Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/7/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/30-5/7, 2004

Happy Mother’s Day [most packs are denned]

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 wolf radioed in the Owl Creek area just west of Meeteetse, WY last winter has been traveling with two other wolves this spring. It is believed they have denned in the area and are on public land. The local BLM and Wildlife Services offices were contacted. The Washakie pack has denned just north of Dubois, WY at last year’s den site.

The Swan Lake pack that killed a 3-4 week-old calf on private property adjacent to Yellowstone National Park last week has denned at their usual location well inside the Park. Most if not all packs have denned.

Monitoring flights to determine which packs may be denning in central Idaho were conducted in 2 of the 3 flight areas. It appears that the following packs or pairs have localized and may have produced litters; Buffalo Ridge, Eagle Mountain, Galena, Hazard Lake, Morgan Creek, Moyer Basin, O'Hara Point, Red River, Scott Mountain, Soldier Mountain, Steel Mountain, B109-F, B127-M, and B157-M. Loss of radio-collars, via dispersal, death, or radio-collar expiration, failure, or missing, hampers tribes ability to determine the reproductive status for these packs; Castle Peak, Chamberlain Basin, Eldorado, Florence, Hemlock Ridge, Kelly Creek, Landmark, Lupine, Magruder, Marble Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Timberline, Twin Peaks, and Wolf Fang. More information will be required to ascertain whether the Cook, Gold Fork, Gospel Hump, Jureano Mountain, and Orphan packs have produced pups.

Missing Moyer Basin alpha male B97's radio-signal, on mortality mode, was detected in the northern part of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. However, a radio-collared hunting dog, out during spring bear hunting season, may be the source of this signal. Another monitoring flight will help the tribe determine whether this signal is male B97.

Isaac Babcock was offered a seasonal Wildlife Biologist position with the NPT Wolf Recovery Project. Congratulations Isaac.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game conducted interviews for 2 temporary Wildlife Biologists that will work on wolf management as the state assumes a more active role for wolf recovery activities in Idaho. Montana may also be advertising to hire Montana state wolf recovery personnel early this summer.

Seasonal biologist Frame has been trapping in the Little Thompson/Lonepine area after finding fresh wolf sign on May 1. No captures yet.

Between May 3 and May 6, MT FW&P Sime talked with 5 different landowners in the vicinity of Blankenship Bridge (near Columbia Falls) who reported seeing a uncollared large canid on or near their private property. The lone former Whitefish alpha is wearing a functional radio collar and GNP volunteers did not hear her signal in the area on May 3 and relocation flights have not relocated her in that area for quite some time. First sightings occurred in March, 2004 and have been intermittent through April. Several encounters with domestic dogs were reported (including close physical proximity and actual chasing), but no pets were injured or killed. Based on behavioral descriptions, an escaped captive wolf or wolf-dog hybrid is suspected. Landowners were advised about 4(d) regulations and encouraged to opportunistically, but non-injuriously harass the animal. Over the weekend (May 1/2) one of the landowners had fired a shotgun in the air after having seen the animal on his property. The animal ran off a short distance,

stopped for a few seconds, then left the immediate area. The situation is being monitored closely.

Control

WS investigated suspected wolf damage to separate young calves near Big Hole, MT on the 3rd- confirmed black bear damage; Avon, MT on the 4th- coyote damage, Hot Springs, MT earlier this week- coyote damage, a report of missing calves near Marion MT- unknown because no remains found, and several dead calves near Cody, WY- coyote damage.

Niemeyer made a field inspection of a depredation incident south of Stanley, Idaho (5/1-5/3), where a lone, uncollared wolf has attacked at least two domestic dogs at a residence. He was assisted by the local Idaho Department of Fish and Game CO for the area. Niemeyer also assisted WS Wolf Specialist Rick Williamson in checking out a depredation incident near the East Fork of the Salmon River (5/4) and another incident near the Bennett Hills southwest of Fairfield, Idaho (5/5-5/6). In both the Stanley and East Fork areas a trap that had been set for wolves disappeared despite intensive searches to find evidence of what may have happened. Attempts will be made to radio-collar wolves in these areas this spring as wolf reports or depredations are reported.

Research

Nothing new to report

 

Information and education and law enforcement

Smith gave a talk at Univ. of Nevada, Reno to about 30 people on April 30. Doug like Ed Bangs is a UNR [Go Wolf Pack!] alumni.

On the 5th, Fontaine, Asher, Sime [MT FW&P], and others met to participate in a conference call with Defenders of Wildlife, Predator Conservation Alliance, Turner Endangered Species Fund about plans to conduct a ‘Range Rider’ and non-lethal depredation prevention program in the Madison and Paradise Valley this summer.

Dr. L. David Mech, the world’s foremost authority on wolves, gave lectures on wolves in Lander, WY on the 4th and about 200 people attended. On the 5th he talked again in Cheyenne, WY at another well attended public meeting. Most questions focused on wolf ungulate interactions.

Volunteer Therese Hartman gave presentations at Lakeside Elementary School to about 50 students on May 7th. MT FW&P biologist Sime gave an update to the MT FW&P Wildlife Division on May 5. About 100 employees attended.

10j Amendment-Public Comment Period closes May 10th, 2004.

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 proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register and can be found at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ .

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