken.

Research

Toni Ruth, Doug Smith, et. al. published "Large-carnivore response to recreational hunting along the Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary" Wildlife Society Bulletin 2003, Vol 31(4). The study generally found that when rifle hunting seasons start elk move into the Park to escape hunters. Grizzly bears move outside the Park to feed on gut piles, mountain lions move in the Park to hunt live elk, and wolves didn’t change their movements as they fed both on gut piles and live elk.

Another publication worth looking at is: Citation is:Musiani, M., Mamo, C., Boitani, L., Callaghan, C., Gates, C.C., Mattei, L., Visalberghi, E., Breck, S., and Volpi, G. (2003) Wolf depredation trends and the use of fladry as barriers to protect livestock in western North America. Conservation Biology 17: 1538-1547. The study took place in Alberta and Idaho and indicated fladry barriers restricted wolf movements for up to 60 days.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 8th, Fontaine made a presentation at a meeting held by the Montana Range Conservation District in Red Lodge, MT. He was part of a panel on "Living with wolves." On the 10th he was part of a similar panel, with [Sime] MT FW&P and WS [Glazier] in Deer Lodge, MT. About 60 people attended each of these meetings.

On the 9th and 10th, Bangs met with other members of the Southwestern Distinct Population Segment gray wolf recovery team in NM.

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