Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/18/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/11 to 8/18/2006

 

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

Last fall a carcass of a wolf-like canid with a collar was reported by hikers in the mountains of western MT. Efforts to retrieve the collar before snowfall were unsuccessful. The collar has now been recovered and determined to be from wolf #117, who was the alpha male of the Spotted Bear pack. Wolf #117 was relocated from the Pleasant Valley Pack to Spotted Bear in December of 1998, spent most of the next year in the Swan Valley, and by December of 1999 returned to Spotted Bear where he joined the newly relocated Bass Creek alpha female and 5 of her pups. This became the Spotted Bear pack. His last radio location was in September of 2003 within the Spotted Bear pack home range. His carcass was discovered in a central portion of the Bob Marshall Wilderness that is about 9 miles outside of what is known to be the Spotted Bear Pack homerange.

On the 13th, Laudon [MFWP], captured and collared 2 wolves in the Spotted Bear Pack. Spotted Bear has been uncollared since this past winter.

On the 15th, Derbridge and Whitehead [MFWP] captured and collared a wolf in the Wolf Prairie Pack. Wolf Prairie has been uncollared since this past winter.

On the 9th the carcass of wolf NW030F was retrieved from the Ashley Lake area west of Kalispell, MT by MFWP. The matter is under investigation.

Ty Smucker and Stefanie Bergh [MFWP] trapped and collared a 74 lb breeding female in the East Fork Bitterroot pack on the 17th, and traps were then pulled. This is a newly documented pack in the upper East Fork and is the first collar in this pack. Ty previously caught and pit tagged 2 pups from this pack in July.

Carter Niemeyer [IDFG] was working with ranchers west of Cascade, ID that are having wolf concerns and problems. Paul Frame attempted to capture and collar a wolf in the uncollared Granddad pack near Dworshak reservoir. Jason Husseman [IDFG] captured a yearling female (B297) and verified 3 pups in a new and previously uncollared pack in the East Pass Creek area. Michael Lucid [IDFG] is attempting to count pups and collar wolves in the Scott Mt. and Big Buck packs.

Jimenez [WY FWS] reported that over the years, several Wyoming packs have become very proficient at chewing off radio collars. This year we've retrieved 4 chewed off collars. Another downloadable GPS collar that was recently put on an adult male wolf, no longer functions. After consulting with the manufacture, we suspect the wolves chewed off the GPS antennae. Recently we located a chewed off radio collar at a WY den site. Much to our surprise, we found another very old, chewed up, non-functioning radio collar at the den and an old wolf skull. The skull was completely cleaned and appeared to have been there for some time. We will refurbish the collar and identify where this wolf had come from.

Control

On the 11th a live calf was reported with minor injuries within the Wolf Prairie home range. Ted North (MT WS) confirmed the injury to be caused by wolves on the14th. MFWP trapping efforts were already in progress during this time and a wolf was captured, collared, and released on site on the 15th [see Monitoring].

On the 15th, ID WS captured and killed two un-collared, black, sub-adult female wolves from the Steel Mt. Pack near the Trinity Lakes area in the Boise National Forest. The skulls of both animals were salvaged and will be used by IDFG for educational programs. Control is ongoing.

On the 15th, an ID WS aircrew spotted one black adult wolf and two pups on a calf carcass on Danskin Ridge NW of Mountain Home, ID. They radioed the location of the carcass to a WS employee on the ground who confirmed it as a wolf kill (less than 24 hrs. old). Traps were set and IDFG authorized control.

On the 14th, WY WS confirmed a third calf killed by the Gooseberry Pack, west of Meeteetse, WY. Two years ago another pack in this area was removed after they chronically killed cattle and a horse. Two young-of-the-year (approx. 50 lbs.) were killed in an attempt to reduced the risk of further depredations.

On the 14th, WY removed an adult male wolf from the South Fork Pack. The pack has killed at least 12 calves belonging to one producer. A shoot-on-site permit was issued to the rancher by FWS and control is ongoing to remove the remaining pack members.

On the 16th, WY WS confirmed 3 calves were attacked and injured by wolves west of Big Piney, WY. WS is currently trying to trap and collar a wolf in the area. Jimenez [WY FWS] requested WS to remove 2 additional wolves.

Research

Dr. Patrick Clark, Rangeland Scientist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Northwest Watershed Research Center is beginning a project that will evaluate interspecific competition and riparian and stream water quality impacts of cattle, elk, and mule deer in response to wolf predation in central Idaho. Interspecific similarities in habitat use and activity will be determined from GPS telemetry data. Diet overlap will be identified based on analysis of plant utilization and fecal samples. Impacts on riparian areas and stream water quality will be assessed at random sites and at sites identified as receiving specific intensity levels of use. Competition and resource impact responses will be compared to changes in local wolf population levels and frequency of wolf-prey encounters over a 10-year minimum project lifetime.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 17th, Trapp [MFWP] met with the Boulder Watershed group in McLeod, MT to discuss the range rider project. The three riders have been working for several months now and reported very little wolf sign and the livestock are behaving normally.

On the 18th, Sime and Deputy Director Smith [MFWP] gave a presentation to the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Foundation about the progress of a working group developing a Montana wolf reimbursement program. They requested the Foundation consider assisting with funding raising efforts by sponsoring a specialty license plate and accepting private donations for wolf conservation and management activities in MT. No decision has been made yet.

Steve Nadeau (IDFG) and Curt Mack (NPT) gave a presentation to Idaho County Commissioners on wolf management and activity in the Grangeville area on Aug. 14. Steve and Curt also met with the IDFG Clearwater staff on Aug. 15 to review statewide management and local coordination on wolf matters between the Tribe and the Region. Steve Nadeau and Todd Grimm (ID WS) gave a presentation on wolf management, depredation issues, and local wolf activity to about 30 Elmore County cattlemen on August 17 in Mountain Home. Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation and Fish and Game staff met with Custer County Commissioners on August 17 in Challis to discuss wolf management, policies, and local wolf activity.

On the 17th, Jimenez [WY FWS] met with Christine Eustis from the USFWS Division of Congressional and Legislative Affairs in Lander, WY and discussed wolves and various projects involving the USFWS Partner's Program. Christine was involved in the ‘Walk a Mile’ program that helps FWS employees spend time & work on western ranches to better understand that lifestyle and concerns.

On the 18th, the national PBS program NOW, aired segment ‘Dances with wolves’ about wolves and ranchers in the Greater Yellowstone Area. It can be viewed and other information obtained at pbs.org .

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at 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