Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/16/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/9 to 9/16, 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.

HUNTERS PLEASE REMEMBER TO REPORT SUSPECTED WOLF OBSERVATIONS TO YOUR LOCAL FISH AND GAME DEPARTMENT. THANKS AND HAVE A GREAT SEASON.

On the 12th, Laudon [MFWP] documented a minimum of 6-7 animals in the uncollared Spotted Bear Pack including 2 pups. On the 13th, an adult male wolf (NW041M) was captured and collared. On the 15th, the newly radio collared animal was located over 19 miles away, and the trapline was moved in hopes of collaring an additional animal.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] verified pups in the newly documented Hoodoo pack near the Middle Fork of the Salmon and flew telemetry locations. He was caught in an early season snowstorm while working the Hoodoo pack when he awoke to 9 inches of fresh snow.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] continued trying to verify pups in the Calderwood pack, except the pack continues to live on private land and the landowner has not allowed access. He also responded to reports of wolves in Atlanta, ID using the meadows and airstrip area, but was unable to locate wolves. However, he did find much coyote activity including howling and observations.

Linda Thurston [IDFG] has found more fresh sign of wolves in several new locations in the North Fork of the Clearwater and will be attempting to trap and collar the animals next week to find out if they are affiliated with any known packs.

WY WS Specialist Jed Edwards investigated a wolf complaint, about 30-40 miles south of Rock Springs. No damage was suspected. Reportedly, a black wolf was in the corral of a private ranch and, as the wolf was observed leaving the compound, it was joined by 2 gray-colored wolves. They all then headed south. The next morning Jed was able to get a lone wolf to howl south of the ranch in the headwaters of Salt Wells Creek, about 20 miles north of the Utah border.

WY WS reported that 2 pups and a collared adult, [perhaps one of the Teton Pack wolves stayed?], were sighted in the Upper Green River pack territory, multiple tracks were observed.

WY WS reported seeing pups/pup sign with the wolves on the East Fork of the Wind River. This newly collared yearling female’s pack contains multiple adults, [meaning they breed last year too], and this year’s pups but we haven’t been able to document numbers yet. This may be a new WY ‘breeding pair’.

WY WS Specialist Tracy Frye reported that on Sept. 11th, a Riverton, WY man was on a pack trip with a friend east of Dubois, WY. While in camp wolves came very close to the camp and attacked the man’s dog. The men drove the wolves off before the dog could be killed. The dog was taken to the veterinarian in Riverton, WY and it will recover.

Control

On the 12th, a sheep producer in the area of Beaver Creek of Idaho reported 8+ dead sheep and a wounded guard presumably the result of a wolf attack. WS concluded that the sheep were probable wolf-kills (they were decomposed) and confirmed the guard dog was wounded by wolves (herders claim they rescued the dog from several wolves). The herders also reported seeing 4 black wolves and 3 gray wolves around the sheep and were implicated in the attacks. The wolves are probably members of the Soldier Mountain pack due to the black wolf in the pack and the fact that Soldier Mountain wolves move through the conflict area. WS will attempt to call shoot 2 wolves in this area starting today. In addition, the 2 wolves may be removed by aerial shooting within 5 miles of the sheep band. The area offers limited aerial shooting opportunity but 3 wolves may be taken if the pack is located next to the sheep when control is initiated. On the 14th, WS made an aerial telemetry monitoring flight in the vicinity of the head of Beaver Creek on the Sawtooth National Forest. None of the 4 radio-collared members of this pack were located on the flight.

On the 15th, Niemeyer (FWS), Parker (WS) and Graves (WS) examined a 4-yr-old cow that was killed on private property near Cascade, ID and confirmed that it was killed by wolves. The landowner and manager watched the necropsy. This confirmed predation is about 1.5 miles from where WS necropsied a calf about 2 weeks ago, belonging to the same producer, and made a "probable" determination that the calf was killed by wolves. The Orphan/Scott Valley pack is believed to be involved in both incidents. Landowners and permittees in this area have been reporting downed fences and their cattle being frequently chased by wolves this summer. It turned out that the dead cow belonged to the adjacent (cow was killed on adjacent private land but came from a timber company grazing allotment) grazing permittee, whose allotment is about ½ mile away. Because of past conflicts, the documented mixing of livestock due to down fences, livestock being reportedly chased by wolves, and confirmed depredations, shoot-on-sight permits for up to 3 wolves were issued to both the grazing permittees and landowner. WS was authorized to remove 3 wolves and traps were set. When 3 wolves are killed, SOS permits and agency control will be terminated.

On September 10th, ID WS Dave Thomas confirmed wolf predation on an adult cow owned by a livestock producer with a grazing lease near Dworshak Reservoir in northern Idaho. This is the second depredation incident this summer in which the Chesimia wolf pack has been implicated in depredations on this same producer's cattle. In response to an earlier depredation, 2 wolf pups were trapped, ear-tagged and released, and subadult wolf B-221 was lethally removed. The Service authorized removal of up to 2 additional wolves from the Chesimia pack, and trapping operations are in progress.

