Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/28/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/21 to 7/28/2006

 

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.

Monitoring

Isaac Babcock and Kerry Rennie [NTP] captured and collared a yearling female wolf of the Bimerick Meadow pack, and obtained a count of at least 5 pups there. Tyler Hollow and Brandon Muller [NTP] located the rendezvous site for the Eagle Mt. pack and documented a minimum of 3 pups. This crew put in over 100 miles of backpacking/hiking during their 6-7 days searching for the radio-signal of the sole collared wolf, B136.

Jim Holyan [NTP] documented reproduction in the Red River pack (1 black pup seen, a second poss. heard), but his trapping efforts were unsuccessful. He also surveyed all previously documented Selway pack rendezvous/den sites, but found no wolf sign. He did locate 2 sets of wolf tracks in the O'Hara Point pack territory.

Curt Mack [NTP] took over a trapline initiated by T. Hollow outside of New Meadows, ID where we had received good information recently of a poss. new wolf pack. On the 20th Mack processed a small (est. 50 lb.) female wolf that had lactated this year. He later verified reproduction via howling. Holyan then walked into the rendezvous site where he saw 3 gray pups and 3 gray adults/subadults (the newly radio-collared wolf was not present). Based on howling 4-5 adults/subadults were estimated. This may be a new pack, although their location is only a few miles south of the southernmost Cold Springs pack aerial locations. To date no black wolves have been observed; at least 2 of the Cold Springs now 2-year-olds would be black.

Jason Husseman [IDFG has been attempting to collar wolves in the Hoodoo pack west of Salmon, ID. Although unsuccessful at collaring, he was able to verify reproduction of multiple pups. Carter Niemeyer (IDFG) collared a subadult male wolf of the Morgan Creek pack, and then moved to the Scott Mt. pack. Carter didn’t catch the cagey 8+ year old alpha female [last collared in 1998 in Kelly Creek] as she moved her single pup away from the trapping site after a couple days. Michael Lucid [IDFG] looked for the Hyndman pack near Sun Valley and was not able to find any sign. Michael also attempted to locate wolves reported close to the Trapper Ck depredation. Even though multiple wolf tracks were seen by the depredation sight no radio collared animals were in the vicinity. Paul Frame [IDFG] continued to work on the Five Lake Butte pack near the North Fork of the Clearwater. Reproduction was confirmed, but trapping to date has been unsuccessful.

A missing wolf from the Sage Creek pack, wolf SW64M, was found near Morrison Lake, W. of Dell, MT by Craig Fager [MFWP] during an antelope monitoring flight on the 17th. On a routine monitoring flight on the 26th MFWP found the wolf in Idaho in the Lemhi range SW of Leadore, ID. IDFG will take over monitoring if the wolf stays in ID. A big thanks to Craig for helping document this dispersal. Also, during the flight on 26th we found a missing Idaho wolf, B191F from the Soldier Mtn pack in the Big Hole Valley, MT near Miner Lakes. She's a 3 year old black female and will now be monitored by MFWP.

Ty Smucker [MFWP] caught a 40lb male wolf pup in the East Fork of the Bitterroot on the 24th. It was too small to collar and was pit tagged and released. Traps were pulled the next day. MFWP will be trying again soon to get a collar on this pack.

Yellowstone National Park monitoring indicated that the Park has 14 wolf packs and 12 of those had pups. The high count of 79 pups but some will die as summer progresses. To date it appears pup mortality is low and that the Park population has somewhat rebounded from last year’s 30% decline.

USFWS biologists saw 6 pups on the 28th in a new pack in the south end of Yellowstone Park. The pack’s female was collared this past winter in Teton Park as part of the Buffalo Pack but apparently has started another pack Wolf #253 (the Druid wolf that went to Utah several years ago) has apparently dispersed from south of Yellowstone NP to east of the Park and has localized. Field investigations to determine his status are ongoing.

Control

A calf was confirmed injured (and died soon thereafter) in the Big Hole Valley northwest of Wisdom, MT on the 24th. Agency Control was already ongoing from previous depredations in the area to collar 1 wolf and kill 1 wolf. On the 25th, McDougal (MT WS) trapped and collared a black male pup and on the 28th, killed an adult gray wolf. Control is now finished in the area and shoot-on-sight permits for the affected landowner have been voided. This new documented Mussigbrod pack now consists of at least 2 adult black wolves and 4 pups (3 gray, 1 black).

