Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/18/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/11 to 3/18, 2005

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2005 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2004] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, discussions of litigation and funding issues, summaries of scientific studies, and an extensive bibliography and additional informational websites. We will not be mailing hard copies of the report out as we have done in past years, unless we have specific requests.

Two wolves in 2 different locations just north of Yellowstone National Park, were located with their radio collars in mortality mode. The alpha female of the Chief Joe pack #327 had severe mange and was recovered on the 14th. She was located near her old den near Daly Creek. She appeared to have died about 5 weeks ago and her carcass had been extensively scavenged but the skeleton was intact. Bone marrow condition showed her to be in very poor condition. Another mangy wolf’s radio, from the Casey Lake pack, is also on mortality, but there have been recent sightings of 2 very mangy wolves north of Gardiner, MT and one is radio collared, so it could just be a collar malfunction. Mange has now been detected in nearly all GYA packs in SW Montana outside of Yellowstone National Park and usually causes death by exposure or secondary infections.

A sub-adult uncollared female wolf from the Teton pack was struck and killed by a vehicle near Moran Junction in WY on the 14th. The pack was apparently attacking an elk near the road when the attack was disrupted by a vehicle and a wolf was hit. The elk was severely wounded by the pack and was euthanized by Park Rangers. Law Enforcement is still investigating.

Control

On the 12th, a livestock producer in the Big Hole Valley in SW MT shot one of two gray radio-collared and ear-tagged wolves with mange from the Battlefield pack. Male wolf B141 was collared as a yearling in Idaho’s Moyer Basin pack, and last located in ID on 10/20/03. He was accidently captured & released by a coyote trapper in the Paradise Valley, MT on 12/19/03. He wandered up and down the Paradise Valley through the spring of 2004, then disappeared. He had severe mange along his hindquarters when shot. He was reportedly killed while chasing cattle on private land. As required by the new 10j rule, the livestock producer left the wolf where it died and immediately called WS and MTFWP. Service law enforcement is investigating.

On the 15th, WS trapped the only radioed member of the Halfway pack [believed to be 4 wolves] north of Avon, MT. The pack returned to the area where the last calf had been attacked on March 2nd. The calf was doctored but could not recover and was euthanized on the 16th. The 3-yr. old female’s radio is less than 2-years-old and she was released on-site. She was captured accidentally by a coyote trapper and with Service assistance radio collared and released on site. Another gray female wolf captured during a control action last year has a non-functioning radio. WS is continuing to try to remove up to 2 uncollared pack members primarily focusing on the recently dispersed Canadian male, if possible. On the 18th, lethal control removed at least one pack member.

On March 6th, wolves attacked an Australian Shepard on private land near Pioneerville, Idaho. The dog was badly injured and received about 400 stitches. WS provided the elderly owner with a RAG box and advised her about her legal rights under the new 10j rule.

The Kootenai Pack in NW MT has been very visible in the West Kootenai area the past few weeks and last week was implicated in pushing livestock (~ 120 cows w/ 100 calves and ~ 20 horses) through fences and out of a pasture. No injuries or losses are suspected. Laudon [MTFWP] visited with the rancher to advise ways to reduce conflicts

On the 18th, WS confirmed a small calf was killed on private land SSE of Dell, MT. It appears that two wolves were involved, probably the same two that killed a herding dog about 3 miles away on Jan. 24th. The preferred option is to radio collar one of the wolves, but other options, including lethal control, are being considered.

Research

Yellowstone National Park continues its annual late winter wolf predation study.

On the 18th, Jimenez and 2 NPS biologists darted a 110lb. black male wolf from the 12 member Teton pack, in Grand Teton National Park. He was fitted with a GPS collar as part of a cooperative FWS, NPS, Forest Service, and WYG&F study looking at summer wolf predation rates in that multi-predator environment.

Information and education and law enforcement

This week, several biologists attended a meeting about wolves and wolf management hosting by the Wyoming Department of Agriculture in Sheridan, WY. Jimenez, Niemeyer, Domenici [FWS], Smith [NPS], Williamson, Shivik, Paul, Breck, and Green [WS], Bradley [MTFWP] and others provided information at the two day meeting [March 15 & 16]. About 150 people including many WY WS & G&F employees attended. News reports about the meeting can be viewed in the March 16th and 17th Casper Star Tribune web-page.

Smith gave a talk in Yellowstone National Park to an International Wolf Center wolf-watching tour group led by Dr. David L. Mech on the 14th.

A wolf article about wolves, wolf management, ecological restoration, and biodiversity and an interview with Bangs was published in Leaf Litter, a publication of Biohabitats, an ecological design and consulting firm. It can be viewed at news@biohabitats.com.

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