Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/08/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/01 to 7/08, 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.

Babcock [Nez Perce Tribe] counted 4 black pups of the Coolwater Ridge pack near Round Top Mt. He also heard multiple adults howling, but only observed 1 black adult/subadult. The sole radio-collared wolf, alpha female B163, was not present at the rendezvous site. He also searched for the Eagle Mountain pack, but did not locate the alpha male's (B136) signal. Flight locations from the spring indicated that B136 had localized, but searches around those locations did not produce a rendezvous site. He also investigated the Hanson Meadow area, where the Kelly Ck. pack formerly resided but there was little evidence of recent wolf use of this area. Aerial locations from 2003-2004 indicated that the Fish Ck. and/or Lupine packs of Montana may have taken up residence here.

Tyler Hollow and Sean Babcock [NPT] re-investigated the Chesimia pack to improve on the earlier pup count. They saw 1 gray pup and heard 2 other pups howling, and there may be a fourth. Efforts to trap were thwarted by the large number of recreationists in the immediate area.

He also monitored the recently radio-collared B232, and it appears she is affiliated with a new pack (tentatively known as Lochsa). Their rendezvous site is a short distance east of the eastern boundary of the Kelly Ck. pack territory, so there is a possibility that this is the Kelly Ck. pack. The radio-collared Kelly Ck. wolf's signal was not heard in the vicinity of this rendezvous site and he has never been located in this area. An area of suspected wolf activity, Postoffice Creek, is located approx. 9 miles to the East; wolf sign was observed in that drainage in 2003 and B232's group may have been responsible. Three gray pups were observed as well as B232 and an uncollared gray wolf. This pack likely existed in 2004 (if not before), as B232 is estimated to be a yearling. He then revisited the Big Hole pack to improve the pup count there, but saw only 1 pup (2 were estimated from howling last time). He did see B7, B151, 2 uncollared gray, and 1 uncollared black wolves.

Jim Holyan [NPT] and Jim Yuskavitch (freelance journalist) found a rendezvous site for the Hemlock Ridge pack, where they heard 2+ pups howling and 3-4 adults, including suspected alpha male B210. The other radio-collared wolf, female B207, was not present though her signal was heard in the area. They also heard 3 adult wolves howling in the uncollared Eldorado pack's territory. Attempts to capture and radio-collar were unsuccessful (though there were 3 near misses). This pack has eluded traps since 2003. No evidence of reproduction was found.

Curt Mack and Dave Renwald (Bureau of Indian Affairs) confirmed that the Gold Fork pack has only 2 pups this year and maybe just the alpha pair, as well. They also investigated the area where B45 was captured last year, but found only older wolf sign. In addition, they surveyed the 2003 Orphan pack den site to determine if wolves have been present there; wolves did not use this den this year, so the Orphan pack's status remains unknown. Mack documented a new pack, via a report from USFS personnel, approx. 10 miles SE of Grangeville, ID. This group, with 3 black and 3 gray pups, is the Earthquake Basin pack. Curt also heard 1 adult wolf howling. Trapping efforts will take place soon to try and radio collar an individual here.

Steve Nadeau and Jason Husseman [IDFG] spent several days looking for Bear Valley pack on foot, vehicle, and horseback. The alpha male was killed last fall and the pack doesn't seem to be using the same areas yet this year. It is possible that they don't have pups this year, but it will take further investigation to determine their status.

Reportedly, on June 20th, a man camped on private land in Idaho near New Meadows, ID encountered suspected ‘wolves’. He had reportedly seen 2 gray and 2 black adult wolves and a ‘smaller’ younger one the week before. He said he was cutting some firewood with a chainsaw and his dog was by him. A ‘wolf’ appeared out of nowhere and went for his dog. He grabbed the dog away and was bitten on the wrist. He shot at or near the wolf twice with his pistol and it ran off. He didn’t know if he hit it. He initially reported this as a ‘dog’ incident but later thought it was wolves. His wound [a very small puncture and some scrapes] was treated [washing, tetanus shot and antibiotics] at the hospital, the dog was uninjured. Mack [NPT] investigated on the 23rd, but didn’t see any wolf sign. However, the local sheriff said he just had a sighting of 4 wolves and a smaller wolf? not too far away, but again nothing was confirmed. At this point in time, nothing else has turned up, and it appears doubtful it could have been wild wolves, the press was contacted.

On July 3rd, Jimenez caught and collared a 94lb yearling male from the Teton pack. Telemetry locations of the former Druid wolf caught last week indicate it is not with the new pack and maybe just a disperser. Time will tell.

