Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/23/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 6/09 to 6/23, 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.

Liz Bradley (MFWP) and Mike Cooper (MFWP volunteer) caught and collared a breeding female in the Willow Creek pack on the 13th, southwest of Hall, MT. This is now the second collar in this pack. Jon Trapp and Ty Smucker [MFWP] are concurrently trapping in the Sapphire pack territory to try to get a 2nd collar in that pack as well. Many cattle are being put on summer pasture this month in both of these packs' territories and we are putting more collars out to try to help step up the monitoring due to concerns from ranchers who reported they had higher than normal losses in summer 2005. On the 17th, Trapp and Smucker trapped and collared a 110 lb adult male wolf in the Sapphire pack SW of Philipsburg. On the 18th they caught and collared a 70 lb yearling female. Traps were pulled on the 18th.

Noack, Derbridge, and Laudon [MFWP] trapped and collared an 80 lb breeding female wolf S. of DeBorgia on the 19th. Hunters reported wolf sign in this area last fall but this pack was not confirmed until Laudon's crew investigated the area this past week. They counted 4 black pups. They pulled traps near DeBorgia but are continuing efforts to trap in the Superior area.

Cooper, Holder, and Smucker [MFWP] have confirmed wolf activity in the Bearmouth/Tyler Creek area w. of Drummond, MT and trapping efforts will soon begin for this uncollared pack.

Curt Mack [NPT] scouted the area outside of Grangeville where 2 hunting hounds were recently confirmed killed by wolves. He found very limited wolf sign, a couple of old tracks and scats, suggesting that these wolves do not have a den/rendezvous site in the immediate area.

Jim Holyan and Kerry Rennie [NTP] intended to trap for the uncollared O'Hara Point pack north of Elk City, ID, but the wolves were not using the 2003-2005 den/rendezvous site. No other evidence of wolves was located, so they moved over to work on the Earthquake Basin pack. Nine pups were observed (5 black and 4 gray) there. They then investigated the traditional den/rendezvous site of the Florence pack. Four gray pups were seen in the immediate vicinity. They then scouted for the uncollared Cold Springs pack; very limited sign was seen so no capture operation was initiated.

Isaac Babcock [NPT] worked the Stolle Meadow pack, locating the probable den site area based on evidence of pups (scats), but countless howling bouts failed to elicit a response from pups, although both the alpha female (B249) and suspected alpha male (B259) were located in the immediate area on separate days. Isaac also worked the Blue Bunch pack south of New Meadows, ID; he has observed 5 gray pups so far, but based on howling believes there may be more.

Tyler Hollow [NTP] located the den site of the Giant Cedar group (now officially a pack) and observed a single pup, although based on his proximity to the den feels his count was likely incomplete. Tyler investigated the Eldorado pack rendezvous site, where he heard a minimum of 3 pups howling (there maybe a 4th). He also searched for the Hemlock Ridge pack, but was unable to detect radio signals of either collared wolf, and investigation of the cluster of aerial locations for the denning period did not result in detection of pups.

IDFG has just hired Paul Frame as the new seasonal wolf biologist that will be stationed in Lewiston and covering the Panhandle and Clearwater regions. Welcome Paul! Paul finished training, got geared up, and headed to find the Calder Mt. pack north of Sandpoint on the 20th. This pack though verified last year cooperatively with Montana biologists, was never collared.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] verified a minimum of 1 pup in the Scott Mt. pack. This pack did not appear to have pups last year. He and Dave Ausband [UM] trapped and collared a yearling female in the Warm Springs Pack on the 23rd.

Antoine Hochy, a wolf biologist from France will be volunteering for IDFG and working with Carter Niemeyer [IDFG] for the next few weeks learning how to trap using steel foothold traps, and other wolf biologist duties and skills. The French government is attempting to establish a wolf management program now that there are approximately 70 wolves in France and there have been repeated conflicts with domestic sheep, wolf control, and public controversy.

Carter Niemeyer and French biologist Antoine Nochy worked with ranchers in the Scott Valley and Round Valley areas near depredation sights this week to determine which packs and wolves were involved and responsible for frequent sightings and howlings, and to address rancher concerns. They are working with Curt Mack [NPT] this weekend on the pack of wolves responsible for killing hounds in the Grangeville area in an attempt to collar and find out more about this new pack of wolves.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] found 2 dead wolves on a June 20 flight, one a recently collared male near Stanley that is being investigated, and the second a female that appears to have died of natural causes (crushed ribs) in the Yankee Fork area. Jason also counted 5 pups in the Buffalo Ridge pack on the 19th.

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] rode about 20 miles on horseback in the Big Water, Little Water, and Willow Creek drainages over the 17-18th to monitor the wolf and sheep situation in that area. The recently collared Big Water pack was implicated in a recent depredation of several sheep and the sheep and wolves are still mingling in the area. A ID WS control action is under way.

Control

A calf was confirmed injured by a wolf in the Big Hole valley on the 10th and will likely die/be euthanized because of its injuries. This is the third attack that has occurred in this same general area in the Big Hole over the past month and a half. Based on tracks, a single wolf was believed involved in all 3 incidents. MFWP authorized WS to kill one wolf and gave a 45 day shoot-on-site permit to the landowner for 1 wolf.

On the 12th, a large male wolf was captured in a foothold trap by ID WS and euthanized in response to confirmed predation on a ewe the 9th near Pine, Idaho (Moorse Flats area). Traps were pulled and IDFG/WS is monitoring the situation.

