Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 1/21/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 1/06 to 1/21, 2005

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2004 annual wolf report [covering all 2003] can be viewed 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 preparing the latest annual report that will cover all 2004 now and hope it is completed and distributed by March 1, 2005.

MTFWP Sime retrieved a GPS radio collar that had "blown off" correctly from an almost-three year old male wolf that had dispersed from southern Alberta. The data show that the wolf moved along the East Front of the Rockies southward and settled north of Avon, MT in the old Halfway Pack territory. Tracks of two animals have been reported by landowners in the area. One radio collared female (remnant of Halfway Pack) is probably still in the area.

In Idaho the Timberline Pack was located in Steven’s Gulch just north of the South Fork Boise River. Bennett Mountain female was located in Cannon Gulch near Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Steel Mountain was located in Meadow Creek, north of North Fork Boise River. Soldier Mountain was located just west of Jones Bar (South Fork Boise River); and B150 located near Lightfoot Hot Springs (South Fork Boise River). Bear Valley was located in Cougar Creek, off Middle Fork Salmon River. Scott Mountain was located in Packsaddle Creek, near Deadwood River. Calderwood was located in Slide Gulch, tributary of South Fork Payette River. Warm Springs was located East Fork Eightmile Creek. Jureano pack was located in Pine Creek. Got a pretty decent count on Moyer which has been pretty elusive up to this point with 7-8 grays in that bunch. Got a good count on Morgan Creek and there are 10 black and 1 gray in the Garden Creek drainage. Buffalo Ridge was located near Squaw Creek. Copper Basin wolves were near Navaar Creek.

IDFGame assisted a coyote trapper on in recovering his trap on January 4 after he reported that a wolf had stepped in a trap and escaped with it on its foot. The wolf pulled the trap some distance until the trap drag hooked brush that pulled the trap from the wolf's foot.

Control

Another cow was killed near Meeteetse, WY by the Owl Creek Pack on January 8th. WS attempted to quickly take out the last 2 adult wolves but only shot the radio-collared male on the 9th. A shoot-on-site permit was issued to the landowner. He shot a wolf a few days later. The wolf was another sub adult, so the female is still hanging around and has been seen. His permit was for 2 wolves, so he and WS will keep trying to remove the last Owl Creek wolf.

On the 8th, a male pup was shot by a landowner on his private land with a shoot-on-sight permit in the Paradise Valley. The pup was from the Mill Creek pack and had mange. Control is ongoing and the permit will allow the landowner to shoot one more wolf.

Another ewe was killed and a 10 year-old Great Pyrenees guard dog was badly wounded on private property by the Phantom pack near Roscoe, MT on the 9th. Lethal control is ongoing.

On the 12th, the black and gray wolves that had two separate confirmed sheep depredations NE of Dillon, MT popped back up on the screen.  WS investigated a report of a dog that was attacked by the two wolves. The owner was walking the dog (unknown what kind) on private land in the Blacktail area when it spotted the two wolves and ran toward them. The wolves attacked it but it made its way back to the owner. The wolves got within 10 yards of the owner before breaking off the fight.  The owner picked the dog up and the wolves left. The dog is doing OK but required some veterinarian care. On the 21st, WS was conducting coyote control work from fixed-winged aircraft in that area and shot both wolves on private land. The pelts and skulls will be used for educational purposes.

On the 10th, WS in Idaho confirmed a wolf-caused dead calf near Clayton, Idaho. The WS specialist reported that wolves killed the calf and he picked up the two radio-collar signals from the alpha pair of the Buffalo Ridge Pack. This pack was not implicated in any livestock attacks in 2004, however, they were suspected of killing three calves in this same pasture complex on April 20, 2003. Wolf tracks in the snow indicate wolves are making frequent visits to the calving pasture. WS was authorized to remove up to two wolves in the immediate vicinity of the calving pasture to discourage the pack from killing any additional calves and hoping that a wolf removal will encourage the pack to leave the area.

Control efforts to remove up to two wolves in the Riggins, Idaho area has been unsuccessful due to deep snow. Wildlife Services confirmed four sheep killed by wolves during the first week in December. The livestock producer has not reported any additional livestock deaths from wolves. The situation will be monitored.