On July 3rd, a man, his girlfriend and dog walked into the #253 den [Flat Creek pack] north of Jackson, WY. The pack has 3 adults and 6 pups. The healer-mix dog was held by its collar and was unharmed. However, it was reportedly a frightening experience for the couple, who knew nothing about wild wolf behavior. When wolves attempt to protect their pups, especially if a dog is involved, they bark howl and run around close-by, but do not bite or attack people. They will kill trespassing dogs that are perceived as a threat to their pups, if given a chance. Reportedly, the male wolf was barking, howling, and closely followed the people for nearly a mile, sometimes within 15m, until he had ‘escorted’ the people & dog a safe distance from the pups. Don’t we all wish for a Dad like that... The man contacted the media. Old-time wolf bounty hunters used to use dogs near dens to draw the protective adults in so they and the pups could be easily killed. This technique is still used to kill denning coyotes. The media story apparently attracted both the ‘normal’ and polarized extreme camps, the antis [wolves attack people, feds are liars, etc.] and pros [close sites around dens, prohibit dogs while hiking, etc.], responded strongly enough that the reporter is doing another story on the huge emotional response... and so on it goes.

On the 6th, Trapp [MFWP] caught and collared a 2-yr-old grey male in the Moccasin Lake pack. Two pack members are now collared and the line was pulled. The radioed wolves will be monitored as part of the ‘Range Rider’ experiment in that area. It is still unknown if the pack denned this year.

Efforts will resume this weekend to trap and radio collar a member of the Black Canyon pack in the Horse Prairie area of southwest Montana. Trapping was attempted in mid-June but nothing was caught. This pack has denned in the Black Canyon area and visual observations indicate at least 3 gray adults/yrls and 1 pup.

Derbridge (MFWP volunteer) has thoroughly scouted the area occupied by an uncollared wolf group south of Superior and observed some fresh sign. The local WS trapper is currently trapping the area to radio-collar and release. Derbridge is scouting the area formerly occupied by the Fish Creek Pack to determine if wolves are still using the Montana/Idaho state line east of Hoodoo Pass.

Laudon (MFWP) and Adam Gall (IDFG) started trapping on the 8th for an uncollared NW Montana/Idaho panhandle trans-boundary pack.

Control

On the 3rd, another cow was killed by wolves on a grazing allotment in Grand Teton National Park. Grizzly bears had almost immediately taken over and consumed most of the carcass but there was enough evidence left on the peeled-off hide to determine that wolves killed it. It was probably another depredation by the new uncollared pack in that area. No control is planned at this time but the situation is being closely monitored.

On the 6th, as directed by the Service, 2 members [a 3-yr male and yearling female, both grey] of the Carter Mountain pack in Wyoming were shot from the ground on private land. A big thanks to the WS/FWS specialist for a timely and efficient field response. The pack killed 3 calves on private land this spring and now consists of 6 adults and 4 pups. If more livestock are killed, additional control may occur.

Montana WS shot collared female wolf #502 using aircraft on the 8th, in the Big Hole Valley, MT. Efforts have been ongoing to remove what was thought to be 3-4 wolves remaining in the Battlefield pack. Wolf #502 was the only radio collared wolf in this pack and had not been located with any other wolves over the past several weeks so her removal was delayed. However, she was found that morning alone, standing over a dead calf, so WS killed her as previously authorized. WS examined the calf in the afternoon and it appeared to have died of natural causes and wolf #502 hadn't even scavenged it yet. Control for any remaining pack members will continue until the 11th when the 45-day control window ends.

WS received a phone call from a rancher who grazes cattle in Scott Valley, east of Cascade, ID on the 8th. The rancher said that one of his field employees reported seeing a wolf chasing and attacking a calf late on the 7th. When the ranch foreman investigated the incident early morning of the 8th, he wasn't able to locate the calf but did find the cow with a full udder. Idaho WS is investigating. This is probably in the Gold Fork pack territory.

Research

Nothing new.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 6th, Smith gave a talk to about 25 people at the Silver Tip ranch, a private in-holding on Yellowstone’s northern border.

Nadeau gave a wolf update to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in Stanley on July 7th. Approximately 30 people were in attendance.

On the 6th, Bradley [MFWP] gave a talk on how to identify wolf sign to a group of 10 Outward Bound students embarking on a 3-week backpacking trip along the Continental Divide from Lima to Bannock Pass in Southwest Montana.

On July 28th, Bangs and other Service representatives met in DC to discuss wolf related issues. DOI filed a notice of appeal to extend the time-frame in which the recent Oregon court ruling on national wolf reclassification may be brought before the Ninth circuit Court of Appeals.

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