Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/18/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/11 to 2/18, 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. Dr. Diane Boyd has almost completed the 2005 annual report [covering all 2004] and it should be distributed by March 1, 2005.

Wolf breeding season normally peaks around Valentine’s Day and this year appears to have been no different than usual. As typically occurs, many dispersal events and unusual pack movements were/are being documented. These typically occur because of the social tension created within packs just prior and during the courtship and wolf breeding season.

On Feb. 16, Ross [MTFWP] and Asher darted and collared two gray adult male wolves on the Sun Ranch in the Madison valley. One is now wearing a GPS collar to help with an ongoing elk study by MTFWP and MSU in that area. The two males have been together with a dispersed female from the Leopold pack wolf 290F. A pack name has yet to be decided. A gray and a black wolf [both uncollared] were seen SW of the Gallatin Gateway area. We suspect the new pair will probably end up using the same area as the old Ennis Lake pack.

NPT and IDFG conducted monitoring flights on 2/10, 2/15, and 2/16. Many wolves seemed to be outside of their usual areas- possibly related to the onset of breeding season. Gray female B218 was observed with another gray wolf, so this potential pair may found a pack in the upcoming spring. Other aerial sightings; 2-3 gray wolves of the Bear Valley pack (est. pack size of 10); 2 gray wolves with Gold Fork (est. pack size 5), and 3 (2 black and 1 gray) of Cold Springs (est. pack size 6). Visuals included; 5 gray with Scott Mt. (est. pack size 8), 5 gray with Calderwood (est. pack size 5), 5 black and 5 gray with Steel Mt. (est. pack size 13), 4 gray and 3 black with Soldier Mt. (est. pack size 10-11), 7 grays (most observed to date) with Galena (est. pack size 9), 4-5 grays with Buffalo Ridge (est. pack size 7)[disperser B196 was with this pack the day of the flight], 9 gray (most observed to date) with Moyer Basin (est. pack size 9), 4-5 wolves with Jureano Mt. (est. pack size 9), and Y239 with his potential mate (2 black wolves total). A mortality signal was received on Timberline wolf B154, which is being investigated by USFWS Law Enforcement and IDFG.

Famous Druid wolf #253, who traveled to Utah a couple of years ago & was relocated back into Grand Teton National Park, WY- and then dispersed back to rejoin the Druid pack in Yellowstone, has left the Park again. He has settled on a remote corner of the National Elk Refuge and now is traveling with 2 other wolves.

The Carter Mountain Pack’s alpha male was removed this summer because of livestock depredations in WY. The lone alpha female raised their litter of 4-5 pups by herself. They have recently been seen with 2 other wolves. The pack now contains 7-8 members.

Control

FWP Laudon received a report on Feb.12th from a ranch manager implicating the Fishtrap pack (west of Kalispell) in harassing horses. The manager called with two reports of three different instances between Feb. 6 and the 12th. In one, horses ran through a wire fence and in another incident the horses ran into a wooden fence. Minor injuries were reported and wolf tracks were observed. Laudon visited with the ranch manager, WS, and other program cooperators including FWS law enforcement to discuss options and possible ways of discouraging wolves in light of the new reclassification to endangered. LE concluded that endangered wolves can be harassed if the harassment has no chance of injuring the wolves- so loud noises like banging on pots or yelling is OK. Shooting near them or chasing them with a vehicle is not OK.

A calf depredation near Clayton, ID, was confirmed by WS on 2/15/05. This private property also experienced confirmed depredations in January. It appears that a single wolf is involved and a control action is underway.

IDFG officers Haag and Rhodes investigated reports of wolves around cattle near the Orofino area on the 18th. The livestock operator believed 3 calves had been killed by wolves, including having seen a wolf packing one of the calves away. Wolf sign was verified in the area. The operator correctly did not shoot the wolf, as it could have been just feeding on the calf and was not seen killing or attacking it. WS is investigating.

