Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/03/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/24 to 3/03, 2006

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2006 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2005] 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. Editing was slightly delayed and it is planned for release Thursday AM March 9th on the USFWS website.

On Feb. 21st a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad employee found the carcass of a radio collared wolf on railroad tracks, about 16 miles southeast of Libby, MT and reported it the next day. After checking the radio signal the wolf was confirmed to be the Wolf Prairie alpha female, # 331. While it is suspected that the wolf was hit by a train, the carcass will go to the MFWP Wildlife Lab to determine exact cause of death.

On the 2nd, Jimenez and his volunteer crew finally caught up with the Teton pack [10 wolves] and previously uncollared Pacific Creek pack [11 wolves]. They managed to find them after intensive searches from ground and air and successfully helicopter darted 4 wolves [3yr-old male and 3 pups- all black] in Teton pack and 3 wolves [all gray female pups] in the Pacific Creek pack. This was a persistent effort by Mike and crew that paid off big time. Great work.

CO DOW took video footage of a black wolf-like canid near the North Park in N. CO [Walden, CO] earlier this week. It can be viewed at http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/ . The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) is reminding residents to quickly report any potential wolf sightings. Though a majority of the sightings are coyotes, dogs, or other animals, a recent report in north-central Colorado's North Park area appears to have some merit.

Control

On February 23 MT WS investigated and confirmed a wolf-killed heifer on a ranch near Avon, MT. Wolves in this area are listed as endangered. WS counted tracks of 8+ wolves that went through a calving pasture with calves about 50 yards from the ranch house. They then went into a yearling pasture where they chased some through a fence and killed one. One hind quarter was fed on. After more tracking WS found 11-13 beds nearby. Traps were set to collar and release on site- this is likely the uncollared Spotted Dog pack. As of Saturday WS saw two wolves in the area but none had come to the traps.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] had previously visited a rancher who was having wolves coming into his corral area near Salmon, ID and verified wolf activity there. He let the rancher know his options under the new 10j regulation. ID WS specialist Williamson reported that rancher shot at a wolf that was in his cattle around 11:00 PM on the 1st. This same rancher has shot at wolves in his cattle several times before during the past 6 weeks, but has not hit one yet. The animal he shot at last night was a large, black, uncollared wolf, and it reportedly jumped wildly at the shot. The rancher found wolf hair on the snow, but did not find any blood, and was not able to find any other sign of a hit after tracking the animal a short distance. There have now been multiple instances where tracks in the snow have clearly indicated that a wolf or wolves have tried attacking calves and/or cows, but the rancher has apparently interrupted these attacks and no kills have been documented. Williamson asked the rancher to let him know if the wolves return, and he will try spending the night nearby in an attempt to dispatch any wolves seen attacking cattle.

ID WS reported that the Copper Basin wolves are continuing to hang out near cattle above Mackay Reservoir. The local rancher has scared wolves away from his cattle several times in the last month in this area. Telemetry signals indicated the wolves were very near the cattle again earlier today. No kills have been documented yet, but problems are anticipated in this area.

Research

Yellowstone National Park began their annual late winter wolf predation study on March 1. Volunteers are following wolf packs in the northern range daily to determine prey selection and kill rates. Doug Smith [YNP] reported that pack size in the northern range of the Park appear to be continuing to decrease in size due to dispersal and pup loss due to disease in spring 2005.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The Idaho Game and Fish Commission, based upon a recommendation from IDFG and the Governor's Office of Species Conservation, decided to delay the submission of their proposal to control wolves to address elk herd objectives in the Lolo area for 30 days. IDFG indicated that the public had raised issues regarding the science behind the proposal that warranted more detailed consideration by the State. The state will likely submit the proposal following the changes. This likely means that any proposed wolf control could not be implemented this winter/spring.

Jimenez [USFWS] gave an invited presentation and attended the Utah Chapter of The Wildlife Society on the 3rd in Moab, UT.

Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation on Montana wolf management at the annual Eastside Agency Biologists meeting in Billings on the 2nd. There were about 40 biologists attending from BLM, MFWP, USFS, NRCS, USFWS, universities, and Tribes.

Holyan [NTP] gave a presentation to the Whitman County (Wash.) Sportsmen's Association on the 4th at their annual Wild Game Dinner.

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