Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/30/04

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 12/23-12/30, 2004

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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. We are hoping that the 2005 annual report [covering all 2004] will be completed and distributed by March 1, 2005.

CORRECTION- last week we reported that a rancher from the Madison Valley reported that the radio signal from female wolf #48, formerly a Nez Perce wolf was nearby. That was apparently a mistake since wolf #48 was located as usual in the Park on the 27th.

Control

On the 23rd, WS investigated a complaint by a rancher near Meeteetse, WY. He reported that several wolves were chasing his cows in the same area where wolves had killed one of his cows last week. WS located the Owl Creek Pack further up in the mountains and concluded that other wolves were involved. The rancher described 2 black wolves seen amongst his cattle. WS routinely checks for any missing collared wolves or other collared wolves from nearby packs. The wolves chasing livestock turned out to be a young collared female black wolf that had dispersed from the Sunlight Pack, traveling with another uncollared black wolf. WS chased the wolves two times out of the cattle with cracker shells. We will monitor the situation.

On the 26th, three wolves were confirmed to have killed another +600lb. calf in the Paradise Valley. It was the same rancher that lost a replacement heifer earlier in the month and has had chronic problems in past years. WS was authorized to conduct lethal control for two wolves if they had the chance while they were conducting the nearby Lone Bear control action. The rancher’s active shoot-on-sight permit for two wolves was increased to take three wolves. This is likely the Mill Creek pack which has one radioed female, or possible the Sheep Mountain pack which has no radioed members. These wolves have killed both cattle and sheep on several occasions and our earlier attempts at trap and collar on a site and have agency personal take one wolves by shoot-on-site were not successful. On the 29th, the rancher took a female sub-adult in poor condition on his private property. She apparently had mange and is being examined by the MT FWP wildlife lab. She was one of 5 gray wolves he saw on his private property, and he reported the others looked worse for hair loss, meaning they could all die this winter from the infestation. These are probably Mill Creek wolves, and the same group where a captured pup was euthanized last month because of severe mange.

Jimenez and WY WS specialist John Perringer examined a horse near the Owl Creek area, SW of Meeteetse, WY. The 10 year-old horse was killed by wolves on private property in a corral and was fed on. The Owl Creek pack [4 wolves are left after this year’s control actions] routinely uses this area and has been involved in several other depredations this year. WS was authorized to remove 2 more pack members. If the pack depredate again it will be removed.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

A fur-trapper near the main Boulder River in SW MT [SE of Livingston, MT] accidentally snared a young female wolf that could be a member of the Moccasin Lake pack. He found it dead in what he said was a snare a set for a bobcat. He was using a 1/16" small snare with breakaway lock and immediately reported the dead wolf. The carcass was retrieved by MT FWP and LE is investigating.

On the 28th, Asher and Ross received a call about an injured wolf just east of Livingston, MT. It had damage to its back and hind legs and also had some indications of mange. It was euthanized and taken to the MT FWP Wildlife Lab in Bozeman, MT to be thoroughly examined. It is under LE investigation.

Jimenez and WY WS met with about a dozen ranchers at a ranch in the Wood River/Meeteetse, WY area. They discussed wolves, wolf control and management options. The meeting was cordial and a lot of good information was exchanged. We thank the ranchers for their hospitality.

The Defenders of Wildlife announced they had paid a record $138,000 in privately funded compensation payments to ranchers in 2004. In the past 17 years they have paid a total of $440,000 for confirmed and probable wolf-caused damage in the northern Rocky Mountains. They also announced they are establishing a Livestock Advisory Council, composed of ranchers in Montana, Idaho, and Arizona to help evaluate and improve the program.

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