Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/29/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 7/23 to 7/29, 2005

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2005 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2004] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm . 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.

Derbridge (FWP) and Connine (FWP) followed up on reports of wolves south of Superior, MT. Some wolf sign was found but not enough to start trapping. They also scouted the areas east of Koocanusa Reservoir and no wolf sign was found.

Reproduction was documented in the Ninemile and Sula packs during a wolf monitoring flight on the 27th. Five pups (4 black, 1 gray) were seen in the Ninemile pack and 5 pups (4 black, 1 gray) were also seen in the Sula pack.

Efforts will begin next week to trap and radio-collar the Sapphire pack, an uncollared pack near Phillipsburg.

Adam Gall (IDFG) verified reproduction in the Marble Mt. pack. Michael Lucid and Jason Husseman spent the week unsuccessfully attempting to verify reproduction and/or verify new wolf activity. Additional effort will be made to verify pack size and reproduction. 

Laudon (FWP) captured a pup from the new, uncollared, Montana/Idaho trans-boundary pack west of Troy, MT. The pup was too small to radio collar. Special thanks to Jim Hayden (IDFG) for helping with the capture (and packing traps out!). Reproduction and the location of the rendezvous site as well as a probable den site were discovered last week. This pack has an estimated minimum of 3-4 adults and >2 pups (based on sign and howling). Traps were again removed on the 29th as this is a popular area for horse riders and dogs. Although collaring attempts have so far been unsuccessful, there is much more known about this pack than when we started. All information now known is a direct result of excellent interagency cooperation between numerous people with MFWP, IDFG, and USDA FS, as well as public participation (hunters and horse riders), and proactive communication. This cooperation is absolutely essential to better characterize the current wolf population. The need for this calibration will only increase as time goes on. So again, please pass on any and all wolf reports in a timely fashion! Thanks to everyone!

Laudon will move collaring operations to the Candy Mountain Pack on the 31st.

Derbridge (FWP) and Connine (FWP) scouted the upper Wigwam drainage south to Grave Ck and Deep Divide Ck and found no significant wolf sign. Connine left NW Montana because of a family emergency and hopes to return later this summer. Derbridge continued to scout areas around Monture Ck, and north of the Blackfoot Clearwater WMA, Ninemile Prairie, Blanchard Ck, Lost Horse Ck, W Fk Clearwater, and Green Mountain and Government Mountain areas. No significant wolf sign was found.

Trapp and Sime (MFWP) are trapping for an uncollared pack on private land west of Helena. Efforts are ongoing.

Control

On the 23rd, ID WS specialist Dave Thomas confirmed a cow had been killed by the Chesimia Pack near the Dworshak Reservoir on Potlatch or IDL property. The kill was less than a day old and had been 1/4-1/3 consumed. The cow had a calf that is also missing but WS and the range rider are looking for it. WS set traps and as authorized by the Service will kill up to 2 uncollared wolves. If B-221 is captured, he will be re-collared and released. If B-222, or any of the pups are captured, they will be released.

Idaho WS Specialist Jeff Ashmead received a report of wolf predation on 4 ewes on a National Forest grazing allotment in an area east of and between Sun Valley and Hailey, Idaho. The sheep herder reported seeing a wolf near his sheep about two weeks ago, but witnessed a wolf feeding on a sheep Monday the 25th. He found 2 ewes killed on the 25th, and 2 more on the 27th. Ashmead confirmed 3 of those dead sheep as wolf kills, plus one ewe and one lamb as probable wolf kills. It appeared that only one wolf was involved. The kills were located in the bottom of a drainage containing a popular local mountain bike trail, so it was not a good situation for setting traps. Ashmead tried calling in the area on the evening of the 28th and was able to shoot one wolf, but heard at least a couple of other adult wolves howling in the area, as well as what he thought were a couple of pups. The animal shot in this control action was a collared wolf, female B-194 from the Buffalo Ridge pack, but this area is far south of the Buffalo Ridge pack's territory. It may have dispersed and become part of another pack. This control action is terminated unless additional depredations occur.

On July 26th, Rick Williamson responded to a wolf complaint in the Camas Creek area near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. This involved a calf estimated to weigh about 300 pounds that had been fed on extensively by a black bear. Rick found no evidence to suggest wolf predation, but the calf may have been killed by the bear.

On July 28th, Rick Williamson spent the night in the Copper Basin area where WS recently removed 6 members of the Copper Basin wolf pack in response to confirmed predation on calves. The one known remaining adult wolf from that pack, B-227, was located in the Ramey Creek area, and one of the local range riders reported seeing a wolf pup in the Ramey Creek area. Another rider reported seeing tracks of an adult and a smaller wolf, but no further depredations have been reported.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Bangs left to attend the IX International Mammalogical Congress in Sappora, Japan and a tour of Shiretoko National Park [which is on a Hokkaido Island peninsula that still has brown bears, fox, and Yezo Stika deer, but wolves were extirpated] next week. Bangs is presenting an invited paper for a symposium "A tale of Two Parks: Shiretoko and Yellowstone" for Doug Smith et al. A book of the symposium is planned and a draft chapter on ‘Wolf restoration to Yellowstone NP", by Doug Smith, Dan Stalher, Deb Guernsey, and Ed Bangs was completed.

On July 22nd, Idaho Wolf Specialist Rick Williamson's participated in an interview with a news crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation near Big Sky, MT.  Rick demonstrated and discussed nonlethal options for deterring wolf predation on livestock, including RAG boxes, fladry and cracker shells.  Rick was also involved in an additional presentation given in the morning at the same location to a group of about 25 people, including folks from MT FWP, Defenders of Wildlife, and a livestock producer from the Madison Valley.

Bradley (FWP) gave a talk to about 40 members of the Society of Range Management at the Steel Creek campground in the Big Hole Valley on the 22nd.

Laudon, Derbridge, Connine (FWP) tended a booth on Montana Wolf Management and current status of wolves at the Eureka Fiber Festival July 23rd &24th.

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