Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/04/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/28 to 8/04/2006

 

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

On the 23rd Derbridge and Laudon [MFWP] captured a male pup in the Pinkham Creek drainage in NW MT. The pup was too small to collar and was released. It is believed that this is a new pack consisting of the alpha pair and at least 3 pups. The rendezvous has been located and at least one adult wolf was briefly captured but it pulled out of the trap. Derbridge and Payne will run the trapline through Aug 1.

Kristina Boyd has been volunteering for MFWP intermittently in NW Montana this season during her precious little spare time while both working for the Forest Service and completing her thesis. Thank you Kris! Boyd and Whitehead [MFWP] are surveying the Libby Creek drainage following up on public and agency reports over the last couple of years. Laudon was in the Spotted Bear area attempting to locate and trap/radio collar the Spotted Bear pack. Spotted Bear was recollared last September but that wolf has been missing after being located only 3 times.

Biologists in Idaho have been trapping in the Five Lake Butte, Marble Mt, Hughes Ck, and Calder Mt. pack territories this week but no success to date.

Wolf #253 (the YNP Druid wolf that went to Utah several years ago) was believed to have dispersed to east of the Park and his radio collar localized. Investigations on the 1st by USFWS special agent Eicher determined that instead of #253 it was an elk radio-collar whose frequency had shifted into that used to monitor wolf #253. He is probably to still be in the Daniel, WY area and will be searched for there again.

Control

In response to a wounded heifer on the 19th and one killed one last week, the ranch in the Madison Valley, MT filled their MFWP SOS permit by shooting 2 wolves. One was taken evening of the 28th and the other on the morning of the 29th, so the control action has ended. One of the wolves killed was SW08M which was wearing a GPS collar. MFWP will process the collar’s data. While moving through the area to harass wolves from the rendezvous site another cow carcass was found. It was mostly consumed but was classified a "probable" wolf kill by MT WS.

On the morning of July 29th, the manager of a ranch in the Bitterroot Valley, MT called to report that he used firearms to harass 2 adult-sized gray wolves that he found chasing 5 horses in the pasture near the ranch house. Neither wolf appeared to be collared. These are probably members of the Sleeping Child pack that had been involved in several depredations. No horses or wolves were injured or killed. On the 1st, MT WS confirmed a dead calf on the private land near Sula, MT. The signal from the collared Sleeping Child pack female was heard from the carcass site and many wolf tracks were found at the scene. WS was directed to remove the remainder of the pack, taking the collared animal last. MFWP had taken a number of non-lethal steps going back to May 2006: disposed of cattle carcasses, intensively monitored the pack, increased human presence around livestock (14 days), and harassed wolves. Those efforts did not have a lasting effect nor did it bump wolves out of low elevation private lands or away from livestock. All those efforts proved unsuccessful as the wolves kept returning to livestock. Incremental lethal control of 3 adults did not stop depredations either. Confirmed losses were - 2 yearling steers dead, 1 domestic dog dead, 1 calf dead, 2 calves injured; numerous incidents of wolves in livestock and harassed (1 lethal 10j shoot); total of 7 different reported incidents. MT WS shot 8 wolves in the Sleeping Child pack on the 4th in French Basin: 2 uncollared yearlings, 1 uncollared adult, and 5 young of the year. The collared female (SW77F), another uncollared adult, and 2 young of the year remain. There were 2 more wolves in this pack than was previously estimated. The wolves were located close to where the calf was killed on the 1st and two of the uncollared wolves were seen packing off quarters of the calf this morning. Control efforts to remove the rest of this pack will resume early next week.

On the 31st, ID WS conducted two different wolf depredation investigations on cattle in the Cascade, ID area. One of the calves' deaths proved not to be predator related. On the other, ID WS confirmed that wolves attacked and wounded a yearling calf on private land. A necropsy was conducted soon after it died. After consulting with IDFG, ID WS set traps to remove one wolf. If B-130, the Gold Fork alpha female (and the only known collared wolf in the area), is captured she will be re-collared and released. The livestock producer was issued a shoot-on-sight permit by IDFG.

