Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/07/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/24 to 4/07, 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. More information can also be viewed at http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html . The link to the IDFG 2005 Wolf Conservation and Management Report was just finalized, coauthored by IDFG and the Nez Perce Tribe. The report is easy to download see- http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/05_conservation_progress_report.cfm .

On the 3rd, the FWS WY volunteer wolf crew located approx. 10 uncollared wolves in the northern part of Teton Park. This pack maybe be part of the Yellowstone Delta Pack. A capture operation was quickly organized and Jimenez & crew [FWS] collared 3 adult wolves (2 males and 1 female). In addition, a replacement GPS collared was also placed on a yearling male wolf in the Pacific Creek Pack. As a side note, an unknown pack of 12 wolves, one with a nonfunctioning radio-collar swung through the northern range of Yellowstone Park. They could be one of the groups from north of the Park that has no active radioed members for over a year now.

Control

On the 28th, Bradley [MFWP] flew and found the collared Black Canyon male (SW67) close tothe ranch where the yearling cattle depredation occurred the day beofre. No wolves were caught in WS's traps but 2 wolves had revisited and circled the carcass. This is the 4th time adult-sized cattle have been confirmed killed by this pack. A heifer was killed in Horse Prairie last spring and 2 heifers were confirmed killed and a third injured by this pack in the Big Hole this past fall. In addition, 6 sheep were confirmed killed last spring and a dog and colt were injured last summer. Three wolves, including the alpha female, were removed from this pack last fall after the cattle were killed. All of this occurred on private land. Based on this pack's history, problems are likely to persist. For these reasons, MFWP asked MT WS to remove the remaining members of the Black Canyon pack. MT WS shot an uncollared adult male wolf out of the Black Canyon pack on the 31st, from a fixed wing in the Big Hole valley SW of Jackson. There were 3 wolves together but the other 2, including the collared male, made it into the timber. MT WS shot and killed another wolf (yearling female) out of the Black Canyon pack on the 3rd, in the Grasshopper Valley. Control is ongoing to remove the rest of this pack. The collared male (SW67) remains and will be tracked to determine whether other wolves are present.

On the 31st, Trapp [MFWP] and volunteers from the Predator Conservation Alliance set up fladry in a calving pasture south of Big Timber. Wolves had been seen in that vicinity and the ranch owner requested non-lethal assistance.

Jason Husseman (IDFG) and a local IDFG officer followed up on a report involving aggressive behaving wolves. Around the 29th, they met with the reporting party and he showed the them the location where the incident occurred; sign at the scene corroborated his story. Also observed the Morgan Creek pack very near the site and hazed them out of the area.

On the 29th, ID WS Wolf Specialist, Williamson, provided training on the use of less than lethal munitions to 2 ranchers near Barton Flats. Earlier in the week, one of the ranchers had fired 6 cracker shells at wolves near his cattle and got little, to no, reaction from the wolves. If the wolves continue to stay in the area, WS may attempt to trap and place a GPS collar on one of them next week.

On the 3rd, the rancher who shot two wolves 2 weeks ago near Leadore, ID contacted WS and IDFG stating that he feared that more wolves had harassed his cattle the previous night. WS investigated and could not find any fresh wolf sign near the ranch.

On the 4th, ID WS responded to a complaint from a rancher near New Meadows, ID who reported that wolves had been in his cattle the night before and he had harassed them with cracker shells. WS investigated and, with the aid of telemetry equipment, confirmed that B-157, of the Jungle Ck. pack, and another wolf had been in the cattle. Hair in wolf scat present at the site indicated that the wolves had fed on cattle, but no ranchers in the area are reporting any losses. The rancher was advised on the10(j) rules.

On the 5th, ID WS set traps at a ranch on South Hall Mountain, near the Canadian border. The objective is to collar, at least, one of the wolves that are interacting with cattle on a weekly basis, then place a Radio Activated Guard box in the area to harass the wolves from the livestock. Traps will be in place, on and off, until a wolf is collared, or until they stop coming through the area.

On the 7th a young calf was confirmed killed west of Meeteetse, WY. WS is trying to figure out who might be responsible but it might be a split-off from the Greybull River pack.

Research

The Yellowstone late winter predation study ended March 31. This spring had the most elk winter kill [starvation] since March 1997.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks GRAY WOLF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT PROGRAM is seeking good volunteers to assist with the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Program for the 2006 field season. Application deadline is April 24. Send application materials to:Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attn: Wolf Volunteer Program, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell, MT 59901, Telephone: (406) 751-4586, Fax: (406) 257-0349 See: http://fwp.mt.gov/news/article_4364

On the 4th, Jimenez [WY FWS] and Glazier [MT WS] spoke at the Colorado State Wildlife Service's Annual Meeting in Estes Park. Approx. 50 people from Colorado WS and Colorado Division of Wildlife attended the conference.

The 18th Annual North American Wolf Conf. was held at Chico Hot Springs Resort, in Pray, Montana on the 3th-6th. The meeting is sponsored by Defenders of Wildlife and others. Sime and other MFWP folks and Mack and Holyan [NPT] gave several papers. Talks included a follow-up economic analysis that indicated wolves in Yellowstone were worth about $35 million annually [higher than the $23 million estimated in 1994] to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, visitor surveys indicate that perhaps well over 100,000 visitors each year were seeing wolves [several times higher than previously estimated], and that the genetic health and diversity of the NRM wolf population is currently very high. Niemeyer [FWS retired], Williamson [ID WS], and others gave a workshop on non-lethal control techniques that included approx. 40 attendees from around the country and Canada. ID WS Asst. State Director George Graves also attended. Dr. Diane Boyd was the well-deserved recipient of this year’s Wolf Recovery Foundation's "Alpha Award."

Bradley gave a talk to Bitterroot Outfitters and Guides annual meeting in Hamilton on Thursday, March 30th. About 30 people attended.

Asher [MFWP/TESF] gave a talk in Paradise valley to 15 students from Antioch college on Sunday March 26th.

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] spoke with several 5th graders from Wyoming who called to ask questions.

IDFG gave the FWS its proposal to remove some wolves in the Clearwater area of Idaho to boost elk population recovery on the 4th. The FWS Boise, ID Field Office is leading the review process.

On the 4th, the 10th Circuit Federal Appeals Court upheld the Wyoming District Court’s dismissal of Wyoming's lawsuit against the federal government over how wolves should be managed in the state after their removal from Endangered Species Act protection. Wyoming filed suit after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected its plan for managing wolves in 2004.

On the 6th, the 10th Circuit Federal Appeals Court upheld the WY District Court’s ruling in the federal governments favor regarding dismissal of Wyoming states charges that a FWS biologist trespassed and littered [by leaving radio-collared wolves] on private property.

Delisting Proposed for Mid-Western Wolves- The Summary of the Proposal document of the 2006 Proposal is available at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/ . about wolves and wolf recovery on the 30th.

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