ID WS confirmed wolf predation on sheep the 10th and set traps to capture and euthanize wolves from the Big Water pack near Featherville, ID. Wolves re-visited the depredation site. On the 13th, the herder reported that a lamb was killed by wolves the night before. However, by the time WS was notified and taken to the site, the carcass was missing. On the 22nd, WS captured and killed the suspected grey alpha male of the Big Water Pack on the Boise NF. Trapping efforts are continuing. The wolf’s hide and skull will be turned over to the IDFG for educational purposes.

On the 13th, a private property owner near Round Valley, ID notified WS that a 350-400 pound calf was apparently killed by wolves. The majority of the carcass was consumed. Wolf scat was present, and strong telemetry signals from B-205 (alpha female), B-262 (alpha male) and B-261-male were received. WS saw a gray-colored wolf standing about 200 yards from the depredation site. IDFG authorized ID WS to removed up to 2 wolves, but only 1 collared wolf was to be removed at this time. IDFG asked ID WS to not remove the alpha female from the Packer John pack, if possible, and to replace her collar if she is captured, but to remove 2 other wolves. A smaller female was trapped and killed on the 14th. On the 21st, WS trapped & euthanized another 2-year old gray female wolf, concluding the control action. The carcass will be transported to the IDFG Wildlife Health Lab.

Another report of a dead calf was received on the 14th near Warm Lake, ID. WS confirmed it as a wolf kill. It is in the Gold Fork pack’s territory. There are 4-6 wolves in the pack but apparently no pups this year. The alpha female is radio collared. IDFG authorized WS to remove 2 wolves from that pack, but if they catch the alpha female to replace the collar and release her. Additionally, Niemeyer [IDFG] visited the site in addition to the Round Valley site on the 15th, to talk to producers, assist WS, and get a better feel for the best approach in the area.

ID WS is still attempting to remove a wolf at the Mackay depredation site where a lamb and a ewe [injured but since died] were attacked by a lone wolf. The control action started 1 June and IDFG personnel are assisting WS by check the neck snares on a daily basis and providing verbal reports on the status of the equipment.

On the 14th, ID WS received a report from a Cascade, ID cattle producer of suspected wolf predation on a 600lb. calf and conducted an investigation and necropsy. Wolf predation was confirmed. IDFG gave authority to remove at least 1 wolf at the present time. Traps were set.

A private landowner shot a wolf under a shoot-on-site permit near Meeteetse, WY. The black male wolf was the radioed member (disperser from YNP) of a new pair that denned in that area and had been repeatedly seen and harassed out of the cattle pasture. It had severe mange. Attempts to harass the female and pups away from that area will continue. On the 17th, WS/FWS specialist Jim Perhinger trapped, radioed and released the alpha female. She did not have mange and was released to raise her pups.

WY WS confirmed that an apparent lone wolf killed 7 sheep (6 ewes and a lamb) on an public grazing allotment in the Bighorn Mountains of WY on the 12th [NE of Ten Sleep]. WS was authorized to lethally remove it. On the 20th, 2 more lambs were confirmed killed o the allotment by the same suspected lone wolf. On the 22nd, WS investigated the death of 2 more lambs but they were killed by a black bear. Lethal control is ongoing.

On the 19th a calf was confirmed killed on a private ranch near Dubois, WY, the second one this month. On the 22nd, a FWS WY volunteer captured, collared and released a grey adult male near the depredation site. The ranch still has shoot-on-site permit and WY WS will remove 1-2 wolves as conditions permit.

On the 19th, 6 ewes and 4 lambs were confirmed killed on private land near Farson, WY by a suspected lone [maybe 2] wolf. Lethal control was authorized.

On the 13th, WY WS attempted to remove a wolf near Crow Heart Butte after at least 2 calves were killed by wolves. No wolves were located, but control attempts will continue on the Wind River Reservation in full coordination with the Tribes.

Research

Curt Mack and other members of the core team for the alternative wolf monitoring methods & techniques grant project (Mike Mitchell, Univ. of Montana, Dave Ausband, Univ. of Montana, and Pete Zager, IDFG) met to discuss the scope of work and flesh out a timeframe for developing/implementing a timeframe for the field work.

On the 14th, Sime [MFWP] and Bangs [FWS] met with Ausband [UM] in Helena to discuss the development of a biological equivalent for the current breeding pair definition to measure wolf population status.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 12-14th Bangs [FWS], Sime [MFWP] and Smith [NPS] talked about 30 people in the "People, Economics, and Forest Carnivore Management Course" class put on by the USDA Forest Service, Yellowstone National Park, and Yellowstone Assoc. Institute.

On the 14th, Smith [NPS] conducted a field trip with NPS staff. On the 15th Smith conducted a field trip with a group with Defenders of Wildlife. On the 16th, Doug gave a presentation to USFS seasonal employees for the Gallatin National Forest.

Kent Laurdon welcomes MFWP volunteers Jannen Payne and Alan Whitehead who will be working with him all summer.

On the 12th, the carcass of a young female wolf was recovered along Highway 187 in Grand Teton National Park. The carcass was sent to the USFWS Forensic Lab in Ashland, Oregon to determine the cause of death.

Kerry Rennie joined the Nez Perce Tribe wolf team as a volunteer. Kerry is soon to conclude her undergraduate work at Humboldt State Univ. Welcome aboard!

Curt Mack participated in the Nez Perce Tribe's signature event, "Summer of Peace Among the Nimiipuu," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He will be speaking about the Tribe's role in wolf recovery.

Steve Nadeau, IDFG Director Huffaker, Jeff Allen (OSC), Rick Williamson (WS), and Gary Burton (USFWS) were on a panel to discuss Idaho wolf management at the mid-year Idaho Cattlemen Association meeting at Jackpot, NV on the 21st. About 80 ICA members attended.

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