Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/5/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/27 to 4/4, 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.

Wolf B155, a male wolf from the Timberline Pack was found dead in the Middle Fork of the Boise River on April 1 by IDFG biologist Hollie Miyasaki. USFWS law enforcement and IDFG are investigating. That was the last radio collared wolf in the Timberline Pack.

Michael Lucid (IDFG) responded to reports of wolves howling and being seen near the Lowman area and verified what appeared to be some uncollared wolves in the area. He is trying to determine the status of the wolves and if they are not affiliated with a known pack will attempt to trap and radio collar one of them.

On March 28th, a Wildlife Services employee who was checking foot-hold traps on a grazing allotment on the Nez Perce National Forest near Riggins, ID discovered that he had captured, at least for a little while, a black wolf in a #3 Soft-Catch trap. Traps had been set in the area to capture coyotes, and Soft-Catch traps were used because this area is in the Florence Pack's home range. Wolf managers in the Northern Rockies recovery areas have previously agreed that use of standard #3 Soft-Catch traps for coyote control in occupied wolf areas would reduce the likelihood of a nontarget wolf being held, and that daily checking of these traps would therefore not be required. Evidence at the site suggested that this wolf was firmly caught, but pulled out after a relatively brief struggle, leaving behind only a few black hairs and some tracks.

Control

Correction- The March 25th weekly was wrong about 2 calves being killed by wolves near Dell, MT- there was only one calf killed. During the March 18th incident the landowner only scared wolves out of his cattle but none were injured or killed.

On the 25th, WS confirmed a third cow (a yearling) was killed by the Daniel pack, near Big Piney, WY. This is the same ranch that had several confirmed depredations last year. The Jewett state elk feed ground is an inholding on this property and the same feed ground that has been controversial this winter. The 2 depredations from earlier the same week occurred approx. 5 miles from this last depredation.

On Monday the 28th, WS killed all 5 remaining wolves in the Daniel Pack, in the same place as where the 3rd depredation occurred. There were 3 males and 2 females. One male wolf had a very old non-functioning radio collar that was chewed quite a bit. Neither of the 2 females were pregnant. Since 2003, WS confirmed that the pack killed 20 livestock and was implicated in another 20 probable depredations. This successful aerial gunning operation concluded agency control [and showed how vulnerable even uncollared wolves are to professional control in open habitats], and the 3 private landowner shoot on sight permits were revoked.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] and Jon Trapp [MTFWP] trained with the USFWS LE in Casper Wyoming on the 29th for the use and distribution of less than lethal munitions. Trapp trained the MTFWP field crew on LTL munitions on the 30th.

A private landowner near Gardiner, MT shot a wolf that was attacking his mules on his private property on March 30th. The landowner immediately reported the shooting and left the scene undisturbed as required by the new 10j regulation. Service and MTFWP law enforcement investigated and concluded that there was physical evidence that livestock were being harassed and molested. The new rule allows citizens in the experimental population areas of Montana and Idaho to legally shoot a wolf attacking, chasing, or harassing livestock and physical evidence confirms such. To date 3 wolves- 2 in Montana and one in Idaho have been shot by landowners.

On the 5th, WS confirmed a calf [about 90lbs] had been killed by a suspected lone wolf near Horse Lake on the Blackfeet Reservation in NW MT. WS and Tribal biologists had been investigating a suspected grizzly depredation last week, and found tracks of a suspected lone wolf but tracks were a little on the small size for a wolf- 4.5 x 3.5 inches. It appears that up to 6 young calves have either been badly wounded or killed in that area the past 2 weeks. According to the Tribe’s request, lethal control was authorized for a lone wolf in that area. However, it is also possible that it is just a large dog since so many small calves were bitten and only wounded and the tracks appeared within large dog size. Future control and investigation will determine whether it was really a wild wolf or large feral dog was the problem.

Research

The Yellowstone National Park late winter wolf predation study concluded on March 31st. Kill rates for 2 of 3 packs being intensively studied appeared normal but low for the third pack. Predation on bulls was higher and calf predation was lower, than normal.

Information and education and law enforcement

The Idaho Wolf Recovery Program's 2004 Progress Report, prepared by the Nez Perce Tribe in cooperation with IDFG, USFWS, and USDA Wildlife Services, is now available on the Tribal website (www.nezperce.org).

Mack [NPT] conducted outreach with a rancher in the New Meadows, ID area, who had observed a single wolf chasing cattle in his private pasture. The rancher was informed about the new 10(j) rule and given less-than-lethal munitions. Mack gave a presentation on wolves to the McCall-Donnelly High School on the 24th.

The NPT Wolf Recovery Project conducted interviews to fill their Office Assistant II position on 3/31; the successful candidate is expected to begin on 4/25/05. Many thanks to Isaac Babcock for ably filling that role since January! He did an outstanding job, but is too valuable as a field biologist to continue as Office Assistant with the impending field season.

On the 31st, Bradley (MTFWP) gave a talk on preventing wolf depredation of sheep at the Sheep, Goats, Weeds, and Wildlife workshop in Missoula. On the evening of the 31st, Bradley gave a talk on wolves to ~15 kids in a 4-H dog training class.

On the 31st, Ross [MTFWP] attended a meeting of National Forest Service grazing permittees in Ennis, MT. About 15 people attended and discussed the new 10j rule and range rider program.

Steve Nadeau gave a presentation to about 12 graduate students in a policy/law class at Boise State University on March 31st.

On March 31st, Smith [NPS] talked to group of 20 people from Japan and met with a Mongolian biologist who studies wolves. On April 1st, Smith gave a talk to a Gallatin National Forest Leadership meeting including the Forest Supervisor and District Rangers. About 30 people attended.

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