Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/17/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/10 to 6/17, 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, an extensive bibliography, and additional informational websites.

Laudon (MFWP) is trapping to radio-collar members of the Lazy Creek Pack in NW MT.

Asher [TESF] and Ross [MFWP] spent the past week riding and hiking in the Paradise and Madison Valleys looking for wolf pack sign. Virtually nothing fresh was found. Searches will continue but it is possible that between lethal wolf control during the past year and mange, which was widespread and severe in nearly all of those packs last year, most packs may have been eliminated from those valleys. Further investigations are warranted before any final conclusions are drawn.

Nez Perce Tribe biologists recently located the den of the Big Hole pack up the East Fork of Lolo Creek in Montana. This pack typically spends most of their time in Idaho and were originally named the 'Big Hole' pack because the original founding pair (B7 & B11) was translocated out of the Big Hole Valley (twice) because of livestock conflicts, before settling in the Lolo Pass area in 1997. At the end of 2004 there were believed to be 8 adults and 2 pups in this pack. There is one radio-collar in the pack and NPT biologists are currently trapping to try to collar another animal.

Control

WS is continuing control actions on BLM grazing allotments near the Prospect Mtns. north of Farson, WY where 14 sheep were killed by wolves in late April. On the 15th, WS trapped, collared and released a lactating female. A den with pups was also located about a mile from the sheep. WS was requested to remove the entire pack and has been flying almost daily, but so far only found the female by herself.

WS confirmed a calf was killed by wolves on private property near Meeteetse, WY on the weekend of the 4th, probably by members of the Carter Mountain pack. The wolves didn’t come back to the carcass and no control was implemented. On the 14th, WS examined the carcasses of an adult cow and 3 calves that wolves were seen eating on an adjacent property. WS investigated and determined that those cattle had died of causes other than predation [poisonous plants were suspected] and wolves were only scavenging the carcasses. The carcasses will be removed and the situation closely monitored.

WS in Idaho confirmed eight lambs were killed and another 7-8 lambs were wounded by wolves on private land near New Meadows, ID. It appears that only two wolves might have been involved in the depredation. WS did not pick up the signal of B218 (Blue Bunch Alpha Female) and the NPT said she was at the Blue Bunch den about five air miles away. It is possible that these are wolves not associated with the Blue Bunch Pack. WS set traps to collar and release on site or euthanize wolves, depending what age and sex is captured.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Montana adopted Bill 461 in Spring 2005 that required MFWP to maintain a radio-collar in chronic depredating wolf packs. It modified Montana’s statutory framework for wolf management after the Service had approved Montana’s state law and state wolf management plan. Therefore, the Service must re-evaluate whether the enactment of Bill 461, will allow the Service to still designate Montana’s overall statutory framework and wolf management plan as ‘approved’. If a Service review concludes that Bill 461 altered Montana‘s regulatory framework to the extent it could no longer be consider as ‘approved’: 1) Any potential delisting proposal would be delayed; 2) Wolf management in the experimental population areas of Montana would revert back to the less-flexible 1994 experimental rules, and; 3) The Cooperative Agreement and funding between the Service and MFWP that allow for state-lead in wolf management and implementation of most of Montana’s Wolf Management Plan, could be jeopardized. On June 10th, a letter was sent by the Service to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks asking them to explain how they would implement Bill 461 and how that law would effect wolf management and use of limited federal funding in Montana.

On the 15th, Bangs and Sime attended a noon presentation in Bozeman, MT by Dr. Adrian Trevies about wolf recovery, wolf control, state compensation, and public attitudes about those issues in Wisconsin. About 15 people attended.

On the 14th, Sime gave a presentation and spent the day with the 35 participants of the USFS Forest Carnivore Management training in Yellowstone National Park. On May 16th, she gave presentations about wolf identification and management to about 130 students attending Montana Boys State in Helena.

On the 15th, Laudon (MFWP) gave a talk to the Glacier National Park Interpretive Staff on the Montana Wolf Management Plan and the current status of wolves in Montana.

Jimenez talked to a group of 20 journalists attending the Wind River Institute for Journalist & Natural Resources. Journalists from all over the country were traveling through the Rocky Mountains for a week-long course, focusing on the ESA and natural resource issues.

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