Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/26/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/19 to 8/26, 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.

The next [Sept 2] weekly will include our annual mid-year wolf population estimate.

On the 16th and 18th, Asher and Ross [MFWP] caught 2 wolves from the Freezeout pack between the Gravelly and Snowcrest ranges N of Red Rocks Lake in SW MT. The male pup 48lbs, was fitted with a padded radio-collar so it could grow into it, but the radio collar slipped off within 2 days. A 2-year-old male was fitted with a GPS collar for a MFWP wolf/ungulate study.

On the 25th, Ross [MFWP] euthanized [shot from ground] the alpha female of a newly formed pack with no radio collars in the Madison Valley near Indian Creek [Cameron]. She was missing 90% of her hair with remnants on her ears & parts of her neck and shoulders. Ross had been following the wolves closely for the past few days to determine the severity of their mange infestation and to trap and get a radio in the pack. Earlier this summer he euthanized a mange-infested pup from the same pack. Up to 6 pups were initially reported but only one very small [est. 20-25lbs] mangy pup was seen with the alpha female recently but has not seen the past few days. They were found under an old abandoned homestead building. The alpha male appears to be in good shape and will be radio collared, if captured.

Four Yellowstone Park packs [Geode, Biscuit Basin, Swan Lake, and Specimen Ridge] counted at the end of 2004 may no longer exist as a result of the pack dissolving or leaving the Park. A dead adult female from the Cougar Creek pack was found on the 25th and is the 9th dead radio-collared Park wolf found this summer having died of natural causes. Data indicates that pup counts are very low. Ten pups have been found dead this year and only 2 pups total were found during any previous summer. Canine Parvo Virus is suspected and scats and blood information will continue to be collected to determine possible causes of pup death.

On the 22nd, Lucid (IDFG) captured a black sub-adult female from an un-collared pack in the western Sawtooth Wilderness. Sightings this summer indicate this is a pack of multiple wolves that likely have pups. IDFG will follow up with a pup count effort. Special thanks are due to Nate Borg (IDFG) and Carl Stiefel (Bureau of Reclamation) who were both instrumental in pinpointing the location of this pack.

Jason Husseman verified at least 3 pups and multiple adults in the Bear Valley pack.

Control

ID WS specialists Hansen and Robinson captured and killed 2 more wolves in the Lava Lake area on the 20th. The first animal was a large, uncollared gray male, the second was B-180 (the Alpha female of the Partridge Creek pack). B-183 and at least one other wolf was still in the area. On the 22nd, Hansen trapped and killed B-183 at the depredation site. B-183 had been with B-180 near the Lava Ridge depredation site. Traps are still in place at both locations, but if no more depredation activity occurs at either site, the traps will be removed.

On the 20th, Hansen reported a depredation on a Grassy Mountain sheep band (also NE of McCall) by unknown wolves. One lamb was confirmed killed by wolves and 2 ewes were probable wolf kills on a Payette NF grazing allotment. There were reportedly several wounded sheep that he didn’t get a chance to examine. The herders counted their sheep and said they were missing another 20. WS set three traps and Hansen and Robinson collared a gray, sub-adult, female wolf #B-254 at the Grassy Mountain depredation site on the 21st.

ID WS specialist Hansen confirmed 1 ewe killed by wolves in Marshall Meadows on the 21st and set traps. Justin Mann [ID WS] confirmed 3 lambs injured by wolves in a depredation that occurred 21st at Carey Dome. Currently, there are no traps set at this site. Both of these depredations are NE of McCall in the Payette National Forest.

ID WS specialist Looney confirmed at least 4 more ewes killed by wolves near Big Trinity Lake, in the Boise NF, NW of Pine on the 21st.

Mann examined an adult cow that was reportedly killed by wolves near Slate Lake in the Nez Perce NF on the 20th. While wolves had certainly fed on the carcass, WS was unable to determine the cause of death.

ID WS specialist Simonson investigated a report of wolves killing domestic turkeys on a private farm near Lemhi on the 25th. The producer said he witnessed five wolves come into his field and two of them killed turkeys and they all left. The producer has lost several dozen turkeys over the last few weeks and was unsure of what was taking them until he witnessed the wolf incident. Poultry is not classified as livestock under the Idaho experimental population rule so no wolf control was warranted.

