Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/03/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 5/21 to 6/03, 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.

Yellowstone National Park is seeing wolf pups at several dens now. Pups are being weaned and traveling from dens 3-400 M. Some wolves have changed location of dens to other sites.

The Nez Perce Tribe coordinated with an Idaho producer in the Chesimia pack territory (provided with telemetry equipment), and also with a sheep producer that will turn out very soon in the newly documented Blue Bunch pack den site area. He will also be provided telemetry equipment in the near future.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] verified 4 new pups (2 black and 2 gray) in the Soldier Mountain pack. Jason Husseman [IDFG] verified 2 plus pups in the Jureano Mt. pack but could not get a full count.

A trapping operation was conducted by the NTP in the area where a bear hunter reported seeing 6 wolf pups south of Dworshak Reservoir. ID the week before. Three wolves were observed and a fresh elk kill was located, but no wolves were captured before the wolves abandoned the carcass.

Efforts continued on determining the reproductive status of the Gold Fork pack in Idaho and so far no pups have been documented. Flights were conducted out of McCall, ID and Hamilton, MT for the NPT's area of responsibility in central Idaho. B148, a disperser from the Big Hole pack, was located along the main Salmon River near Mackay Bar. Otherwise all wolves that were located were in their usual home ranges. Locations are firming up information on which packs are likely denning.

Hollow and Braden [NPT] investigated a report of wolves howling between Bear and Cuprum, ID, the second report of wolf activity in this area in the past month. Collared wolf B127 used this area in the past, but was never documented to be affiliated with other wolves, although there were reports of multiple wolves, including pups. Babcock and Babcock (Isaac and Sean) checked on last year's den/rendezvous site for the Florence pack. They also visited the Orphan pack's first rendezvous site from 2004 in hopes of regaining contact with that pack, but there was no wolf activity at the site. The Tribe also coordinated with IDFG researcher George Pauley on recent sightings of wolves/wolf sign on the north side of the Clearwater/Lochsa drainage.

Williamson [WS] and Niemeyer [FWS] converged on Clayton, Idaho, last week to look at the nine dead elk that ‘wolves’ allegedly killed [the old ‘sport’ killing myth]. Gary Gadwa, CO with IDFG, got there ahead of them to investigate and determined that the wolves died of "an act of nature" by falling off a steep ridge above Squaw Creek to their deaths. It is "slim to none" that wolves had any part of it as no wolf sign was found and nothing bit or fed on the carcasses.

Perringer [WS co-op position in Cody, WY] trapped and collared a male wolf from the Carter Mountain pack near Meeteetse, WY on the 25th. He is continuing to try to get radios in a newly formed pack in the South Fork of the Shoshone River, west of Cody, WY.

Control

On the 20th, WS confirmed that two calves had been killed by wolves on a private ranch in the Big Hole Valley, MT. Control to remove the remaining two members of the Battlefield pack was already authorized but the only radioed pack member has been alone the past 2 weeks and not located near this latest depredation but within the Battlefield pack’s territory. A shoot-on-sight permit for 2 wolves was issued to the ranch manager on the 20th. WS will continue its efforts to remove 2 wolves in that area.

A rancher in the Big Hole Valley, NW of Wisdom, MT shot a wolf that was harassing his cattle the evening of May 27. LE and MFWP retrieved the wolf that morning. It was a black male, radio-collared and ear-tagged in Idaho. He was missing all of his toes on his rear left foot. This injury was noted when he was first captured incidentally by a coyote trapper in ID and radio-collared by the NPT. This is the fourth wolf that has been legally shot under the new 10j rule by a landowner in the Big Hole as it attacked and harassed cattle on private land.

On Saturday morning May 28th, a day-old calf was killed and confirmed by WS on a ranch in the Big Hole Valley, SW of Wisdom. Three gray wolves were seen, 2 feeding on the calf and a third wolf chasing off the mother cow. Efforts are ongoing to remove the remaining 3-4 wolves in the Battlefield pack. WS set traps on Sunday and caught the collared yearling female on Monday morning and released her to maintain radio contact with the pack. A shoot on sight permit was issued to the ranch for 3 wolves.

On May 23rd, a lone uncollared wolf was legally shot by a landowner as it chased his livestock near Hall, MT. Service LE investigated. A lone wolf had been reportedly chasing livestock in this area earlier this year and had been previously shot at by a landowner. This was the fifth wolf killed under the new 10j regulations in Montana.

On March 31st, two newborn calves were killed on private land near Roscoe, MT where previous depredations by the Phantom pack had occurred. WS confirmed one as a wolf kill and considered the other as only ‘probable’ as there was a wolf track mixed in with bear sign. WS is trapping and if a wolf is captured it maybe released on site or killed, depending on its age and sex.

On the 3rd, a ranch in Tom Miner Basin, MT reported they saw two gray wolves, one collared, feeding on a heifer calf thought to have been killed that night. WS is investigating. The collared wolf was reluctant to leave the carcass but they shot over it's head and moved the carcass into the timber to get away from the main herd. Also, they reported a ‘wounded’ filly that maybe wire-cut which WS will also look at.

