Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/25/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/18 to 3/25, 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.

Control

On the 18th, WS killed an uncollared grey alpha male of the Halfway pack. It was believed to be the dispersing wolf from Canada that had also been involved in cattle depredations there.

WS confirmed that the producer who lost the calf last week, SSE of Dell, MT, lost another on the 18th. Trapping is being conducted to radio collar one of the pair that is believed to have killed a herd dog in that area earlier this winter. Trapping is ongoing and aerial lethal control will be implemented as weather conditions permit.

Another dog was attacked and severely injured near Horse Prairie, east of Dillon, MT. WS reported seeing wolf tracks in that vicinity, probably the uncollared Horse Prairie pack. The dog will be okay, and the owner was notified about what the new 10j rule allowed.

WS received a message on the 19th that a producer harassed a single wolf out of a calving pen with his truck on private property near Hall, MT on Thursday night the 17th. The wolf came back on Friday night the 18th and was in his bunched up cattle. The producer shot a rifle at the wolf but only ran it away. WS confirmed tracks of a single animal on the first incident and the rancher also reported only a lone wolf. The producer was advised of what the new 10j rule allowed.

WS reported that they investigated a dead pregnant heifer in the Moccasin Lake pack area, south of Big Timber, MT, on private property on the 22nd. It was determined to be a probable kill. It had died a few days prior to the investigation and had been mostly consumed by the time it was found. WS told the rancher that no control action was warranted at this time. Trapp [MFWP] followed up with the landowner on 3/23 by phone and visited the ranch on 3/25.

On the 23rd, WS confirmed that the uncollared Daniel pack [6 wolves] near Big Piney, WY killed two young cows, [both of which were to calve this spring], on private land. Five wolves were removed from the pack last year during a series of control actions on a still ongoing chronic pattern of livestock depredations, 13 confirmed depredations last year. WS was authorized to remove the entire pack and the rancher was issued a shoot-on-sight permit. On the 24th, another cow was reported as a wolf kill but a severe snow storm delayed the WS investigation until the 25th.

The 45-day control window has expired for the Phantom Lake pack near Roscoe, MT. Control activities are done unless there are additional depredations. One, possibly two wolf pups, soon to be yearlings and one is radio collared, are suspected to still be in the area. Three adults have been lethally removed from the pack since November 2004.

On March 22nd, Niemeyer, Williamson (WS) and Husseman (IDFG) participated in two community meetings in Clayton, Idaho, and Mackay, Idaho. The Clayton meeting was attended by 31 local residents and ranchers of Custer County that were irrate about the impact of wolves on local elk herds in the area. Several people complained of seeing elk killed on their private property and in their yards. Some non-lethal measures were suggested for local citizens to keep wolves away from their homes but the message was ill received. Several people walked out of the meeting when told that little could be done to prevent wolves from killing elk or deer. Local ranchers from the Clayton area were interested in having the new 10(j) rules explained to them. The second meeting near Mackay was attended by 49 livestock producers representing at least three grazing associations. Ranchers in this area are very concerned about the Copper Basin wolf pack and other dispersing wolves that have been frequenting the area. Some producers have been using non-lethal munitions to keep wolves away from their cattle. The new 10(j) rule was explained in detail to provide ranchers a better understanding of what they can do to protect their livestock.

On the 24th and 25th near Elliston MT, 4 or 5 wolves were discovered in a calving pasture within 100 yards of the main ranch house by the landowner. The ranch dogs and cattle were disturbed, but none were injured or killed. WS investigated the situation and confirmed wolf tracks. FWP also followed up with the landowner. Since this falls within the endangered area, the landowner is not able to harass or kill wolves found in their livestock and no agency lethal control is planned at this time. WS found the radio-collared Halfway pack in their usual area so this appears to be a new group of wolves. Other landowners in the Elliston area have also reported wolf tracks. WS and FWP are following the situation closely.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Wyoming federal District Court rules on Wyoming’s court case- On the 18th, the Federal District Court issued its ruling on the Wyoming wolf case [Case no- 04-CV-0123-J] that involving the Service not approving Wyoming’s wolf management plan. The Wyoming court ruling supported the Service’s legal arguments and denied or dismissed all the state of Wyoming’s and the Plaintiff Intervenor’s [Park County, WY and Wolf Coalition] claims.

A wolf article about wolves, wolf management, state wildlife management, bio-diversity, and along with and interview with Bangs was published in the latest edition of Leaf Litter, a publication of Biohabitats, an ecological design and consulting firm. It can be viewed at www.biohabitats.com .

On the 24th, Bradley (MFWP) gave a talk to about 25 members of Backcountry Horsemen of Montana in Butte.

On the 21st, NBC Nightly News did a story on the 10-year anniversary of the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. The story can be accessed on-line at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7259552/ .

Sime [MTFWP] attended Montana’s first meeting to discuss a potential state wolf damage compensation program. Nearly 40 people, representing a diversity of interests, attended the meeting in Helena on the 23rd.

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