Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/10/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 12/03-12/10, 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.

Control

On the 4th, WS confirmed 4 ewes and probably an Anetolian Shepard guard dog were killed by wolves on Kelly Mountain, on a Nez Perce Forest Service allotment, northeast of Riggins, ID. Apparently, on Monday night November 29th, the guard dog came up missing. On the 30th, 1 ewe was killed. Two more ewes were killed on the 2nd, and another on the 3rd. The reason for the delay to report the depredations is that the herder stayed with the sheep and the camp tender did not see the herder until yesterday. Lethal control for 1-4 wolves has been authorized and the permittee was issued a 45-day written authorization to take wolves physically attacking his sheep.

On the 8th, WS confirmed that a 600-700lb replacement heifer was killed by wolves on private property in the Paradise Valley, MT. This ranch has had other wolf depredations in the past and either the Sheep Mountain [no radioed members] or Mill Creek [1 radioed female] packs might have been involved. We were already trapping on a neighboring ranch to radio collar a wolf to figure out which packs were using this area, but a pup that was caught last month had severe mange and was euthanized. Tracks from one wolf are occasionally seen in the same area. The landowner initially denied WS permission to trap on his land and requested a shoot-on-sight permit. We will continue to trap on nearby properties where we have permission and our field crew has been authorized to shoot a wolf if they see it during their field work in this area. However, we are not issuing a shoot-on-sight permit to any landowners at this time to give trapping a chance to work.

A replacement heifer that was wounded by wolves near Roscoe Montana last week [2 others were killed during the same attack] died this week. So a total of three yearlings were confirmed lost. Traps were set but nothing was captured and they have been pulled. The landowner and his neighbor were given shoot-on-sight permits to take up to 3 wolves. Control to remove the Phantom pack will continue after the late season cow elk hunt ends Dec 15th.

On the 9th, two 95 lb male pups of the year were removed from the Owl Creek Pack. The Pack had previously killed cattle on private property last summer and during the WY big game hunting season. One adult wolf was removed last summer. When wolves continued to kill livestock this fall, we attempted (unsuccessfully) to remove more wolves, but later decided to postpone further control actions until after the hunting season ended. Since that time, the wolves continued to chase cattle on private property.

A black and a gray wolf were seen harassing cattle about 15 miles to the north of where WS confirmed buck sheep had been killed last month near Dillon, MT on the 10th. WS had been previously authorized to take both of those wolves and the effected landowners had been issued shoot-on-sight permits. We requested WS take both of the wolves just observed, if possible, since they are almost certainly the same two that were involved in the other depredations.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking information about four gray wolves that were found dead, apparently shot, between October and November in Idaho. Rewards of $5,000 per wolf are being offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction in any case. The first wolf was recovered in mid-October near the Gold Fork Park-n-Ski Area on the Boise National Forest near Idaho City. Another wolf was found dead in the Partridge Creek area on the Payette National Forest near Riggins, and it is estimated that animal had been killed sometime between late October and early November. Two other wolves were shot between late October and early November. Law enforcement agents recovered one of these animals in the Council area, near Weasel Gulch on the Payette National Forest, and the other at Mountain Meadows on the Boise National Forest near Stanley. 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. Service law enforcement officials ask that anyone with information about any of these illegal killings or others, please contact the Office of Law Enforcement at 208-378-5333. Callers may remain anonymous.

On the 7th, Sime and Trapp attended a meeting held by the US Forest Service Big Timber District with their grazing permittees. The meeting was held to discuss concerns about wolves on allotments south of Big Timber. MT and reports of cattle distribution being different than it has been in the past.

Sime and Trapp [MTFWP] attended and gave a presentation at the annual meeting of the Montana Stockgrowers in Billings on the 10th and 11th.

On the 8th and 9th, Ross, Bradley, and Asher interviewed permittees in the Dillon, MT area for the Range Rider Program's final report. That pilot program hired extra help to ride cattle on public land grazing allotments in the Madison Valley, MT to see if increased human activity would better manage cattle, prevent wolf depredations, death from poison weeds or other predators, and if they could detect and harass wolves near the livestock. They have hopes of having a summary completed by January/February 2005.

On the 6th, Jimenez gave a presentation to about 20 people at the Park County Predator Board in Cody, WY. On the 10th he gave a presentation to the Green River Cattleman’s Association in Pinedale, WY. They discussed last year's cattle/wolf issues, proper procedures for reporting depredations, and protocols for the next grazing season.

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