A wolf was reported chasing horses and harassing dogs near Pollock, Idaho during the first week in January. The incident is being investigated and no action taken. Telemetry detected B-183 of the Hazard pack in the area.

There was a flurry of incidents involving lion hounds and wolves over the past 2 weeks. In the Clearwater Region of north Idaho, 2 separate lion hunters reported a total of 3 hounds killed and 1 injured, while in the Salmon-Challis area, another lion hunter had a hound killed. Additionally, 2 bloodhounds were lost in the same vicinity a few days after the incident, when the owners lost contact with their dogs. During the first week in January, two bloodhounds were reported killed by wolves near Salmon, Idaho, when their owners allowed them to go on a walkabout in an area of known wolf activity and the site of previous dog attacks by wolves. A hound hunter from Grangeville, Idaho, had his two-year-old blue tick/walker hound killed by wolves while hunting mountain lions near White Bird, Idaho. Another hound managed to escape the wolf attack when the hounds man fired a handgun to scare the wolves away. A hounds man from Orofino, Idaho, reported on January 11 that he had two Walker/Black and Tan cross hounds killed by wolves and another dog, a Walker, was missing while mountain lion hunting. The estimated value of the three hounds is $6000.

Wolves were reported to be chasing cattle in a pasture near Mackey, Idaho, during the first week in January. Ground and aerial monitoring revealed the Copper Basin pack was in close proximity to the cattle. The situation will be monitored closely.

Control work for the Lone Bear and Phantom Lake packs is ongoing. Efforts have been hampered by weather.

MTFWP Trapp assisted a sheep producer in the installation of an electric fence in the Phantom pack territory on 1-18 after the second incident when that pack killed sheep. Her dog was also injured in the second incident. It was taken to a veterinarian and survived. At first, the sheep did not want to go in, but do now.

MTFWP Trapp has been helping Wildlife Services locate the radio collared wolf in the Phantom pack.

Research

Routine winter wolf capture and radio-collaring started in Yellowstone National Park. On the 17th, ten wolves were captured. All were in good condition. Five were captured in the Leopold pack, 3 in Agate Creek, and 2 in Swan lake, 4 were re-collars. Central helicopters with Mark Duffy as pilot was used and he did an excellent and safe job.

The annual northern range elk count was just conducted and 9,545 elk were counted, up from the 8,335 elk counted last year. Since this types of population estimates have wide confidence intervals- it is likely the herd size is about the same as it has been for the last 3 years.

"Livestock guarding dogs and wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains of the United States" by Bangs, Jimenez, Niemeyer, Meier, Asher, Fontaine, Collinge, Handegard, Krischke, Smith, and Mack was published in Carnivore Damage Prevention Newsletter No. 8/Jan. 2005 pg 32-39. This was the first issue about Livestock Guarding Dogs. The second issue about LGDs will be available in early spring. You can download the CDPNews from http://www.kora.unibe.ch/pdf/cdpnews/cdpnews008.pdf or for those with a slow internet connection on http://www.kora.unibe.ch/en/proj/cdpnews/index.html as a web-edition. They are also looking for additional LGD articles for the upcoming issue.

Information and education and law enforcement

NEW 10J EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION RULE PUBLISHED- On the 3rd, the Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton announced that a new 10j rule would become effective Feb 7, 2005. The new rule will allow increased mgt. flexibility in the experimental population areas of states with Service-approved wolf management plans. The rule will also allow the States and Tribes to lead nearly all wolf mgt. activities if they wish. The rule can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ or at the Federal Register. By the time it becomes effective on February 7, 2005 we and our partners will have done extensive outreach so that residents in Montana, and Idaho will know exactly what extra management flexibility they can employ to deal with problem wolves because of this new rule.

Sime [MTFWP] and Smith [Yellowstone NP] attended the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association annual convention in Helena, MT on Jan.7 and gave presentations. About 60 guides and outfitters attended.

MTFWP Trapp gave presentations on wolf ecology and management to the Kiwanis Club and Key Club students from Red Lodge High School on Jan 19th. About 20 people attended.

Jimenez gave a wolf talk in Driggs, ID on the 14th to a group of about 60 people including pilots and ground crews involved in aerial telemetry flights, guide/outfitters, and Idaho and Wyoming game managers.

