Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/14/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/07 to 10/14, 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, post it on their websites, or send it to who ever they want 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 on the FWS website the following week.

Big Game rifle hunting seasons are open, or soon will be, in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Please remind hunters to report wolf observations or sign.

The collar on one of the Ninemile pack members was detected on mortality. Its carcass was retrieved in the Ninemile Valley, NW of Missoula, MT this week and the cause of its death is under investigation.

During a telemetry flight on the 13th, female wolf B244's (Orphan pack) signal was detected on mortality near Horsethief Reservoir. Scott Kabasa (USFWS Law Enforcement) and Jim Holyan (NPT) went to investigate on the 14th.

Control

MT WS confirmed reproduction in the Battlefield pack on Sept. 30th when they sighted 4 wolves (2 adults and 2 pups) in the Big Hole Valley, MT. On Oct 2nd, two gray pups were trapped, the female was collared and the male was killed. MT WS killed another uncollared adult male on the 7th. Due to the history of depredations this year and the likelihood of future depredations once native ungulates leave the area for winter range in Idaho, (as occurred with most packs colonizing the Big Hole Valley), WS was authorized by MFWP to continue efforts to remove the remaining 2-3 pack members. There is one radio-collared wolf in this pack.

On the 12th, MT WS confirmed that a calf was killed by the Freezeout pack, on private land NE of Dillon, MT. MFWP authorized removal by WS and issued written authorization to the landowner to shoot wolves on sight until a total of 4 wolves were removed by either agency action or the landowner. Previous to this, two wolves were removed on Sept. 18th & 21st after the confirmation of wolves injuring two guard dogs, [both lived and a third dog is missing], on a sheep allotment in the Gravelly Mountains on Sept. 21st a calf was confirmed killed by this pack.

On two occasions in September, a landowner in the North Fork of the Flathead, [just west of Glacier National Park, MT], suspected wolf depredation on his cattle. One incident involved an adult cow and the other a calf. Neither were confirmed by WS due to a variety of factors. On October 7th, another adult cow was suspected to have been killed by bears/wolves and MFWP and WS were contacted. MFWP volunteers deployed a remote camera that evening. The next day photos showed that a grizzly bear had claimed the carcass. MT WS specialist Ted North, (going above and beyond the call of duty), completed the investigation anyway and determined that predators were not cause of the cow's death. Please remember that field work in grizzly bear country requires expertise and extra caution.

On the 7th, ID WS confirmed that wolves had killed 4 ewes on Josephine Ridge, in the Payette National Forest. The kills were several days old and the wolves had not returned to feed on them. The band of sheep had been moved from the area. For these reasons, no control action is taking place related to this depredation.

On the 8th, ID WS suspended the control action near Challis where they were attempting to remove one additional wolf from the Moyer Basin Pack. The control action might resume later this month if warranted.

On the 10th, ID WS investigated a complaint that wolves from the Chesimia Pack had killed another calf near Dworshak Reservoir. WS determined that the calf's death was not predator related. On the 12th, ID WS resumed the control action to remove up to three more wolves from the Chesimia Pack related to the repeated confirmed depredations on cattle that occurred in late September. On the 14th, ID WS trapped and killed a 2-yr old gray male wolf in the hills above Dworshak Reservoir.

WY WS tried to remove 3 wolves in the Daniel, WY area by aerial gunning this week but were unsuccessful. There are no radio collars in the pack. As authorized by FWS, WS will try again next week. Wolves in the Daniel area have killed at least 6 calves this summer.

Research

Yellowstone Science [Summer 2005, Vol. 13(3):37-43] contained an article by Shannon Barber, Dave Mech, and P.J. White. Yellowstone Elk Calf Mortality following wolf restoration: Bears remain top summer predators.

A Cambridge University Press book [497 pp] on wildlife/human conflict throughout the world is now available. It contains an article by Bangs, E.E., J.A. Fontaine, M.D. Jimenez, T.J. Meier, E.H. Bradley, C.C. Niemeyer, D.W. Smith, C.M. Mack, V. Asher, J. Oakleaf. 2005. Managing wolf/human conflict in the northwestern United States. Pgs- 340-356 in People and wildlife: coexistence or conflict? Woodroffe, R., Thirgood, S. & Rabinowitz, A, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Conservation Biology 9. Online ordering now available at www.uk.cambridge.org $38 sterling.

Lice found by MFWP on male wolf pup SW46 (184358) from the Battlefield pack in Big Hole Valley that was killed October 2nd, were identified as Trichodectis canis, the dog-biting louse. The wolf had some evidence of skin irritation, but little if any hair loss. MWFP is checking the parasitology records but this appears to represent a new host record for this species in Montana. MTWP wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Atkinson is gathering more information and will hopefully publish this latest finding. The dog-biting louse is commonly found on domestic dogs and has been found on wolves and coyotes in the Midwest and Alaska. In the worst cases, generally wolf pups, infestations can cause severe skin irritation, poor condition, and extensive hair loss.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 13th, Bangs [FWS] and Chris Smith [MFWP] participated in a Natural Leadership Institute program with federal, state and tribal representatives in Helena, MT. Their session was titled ‘What partners need from each other during delisting planning.’

On the 14th, MT FWP launched a web application for hunters and other recreationists to report wolves and wolf activity electronically. See http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf. Wolf reports by hunters helps monitor existing packs and to document wolf activity in new areas. This effort is part of a larger effort to update the MFWP website. Additional updates are in the works and should be completed soon.

On the 12th, MFWP and MT WS met in Bozeman, MT to discuss USDA Wildlife Services and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks working relationships, roles, and responsibilities now that MFWP is responsible for wolf management in Montana.

The Montana citizen's subcommittee working to create a fund to mitigate and reimburse wolf-caused livestock losses met in Helena on October 14th. Sime [MFWP] attended.

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