Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/09/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/02 to 6/09, 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.

On the 8th, Jimenez [FWS] and volunteers Susannah Woodruff & Karen Colclough trapped and collared an adult male wolf near Jackson, WY. The black wolf had an "almost chewed off" collar and had dispersed from the Gibbon Meadows Pack in Yellowstone Park. This male wolf and a collared female wolf that dispersed from the Nez Perce Pack have formed a new pack (Sage Pack) and have pups in the Jackson, WY area. Jimenez reported that some packs have already moved pups to rendezvous sites.

Jonathan Derbridge began working for MFWP on June 2 and volunteer James Nowack began work on June 5. Both are surveying the Superior pack area to determine numbers of animals, reproduction, and trapping/collaring opportunities.

Laudon [MFWP] closed a trapline east of Troy, Montana. The newly named Pulpit Mountain Pack is believed to consist of a new pair and their first litter of 5-8 pups. This pack was discovered after a bear hunter reported seeing pups on a closed-to-vehicles road that he had been hunting. Previous to this MFWP had no reports of wolves in this area. This is another example of how public wolf reports are extremely helpful. Currently the pack remains uncollared.

Ty Smucker began working with MFWP on June 1, along with volunteers Kari Holder and Mike Cooper. They are working with Trapp and Bradley on trapping and monitoring efforts for the Willow Creek and Sapphire packs. They are also investigating wolf reports north of Philipsburg and near Bearmouth MT to see if there are additional packs.

Asher [FWP/TESF] has been scouting in the Spotted Dog territory west of Helena. Wolves are apparently denned in the area and a trapline was established.

Ross [MFWP] has been working throughout the Madison Valley monitoring wolves (flew on the 6th) and meeting with landowners.

Jason Husseman (IDFG) verified reproduction in 2 packs this week. Jureano Mt. pack had 5 pups, and the newly collared Lemhi pack that was involved in a depredation earlier this year has one pup.

Tyler Hollow [NPT] located the den for the Giant Cedar pack and confirmed reproduction. Tyler will try to document the reproductive status of the Hemlock Butte and Eldorado packs this hitch. Jim Holyan visited last year's den for the O'Hara pack, and discovered the pack was not using the den this year. Without radio-collars, it will be difficult to document the status of this pack. Jim will attempt to locate, capture and collar, and document the reproductive status of the uncollared Red River pack. He was able to get a pup count on the Earthquake Basin pack on the 9th. Babcock [NPT] documented reproduction and counted pups on the Bluebunch pack on the 8th.

Carter Niemeyer & Lauri Haunuska-Brown (IDFG), and Brian Abers (USFS), verified reproduction in the Biscuit Basin pack near Henry’s Lake on the 4th. They watched as 2 wolves playing near the den, and saw the white alpha female quickly leave the den site when they approached. They were able to count 3 pups under a brush pile that served as a protective cover over the den.

A pair of wolves was reportedly sighted near Aspen, CO. CO DOW was notified. As with all public reports, we thank the hikers who reported their observation and will wait and see if a pattern of public reports develops that suggest wild wolves may be in that area.

Control

On June 1st, McDougal (MT WS) investigated a dead calf on a ranch in the Big Hole valley and confirmed that wolves had injured it and that it had died later of infection/gangrene. The calf wasn't found until several weeks after it had died and no fresh wolf sign was found so WS did not set traps but he is in touch with the ranch manager and if they see any wolves/sign he will instigate a trapping effort. This incident occurred 6-7 miles NE of where another calf had been confirmed injured earlier this spring.

On the 7th, Trapp [MFWP] provided non-lethal and other training for the Boulder River range rider program.

On the 6th, WY WS removed 1 adult female wolf from the Washakie Pack after wolves killed a calf on private property. The property owner was issued a shoot-on-site permit and WS will remove 1-2 more wolves. The USFWS may attempt to collar addition wolves.

On the 8th, WY WS confirmed a second calf killed by wolves near Crow Heart Butte on the Wind River Reservation. The Tribe, USFWS, and WS discussed if trapping and collaring were options. It appears that one (maybe 2) wolf was involved. After discussions it was decided to remove the wolf.

On the 8th, WY WS confirmed a calf killed by wolves on private property west of Cody, WY. On the 9th it was determined two packs are likely involved. One is a new pair with pups that denned on the ranch. They will be harassed to encourage them move the pups out of the area and away from the cattle. The Asaroka pack also uses that area and a black pack member has been repeatedly been harassed out of the cattle. WS will attempt to remove it and the landowner was given a shoot-on-sight permit for one wolf.

Jimenez reported that Grand Teton National Park and a Park grazing permitee worked out a voluntary agreement to move cattle from one allotment with an active wolf den to another one that didn’t have much wolf activity. As luck would have it, another pack has just moved their pups closer to the allotment now being grazed. However GPS collar locations of that pack indicate that most of that pack’s activity is away from the cattle. The Park and permittee deserves a lot of credit for working hard to pro-actively work to reduce the risk of depredation.

On the 9th, ID WS confirmed wolf predation on an adult ewe east of Anderson Ranch Reservoir in Elmore County. The sheep herder witnessed a lone wolf leaving the area before he discovered the dead ewe. Traps are being set with the intention to remove one uncollared wolf.

ID WS investigated a complaint of possible wolf predation on a yearling cow on private land near Riggins, ID on the 8th. There was no evidence of predator involvement, and the WS investigator felt it had probably died from eating poisonous plants. Another complaint of possible wolf predation involved a very old adult cow on Nez Perce National Forest land near Grangeville, ID. The ID WS investigator responded on the 8th, and determined that there was no evidence of predation in that case either.

Research

Curt Mack [NTP] met with Mike Mitchell and David Ausband with the University of Montana's Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, and Pete Zager with the IDFG to discuss study design for the long-term wolf monitoring research project.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Last Chance to Comment- The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in March 2006, its intent to delist wolves in the Midwest states and return all management authority to the states. Public comments on the proposed delisting will be accepted until June 26. People can comment on the proposal at http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/2006pr_dl/2006pr_dl.pdf .

Nez Perce Tribe held field crew orientation on Monday, 5 June to officially kick off the 2006 field season.

On the 8th, Damien Miller (ID FWS) provided the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes a status update on the Fish and Wildlife Service's in-progress review of the State of Idaho's proposal to control wolves in Northern Idaho due to impacts on the elk herd.

On the 5th, Doug Smith [NPS] gave a talk to about 25 people with the National Park Conservation Assoc. On the 9th he gave a presentation to about 125 people at the Annual meeting of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. On the 6th, Matt Metz [YNP seasonal wolf biologist] gave a talk to 100 Zantara employees [NPS concessionaire in YNP].

On the 6th Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation to the Billings Kiwanis Club on wolf ecology and management. Approximately 50 people attended.

On the 6th, Sime, Bradley, Smucker (along with other MFWP staff - Ray Vinkey, Mack Long, Terry Althaus, Vivica Crowser, and Jeff Darrah) and MT WS met with concerned landowners in the Philipsburg area to share information about the local packs, go over the 10j regulations, and look for ways to decrease the potential for livestock losses.

On the 6th, Jimenez spoke at a home owners association meeting to 40 residents who own property adjacent to Grand Teton national Park. The discussion and subsequent questions focused on resident's concerns about wolves living near their housing devolpment, the affects of wolves on moose and elk in the area, and wolf delisting.

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