On evening of the 25th, a cattle producer who grazes cattle in the Scott Valley area east of Cascade, Idaho contacted WS about a calf carcass that he found and believed it was killed by wolves. ID WS investigated on the 26th and found another dead calf that had just died early that morning. Due to the lack of evidence WS classified the first calf as possible and the second calf as probable wolf predation. No further action will be taken at this time.

ID WS captured a radio collared sub-adult wolf (B-221) on the 26th as a result of a wolf control action directed towards the Chesimia pack in the Elk River, Idaho area. The wolf was collared by WS last summer as a pup in a control action after a cow was confirmed killed by wolves. As authorized B-221 was euthanized, leaving one radio collared wolf (B-222) in that pack. WS had tried calling and shooting one of these wolves earlier in the week and during that effort found a bloody calf leg laying in the trail. WS and the livestock producer unsuccessfully searched for any other calf remains and WS classified it as a probable depredation. Because of B-221's removal, WS removed the traps and suspended the control action.

WS investigated the sheep carcasses near Farson, WY again on the 23rd. Nelson [WY WS] found a ewe carcass submerged in the creek that wasn't too badly decayed. It was skinned out and had neck wounds consistent with a wolf attack and was confirmed as a wolf-kill. Because of that confirmed kill, feeding and disarticulation on what was left of 13 other melted down and decayed ewe carcasses, WS classified them as probable wolf kills. The 19 lamb carcasses were so decayed that nothing could be determined. There were also 18 'missing' rams but they were all found alive and wandering around nearby. WS thought the sheep were probably killed sometime on or before August 10th. WS flew the area specifically to shoot a lone wolf if one was seen on the 25th. We believe the depredation was probably caused by a newly dispersing lone wolf. BLM biologists reported finding two pup carcasses [4 of the 6 pup litter shot by WS] near the original den by Farson, shortly after the control action ended. The Farson alpha male disappeared before the initiation of agency control despite intensive searches and monitoring of the radioed female, indicating he probably died prior to agency control.

On the 20th, the Greybull River pack killed a calf [their fifth one this summer] on a public grazing allotment. That pack has 7-8 adults [3 radioed] and pups. WS was authorized to lethally remove 2 wolves. On the 25th, Perringer [WS/FWS] shot 2 uncollared wolves and control has ended unless further depredations are confirmed.

On the 21st, the uncollared South Fork pack [of the Shoshone River] southwest of Cody, WY, severely wounded a calf on a public grazing allotment. The calf lived but will likely have to be euthanized. This was the third depredation by this pack. WS was authorized to trap, radio collar and release a wolf on site.

A lone wolf was suspected of killing livestock near Kemmerer/Hamsfork, WY, earlier this summer, when WS classified 2 calves as probable wolf kills. On the 16th, WS confirmed a calf was killed and lethal removal of a wolf was authorized. On the 23rd, WS confirmed a ewe was killed and on the 24th WS confirmed 3 lambs killed and tracks indicated 2-3 wolves might be involved. WS set traps and will radio collar and release any wolf captured to determine how many wolves might be involved. WS is flying the area and is authorized to shoot a lone wolf.

After wolves from the newly documented Pacific Creek pack [5 ad + pups] killed another calf on the 5th, [total of 3 ad. cows, 1 calf, and 1 steer] the producers moved all their cattle off their pubic grazing allotment onto private land. No more losses have been documented. Trapping and radio collaring efforts have not been undertaken because the wolves were traveling for a long distance and not consistently using an area, and there were high levels of grizzly bear and back-country recreational use on trails. We will continue to try to radio collar a member of this pack.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

A world-wide wolf conference is hosted by the International Wolf Center every 5 years. Frontiers of Wolf Recovery: Southwestern U.S. and the World, will be held at the Antlers Hilton Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO, Oct1-4, 2005. For more information and to register visit: www.wolf.org

Sime, Asher, and Trapp [MFWP] attended and gave presentations on wolf management by MFWP, trapping techniques, and wolf handling protocols during MT WS annual meeting near Red Lodge, MT this week. About 40 WS specialists attended the meetings held on the 23rd and 24th.

Niemeyer [FWS], Smith [NPS], Nadeau [IDFG] and Williamson [ID WS] will participate in a panel discussion about wolves and wolf management in Idaho Falls on the 26th.

On August 22nd, Niemeyer (USFWS) and Lucid (IDFG) conducted less-than-lethal munitions training for a rancher and range rider near Pioneerville, Idaho. Wolves (presumably from the Calderwood pack) have been sighted in their cattle and the rancher's preferred solution was to avoid depredations and killing wolves, by chasing them away, now.

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