Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/27/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/23/2006 to 10/27/2006



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 information.

Monitoring

Over the weekend of October 20-22, two wolves were incidentally caught by a coyote trapper in the Ninemile territory west of Missoula. A colored black female was caught on the 20th and an uncollared male was caught on the 22nd. MFWP wardens Schott and Stonesifer responded and released the wolves. MFWP thanks the trapper for reporting the incident.

MFWP wolf specialists have completed routine monitoring flights. A few individual collars are missing, but packs are in their normal territories. In recent weeks, MFWP Laudon has picked up "missing" collared wolves in new areas and documented some apparent dispersal events. Great effort!

Control

On the 19th, MT WS confirmed a wolf killed calf on private property at the south end of the Paradise Valley in SW MT. No action was taken as the landowner (who leases grass to the livestock owner) did not want agency activity on the property due to the upcoming rifle hunts.

Also on the 19th, MT WS and MFWP received a report SW of Big Timber of an injured horse that reportedly had been chased by a wolf. WS investigated and verified wolf tracks in the area, but could not verify that the horses had been chased into the cattle guard. There was no evidence of bite marks or other physical contact by wolves. Trapp scouted the area for other wolf activity and talked with the ranch manager about the 10j regulations.

On 10/21-22, MT WS confirmed 2 dead ewes SE of Dillon MT. It is unknown what wolves were involved, but the attack occurred in the morning after sheep were let out of nightpens. Because trapping is not feasible during hunting season, MT WS and MFWP will wait until there are better conditions to snow track and possibly dart a wolf after hunting season. The producer uses nightpens and other prevention tools and will report back if there is addition wolf activity near his sheep.

On the 20th, a livestock producer disrupted a wolf attack on a calf on private land south of Livingston, MT. MT WS and MFWP Asher responded on the 21st and investigated and confirmed that the calf had died of injuries due to the attack. This pair occupies primarily private land and one of the wolves has mange and an obvious rope tail. MT WS was authorized to remove both wolves and a shoot on sight permit was issued to the landowner. MT WS shot two wolves during a control action on October 25. One wolf was not retrieved due to high winds and snow. Efforts to find this un-collared wolf were made on October 26 but tracks were lost on a south facing slope. Although it is felt this animal has been mortally wounded, a second SOS permit w as issued to a neighboring landowner. We consider the control “ongoing” and will make efforts to retrieve the carcass.

On the 23rd, MT WS confirmed that wolves had severely injured a calf west of Kalispell. The incident occurred in an area traveled by up to three different packs or pairs, two of which are not collared. It is uncertain which wolf/wolves are responsible for the damage. Cattle are being removed from the range for the season, thereby eliminating risk of further damage. Trapping radio-collared wolves is not practical this time of year with the increased human activity during the hunting season. Biologists will resume trapping operations in this and other areas throughout northwest Montana beginning in the spring (2007).

On the 20th, ID WS confirmed that wolves killed a calf on private land about 8 miles NE of Gilmore Summit. The producer has been seeing 6 wolves off and on for most of the summer and fall. There are several thousand cattle in this area of the Lemhi Valley. IDFG indicated that a collared wolf from Montana (SW-64) might, or might not, have joined this group of wolves. IDFG gave WS approval to take two wolves from the area. On the 21st, WS aircrews flew this area, as well as the Morgan Creek area, with no success. They did find SW-64 up Hawley Creek, about 8 miles NE of the depredation site, and he was alone. Since multiple wolves were involved in this depredation, we are going to assume that SW-64 was not involved. Control efforts will continue this week.

On the 24th, an ID WS f/w aircrew shot and killed two un-collared, gray wolves from the Morgan Creek Pack, closing the control action for the time being. The aircrew then flew to the Leadore area where they were unsuccessful in locating the wolves that killed the calf 4 days earlier. They did find SW-64 about 4 miles into Montana and it was with another wolf.

On the 27th, Wyoming WS removed 1 adult male wolf as it was feeding on a dead cow in the Prospect Mountain near Farson, WY. WS searched for other wolves from the ground and from the air, but found no other wolves in the area. The Prospect Mountain Pack has killed numerous cattle this summer and control has been ongoing.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement
Holyan (NPT) conducted monitoring flights on the 18th and 21st from McCall. B263 (Carey Dome pack) was detected on mortality. Scott Winkler, USFWS Law Enforcement, investigated the scene on the 23rd and a case has been opened.

North Star Aviation pilot Steve Wolters conducted a monitoring flight on the 23rd. He detected the recently radio-collared Fishhook pack pup, B293, on mortality mode. The scene was investigated by IDFG's Dave Spicer and Jerry Hugo on 10/25; in coordination with USFWS Law Enforcement a case has been opened. Otherwise nothing too out of the ordinary for the 28 wolves (out of 29) located.

Scott Kabasa, USFWS Law Enforcement, investigated the remains of a radio-collared wolf reported by Doug Hansen (Wildlife Services). The identity of the wolf has yet to be determined as the collar is expired and the serial number was unreadable, but what evidence is present suggests it could be female B45. It was estimated that the wolf had been dead for at least 1 year.

A dead wolf was reported south of Dillon, MT and was recovered by agency personnel on the 16th. Cause of death is under law enforcement investigation.

On the 19th and 20th, MFWP Sime and Trapp attended the Montana Teachers' Convention in Billings and Miles City. They staffed the agency booth and talked with hundreds of passers by about wolves and other Montana wildlife. They each gave presentations to a total of about 100 teachers about wolves and their management in Montana. MFWP is in the process of developing resources for educators and working closely with Montana teachers and others.

On the 23rd, MFWP Sime visited with 2 advanced biology classes at a Helena area high school about wolf management. About 40 students attended.

All six of the MFWP wolf team will be spending a few days at hunter check stations over the next few weeks. This is a great opportunity to exchange information with hunters.

On the 21st, Bangs gave a talk at the annual Wolf Haven banquet in Olympia, WA. About 40 people attended.

On the 24th, Lucid (IDFG) gave a wolf presentation to 30 members of the Audubon society in Boise.

Research
This spring, a collared wolf (#481M) that had dispersed from YNP was trapped and re-collared with a down-loadable GPS Collar near Jackson, WY. The GPS collar failed a week after the wolf was re-collared and we were not able to download any information about the wolf’s movements. The collar dropped off this fall as scheduled, and was sent to Telonics in an attempt to retrieve any data. The stored location data revealed that the wolf had traveled from Jackson, WY, back to YNP, wandered about his natal pack’s home range and then raveled back to the Jackson area.

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