Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/30/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/23-4/30, 2004

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2003 annual wolf report is at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.

A Canadian citizen reported finding a wolf carcass in Alberta that was investigated by Alberta wildlife law enforcement authorities. Cause of death is still under investigation, although human causes are suspected. The animal was found approximately 7 miles north of Chief Mountain and the US/Canadian border. It was an adult male wolf that had been relocated from the Boulder (Castle Rock) pack near Helena to Lake Koocanusa and was then known as a Parsnip wolf. Alberta wildlife officials suspect it belonged to a pack that appears to be a cross-boundary pack, occupying Waterton/Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation known as the Chief Mountain pack. Adult male 760, a disperser from the Boulder (Castle Rock) pack, was also located several times in or near this group of wolves as is believed to be a pack member.

Therese Hartman has been trapping for the Murphy Lake pack, but without success. The female has localized around the usual den site but the pack appears to consist of the breeding pair. It can be difficult to catch a wolf during denning especially if there is only a breeding pair. She will pull traps on 4-30.

Control

A bottle-fed 3-4 week old calf was killed by the Swan Lake pack on the 29th. The landowner has property adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, near Gardiner, MT. They had the calf on a picket about 100m from their house. They saw 4 wolves on the carcass at 4AM. Swan Lake pack was located about 2 miles away in the Park later that morning. WS investigated and confirmed the depredation. Since it was their only calf, no control will be conducted and they were advised to keep close watch on their pet dog and should investigate fencing of some sort if they try to raise other livestock since the area is frequently visited by both bears and wolves. They reported they had seen wolf tracks on their property frequently this past winter. Swan Lake pack normally dens far inside the Park but this year they are either late or will not den and are still traveling widely.

A calf was killed on private land in the East Fork of the Salmon River this week. WS was authorized to collar and release a wolf on site. Since B-2 died, there are no radioed pack members left and non-lethal techniques such as RAG boxes cannot be utilized.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Niemeyer was the invited speaker at a meeting of the Utah state wolf advisory committee on the 27th and 28th in Salt Lake City. He gave a presentation and answered questions about wolves, wolf management, and potential wolf impacts to livestock and big game populations from advisory committee members. He reminded committee members that having an occasional lone dispersing wolf in Utah is an entirely different matter than having wolf packs form in Utah, an event that might not happen for years.

Fontaine and Sime were guests at a radio talk show in Kalispell on the 29th. They answered questions about wolf management and potential delisting. Fontaine also did a TV interview for Big Sky news.

Bangs gave a talk at Utah State Univ. to about 20 people on the 27th. He also met with Dr. John Shivik and staff from the USDA Wildlife Services Research Station in Logan, UT and toured their research facility. Dr. Shivik was instrumental in investigating new non-lethal techniques to reduce potential conflicts between wolves and livestock and is interested in continuing those types of efforts.

10j Amendment-Public Comment Period

On April 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. The wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states, Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register.

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