On the 27th, a yearling heifer was found dead and later confirmed killed by wolves [Wedge pack] on a private ranch in the Madison Valley. WS set traps on the carcass and were authorized by MFWP to kill up to two adult wolves and to pit tag and release any pups. The cattle were moved into this pasture a week ago and this is the same area where a heifer was found injured by wolves on the 19th. During the investigation MFWP/WS discovered an active rendezvous area near the depredation site. Traps will be pulled on the 29th because a grizzly bear was sighted on the ranch recently and the decaying livestock carcass might eventually attracted it. After the traps are pulled MFWP/WS will attempt to harass the wolves at the rendezvous site with hopes of moving the group to higher elevation and away from this pasture that has about 900 cattle in it. Agency control and SOS permits will attempt to remove a total of two wolves. The ranch does not want helicopters used and prefers other control tools be tried first.

On the 22nd, ID WS captured and killed a black, sub-adult, female wolf on the Steel Mountain Pack control action. Traps remain set, with the hope of removing another three individuals from this pack. The animal's skull was salvaged and will be turned over the IDFG.

On the 24th, ID WS confirmed that wolves had killed 5 lambs on Trapper Creek about 40 NE of Idaho City on the Boise National Forest. After consulting with IDFG, we were unable to determine which, if any, of 5 nearby packs could be responsible for the depredation. IDFG authorized the lethal removal of one uncollared wolf. Traps were set. If collared members of the Calderwood, Timberline, Big Buck, Warm Springs or Steel Mountain are captured, they will be released. If their collars are more than a year old, they will be replaced. Captured pups will be released, but other wolves would be removed. On the 28th, ID WS captured and killed a gray, sub-adult male wolf, completing this control action.

On the 25th, a group of cowboys in Copper Basin saw a large, dark gray wolf in a pasture close to their livestock. They shot towards the wolf several times to successfully harass it from the area. On the 27th, ID WS conducted an aerial control operation in Copper Basin. The crew shot one black adult/sub-adult wolf. Recovery of the carcass will be attempted but may be difficult because of the remote rugged terrain.. ID WS also captured and collared a gray male pup that morning in Copper Basin that the NPT designated as B-292.

A gray male pup from the Blue bunch pack was collared (B-291) on the 26th and on the 27th, ID WS re-captured B-218, the pack’s alpha female and put a new radio collar on her. While WS was collaring her, two gray female wolves showed up. A sub-adult was shot and killed and the other was harassed away. This concluded control and hopefully the Blue Bunch wolves will stop attacking livestock.

On the 24th, a dead ewe and parts of a lamb were found on private property near Cora, WY. A wolf had been seen several times on the property. WY WS investigated and confirmed that the ewe was killed by wolves. On the 27th, a wolf was seen again on the property and another ewe was attacked. Wolves have killed sheep on the property before and WS previously removed a depredating wolf from the area. WY WS will try to remove this wolf and the owner was issued a shoot-on-site permit.

On the 27th, WY WS examined a dead heifer and recorded it as a probable wolf kill near Daniel, WY. Control is ongoing.

Since early July, wolves have been confirmed to have killed 8 calves on the Upper Green River grazing allotments NE of Pinedale, WY. Three wolves have been killed by WY WS so far but depredations continued. Control is still ongoing to remove all the remaining pack members.

On the 27th, WY WS confirmed five 100lb lambs were killed by a wolf in the same area of the Bighorn Mountains, WY [E. of Ten Sleep] where a wolf had killed sheep earlier this July. WY WS was authorized to remove the wolf.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The 12-Month Finding for the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf was signed by the Director on July 18, 2006, and will be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, August 1, 2006. Wyoming petitioned the Service to delist the gray wolf in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming in July 2005. After a thorough review of the petition and Wyoming’s current state regulatory framework, the Service determined that a delisting proposal was not warranted at this time.

On the 26th Trapp [MFWP] met with an outfitter and provided rubber bullet/cracker shell training, and discussed the federal regulations. The outfitter had reported that wolves were coming in close to his camp and chasing his horses just north of Yellowstone National Park, in the Hellroaring drainage.

On the 25th Sime and Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation for the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 5 Citizens Advisory Council in Billings, MT on wolf status and management in Montana.

On the evening of the 15th Holyan presented a wolf update to about 40 campers at Ponderosa State Park in McCall, ID.

On the 25th & 26th, Jimenez [WY USFWS} attended a meeting in Lander, WY with USFWS personnel from Cheyenne, Lander, and the Denver Regional Office to discuss current USFWS projects, funding, and staffing.

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