Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 1/30/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 1/23-1/30, 2004

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.

Nez Perce Tribal biologists concluded their 2-week winter helicopter capture effort in central Idaho, this week. Hawkins & Powers conducted the netgunning and darting operation. There were 27 captures and 26 collars were put out (including one re-collar) with the following pack breakdown: Cook- 3 new collars on B1744, B175, and B176 to go along with B168; French/Partridge Ck. wolves- 2 new collars on B180 and B181 to go along with B172; Scott Mt.- 3 new collars on B177, B178, and B179 to go along with B78 and B115; Hazard Lake- 4 new collars on B182, B183, B184, and B185 to go along with B105; Steel Mt.- 4 new collars on B186, B187, B188, and B189 to go along with R241; B019 and mate- replaced collar on B109 and new collar on B190; Soldier Mt.- 2 new collars on B191 and B192 to go along with B149 and B150; Buffalo Ridge- 2 new collars on B193 and B194 to go along with B93 and B95; Castle Peak- 1 new collar on B195 to go along with B2; and Morgan Creek- 3 new collars on B196, B197, and B198 to go along with B160. Congratulations on a very successful and safe capture effort.

Control

Reports were filed by rangers about 2 wolves (#302M & 356M) that were walking the road in Yellowstone National Park and did not appear very afraid of people. The Park is closely monitoring the situation and will use aversive conditioning methods if necessary. The Park wolf management protocol calls for harassment of any seemingly "bold" wolves, including use of less-than-lethal munitions [cracker shells and rubber bullets]. If that doesn’t work, any chronically bold or habituated wolves would be euthanized.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

A National Wildlife Federation wolf course is now up and running. It can be accessed at NWF's Wildlife University webpage (www.nwf.org/wildlifeuniversity), as part of the Endangered

Species Series. It includes audio lecture on wolf biology by Dr. L. David Mech, video clips, a ‘debate’ on wolf reclassification and potential delisting by Pat Parenteau, Vermont School of Law and Wolf Recovery Coordinator Bangs, and lots of good basic wolf information. It’s a very well done website and worth a look to learn about wolves and wolf issues.

Jimenez and WS WY District Supervisor Nelson met in Rawlins, WY with the Range Conservation group for that area on the 23rd. Nearly 100 people attended.

Fontaine attended a meeting on the 21st held by the Madison Valley Ranch Lands weed committee to discuss the use of sheep in controlling weeds along the Madison River near the Wall Creek Game Range and the Taylor Peak pack. Also, in attendance were FWP, BLM and WS. Although there were initial problems with wolves and sheep last year all went well once the bugs were worked out of the portable electric fence for the bedding ground. A herder and guard dog were also present. The same system will be utilized for this area this year with the possible addition of a couple of extra guard dogs. This will be a 3-5 year effort to control weeds along the river. The use of chemical control near the water would only pollute the river. Fontaine, Asher and Ross are also cooperating with the Madison Valley Ranch Lands group to develop an updated ranch-oriented pamphlet patterned after the one the MT Stockgrowers developed several years ago. Fontaine also gave a presentation to the advanced biology class at the Ennis High School to about 6 students and teachers.

On the 23rd Fontaine attended a coordination meeting held at the Gallatin National Forest Service Office in Bozeman. The meeting was about Wildlife Services activities in regard to predator control on the National Forests and BLM lands in southwest Montana. The national MOU with WS and FS was discussed along with the local program that included grizzly bear and wolf control operations. In attendance were representatives from the Gallatin FS SO and district offices, FS Regional Office, WS, BLM, and FWP.

Hartman and pilot Dave Hoerner located Lupine wolf B79 in mortality mode SW of Lolo Pass. The location was several miles from highway 12, but was in fog so the site couldn't be seen from the air. The mortality is being investigated by USFWS and the Nez Perce Tribe.

Doug Smith met with PBS radio interviewer Liz Arnold on the 27th and with the Outdoor Life Network TV folks this week. Previously in the week Liz Arnold had spent some time in the field with Asher. Doug discussed wolves and the various research programs in Yellowstone National. Smith also talked to an International Wolf Center group of around 20 people on the 29th.

