Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/07/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/30 to 10/07, 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.

NOTE regarding receiving the weekly wolf report- Due to reductions in the federal wolf program and the continued transition to state and tribal management we are changing how the weekly report is distributed. We expect to implement this change in the next month or so. The core group of agency cooperators [Federal, state, and tribal agencies] will continue to receive the weekly via individual email as soon as it is finalized- typically every Friday afternoon. They can distribute it within their agencies or to who they like at that time. All other interested individuals can access the weekly wolf report on the FWS website http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ Typically it is posted Monday or Tuesday the following week.

MT FWP biologist Bradley caught and collared a 54lb black female wolf pup from the Sapphire pack near the Ross' Fork of Rock Creek (Sapphire Mtns) on Oct. 1st. She continued to run traps in that area through this week to try and collar another individual.

Control

MT WS specialist McDougal confirmed reproduction in the Battlefield pack on Sept. 30 when he sighted 4 wolves (2 adults and 2 pups) in the Big Hole Valley, MT. On Oct 2 he trapped 2 gray pups; he collared and released the female and killed the male. Control is ongoing to remove 2 more wolves from this pack because of chronic depredations this summer.

ID WS investigated a complaint of wolves running a horse through a barb wire fence on 10/4 in Round Valley near Smith's Ferry. While the area is within the Packer John Pack's territory, there was not enough evidence at the scene to confirm, or even call it "probable", that wolves were responsible. On the 7th, a sheep producer on adjacent property reported that wolves had come into his sheep but did not report any kills, probably because the herder was able to harass the wolves away by shooting in the air. In response, WS is putting out a RAG box to deter wolves from interacting with the sheep.

ID WS is currently investigating a complaint on the 7th of wolves killing sheep on Josephine Ridge, NE of McCall. The livestock owner apparently found four dead sheep while he was looking for lost sheep from a helicopter. They landed the helicopter and found multiple sets of wolf tracks in the snow next to the carcasses. They took off to get to a phone to report the depredation and saw 6-8 wolves within 1 mile of the band of sheep. Since most of this is horseback country, the conclusion of the investigation will probably not be available until early this evening.

ID WS' efforts to remove up to 3 wolves from the Chesimia Pack related to their recent cattle depredations near Dworshak Reservoir have been halted temporarily, but will resume on 10/11.

On the 3rd, ID WS specialist Simonson confirmed that wolves from the Moyer Basin pack had killed a registered angus bull calf on a grazing allotment just inside the Challis National Forest. A postal employee saw five wolves near the carcass and scared them away to ensure there would be enough of a carcass left for WS to examine. WS picked up the telemetry signals of B-242 and B-145 and set two traps. WS will lethally remove any non-collared wolf but will only kill one collared animal. If two collared animals are caught, one will be released.

On the 5th, ID WS lethally removed wolf B-97, by ground shooting during a control action near Challis where a calf was killed on the 3rd. B-97 the suspected Alpha male of the Moyer Basin Pack and was 7 years old. His collar was not functioning but the signals of other pack members B-145, B-240, B-242 and possibly B-243 were in the vicinity. The wolf carcass was transported to the IDFG Regional Office in Salmon. Dr. Carrier, a biology professor from the University of Utah will use it for his research. The hide and skull will be returned to IDFG for their use in I&E programs. Dr. Carrier will also remove one kidney and provide it for another research project at Illinois Wesleyan University. Efforts are ongoing to lethally remove one more wolf.

On the 3rd, WY WS confirmed another calf had been killed on a remote allotment in the Daniel, WY area. Lethal control was already authorized and is ongoing, but it is difficult to complete because of the combination of- no active radio-collars, the ongoing Wyoming big game hunting season [we do everything we can not to disrupt hunters, remote hilly forested terrain, and WS aircraft availability.

Research

Correction- Table 1 on page 1 of the 2004 Yellowstone National Park Wolf Project annual report is incorrect. The first column labeled "Pup Count Nov-Dec" should actually be the "Adults/Yearlings" column. In other words, it should have listed a total of 112 adults/yearlings and 59 pups as the estimated wolf population numbers in Yellowstone National Park at the end of 2004. We apologize for the error.

On the 6th, Mack [NPT], Niemeyer [FWS], Zager [IDFG], and Mitchell [Coop. Unit Leader Univ MT] met in McCall, ID to discuss the Nez Perce Tribe’s research grant and proposal to investigate and field test improved low-cost wolf monitoring techniques. The first part of the program, a literature review of wolf monitoring programs has already been completed.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Curt Mack [NPT], Niemeyer, Bangs, and Jimenez [FWS], Sime and Trapp [MFWP] and various other state F&G representatives and biologists from throughout the world attended and gave presentations at the 2005 International Wolf Conference in Colorado Springs, CO from October 1-4. The meeting is held every 5 years and was sponsored by the International Wolf Center.

The July/August and September/October issues of Elk Country and the Hunt: BUGLE magazine [Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation] both have a large section on ‘Wolves and Elk.’ The numerous articles provide a wide variety of information that makes for interesting reading. Several members of the agency wolf recovery program were interviewed as the articles were being developed.

On the 7th, Smith [NPS] and Jimenez [FWS] were invited to visit with about 30 members of the Wyoming Legislative Joint Committee on Travel, Recreation, Wildlife, and Cultural Resources [oversees WY Game & Fish legislation] and Wyoming Game and Fish officials in Yellowstone National Park in Mammoth, WY. The meeting went well and quite a bit of information was exchanged. Some misunderstandings [ie. the FWS doesn’t manage problem wolves, which of course is not accurate] were also clarified.

A Montana State Lands forester found a wolf-like canid carcass on state lands in near Bull Lake in NW MT. It was mostly decayed. MT FWP and FWS law enforcement worked closely together and the carcass was retrieved from the field on October 1. The case is under investigation. We appreciate the excellent interagency coordination.

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