Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/19/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 11/12-11/19, 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.

Asher and Ross [MT FWP] caught a pup from the Mill Creek pack near a private land bone pile in the Paradise Valley, north of Gardiner, MT on the 15th. It was severely emaciated and had extensive hair loss and was euthanized. The MTFWP Bozeman wildlife lab confirmed sarcoptic manage. A wolf pup was shot under a permit in the same area a month ago and it too had some light hair loss on its lower legs and a few skin blisters but its carcass was not analyzed for mange. It was probably a litter mate to this wolf and also had mange. This indicates the mite infestation might develop very quickly. The Chief Joe alpha female who is radio-collared, and several other pack members have been reported as having extensive hair loss and ‘rope-tails’ a classic indiction of mange. We are following this situation closely.

A flight in SW MT failed to locate the Ninemile pup or the alpha female of the Battlefield pack. This time of year wolves are scattered everywhere, in some unusual locations, and often in thick timber. This happens every year during the big game rifle season, that many hunters pushing through the woods they move wolves around more than normal. Big game rifle hunting season is often the peak of illegal wolf killing, ie 100,000 plus hunters in the woods and a few bad apples. In addition wolves can usually find plenty to eat, just from gut piles.

Control

On the WS investigated the reported of two wounded buck sheep on private land NE of Dillon, MT, where buck sheep had been previously killed by a wolf about a month ago. Lethal control of one wolf had been authorized at that time. WS confirmed the wolf attack and both sheep died/euthanized. The sheep were attacked around the 10th but were not discovered and confirmed until this week. The herder and several hunters reported seeing a black and gray wolf in the general vicinity. WS was authorized to remove both of them.

On the 20th, WS confirmed a calf killed on private property by Carter Mtn. wolves near Cody, WY. Cattle are presently being moved to different grazing areas, so we will monitor events closely to see if further depredations occur.

On the 13th, WS confirmed another calf killed by wolves near Daniel, WY. There have been at least 8 calves killed by wolves this summer by the Daniel Pack. We have an active control action ongoing, but yet unsuccessful, to remove 2 wolves.

Research

Yellowstone National Park started its annual 30-day early-winter "Wolf prey selection and predation rates" research on November 15 through December 15. Winter study is underway, and the very early preliminary data suggest that wolves are killing on a pace that will have them at a low kill rate for the study. Interestingly few calves are being killed, only one so far out of about 10 kills. It does not seem that’s because there are no calves as it looks like calf numbers are up especially for the Madison -Firehole area, so that is odd since wolves normally go after calves more now than in late winter.

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs, Fontaine, Jimenez, Niemeyer, and Holyan attended the Defenders of Wildlife Carnivore Conference in Santa Fe, NM, Nov. 14-17. We gave 4 ‘team’ papers, that included co-authors from our cooperating agencies- "Wolf-elk interactions on state managed feed grounds and adjacent national forests in Wyoming", "Restoration of the gray wolf in the northwestern United States", "Management of wolf/livestock conflict in the northwestern United states", and Wolf Recovery in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park, 1999-2004." Nearly 800 people attended the Conf. that had three concurrent sessions.

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