Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/11/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 11/04 to 11/11, 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.

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

On November 4th a coyote trapper from Challis, ID reported catching a wolf in a coyote trap. ID WS specialist Williamson met Idaho Fish and Game CO Cole Wilkie, Forest Service Mike Foster, and a fur trapper from Challis. The trapper had set traps for coyotes and had trapped an adult male wolf. He was using a #2 Bridger 4 coil trap that was staked down. WS radio-collared the wolf and released him on site. Local ranchers were notified. The trapper had welded all of the stress points on his trap chain and swivels and was using 20" stakes. The trapper said he had heard Williamson speak at the Nation Trappers Assoc. meeting in Blackfoot, ID about trapping coyotes in wolf country. He said he was happy to have that advice and it avoided a wolf running around with a coyote trap on it's foot. Great job WS and thanks to the trapper too.

IDFG staff met to review wolf population data and map pack territories on the 8th. IDFG continues to summarize public observations that will be mapped and downloaded on their website. Many excellent reports were again received this year on IDFGs website reporting form that have helped us locate and verify new packs. The public's continued efforts at reporting make wolf management and monitoring much more effective. IDFG staff also continues to prepare for winter wolf capture work.

On the 14th, Sime [MFWP] received a call about a possible road-killed wolf near Drummond, MT. Ross and Asher [MFWP] investigated that afternoon, but did not find any carcass.

A MFWP warden got a call on the 7th, from a homeowner at the W. edge of Missoula, MT. The man reported a 90lb. tannish/brown colored wolf-like canid was hanging around his house for the past several nights. It behaved aggressively toward his 3 dogs and had chased his wife on the porch. It seemed like a hybrid/dog issue he was informed that if it attacked him or his wife, he could legally shoot it- regardless if it was a dog or wolf. He's keeping his dogs inside at night. He has a digital camera and was asked to try to get a picture of it. The situation is being closely monitored.

The Teton Pack was located in the Upper Green River drainage on 11/11/05, about 50 miles south of their normal territory. The Pack had left the Jackson, some time last week and could not be located. A WYG&F warden received a report of wolves in the area and notified the USFWS. A subsequent telemetry flight located the Teton Pack in the Green River drainage. This type of extra-territorial movement is not uncommon. Wolf packs frequently travel outside their normal home ranges during winter, explore adjacent areas, and then return home. We will continue to monitor the Pack's movements. We appreciate the cooperation and help from WYG&F.

Control

ID WS investigated a reported depredation on sheep on private property south and west of McCall, ID in the vicinity of West Mountain Road. WS confirmed 29 sheep were killed and 11 wounded by wolves. The sheep were being moved through and then out of this area. This is the same area of a confirmed wolf predation last June as sheep were being trailed toward their summer grazing allotments near McCall. The producer assumes that these depredations were probably caused by the Blue Bunch pack of wolves. Because the sheep are leaving this area, along with the fact that the hunting season is in progress and that the weather is currently unsettled, we did not immediately initiate any control action.

On the 7th, WS confirmed 4 sheep killed by wolves near the Prospect Mnts. northeast of Farson, Wyoming. Earlier this summer, wolves killed 13 ewes and 2 lambs in the same area. One adult and 6 pups were removed and depredations stopped until August when WS confirmed 1 ewe killed by wolves and recorded 12 dead ewes as probable wolf kills. Additional control was attempted, but unsuccessful. Based on tracks at the depredation site, 3-4 wolves (possibly 5) were responsible. The USFWS authorized WS to kill all wolves at the site.

On the 9th, WY WS confirmed an adult cow attacked by wolves from the Carter Mtn. Pack, it did not die but was severely injured. In 2004, Carter Mtn wolves killed 4 adult cows in 2004. During summer 2005, Carter Mtn. wolves killed at least 6 calves. Five wolves were removed in 3 separate control actions in 2005, but depredations have continued. The pack now consists of 7 wolves. WS was authorized to remove up to 3 wolves.

Research

Preparation for the annual Yellowstone National Park Nov. 15-Dec 15 early winter wolf predation study is about complete. Volunteer training begins Nov. 9 and 9 volunteers have been hired.

On the 4th a black uncollared Leopold wolf was incidentally captured a #3 soft catch by coyote researchers in Yellowstone National Park. It pulled the 18' chain and stake out of the ground and escaped. There is virtually no chance the chain or drag could become entangled and hold the wolf. It was searched for by ground crews on the 12th and seen but could not be approached. It has not been located since despite continued searches. After consulting veterinarians and other biologists involved in wolf capture it was decided the best course was to see if the trap remains attached and if it rejoins the pack. If could be recaptured, it would be treated in the field and released on site. Temperatures have been in the 20's, so any damage occurred the first night. We predicted the trap to come off but may lose a toe[s]. On the 9th it was seen back with its pack and had shed the trap. It was limping a little, as would be expected. The coyote research project will modify all traps in future capture operations to include- double staking, longer chains [minimum 8'] and a stout drag to reduce the chances of this happening again.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Sime [MFWP] and Bangs [FWS] gave presentations to the Montana Stockgrowers at their annual conference in Billings, MT on the 11th. About 50 people attended.

Steve Nadeau (IDFG), Carter Niemeyer (USFWS), Mark Collinge (WS) and Jeff Allen (OSC) attended, gave talks, and answered questions from about 50 attendees on the wolf management program in Idaho at the Idaho Woolgrowers Convention in Sun Valley, Idaho, on November 4 and 5.

Holyan [NPT] is summarizing, collating, reviewing, organizing, analyzing, proofing, managing, and coordinating data collected during the field season and roughing out the NPT's 2005 annual progress report.

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