GRAY WOLF POISONED NEAR CLAYTON, IDAHO- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement agents have recently confirmed poisoning as the cause of death of a gray wolf in Idaho, and are seeking information from the public to help solve the crime. The collared wolf, known as B-143, was found to have been killed by a poison known as Compound 1080. The animal's carcass was found 6 miles northwest of Clayton, Idaho, in the Squaw Creek Drainage on May 18, 2003. Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, water soluble, highly toxic chemical. The misuse of this chemical is unlawful. This chemical can be ingested by livestock, family pets, hikers, and children and can result in death from respiratory failure, seizures and heart attack. Animals or small children are most susceptible to poisoning due to ingestion, but the substance's toxins can also enter animal or human bloodstreams through contact with abraded skin or wounds, or through the respiratory system if dust particles are inhaled. "We are very interested in finding whoever is responsible for the crime. If anyone has information about the illegal killing of wolves, please contact the Service's law enforcement division. Callers may remain anonymous," said Scott Kabasa, a Special Agent in the Service's Boise field office. The killing of an animal protected under the Endangered Species Act is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and one year in jail. The Service is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest or conviction of the person or persons responsible for the poisoning of wolves. Service law enforcement agents may be reached at (208) 378-5333.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY

NEZ PERCE TRIBE

GRAY WOLF RECOVERY PROJECT

The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Project for the 2004 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho.

Work Environment: Work is conducted throughout the state of Idaho and SW Montana, including front-country (road accessible) and backcountry (remote and Wilderness) areas. This is a physically demanding position; extreme climate and terrain will be encountered. Volunteers may be required to carry up to 80 lbs. for varying distances over trail and cross-country conditions. Accommodations vary from cabins to backcountry houses to tent camping depending upon the locations of wolves and logistics. Travel is mostly by 4-wheel drive, ATV, fixed-wing aircraft, and foot.

Work Schedule: Typically 10 days on/4 days off, though work may extend beyond the 10 days depending upon conditions, Project needs, and logistics.

Duration: Expected approximately late May through September, but may be shorter depending upon access, workload, volunteer availability, and Project funding. Preference will be given to qualified applicants able to commit for extended periods of time.

Compensation: Includes transportation and $15.00/day while on duty. Some housing (travel trailers, USFS accommodations, and bunkhouse-style quarters) is available for non-duty days. Volunteers are covered under the Tribal Workmen's Compensation program.

Primary Duties: 1) assist in locating, via ground and aerial telemetry, potential breeding packs/pairs of wolves to determine reproductive status, 2) assist in obtaining accurate counts of wolf pups at home sites, 3) assist in documenting locations of wolf home sites, 4) assist in collecting scientific data on the ecology of wolves in Idaho, 5) assist in capturing, processing/handling, and radio-collaring wolves, and 6) other duties as assigned.

Qualifications: 1) documented experience backpacking and camping for extended periods of time in remote settings, 2) proficiency with orienteering (use of map and compass for navigating) required, 3) good physical condition, 4) must hold valid driver's license and be insurable under the Tribe's insurance policy, 5) must be willing to comply with the Tribe's drug and alcohol policy, 6) possess the ability to get along with others in backcountry settings for 10-day + time periods, 7) possess the ability to communicate verbally with interested and affected publics, 8) completion of, or enrollment in college/university Wildlife, or related, curriculum preferred, 9) radio-telemetry experience preferred, 10) capture, immobilizing, and handling/processing experience with wild animals preferred, and 11) experience flying in fixed-wing and helicopters preferred.

Application Period: Applications will be accepted from March 1, 2004 until March 31, 2004. Applications must be received at Gray Wolf Recovery Project office no later March 31, 2004. Applications received before March 1, 2004 and after March 31, 2004 will not be considered- no exceptions.

How to Apply: Submit a cover letter expressing interest in the Project, and resume detailing educational and employment backgrounds, along with the name and contact information of 3 work-related references. Send application materials to:

Nez Perce Tribe Gray Wolf Recovery Project
Attn: Volunteer Program
P.O. Box 1922
McCall, ID 83638
Telephone: (208) 634-1061
Fax: (208) 634-3231

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