The Battlefield pack was located on the 18th near Wisdom, MT airport and four wolves were observed. Two, including the collared female pup, had rope tails and appear to have mange. The pack was located not far from a dead horse which was being scavenged by coyotes. WS is investigating.

On the 18th, WS shot a grey uncollared wolf that was a member of the Phantom pack, near Roscoe, MT. Control to remove all pack members is ongoing.

On the 18th, Smith provided less-than-lethal munitions training to Park personnel that take care of the Park’s facility and their horses and mules at Stevens Creek on the Park’s northern border. The Swan Lake pack wolves have been hanging around the livestock and are unconcerned about human presence. The wolves have been coming within 50m of people and livestock and appear unafraid of the people.

Research

Michael Lucid worked with IDFG big game biologists in capturing and collaring elk and deer in the statewide ungulate ecology study. The research is looking at the performance of big game populations across the state and the influence that wolves and other carnivores are having on them. If uncollared wolf packs are seen in the study areas, they will be darted and collared.

Information and education and law enforcement

FWP Laudon attended the N. Fork Flathead Interlocal meeting and gave a brief update of Northwest Montana wolf program. Fifty people attended.

Smith and Bangs and others were interviewed this week for an upcoming ‘10-year anniversary of wolves in Yellowstone’ segment for NBC Nightly News that should air in March. Smith also was interviewed by a MSU film graduate student who is pursuing a career in wildlife film-making.

Bangs was part of a panel about wolves in Colorado at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on the 16th. About 150 people attended.

Bangs and Sime met with USFS, and WS to discuss wolf-livestock interactions and conflict resolution between wolves and livestock on federal lands on the 18th. They also discussed the new 10j wolf rule and what types of helpful information might be given to permittees.

On the 15th, Bradley (FWP) gave a talk to a group of 25 retired federal employees in Missoula, MT.

Wolves continue to kill elk near people's homes near the town of Clayton, ID. Some of the residents are concerned about the elk population, livestock, dogs, and safety. Jason Husseman and Rick Williamson are working with locals trying to resolve those concerns.

Oregon Public Broadcasting recently aired a 30-minute TV segment on their show Oregon Field Guide, about wolves. It was partially filmed during helicopter capture efforts in Idaho in 2003. It also showed in WA. Niemeyer and Mack were interviewed in it.

The International Wolf Center in Ely, MN is pleased to announce their fourth international wolf conference - Frontiers of Wolf Recovery: Southwestern U.S. and the World. The conference will be held October 1-4, 2005 in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO in the shadow of Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods. Proposals for papers are due March 15, 2005. Contact http://www.wolf.org/wolves/wolfconference/presentationcall.asp or info@wolf.org  for more information.

On February 14th, Niemeyer met with Idaho WS personnel and a representative of Boise National Forest in Boise to discuss the application of the new 10(j) Rule to national forest lands and review wolf pack activities on Boise National Forest.

Holyan [NPT] conducted outreach over the telephone with a homeowner/hobby rancher (10 cows) near Potlatch, ID, that reported seeing as many as 3 wolves on their property beginning in early February. One of these sightings involved a black male breeding with a gray female. An additional gray wolf has also been observed. NPT shared this information with WS.

Mack conducted in-person outreach with residents in the Round Valley area (south of Smith's Ferry, ID), where several reports of wolves near residences were received in the last week. Less-than-lethal training and equipment were provided. The nearest known pack, Packer John, was aerially located on 2/15/05 many miles from Round Valley; 2 black and 5 gray wolves were seen on the flight.

A local news reporter filming an elk herd nearby Boise filmed what he thought may have been wolves chasing elk. He brought the video into IDFG and Nadeau identified the animals as domestic dogs. It turned into a story on dogs chasing elk and deer.

The new IDFG wolf webpage is now online. New information on 10j and how dog owners and livestock operators may alleviate some of the conflicts is included along with other pertinent links and information. http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/wildlife/wolves/

Jimenez gave a presentation to about 15 NPS and FWS employees at interagency coordination meeting that was held Grand Teton National Park, WY on the 16th. That morning he gave a talk to about 50 people for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed 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