On the 2nd, ID WS confirmed that members of the Steel Mountain Pack killed 3 lambs and probably killed 3 more. The 3 "confirmed" animals were on private land along the South for of the Boise River and the 3 "probable" sheep were on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment near Big Trinity Lake. Traps have been set at both locations with the intention of lethally removing up to 4 wolves, one has been taken so far. The Steel Mountain depredation was at least the 4th "confirmed" depredation this year that has been associated with this pack (6/28, 7/15, 7/20, 8/02).

On the 2nd, ID WS investigated a complaint that wolves injured a calf on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment on Danskin Ridge near Mountain Home. WS determined that wolves were probably responsible. Earlier that day, a WS Wildlife Specialist saw two gray adult wolves and three gray pups in the area. This confirmed IDFG's belief that a new pack had formed in the area. Traps have been set (related to an earlier depredation) with the intention of collaring the first wolf captured.

On the 2nd, ID WS investigated a complaint that a pair of wolves had attacked one of the two guard dogs that was with a band of sheep on Sawtooth National Forest land near the Smiley Creek airport. WS was unable find evidence of any wolf attack.

On the 4th, ID WS confirmed that wolves in the Stanley basin, ID killed 1 ewe and that 1 Akbash guard dog was injured. The attack occurred on Challis National Forest land. Traps are being set with the intention of collaring the first wolf captured (if IDFG can get us a collar) and lethally remove one wolf.

On the 4th, ID WS received a report a wolf depredation on a calf in Copper Basin. The investigation is ongoing.

On the 31st, WY WS confirmed 2 calves killed in the Bighorn Mountains east of Ten Sleep, WY. Lethal control is ongoing. Wyoming Ag. personnel, livestock producers, and the county trapper were notified of the presence of wolves in the area. According to EPA labeling restrictions for using M-44 coyote control, all M-44 equipment must be removed within a 5-mile radius of the documented presence of an endangered species. M-44's will be removed for at least 2 weeks and further fresh wolf activity has been documented or until the problem wolf[ves] are removed.

On the 1st, WY WS removed an uncollared adult female wolf in the Upper Green River drainage north of Pinedale, WY. The wolf seen from aircraft as she was traveling amongst cattle and in the same area where previous depredations have occurred and lethal control was already authorized. Control is still ongoing to remove additional depredating wolves from the drainage.

On the 1st, WY WS confirmed that a calf was killed by wolves from the South Fork Pack. Two additional calves were severely injured by wolves. This summer, at least 12 calves have been killed or attacked by the South Fork Pack. Two previous control actions removed 4 wolves, but depredations continued. The livestock producer was issued a shoot-on-site permit and WS has been authorized to remove all remaining pack members.

On the 3rd, WY WS confirmed a second calf (weighing approx. 350 lbs) was killed by wolves west of Daniel, WY. USFWS will conduct an overflight to determine if any radio collared wolves are in the immediate area. If there are no collared wolves, WS will attempt to trap and collar the first wolf captured. USFWS requested WS to remove 2 wolves.

Research

On the 2nd, Sime {MFWP], Bangs [FWS] and Mitchell [UM] met in Helena to discuss the ongoing analysis and preparation of an interagency working group publication on the relationship between wolf group size in winter and breeding pair status and why the logistic regressions comparing wolf monitoring data vary between recovery units.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The 12-Month Finding for the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf was 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, recent biological data, and Wyoming’s current state regulatory framework, the Service determined that a delisting proposal for Wyoming was not warranted at this time. The FR notice is also posted at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Michael Lucid [IDFG] gave a presentation to 30 teachers at a Project WILD workshop on August 1 in McCall.

MFWP welcomes Stefanie Bergh who will be volunteering through August and September with Bradley and Smucker in western Montana.

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