Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/02/05

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 11/19 to 12/02, 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.

Wolves were seen feeding on a road kill near Cardiff Spur, ID the week of November 1, and later were reported closer to the community. Some residents feared for their pets and contacted IDFG officer Rhodes who investigated, informed them of the 10j rule and what they could do, and provided them cracker shells.

Jason Husseman and Michael Lucid [IDFG] conducted wolf flights the week of the 7th and observed pack members in 10 packs. They will be comparing numbers of wolves seen in the next few flights in order to get the best pack size estimates for the season.

Due to unusually warm temperatures, Trapp (MFWP) continued the trapline south of Roscoe until snow and cold hit just before Thanksgiving. Traps were pulled the 26th but the area is still being monitored for sign.

MFWP talked to a fur trapper on the 29th, who thought he had caught a wolf in a coyote trap, south and east of Butte. He caught it in a #3 Montgomery with 4 coil-springs that was staked and had a drag. The wolf popped the jaws on the trap and escaped. This happened overnight and the trapper had GPS coordinates and photos. He said there were tracks of three animals in the area.

He was given some trapping tips to avoid catching wolves and contact information in case he caught another wolf. We thank the trapper for reporting this information.

On Nov 10, a dead radio-collared wolf from the Sunlight Pack was located within the home range of the Absaroka Pack during a routine telemetry flight. USFWS LE located it and sent the carcass to the USFWS Forencis Lab in Ashland, Oregon. The lab concluded that the 2 year-old Sunlight wolf #360f was killed by other wolves.

On the 30th, Perhinger [WY WS/FWS] confirmed a report of a set of lone wolf-like tracks on the east side of the Big Horn Reservoir NE of Lovell, WY. The tracks were on BLM land and the area is intensively grazed by domestic sheep in summer. It is the season for wolf dispersal so these types of observations aren’t unexpected, but we thank Jim for checking it out so quickly and making contacts in that area.

Control

Nothing new to report.

Research

The Yellowstone early winter [Nov 15- Dec 15] wolf predation study is ongoing. Kill rates seem typical of past years.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Changing of the Guard- ‘The only constant thing is change’. The wolf program is evolving into a state & tribal-based conservation & management program and that’s very good news for wolves and the people they now live amongst. The old wolf team- once recognized as ‘Recovery Champions’ by the USFWS, was also the oldest & oddest collection of Service employees on record. It is highly unusual to have one group of people work on one project this long and see it to near completion [delisting is the final goal]. The core team has been together since 1988, but it’s time to move on for some of us- stick a fork in us- we’re done. Carter [the darter] Niemeyer [ID FWS] announced he will be retiring after 33 years of government service on Jan 2, 2006. Joe Fontaine [MT FWS] just accepted a refuge manger position on the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi and will report for duty early next year. The FWS Region 6 Regional Director, and our guardian for the past 13 years- Dr. Ralph Morgenweck, has taken a job managing FWS research issues in Denver, CO. We wish them well and it makes us very proud to see some of our own, make parole. Best of luck and many thanks.

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] gave a wolf presentation to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission on November 17.

On the 30th, Collinge [WS], Niemeyer [FWS], and Nadeau [IDFG] met with the Idaho Predator Control Board to discuss wolves and wolf management.

Idaho wolf B-260's carcass was recovered on the 22nd and the cause of its death is being investigated. B-260 was incidentally caught in a coyote trap, radio-collared and released on November 4.

NPT (Mack and Holyan), FWS (Niemeyer), WS (Williamson), and IDFG (Nadeau and Husseman) wolf personnel met in Boise on 11/30 and 12/1 to review data for 2005 and review the day-to-day working aspects of the NPT/ID State MOA

On the 21st Trapp (MFWP) gave a presentation to the Sweetgrass County Commissioners on regional wolf activity and wolf management by MFWP in Montana.

On the 29th, Liz Bradley [MFWP] gave a talk to about 40 people at the SW Montana Stockgrowers annual meeting in Dillon, MT.

On the 2nd, Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation to the Montana Woolgrowers in Billings, MT.

On the 2nd, Jimenez [FWS] spoke at the annual Wyoming Chapter of TWS meeting in Jackson, Wyoming.

Smith [NPS] gave two talks in Ohio on the 2nd. One was to a local high school in Cleveland and the other to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

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