Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/01/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/25 to 9/01/2006

 

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 21st, a hiker found the decomposed carcass of a radio collared wolf in the Ruby Creek area of the Madison Valley, MT. The collar and skull were retrieved and turned into the MFWP Bozeman office. It was wolf #213F a disperser from the Nez Perce pack in YNP. The radio collar was no longer functioning.

On the 30th, while doing coyote work in the Gravelly Mts, MT WS darted and recollared wolf SW52F from the Freezeout Pack that was wearing a GPS collar and fitted it with a standard VHF collar. The GPS collar was scheduled to come off in October and this was the only collared individual in the pack. MFWP thanks Chad Hoover [MT WS] for his extra effort.

Isaac Babcock [NPT] surveyed for the Red River, Selway, and O'Hara Point packs near Elk City, ID. Limited or no wolf sign was seen in each of these home ranges.

Jim Holyan [NPT] observed 1 gray pup and 4-5 gray sub/adults with the Lochsa pack. He conducted a capture operation operation and did trap 2 wolves; unfortunately both pulled out of the rubber-jawed traps (one as he was approaching to deliver the immobilizing drugs).

Tyler Hollow and Brandon Muller [NPT] flew in to the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness to document the pack/reproductive status of wolf B148/B181 (these wolves have adjacent frequencies and we have been unable to definitively determine which male wolf this is). They obtained a minimum pup count of 3 grays and observed 1 gray adult (estimate 4 based on howling). This new pack is named Sleepy Hollow. This crew also located the Chamberlain Basin pack at a traditional rendezvous site. They captured and radio-collared a pup, bringing this pack back on the air for the first time since 2001- superb job guys!

Rick Williamson trapped, radio-collared and released 3 wolves in Copper Basin on the 1st. They were 3 of this year's youngsters, about 60 pounds apiece, 2 black females and a gray male. The GPS collars that Rick had hoped to deploy were unfortunately non-functional when he went to tried to turn them on. He called the researcher Dr. Clark to see if he had any ideas on how to make them work, but no luck. Although the Copper Basin pack had been involved in depredations earlier this year, the 45-day control window just recently expired, so this was a non-depredation, opportunistic trapping effort just to put additional collars in this pack to assist with ongoing research.

Paul Frame [IDFG] collared a pup in what is believed to be a new pack near Black Lead Mt. in northern Idaho. Carter Niemeyer [IDFG] attempted to trap a wolf in the Galena pack and gave a trapping seminar to 6 IDFG biologists attending a meeting in the Stanley area. Jason Husseman, Michael Lucid, and Steve Nadeau [IDFG] attended a Fish and Game biologist meeting near Stanley, ID. Steve gave a wolf management update to about 100 biologists that attended.

USFWS field crew confirmed a new wolf pack south of Dubois. Three adult wolves were seen in a rendezvous site where is was apparent that adults and pups had spent considerable time. Another new pack (3-5 wolves) was confirmed north of Dubois near Towgotee Pass.

On the 1st, Jimenez, Woodruff, Colclough [WY FWS] trapped and collared 2 50lb. pups from the Buffalo Pack.

Control

A gray-colored, sub-adult female of the Steel Mountain Pack was captured on August 20th and euthanized. The control action on this pack has been terminated since all wolves authorized for lethal control (n=4) have been removed. No further action will be taken unless additional confirmed predation is documented by ID WS.

The control action on the Jureano Mountain Pack has been temporarily suspended after B-223 was captured, recollared and released on August 20th. Foothold traps were removed. ID WS will resume this control action to remove 1 uncollared wolf if the rancher continues to document wolves in or near his cattle.

On August 22nd, ID WS received a request from an Elk City, ID rancher to examined a live cow for evidence of a wolf attack. The rancher said the cow received the injuries when grazing on a Nez Perce National Forest allotment northwest of Elk City, but he only noticed the injuries when the cow returned to his ranching operation headquarters (home place) located about 10-15 miles away. Approximately 170 cow-calf pairs remain on the allotment. After examining the cow's minor injuries, ID WS confirmed they were caused by a wolf attack. Since there wasn't a confirmed kill, ID WS did not initiate control, but will monitor the situation.

ID WS investigated a report of wolf predation on a calf on August 22nd. The site is on a Challis National Forest grazing allotment near Pass Creek, northwest of Mackey, ID about 25 miles. The carcass of the calf was mostly consumed and there was a heavy rain the previous night. However, there was still enough evidence to call this a probable wolf predation. The rancher has stepped-up monitoring of his livestock and will notify ID WS if additional problems develop. No control action was implemented.

ID WS confirmed wolf predation August 24, to 2 lambs near Squaw Meadows of the Payette National Forest, north of McCall. The incident is in the same general area where wolf predation has occurred for the past several years (Hazard, Partridge Creek and Cook Packs). Telemetry attempts to locate collared wolves were unsuccessful, but the WS specialist conducting the site investigation believes that the Cary Dome Pack or a small unknown group of wolves (2-3) could be responsible. The Carey Dome Pack (7-8 wolves last winter) has only 1 collared wolf (B-257). Several foothold traps were set and IDFG has given the authority to remove 1 uncollared wolf.

