Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/24/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/17 to 2/24, 2006

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. The 2006 annual report that will cover all calendar year 2005 is being drafted. Everyone has nearly completed their sections and it should be available by March 1.

On the 21st, Graeme McDougal [MT WS] darted and collared an adult male wolf in Horse Prairie in southwest Montana while doing helicopter work on coyotes. The wolf is believed to be a member of the Black Canyon pack, which has been in the area since 2004. This is the first collar placed in this pack. Good work and thanks Graeme.

On the 19th, a landowner in the upper Willow Creek drainage northwest of Philipsburg, MT reported seeing 2 gray wolves chasing their 2 border collies. They were advised of the 10j regulations by MFWP and encouraged to harass any wolves seen close to their house.

IDFG biologist Michael Lucid aerial darted a gray male and Julia Mulholland (IDFG) aerial darted a gray female from a previously unverified and un-collared pack near Lowman, Idaho. They observed 11 grays in this pack. This effort was incidental to collaring elk in the area.

Jimenez and crew had a helicopter on standby and were snow-tracking the uncollared Pacific Creek pack NE of Jackson, WY all week to get a collar in the group but bad weather prevented any capture attempts. Nice try and better luck next time.

Control

On the 21st, WY WS confirmed a 700 lb yearling/calf was killed by wolves on private property adjacent to WY elk feedgrounds near Pinedale, WY. On the 22nd, WY WS confirmed a second yearling calf killed by wolves and a third calf attacked and injured on the same ranch where the depredation occurred the day before. This ranch lost at least 4 cattle to wolves in 2003 and 2004. A shoot-on-site permit was issued to the rancher and WS removed 2 wolves in March 2004- resolving wolf depredations there until this week. Over the past several years, other depredating wolves have been removed when neighboring ranches have lost livestock to wolves. WY WS was authorized to remove 2 wolves. On the 24th, another calf was seen being attacked and the wolves were driven off. The calf was severely injured and had to be euthanized. WS killed 2 out of an unradioed group of 6 wolves that was attacking the calf by shooting them from fixed-wing aircraft. Control has ended but if the remaining 4 wolves depredate again, the remaining 4 will be killed.

On the 23rd, 2 lion hounds were reported killed by wolves and the third slightly injured shortly after being turned out on a lion track in the Bitterroot Valley, southeast of Hamilton. John Vore (MFWP) was there at the time the incident occurred and reported tracks of at least 8 wolves.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

An Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available for public review and comment at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ANPR_Feb_8_2006.pdf Comments will be accepted until COB April 10, 2006 to USFWS, Ed Bangs, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601.

IDFG received about 42,419 comments on their proposal to remove some wolves in the Lolo Zone of the Clearwater area over concerns about excessive wolf predation on elk. The Fish and Game Commission will meet on March 2 to discuss the public input, and decide on the next step for the proposal.

On the 17th, the Montana wolf-damage reimbursement program working group subcommittee met via conference call. The group will meet again in March.

Bradley [MFWP] gave a talk at the Weeds and Wildlife workshop about ways to help deter wolf predation on sheep/goats used for grazing at the TWS meetings in Helena on the 21st. About 60 people attended. Sime [MFWP] gave a program about MFWP assuming wolf management authority in Montana at the TWS meeting on the 24th.

On the 13th, Jimenez was interviewed by Big Piney, Wyoming Junior High students for a history project. On the 21st, Jimenez spoke to an Elder Hostle group at Teton Science School. Twelve people attended.

Bangs’ [USFWS] 3-part radio interview for Peterson’s Bowhunting Magazine is online at www.bowhuntingmag.com.

Jimenez [USFWS] visited with a WY resident who was very upset after hearing from a friend about how wolves on the National Elk Refuge ‘decimating’ the elk and was upset the FWS wasn’t controlling those wolves. Mike visited with her and pointed her to a local newspaper article about ‘too many elk’ and further explained that the state and federal management agencies were actually trying to figure out ways to shoot more elk because the herd was consistently over management objectives. She was satisfied and thought that maybe she hadn’t been given the full story originally.

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