On the 21st, Jimenez met with Service and Wind River Tribal representatives in Lander to discuss development of a Tribal wolf management plan so the Wind River Tribe can take advantage of the increased wolf management flexibility in the new 10j wolf rule that becomes effective Feb 7th. Even though the state of Wyoming does not have an approved plan, if the Tribe developed a wolf management plan that was approved by the Service, they could lead wolf management within the reservation and would have greatly increased wolf management flexibility.

Nadeau [IDF&G] gave presentations in Boise, ID to the Idaho State Legislature House Resources Committee on Tuesday January 19th, to the Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday, and to the Senate Resources Committee on Friday.

On the evening of January 13 approximately 20 agency and NGO folks met at a local restaurant in Boise to hold a special celebration commemorating the 10th anniversary of wolf reintroduction into Idaho. Everyone gave a short synopsis of their roles in wolf recovery, reminisced about experiences in Canada and Idaho during the capture and release of wolves and toasted a very successful conservation effort. A similar meeting was held by NGO conservationists in Yellowstone National Park.

NEWS ARTICLE- A man’s evening jog became a struggle for his life in northern Saskatchewan when a timber wolf lunged at his head and repeatedly sank its teeth into him. But Fred Desjarlais, 55, was able to fight off several attacks by the large predator and then wrestled it into submission long enough for a busload of co-workers to arrive and scare the beast away. "I don't know what came over me or how I did it," Desjarlais said from his Saskatoon home where he was recuperating. "All I know is I had his head and I wasn't letting go until someone came to help me." Desjarlais works for Cameco Corp.'s uranium milling facility in Key Lake, about 640 km north of Saskatoon. He had just finished his shift at 7 p.m. New Year's Eve, and decided to jog the 3 km back to camp instead of catching the shuttle bus, when he was attacked. At one point, he and the wolf were face to face as the beast reared on its hind legs and looked down at him, he said. "He had a big mouth and a big head," Desjarlais recalled. "It was a bad attack -- it bit him twice really badly -- but Fred's a remarkable man and very heroic," said Kimm Barker, Cameco's Key Lake safety officer. "It wasn't a very smart wolf because of all the people it could have picked, it chose one of the strongest." "He was taunting me, (walking) in a circle around me. I looked around real quick and thought, 'I hope he's alone,' " Desjarlais said. Co-workers returning to camp on the bus spotted the pair. The wolf that attacked Desjarlais was found the next day. It was shot and killed and sent to a lab for testing. [Bangs’ note after talking with local Canadian biologists- The wolf [which was assumed to have attacked the man] was not rabid and was in good condition. It attacked the man about 300m from camp and at least one bite broke the skin and required stitches. The local wolf pack feeds at the camp dump and stays in that immediate area. Apparently both wolves and black bears routinely feed at the mine’s garbage dump. The camp is working with local biologists to rectify the garbage/wildlife problem. The garbage-fed black bears are very bold and routinely come into the camp area but no one has been injured by them yet. This wolf attack appears to be another case of a healthy wild wolf losing its fear of people through food habituation and then attacking a person. This is a good reminder that healthy wild wolves have attacked people in N. America, and although no one has been killed yet- it could certainly happen. Wild wolves need to be kept wild and be respected just as any other wild animal should be

17th Annual North American Wolf Conference: A Call for Papers

Papers are now being accepted for the 2005 North American Wolf Conference, April 19 - 21, 2005 at Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Montana, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. The 2005 conference theme "A Decade After Reintroduction: Wolf Conservation, Conflicts and Collaboration," highlights the 10th anniversary of the wolf reintroduction to Idaho and Yellowstone. Past speakers include Lu Carbyn, William Lynn, L. David Mech, Marco Musiani,

Paul Paquet, Rolf Peterson, Doug Smith and other leading wolf experts, forensics and law enforcement specialists, livestock conflict managers and field researchers. The 2005 conference is sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, the Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, the Nez Perce Tribe, and Yellowstone National Park. Please submit a single-spaced abstract with your full contact information, affiliations and authors by email to: Suzanne Stone at sstone@defenders.org. If possible, please submit a digital picture related to your research or topic to include in the agenda and conference websites. We can also scan images sent by mail.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now also be viewed at fhttp://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