Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/20/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 5/13 to 5/20, 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.

During the week of the 13th, Husseman, Lucid, and Dr. Mark Drew [IDFG] trained with Wildlife Services personnel on TTDs, which are the drug tranquilizer tab devices placed on foot-hold traps that help calm any captured animal once they ingest them. The state plans on trying them out on wolf traps to reduce the potential of injury to wolves and non-target animals. Last week’s flights indicated that most of the packs are localized around den sites.

Lucid verified the Calderwood and Steel Mt. den sites but will have to return to get pup counts as the females were still in the dens.

Laudon [MFWP] recaptured and recollared # 334 and captured and collared a 2-3 year old male (non-breeding) in the Murphy Lake Pack on the 17th. Traps were pulled that morning.

The Halfway pack was found on May 18 in its usual home range. It is still unclear if the collared female is a breeding animal or whether the pack has a den.

Ross [MFWP] received a message through WS that a yearling elk calf was killed behind a landowners house in the Madison valley which used to be the Sentinel pack territory. Investigation showed what looked like a single wolf in addition to coyotes/birds all of which completely consumed the carcass over-night. Landowners in the area reported they had been seeing a pair (one black, one gray) in the area since January. Project personnel will make attempts to collar and release any wolves in the area. No collared wolves were detected.

The Babcock brothers, Isaac and Sean [NTP] got the first Idaho pup count of the season on the 17th. It was a unnamed new pack. A minimum of 4 gray pups belong to B218 (dispersed from the Monumental Ck. area last fall) and her unknown mate. B218 was seen with another gray wolf during a flight this winter. The den is in the headwaters area of the Little Salmon River.

The NPT had a trapline going near Horsethief Reservoir, outside of Cascade, ID, for what was believed to be the Orphan pack. The sole radio-collared wolf, alpha female B61, has not been located since January for unknown reasons (her collar was replaced in Jan. 2003). This area is within a few miles of last year's natal den. No wolves were captured and because wolf activity dwindled, the traps were pulled on the 19th.

NPT biologists investigated the 2004 Gold Fork den site (where alpha female B130 was lastly aerially located). Although there was fresh wolf sign in the immediate vicinity, the den was not used this year, and no alternate den was discovered.

Jimenez continues to closely follow up on reported wolf sightings on BLM alottments near Farson, WY. No depredations have been reported. No wolf den has been located yet. The roads finally dried out and WS is attempting to find wolf sign, and began trapping to radio-collar and release a wolf on site.

Control

On the 20th, WS completed the wolf control action on the last 2 members of the Phantom pack near Roscoe, MT. A grey adult male and the radio-collared yearling female had been involved in repeated livestock depredations the past year. They were on private property and in cattle when shot from a helicopter. The shoot-on-sight permit issued to the rancher who lost a calf was cancelled.

Research

Nadeau [IDFG], Niemeyer [Service], Mack [NPT], and Pete Zager (IDFG) met in McCall on May 13 to review the Tribe's monitoring research document, as well as coordinate a summer work plan.

The Yellowstone National Park summer wolf predation in full swing. Field crews are checking out areas away form den or rendezvous sites where GPS collared wolves stayed for more than an hour. Data indicate that on a majority of such clusters wolves made or were feeding on kills. This research is attempting to learn about wolf kill rates during summer.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The State of Idaho and Nez Perce Tribe was finalized and signed on May 4, 2005. The agreement gives the Tribe a significant role in wolf monitoring in Idaho, and sets up a framework for future coordination and cooperation between the State and the Tribe.

Nadeau [IDFG], Curt Mack [NPT, Carter Niemeyer and Pete Zager (IDFG) met to discuss the Tribe's monitoring research project on May 13, and discuss field work plans for the summer.

IDFG just completed printing of wolf information cards and a tabloid that highlight how to avoid and handle conflicts between wolves and dogs, and wolves and livestock, as well as provide information on wolves, wolf management, and the new 10j rule. They will be distributed across Idaho.

On the 20th, Jimenez met with representatives from Teton National Park, Forest Service and an adjacent ranch & park grazing permittee to discuss livestock grazing, wolves, and communication issues this summer.

Smith [NPS] gave a talk to Prescott college group in Yellowstone Park on May 19, about 15 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