Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/13/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/06 to 10/13 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

Jason Husseman [IDFG] worked with livestock producers in the Salmon area investigating reports of wolves interacting with livestock and people. Michael Lucid [IDFG] investigated reports of wolves in new areas east of Boise.

Control

MT WS removed three wolves out of the Wedge pack in SW MT on the 11th by helicopter gunning. One collared pup (SW129F), one uncollared pup (SW134) and one uncollared adult (SW133). Five wolves were seen but the collared male SW008M wasn't heard. Control is over unless there are additional depredations. Any SOS permits to landowners will be cancelled.

On the 6th, ID WS investigated a complaint that wolves had killed 3 ewes on Vat Creek in the SNRA. There was not enough evidence to confirm wolf predation, but it was probable. No action is being taken because sheep are being removed from the area.

On the 7th, ID WS confirmed that wolves killed a ewe on BLM land SE of Kilgore in eastern Idaho. There are 1-2 guard dogs that appeared to have been injured, but they could not be examined to see if they had been bitten by wolves. This depredation is only a few miles from a confirmed depredation that occurred last month where 6 ewes were killed and 6 were injured. The Bishop Mountain Pack is the suspected group of wolves responsible for both depredations. ID WS has resumed the previous control action to remove up to two un-collared wolves.

On the 8th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the Moyer Basin Pack killed one heifer and injured another on Panther Creek, near the Salmon River. IDFG authorized WS to remove up to two un-collared wolves. The calves have been taken off this allotment, but the cows will remain until early-mid - November. On the 12th, ID WS removed two adult male wolves (1 black, 1 gray) from the allotment. The wolf carcasses were retrieved and delivered to IDFG. These wolves were from the Moyer Basin Pack. Dr. Dave Carrier from the University of Utah requested carcasses to do some research on the musculature and he was referred to IDFG. On the 11th, ID WS confirmed another different heifer than the first wounded one had been injured by wolves at the same spot and it has since died.

On the 11th, ID WS confirmed that wolves killed 27 ewes on a Payette National Forest grazing allotment near McCall, ID and another 32 are missing. This depredation occurred between Bear Basin and Hartley Meadows where another depredation occurred last week. Traps were set and WS is attempting to lethally remove two un-collared wolves. WS may collar and release a wolf to facilitate those removals. The sheep are leaving the Forest allotments and they should be off by Oct 15th. On, the 12th, a gray, sub-adult, female wolf was collared and released (B-315). Control efforts are ongoing.

On the 11th, ID WS investigated a complaint by a producer in the Boise National Forest near Idaho City, that a wolf had attacked and injured a guard dog. WS examined the dog and could not conclude that the dog's injuries were caused by a wolf.

On the 11th, ID WS investigated a complaint by a producer in the Nez Perce National Forest near White Bird, ID, that wolves had killed a calf. WS examined the carcass and found nothing to indicate that the calf had been killed by wolves. It had, however, been fed upon by a bear.

On the 13th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the Carey Dome pack killed 21 ewes. Another 84 are reported missing. This depredation occurred on a Payette National Forest Grazing Allotment on Victor Creek. Control actions will be implemented ASAP.

Research

On Sept. 27th, Dr. Doug Smith [Yellowstone NP] gave a presentation to +150 people at the annual meeting of The Wildlife Society in Anchorage, Alaska. Wolf management issues are still controversial and polarized in Alaska, so anyone who expects that all the controversy will quickly go away after the recovered NRM wolf population is removed from federal protection might be setting themselves up to be disappointed.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Larry Handegard, State Director for the USDA's Wildlife Services (WS) Program in Montana retired recently (Sept 29) after a 32.5 year federal career with WS in AZ, CA, ND, and MT. He spent the last 16.5 years as State Director in MT. We sincerely thank him for his efforts and assistance toward wolf recovery and management and we wish him the very best. It always gives the rest of us great hope to see one of our own finally make parole. John Steuber was selected as the new State Director for USDA's WS Program in Montana effective Sept 18. Steuber has worked for various Federal agencies including the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and BLM. He has spent the last 20 years with USDA WS in TX, WA, CA, and OK. His most recent position before transferring up to MT was State Director for USDA WS in Oklahoma where he worked for the past 7.5 years. Welcome aboard John.

On the 9th, Carter Niemeyer [WS/FWS retired & IDFG seasonal] and his wife Jenny left for France for a month. They will be helping the French Government trap and radio-collar up to 3 wolves in a French National Park. Wolves haven’t been trapped in France in recent history [they only recently recolonized France from natural dispersal from Italy] but if anyone can pull it off it will be the Niemeyer’s. I can hardly wait to see Carter in a beret and hear all the stories.

On the 10th,Wyoming initiated new litigation in Wyoming Federal District Court against the USFWS over not approving the Wyoming state law and Wyoming wolf management plan and not amending the experimental population rule as they requested. The WY news release was covered by local & national media.

Smith [NPS] went on a 3-day horseback trip with the Gallatin National Forest District Ranger and District Biologist this week to visit guide/outfitters hunting camps north of Yellowstone Park to help discuss the status of wolves and the possible implications of wolf predation on ungulates.

You can’t help but shake your head & smile- From the Mt. Express, Ketchum, ID 10/6- Two U.S. Forest Service employees from Utah were evacuated by helicopter from the Sawtooth Wilderness in late September after encountering a pack of howling wolves about five miles east of Graham in the Johnson Creek drainage in the North Fork of the Boise River drainage. According to a spokesman for the Sawtooth National Forest, the incident occurred Sept. 23 at about 10 a.m. after the employees had observed wolves chasing a bull elk across a meadow. "A little while later they started hearing wolves howling all around them, and they called on their radio or satellite phone and asked their supervisor if they could leave the area." The employees were from the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Ogden, UT and were conducting forest inventory work. They began hiking back to their camp a couple miles away but claimed the howls persisted. No matter which way they went they said they could hear the wolves. They admitted they were very scared and wanted to get out of the area. Shortly thereafter the employees' supervisor contacted the Sawtooth National Forest and asked for a helicopter to immediately retrieve them. Their camp was picked up later. The wolves never made any aggressive or threatening moves toward the pair. "It was the sound of the howls that scared them," the spokesperson said. They're not part of the regular FS workforce and so they hadn't had training about wolves. Steve Nadeau, the state's wolf program supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, was shocked that wolf howls would elicit a helicopter evacuation in a wilderness area. "Holy moly—sounds to me like someone's read too many of Grimm's fairy tales," Nadeau said. "I'm flabbergasted that (the Forest Service) would go to that extent over wolves howling in the woods because wolves howl in the woods all the time. That's how they communicate." [Bangs’- personal comment- While this incident is fairly humorous to those of us who have spent time around wild wolves- that fear was very real to those 2 people. This type of over-reaction to what should have been a very positive and memorable outdoor experience indicates there is an amazing amount of fact-based outreach that’s still needed, even within our own natural resource agencies.]

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] gave a presentation on wolf management to about 40 people at the north Idaho Cattleman’s Association on Oct. 7.

IDFG and FWS officers in the Clearwater Region are investigating the deaths of 2 wolves, one in the Red River area and one in the lower Selway.

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