On the 28th, ID WS confirmed three different depredations. The first occurred when a wolf attacked and injured a calf on Sage Creek, on BLM land North of Mackay, ID. On the 31st, a WS fixed-winged aircraft crew found B-253 by himself less than two miles from the attack site. Traps have been set with the intention of lethally B-253 and an aerial control was authorized. The second confirmed depredation was a pair of lambs that were killed on Lava Ridge in the Payette National Forest NE of McCall. This is the third confirmed depredation on this site this summer. Traps have been set with the intention of collaring the first wolf captured and lethally removing one wolf. The third confirmed depredation was 25 lambs and 9 ewes killed on Lost Creek in the Payette National Forest, NW of New Meadows, ID. The livestock producer reports that there are still over 100 other sheep that haven’t been located. The Lick Creek Pack are the suspected culprits in this attack. Traps have been set with the intention of lethally removing two un-collared wolves.

Also on the 28th, ID WS discovered a dead cow in Copper Basin with the entire Copper Basin Pack feeding on it. The carcass was examined and it was determined that the cow's death was not predator-related. WS set traps with the intention of placing a GPS collar on one wolf [see monitoring section above].

On the 30th, ID WS investigated a complaint made by a producer along the North Fork of the Big Lost River where wolves were reported to have killed a calf. While there was not enough evidence for confirmation, it was determined to be a "probable" depredation. No collared wolves were detected in the area during a telemetry flight on the 31st.

A fixed-wing ID WS aerial control flight on Sept. 1 in the Sage Creek drainage north of Mackay located B-253 traveling with a larger gray, uncollared wolf. The uncollared wolf was killed and WS recovered its carcass. If there are additional depredations in this area, B-253 might be removed.

On the 26th, Trapp [MFWP] was called by a rancher in the West Boulder area who found a dead 700lb calf. The location of the dead calf was very close to the Baker Mountain pack. Jim Hoover (MT WS) investigated the dead calf, but was unable to confirm if wolves were responsible. There were wolf tracks near the carcass, but bears had also been feeding on it. MFWP dispatched the Boulder range riders to that area (with agreement from the project partners). This particular ranch is not directly involved with the rider project, but the riders have had little activity so far and this gave them an opportunity to prevent a wolf-livestock conflict. The riders reported that Baker Mountain pack was still in the area and consisted of two adults and five pups. The riders will be in the area for the next several days but there have been no conflicts documented.

The 45-day control window authorized in Garfield County of Eastern MT closed on the 31st. No further damage has been reported, no wolf or wolf-like canids were taken, and no sign has been reported recently.

On the 30th WY WS confirmed that a mule was severely injured by wolves near Pinedale, WY on private land. WY WS is also investigating a report of a horse that recently died in the same area.

On the 30th, 3 wolves were removed from the Black Butte Pack by WY WS after 2 calves were killed by wolves. This area has had chronic wolf problems in the last several years. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

On the 30th, WY WS killed a sub-adult wolf in the Upper Green River drainage. At least 18 cattle have been killed by wolves from the Green River Pack. Lethal control is ongoing.

On the 31st, WY WS confirmed that a calf was killed by wolves near Dubois, WY on a public grazing allotment. If possible, an effort will be made to trap and collar a wolf in this pack.

On the 31st, WY WS confirmed 3 more calves were killed by wolves near Farson, WY. At least 16 calves have been killed by wolves in the area this summer. Four wolves have been seen near the depredation sites. On the 31st, WY WS killed an adult male and will continue to attempt to remove the rest of the pack.

On the 31st, WY WS confirmed 5 more calves were killed by wolves in the South Fork Pack and 4 additional calves were severely injured. Several control efforts have failed to stop this pack from killing at least 17 head of livestock this summer. Control is ongoing to remove the remaining pack members.

Research

MFWP veterinarian Mark Atkinson examined and keyed out some 'unidentified eggs' submitted by Kent Laudon [MFWP Kalispell, MT], from wolf NW112M. They were in fact, proglottids of Echinococcus granulosus, the tapeworm that is responsible for Hydatid disease. The tapeworm has a two stage life cycle. The adult tapeworm is attached in the canid gut and sheds eggs that are ingested by ungulates. The eggs develop into embryos that migrate out of the gut to form cysts in the ungulate’s lungs, liver, and other tissues. When the tissue with cysts is ingested by canids, the larval tapeworm develops into an adult tapeworm in the canid digestive tract- starting the life cycle again. Human infection from wild canid scat is almost nonexistent in North America, but anyone routinely handling wolf scat should be careful not to inhale eggs from dried wolf scat and to careful wash after handing wolf scat to avoid ingestion of eggs.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Kerry Rennie, NPT volunteer, returned to Humboldt State University to complete her studies. The Tribe thanks her for her efforts for this field season and wishes her well.

On the 1st, Sime and Deputy Director Smith [MFWP] met with the Montana Compensation Working Group to continue putting together a framework and funding sources that would proactively help decrease the risk of wolf-caused livestock losses and reimburse verified losses.

Ron Jurek the designated contact for wolf issues that might impact CA is retiring and will be replaced by Doug Updike [CDFG]. Ron good luck and thanks for keeping up to speed on NRM wolf recovery issues.

On the 30th, Jimenez [FWS] spoke at The Wildlife Society Annual meeting at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, WY.

On the 29th and 30th, Bangs [FWS] gave presentations on wolf recovery and researhc in the NRM, at a Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project Adaptive Management Oversight Committee Meeting in Pine Top, AZ. About 80 people 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