On September 12th, ID WS Wolf Management Specialist Rick Williamson investigated a report of possible wolf predation on a calf on a Forest Service grazing allotment near Salmon, Idaho. The calf remains had decomposed to the point where there was little remaining of the calf carcass, no evidence of predation was found, no wolf sign was present, and no telemetry signals from any radio-collared wolves were detected.

On September 13th Williamson examined another calf reported as a possible wolf predation on Challis National Forest property near the boundary of the Copper Basin wolf pack but in an area where there has been no known wolf pack activity. WS found no evidence of predation and determined that the calf had died of some cause other than predation

Justin Mann, ID WS, has continued with the ongoing control action in a remote area on the Nez Perce National Forest near the Gospel Hump Wilderness. This is the area where Justin confirmed wolf predation on a calf last week, and where a fire crew witnessed wolves attacking an adult cow in a creek. No wolves have been removed to date in this control action.

This week in the Wyoming Range of southwest Wyoming, 3 wolves, 2 blacks and a gray, were spotted by a sheepherder on the Hamsfork near Viva Naughton Reservoir, just north of

Kemmerer, WY. This area has had several calves and sheep killed by an unknown group of wolves this summer. WS is authorized to collar and release any they catch and lethally remove any lone wolves seen during other control work in the area.

WY WS District Supervisor, Merrill Nelson verified another calf killed on private land by the Daniel Pack on Elk Creek. Two black and 1 gray wolf, most likely from the remnants of the Daniel Pack entered the yard of a private ranch in the same vicinity. Multiple wolves [at the time we believed most/all of the pack] were removed this summer because of chronic depredations. Also pups were reportedly seen by WS in the Daniel Pack so multiple animals are still in the area. WS was authorized to lethally remove more wolves.

In the Cody, WY area WS/FWS specialist Jim Pehringer received and investigated several reports of wolves being seen feeding on calf carcasses. It appeared that most of these calves are dying from other causes, possibly pneumonia and are being scavenged. This past week he looked at 8 calves in 4 different places. He verified 2 calves that were injured by wolves, one in the Sunlight Basin area and the other in the vicinity of Carter Mtn. Previous depredations were confined and lethal control had been conducted on the Carter Mt. pack. It appears that elk are moving down from the high country and into areas where wolves denned earlier in the year. The wolves appear to be focusing on the elk.

Research

Yellowstone National Park released its FY 05 annual report on the multi-agency cooperative ‘Elk Calf Mortality Study’. The results of the third and last year of the study were similar to those obtained in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, 56 calves less than 6 days old were captured and fit with ear tag transmitters during May and June. They will be monitored through winter 2006. So far 35 radioed calves have died and preliminary causes of death were: 21 killed by bears, 6 by wolves, 4 by coyotes, 2 by wolves or coyotes, 1 by an unknown predator, and 1 non-predation death due to disease. The fates of 2 other calves were unknown. Ms. Shannon Barber, the Univ. MN graduate student will begin analyzing the data and preparing her dissertation and publications this winter.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Correction- The September 9, 2005 weekly should have read- C. Niemeyer, S. Duke, J. Foss (USFWS), M. Collinge, T. Grimm, R. Williamson (WS), J. Holyan (NPT), S. Huffaker, J. Unsworth, B. Compton, and S. Nadeau (IDFG) reviewed and discussed the MOA between IDFG and the Idaho State Animal Damage Control Board regarding carnivore control following livestock depredation. Additionally, a protocol was discussed that outlines how WS and IDFG under designated agent status from the Service under the 2005 10j rule will conduct wolf control measures for livestock depredations.

This past week Service special agents were contacted by an individual who over heard another person saying they had witnessed/participated in the transportation and release of 2 adult and 2 pup wolves in Montana by the USDA Forest Service and Defenders of Wildlife in Spring 2004. LE conducted a personal interview with the suspect who, after their story began to fall apart, finally admitted to agents that it was all untrue and they made it all up just to get personal attention. We thank LE for running this to ground. FWS LE takes any type of suspected ESA violation very seriously and we appreciate tips from the public regarding all potentially illegal take of protected gray wolves.

On September 14th, the subcommittee of the Montana compensation citizen's working group met in Helena to continue work on creating a Montana program. About 10 people attended.

Bangs [FWS] and Smith [NPS] were interviewed this week for a future [Nov 7] BBC radio program in Britain on the 10th anniversary of wolf reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park. Smith was also interviewed for a NY Times article that should be out in Oct.

Smith [NPS] gave presentations in the Park to the Board of the Yellowstone National Park Foundation; about 60 people attended. He also talked to about 50 people with the Yellowstone Park Association this week.

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