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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 12/08/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 12/01 to 12/08 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 3rd, a mountain lion hunter, reported to the MFWP warden from Ennis, that there was a black radio collared wolf lying in the middle of a logging road up South Meadow Creek in the Tobacco Root mountains and it was unable to get up. Ryan responded immediately and found the wolf, it had labored breathing and was unable to get up so he euthanized it and transported it to the FWP lab in Bozeman for necropsy. After retrieving the collar it was determined that this was 474M wolf originally collared in YNP then became part of the Biscuit Basin pack in Idaho. MT WS received sightings of a black collared wolf in the Tobacco Roots during the summer but we were unable to figure who it was. The collar was on a "missing" list but the frequency had drifted 6mhz which would make it hard to pick up unless you were aware of the drift.

On the 4th, a coyote trapper in the Ninemile Valley, MT reported a wolf caught in one of his traps. Ted North [MT WS] responded and released collared yearling female NW56, who has been caught twice before by the same trapper (once this year and once last year). Last summer Dave Ausband (UM researcher) got remote camera footage several times of this same wolf investigating scents on buried hair rub pads. Seems to be she has a slow learning curve... Thanks to Matt Stonesifer (MFWP warden) for taking the first call and thanks to Ted for responding quickly.

Michael Lucid, Jason Husseman and Paul Frame [IDFG] have been conducting end of year telemetry flights in an attempt at counting pack members and estimating pack size and breeding pairs. Attempts at estimating pack size from the air require several flights and repeated visuals this time of year to lock down estimates. Many packs split up and some members temporarily disperse or split off only to return to the pack at a later date.

Michael Lucid met with 3 Biologists and 2 Range Cons from the Boise and Sawtooth National Forests to start a working group to improve communication on wolf-livestock issues on the forests.

Jason Husseman is assisting researchers in the Salmon, ID area in aerial netgunning and darting deer and elk in case an opportunity exists for incidental capture and radio collaring of wolves. Last year several wolves were radio collared in Idaho incidental to big game capture efforts.

Control

Correction- Last week’s report of “Cattle were run through fence by wolves on Upper Rock Creek S. of Philipsburg, MT. MT WS set traps.”, should have read- On Friday, Nov. 24th, a landowner reported an injured yearling and 4 other yearlings missing after retrieving their cattle off a Forest Service allotment in the upper Rock Creek drainage, W. of Philipsburg. Note the injured calf will survive and the 4 yearlings were found this week. Wolves had been repeatedly reported in this area throughout the fall but neither of the collared packs in the area (Sapphire and Willow Creek) were found in the vicinity. WS and FWP made a collaring attempt earlier in the fall but were not successful. WS is trying to put a collar out as long as temperatures remain high enough to trap.

The 45 day window ended today on the Donohue control in the Paradise Valley, MT for 1 wolf that had mange. Trapping and scouting efforts by MT WS and MFWP did not turn up any sign of wolves in the area. Landowners were contacted today to notify them the SOS permits are terminated. MFWP asked landowners to keep them informed of wolf activity in the area and that MFWP would do the same.

On the 6th, (MT WS) confirmed that the Battlefield pack killed 1 calf and injured another (which will probably die) in the Big Hole valley, w. of Wisdom. A ranch hand shot at one of the wolves around 4:00 AM that was attacking one of the calves. FWS LE and MFWP investigated the shooting. The wolf appeared to have been injured but could not be found. Tracks of 8-9 wolves were seen in the area and FWP authorized Wildlife Services to remove 4 wolves from this pack. FWP issued a 45 day shoot-on-site permit for up to 4 wolves to the landowner and employees on the ranch. The Battlefield pack killed a calf on this same ranch on Nov. 9th and 2 wolves were removed from the pack shortly thereafter. Earlier generations of this same pack were implicated in multiple depredations in the Big Hole in 2004 and 2005. Last year at this time, the pack followed elk out of the valley into Idaho and away from livestock and we're still hoping they follow the same pattern this year. The collared Battlefield female, SW47F, was found on winter range in Idaho last week but obviously are still traveling back and forth. We will continue to search for the injured wolf and monitor the movements of this pack.

In consultation with the CS&K Tribe, MT Wildlife Services removed a yearling male from the Hewolf Mtn Pack on the 6th. Control efforts are still ongoing in an attempt to remove one more member from this depredating pack.

Research

Smith [NPS] reports lots of apparent social disruption and pack conflict in Yellowstone’s Northern Range. Agate pack is trying to claim the center of the Lamar and has aggressively confronted several neighboring packs. The early winter wolf predation study is ongoing until Dec 15.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 4th, Jimenez [FWS] and WY WS spoke at the Annual Wyoming Stock Growers Association meeting in Casper, WY. On the 7th, Jimenez spoke at a training session for the National Elk Refuge sleigh ride concession employees.

Sime [MFWP] gave a talk to the Gallatin Wildlife Association on Dec. 5 about Montana wolves and the state's wolf management program. About 25 people attended.

An outspoken opponent of U.S. government efforts to reestablish the gray wolf in western states pleaded guilty to trying to poison the federally protected species, a U.S. prosecutor said on Friday Dec 1. The man planted meatballs laced with a poisonous pesticide in Idaho's remote Salmon-Challis National Forest in 2004 with the aim of killing wolves, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Fica. The meatballs instead poisoned a coyote, fox, magpies and three pet dogs, according to court records. He signed a written plea and will be sentenced in early 2007. He faces as much as six months behind bars and five years probation in addition to up to $25,000 in fines. The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

A USFWS motion requesting a 30-day extension for preparation of the administrative record for State of Wyoming et al. vs. United States DOI, et al. [Civil No. 06-CV-245-J] was denied by the United States Wyoming District Court on the 6th. The record deadline remains December 11, 2006.

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


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