Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/15/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/8 to 4/15, 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.

It was a very quiet week in WY. Some packs may have denned but neither the Teton pack nor the group of 3, [includes the former Druid male that once dispersed to UT], on the National Elk Refuge has denned.

On April 9th, Jim and Holly Akenson (ungulates researchers and wolf volunteers helping the Service, the Tribe and IDFG) captured and radio collared a young female wolf by the Taylor Ranch in central Idaho. The wolf appeared to be a 65-pound yearling and is suspected to be a member of the Golden Pack. We appreciate Jim and Holly's assistance in radio collaring some backcountry wolves that are not often easy to access.

A rancher 20 miles north of Mackay, Idaho, videoed a lone gray wolf feeding on a decayed elk carcass on April 13th near the ranch headquarters. Niemeyer and Williamson visited the site on April 14th and visited with the ranch owners. The video indicated that the wolf had an injured right hind foot but was otherwise healthy. Suggestions were offered in burying dead livestock and the elk carcass. The ranchers were very cooperative but concerned about having the wolf so close to the ranch and grandchildren that frequent the surrounding ranch land.

Idaho Fish and Game conducted flights for the southern and eastern packs of Idaho this past week. Wolves do not yet appear to be denning. Jureano Mountain: Located east of Panther Creek and south of Salmon River. Moyer Basin: Located south of Porphory Creek along Panther Creek. Morgan Creek: Located near W. Fork Camas Creek. B228, who was north of Morgan Creek: and away from the pack for several months, was located within a mile or so of the pack. Calderwood: Confederate Gulch area. Packer John: Middle Fork Payette. Scott Mountain: Whiskey Creek, visual 2 un-collared grays. Warm Springs: near 10 mile creek. Steel Mountain: near Straight Creek. Bennett Mountain: South Fork Lime Creek. Wildlife Services located this previously female with another uncollared wolf last week. Soldier Mountain: Housman Gulch. Wolf packs are still split up and not localized around dens.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] has been trapping in the Hughes Creek area attempting to radio collar a new pack. Wolves have been heard and photographed several times in the vicinity.

Control

On April 13th, a rancher north of Toston, MT reported a dead calf on his private property. WS investigated that day but the 2-month old calf had been dead a few days. WS concluded that this case was "unconfirmed" due to the lack of evidence as the carcass was completely consumed. Scat was found, most likely from a wolf but no wolf tracks were found. Another sick calf died, but had not been fed on by anything. WS gave the producer the MTFWP 10j handout. The producer was counseled on removing the calf carcass to reduce it as an attractant to predators and what the new federal rule allowed. No traps were set and no control is planned at this time.

The 45-day Horse Prairie, MT shoot on sight written authorization expired April 15th. Since the initial WS investigation, no wolves were harassed or killed by private citizens or WS, and no other livestock have been reported injured or killed. Agency control there and in Dell, MT ended April 15 because the 45-day control period expired.

On the 13th, WS investigated a suspected wolf depredation near Clinton, MT. WS determined it was likely a domestic dog problem rather than wolf.

On the 11th, WS reported a rancher north of Avon, MT that had a confirmed calf loss on March 2nd. On March 5th, at least 2 wolves were involved in another attack on a different ranch where a calf was bitten across the back. WS said it was a probable wolf attack that resulted in 3 calves having tails bitten off and 1 calf that was also partially paralyzed. The incidents probably happened a week or so previous. The paralyzed calf will probably be euthanized and WS will do a necropsy to further investigate whether it may have been attacked by a wolf.

On the 15th, a rancher in the Big Hole Valley of SW MT reportedly shot a wolf, [likely member of the 5-6 member Battlefield pack], that was in his calving pasture attacking his calves. A Service LE special agent is investigating and is being assisted by WS and MTFWP.

On April 13th, WS personnel checked out a reported wolf depredation on a calf near Glenns Ferry, Idaho. A person hunting antlers reported seeing 5-7 wolves, including three radio collared animals, attacking and killing a calf on a private ranch. WS checked out the area and found no evidence of an attack site, dead livestock or wolf sign. The only known radio collared wolf in the area was not in the area of the report. Subsequent information received from WS indicated some domestic dog activity in the area. No further actions was required.

On April 14th, WS personnel checked out a reported wolf depredation south of Riggins, Idaho. A calf had a large flap of skin torn along the rib cage (injuries occurred evening of April 13th) and initially survived the injury but died by April 15th. WS necropsied and confirmed a wolf attack and located wolf tracks in the pasture. The attack was only a couple of miles from another attempted wolf attack on cattle on March 7th where a rancher attempted to shoot a wolf in the act of chasing his cattle but missed. Traps were set on the 15th, and the first wolf captured will be radio collared and released to determine if a new pack is forming.

On April 14th, Niemeyer, Williamson (WS) and L Thurston (Defenders) put out some test electrified fladry (turbo-fladry) at a test site near Clayton, Idaho, to see the affect of turbo-fladry at deterring wolves. Turbo-fladry is another non-lethal tool that will be opportunistically tested this year in a cooperative effort between the Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Services, and other federal/state wolf managers.

Research

Nothing new to report.

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).

The latest issue of Yellowstone Science celebrates the 10th year anniversary of the first wolves being released in the Park. ‘Ten years of Yellowstone Wolves 1995-2005’ is posted at: http://www.nps.gov/yell/publications/yellsciweb/issues.htm

National Geographic’s Explorer won two News and Documentary Awards at the National Television Academy’s September 2004 ceremony. "Wolf Pack" a program based on Yellowstone wolves with footage by Gardiner, MT resident, Bob Landis, won the Emmy for outstanding science, technology, and nature programming. Belated Congratulations Bob.

National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth premieres Wednesday April 20 & 27 on PBS. One of those segments includes a piece about large predators, and includes an interview with Fontaine [FWS] about wolves.

On the 13th, the Montana Legislature debated Bill 461. The Senate Bill mandated that MTFWP maintain at least one radio-collar in each depredating wolf pack. A subsequent House amendment required MTFWP give a radio telemetry receiver to any landowner who requested one, and that all those efforts be solely federally funded. The conference committee dropped the receiver amendment and the collaring bill will be voted on again soon.

MTFWP Sime attended the annual Plum Creek Clearwater Unit meeting of company employees and contractors on April 12th. She gave a presentation on wolves in Montana and the transition from federal to state management to about 100 people.

Dr. Smith [NPS] spoke at Univ of Idaho to about 100 people on April 11th, and was given a well-deserved ‘Distinguished Alumni Award’ from Univ. Congratulations Doug- and this just proves that old saying ‘Even an old blind gray-haired sow can root up an acorn now and then.’

Michael Lucid gave a talk to 25 sportsmen of the Idaho Outdoor Association on April 12th.

On April 9th, Niemeyer, Babcock (Nez Perce Tribe) and C. Blake (Defenders) conducted a field trip for participants from Boise State University and Eagle Academy to look for wolves and wolf sign in the Garden Valley area north of Boise. Approximately 30 people attended the event and learned about wolf biology, agency wolf management policies and wolf politics. Fresh wolf tracks were observed making the trip a success.

On the 13th, Niemeyer, Williamson (WS) and Santini (WS) presented a two hour evening program about wolf management to the Cassia County Planning Committee at the courthouse in Burley, Idaho. A dozen people including county representatives, Forest Service and livestock producers attended the informational meeting. Cassia county residents were encouraged to use the wolf reporting website provided by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and were provided with the USFWS annual reports, a 10(j) update and contact information in the event of wolf depredations. The meeting was cordial.

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