On June 2nd, WS investigated a report of several horses being chased through a barbed wire fence in a corral near a rancher's home west of Big Piney, WY. Last year, wolves killed a calf on this ranch. Three horses were injured and had to be taken to a vet. WS found wolf tracks near the corral and wolf hair caught in the barbed wire fence. We will stay in contact with the rancher and consider trapping/collaring if possible and if the wolves return.

On the 24th, WS began a trapping effort to collar a wolf near Farson, WY. WS investigated a reported injured sheep herding dog, but could not determine the cause of the injuries because it couldn’t be caught to be held down. It didn’t appear to be seriously injured according to the visual examination that WS did. Two wolves had previously been seen in the area where sheep and cattle graze on BLM land, but at this time no livestock have been lost to wolves. Approx. 10 lambs had been killed by coyotes. There is still no indication wolves denned or are active in the area.

On the 23rd a rancher near Teton Nat'l Park complained of wolves in his cattle pasture. The rancher chased wolves out of his cattle, but the wolves remained in the general area. On the 25th, the Service investigated and confirmed an adult cow killed on the same private ranch adjacent to Grand Teton National Park, WY where wolves from the Teton Pack had been previously chased out of a cattle pasture. On the 27th, Jimenez trapped, collared and released a gray yearling male in a control action on that private property, ending agency control efforts on the 28th. We will continue to closely monitoring this situation for any further problems.

Research

The final year of the elk calf mortality is underway in Yellowstone National Park. Elk calving is in full swing, and elk calves are being radio-tagged and closely monitored for the third and last year of this PhD research project.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

ILLEGALLY POISONED WOLF found in Frank Church Wilderness in central Idaho. The collared wolf known as B-204 was killed by ingesting meat laced with a poison known as Temik. Temik is a restricted-use and very toxic pesticide that can only be applied to crops such as potatoes. Use of Temik for other than crops, such as poisoning predators, is strictly illegal. The manufacturer of Temik, Bayer Crop Science, and the Service are cooperating in the investigation and are offering a reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of the person or persons responsible. Anyone with information about this case or any other killing of a wolf is urged to call Service LE at 208-523-0855, or the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at the Idaho Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

On May 27th, LE Agent Goessman met with a ranch manager near Roscoe in Carbon county and retrieved the wolf skull from a wolf that looked like it had died sometime last Fall. The skull was placed in the MFWP Bozeman Lab freezer. The wolf is believed to have been the one shot in an agency control action last fall on the Phantom pack but whose carcass was not found. LE is investigating.

On May 23rd, Laudon [MFWP] presented the Montana Wolf Management Plan and current status of wolves in Montana to the 41st annual North American Moose Conference that was held this year in Whitefish, MT.

On the 31st, Sime [MFWP] gave a talk on predators, including wolves, and prey to a 5th grade science class in Missoula, MT.

On May 24th, Steve Nadeau (IDFG) and Carter Niemeyer (USFWS) gave presentations on Idaho wolf management and federal/state transition efforts in Idaho, to the Idaho Fish and Game in-service training meeting held at Boise State University in Boise. Jim Hammill (retired from Michigan DNR) gave a Midwest perspective on wolf management. Approximately 500 IDFG employees from around the state were in attendance.

The NPT held their beginning of the field season orientation for the crew. New biologist Tyler Hollow who volunteered for the NPT wolf project the past 2 summers, and volunteer Barry Braden, and office assistant Mary Allen made it through their first session.

On May 27th, Jimenez talked to group of 16 US Forest Service line officers taking an ESA law extension course from Lewis & Clark Law School. On May 18th, Jimenez talked to a group of 15 students from Prescott College.

On May 24th, Smith gave a talk to120 YNP interpretive rangers. On the 27th, he led a field trip for the National Parks and Conservation Assoc. and gave a talk.

Niemeyer conducted the annual "wolf walk" with the Idaho Conservation League (ICL) on Saturday, May 21st, during their conference at Redfish Lodge south of Stanley, Idaho. Approximately 14 ICL members elected to accompany Niemeyer and Lynn Stone (ICL) to look for evidence of wolves in the area occupied by the Galena wolf pack. Tracks and wolf droppings have usually been the highlight of the event but this year the group had the opportunity to observe our first gray wolf in the wild. Wolf biology, management, monitoring and other issues were discussed during the field trip.

On May 26th, the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office hosted the annual Idaho Wolf Recovery Coordination Meeting in Boise. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Service from the Portland Regional Office and the Boise Field Office, Wildlife Services, Office of Species Conservation, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Nez Perce Tribe. A review of field operations, cooperative agreements/MOUs, and agency policy, coordination, and protocol were the main topics. Excellent cooperation among management agencies continues to make wolf recovery and management efforts in Idaho a success.

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