Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/21/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/14/2006 to 7/21/2006

 

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2006 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2005] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreport.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.

Monitoring

On the 16th Derbridge and Laudon [MTFWP] captured and collared a 2 year old female wolf (NW092F) from the Kootenai Pack. This puts the Kootenai pack back on the air as the previous collars, wolf NW034M has been missing since 5/30 and NW036F appears to have dispersed ~ 22 miles to the south. The new capture/collar capitalized on the previous survey work conducted by Whitehead and Payne. Derbridge and Laudon will reopen a trapline to collar a new pack (uncollared) in Pinkham Creek. Laudon will continue on to open a trapline in Spotted Bear (uncollared). Whitehead and Payne will finish surveying the Wigwam River area.

On the 20th, Smucker and Holder [MTFWP] caught a 34 lb female wolf pup up the East Fork

of the Bitterroot. It was too small to collar and was pit tagged and released. This is likely a new documented pack for the area and trapping efforts will continue to try to get a radio-collar out.

Smucker and Holder have been closely monitoring the Sleeping Child pack after the recent depredation and control events in the East Fork of the Bitterroot. They've harassed the wolves out of French Basin on several occasions and continue to keep a close eye on the situation.

During the week of the 10th, Kerry Rennie and Brandon Muller [NPT] surveyed the Lick Ck. Lookout area following sightings from IDFG biologists in the area looking for northern ID ground squirrels; no evidence of wolves was detected. One day after their survey, another report of a wolf howling in this area was received. The following day Holyan followed up and did locate a single wolf track. A few days after that a fish/stream survey team hiking up an adjacent drainage howled after seeing copious wolf sign on that trail. They received a reply from an estimated 5+ wolves. Hollow and Rennie set traps on the 12th. This could be the missing Cold Springs pack (this would be beyond the southern end of their territory, but not by much) or an undocumented pack (B127 formerly frequented this area). Rennie and Muller also investigated the Thunder Mt. pack home range in an effort to initiate a capture operation for this uncollared pack; no sign was found at all previously documented den/rendezvous sites. They located the Monumental Ck. pack at the home site they've used since at least 2004. A minimum of 3 adults and a minimum of 3 pups was heard howling. They initiated a capture operation, where they radio collared a 2-year-old wolf and also had a pull-out. They observed 4 sub/adults, but the wolves vacated the site after this disturbance.

Tyler Hollow [NPT] obtained a pup count on the Jungle Ck. pack north of McCall. There are at least 3 pups present.

Holyan [NPT] surveyed the Carey Dome pack territory, but was unable to locate a home site based on the radio-collared wolves in the area. He and Rennie also surveyed the Stolle Meadows pack home range in an attempt to document pups, but the suspected alpha pair were in a different location each day and no pups were found. Babcock earlier found evidence of pups, but at this point it is uncertain whether they remain.

On the 19th, Rick Williamson (ID WS) was able to confirm reproduction in the Copper Basin Pack when he was able to hear the howls of multiple pups at very close range. On the 21st, he saw 5-6 pups. All were black in color.

Michael Lucid and Nate Borg (IDFG) observed 1 gray pup in the Packer John pack. Michael and Jake Powell (IDFG) found tracks of at least 2 pups in the Big Buck pack, but were unable to obtain a visual or hear howling.

Jimenez [USFWS] reported that there appears to be up to 20 groups of wolves [at least 14 with pups] in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park YNP reported that pup production and survival seems normal with an estimated 60-80 pups among the 13 packs in the Park. These data indicate the wolf population in Wyoming continues to grow and that the YNP population may be up slightly after last year’s sharp decline and disease doesn’t seem to be an issue this year.

Control

On the 20th, ID WS captured and killed a sub-adult, gray, female wolf on the ongoing control action SW of McCall, ID. The wolf's carcass (minus one kidney taken for research purposes) was taken to the IDFG office in McCall. Efforts are still ongoing to remove one more wolf from the Blue Bunch pack.

A calf was suspected of being killed by wolves on private land near Salmon, ID was examined by ID WS on the 15th. Its death was not predator related.

On the 15th, ID WS investigated the death of a calf on Danskin Mountain. WS confirmed that it was killed by a wolf. Traps have been set with the goal of collaring one wolf and lethally removing another.

A lamb on Green Ck. on the Boise NF near Big Trinity, ID was confirmed to have been killed by members of the Steel Mountain Pack on the 15th. Traps were set with the intention of lethal removal of up to 2 wolves. On the 20th, ID WS confirmed that members of the Steel Mt. Pack killed 10 sheep and probably killed another 7 in Rainbow Creek on the Boise National Forest. Traps had been set to remove up to 4 wolves, as long as at least two collared animals remain with the pack.

On the 21st, ID WS investigated a complaint that wolves had killed a lamb and a ewe on Boise National Forest Land SW of Idaho City. No sheep carcasses could be found.

On the 19th a ranch in the Madison Valley, MT reported an injured heifer that appeared to have been attacked by a predator on private land. MT WS confirmed the heifer had been attacked and injured by wolves. MTFWP authorized WS to take 1 uncollared wolf from this area- probably from the Wedge pack. The ranch was also been issued a SOS permit for one wolf.

MT WS necropsied a dead ewe on the 19th, on a ranch west of Cohagen, MT (Garfield County). Based on the feeding pattern and canine marks, they classified the kill as "probable" wolf. There were no tracks, scats, or visuals of a wolf. The ewe was most likely killed Sunday night or Monday morning (7/17). MTFWP authorized lethal control based on the history of depredations in the area. No captures or kills were made of any wolves during the last control action. The landowner was issued a shoot-on-sight permit to shoot up to 2 wolves on his property from the ground.

A rancher in the Sapphire Mts., MT reported harassing 2 black wolves that he caught chasing his cattle this past week. Another rancher in the area reported cattle being chased through a fence. Both these events occurred in the Sapphire pack territory.

MT WS confirmed that a wolf killed a 300lb calf near Dean, MT on the 9th but no known wolves are in that area. MT WS set traps to collar and release any wolves captured but after a week no wolf activity was found and traps were pulled.

South Fork of the Shone River west of Cody, WY: Since July 1, WS has confirmed 8 calves killed by wolves from the South Fork Pack. On the 15th, WS removed 2 wolves after wolves killed 3 calves. Within a week, 2 more calves were confirmed killed by wolves and another yearling wolf was removed to reduce the risk of further depredations.

Upper Green River drainage, Pinedale, WY: Wolves in the Upper Green River drainage began killing livestock on July 2. By the 6th, the Green River Pack had killed 3 calves. An adult wolf was removed on 12th. Two more calves were killed within the week and 2 young-of-the-year were removed on the 17th. On the 19th, WS confirmed a 7th calf killed. More wolves were authorized to be removed by WY WS.

Grand Teton National Park - Jackson, WY: On the 17th, USFWS investigated a dead calf found on a grazing allotment in Grand Teton National Park. A necropsy concluded that the cause of death was not related to wolves or any other predators.

Research

A report ‘Monitoring and Assessment of Wolf-Ungulate Interactions and Population Trends within the Greater Yellowstone Area, SW Montana, and Montana Statewide’ by Drs. Bob Garrott, Scott Creel, and Ken Hamlin is available at http://www.homepage.montana.edu/~rgarrott/wolfungulate/index.htm

A book ‘Restoring the Pacific Northwest: The Art and Science of Ecological Restoration in Cascadia’ edited by Dean Apostol and Marcia Sinclair can be ordered frm Island Press at http:www.islandpress.org . It has short piece on wolf restoration by Bangs and Smith.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

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