Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
Mountain-Prairie Region

Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report

From:               Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 03/07/2008

Subject:            Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/29/08 to 3/07/08

WEBSITE ADDRESS- The 2008 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2007] should be posted at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm early next week.  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

Holyan [NPT] completed, rather unsuccessfully, the monitoring flight in the Clearwater Region:  found only 1 of 4 Hemlock Ridge pack wolves, 0 Eagle Mt. pack, and 0 Bimerick Meadows pack; visuals of Earthquake Basin (6 black), Lochsa (4 gray), and Eldorado Ck. (6 gray) packs. 

Control

On March 5th, MT WS investigated and confirmed wolf-killed sheep in the Twodot, MT area. The landowner witnessed a black wolf coming out of the sheep. Five sheep were killed and five wounded of which 2 are not expected to survive. At this point it is unknown if this animal is a lone disperser or not, but no packs have been documented in the area.  Depending on weather, MT WS will attempt to collar and release any wolves captured.  The landowner has been contacted by MFWP and the 10(j) regulations and contact numbers were provided.

On the 5th, WY WS removed a single radio-collared adult male wolf near LaBarge, WY.  Fixed-wing aircraft located the animal visually.  This lone wolf had been involved in numerous livestock depredations over the last 2 years, killing >3 calves, 1 yearling, and 18 sheep.  Turns out its radio-collar was working and was on our missing radio list- so please remember it always pays to scan for missing radio frequencies if ‘new’ wolves show up in unusual places.

On the 7th, WY WS confirmed a calf was killed by wolves from the Washakie Pack on private property near Dubois, WY.  This same producer lost several calves last year on private property and on his grazing allotment.  The USFWS requested WY WS to remove 2 wolves and issued the producer an SOS permit for 2 wolves.

Research

The annual winter survey for northern herd elk in and just north of Yellowstone National Park counted 6,279 elk.  This estimate does not include a  sight-ability factor which normally adds about another 30%.  These data indicate the herd is roughly the same size or possibly slightly lower than last year.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The final NRM gray wolf delisting rule was published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2008 and will take effect in 30 days on March 28, 2008.  The rule can be found at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .  As expected on February 27th, a 60-day notice of intent to litigate was filed by a coalition of 11 environmental and animal rights groups. 

The 2008 modification to the 2005 nonessential experimental population rule became effective on February 27th, 2008.  That rule only applies in the experimental population areas of State’s with approved wolf management plans.  It allows anyone on private or public land to legally shoot a wolf in the act of attacking their stock animals [horses, mules, donkeys, llamas, and goats] or their dog [any breed].  Such incidents must be reported within 24 hours.  In addition, the modification provides a science-based process for the States or Tribes to proposed wolf removal if wolves are demonstrated to be having a major impact on wild ungulate herds. 

Wyoming wolf management plan approved- On the March 3rd, the Service certified that all the conditions necessary for Wyoming’s regulatory framework had been achieved and Wyoming’s State wolf management plan met the Endangered Species Act’s criteria.  Therefore the additional management flexibility for private citizens to protect their private property for wolf depredation as provided by the 2005 nonessential experimental population rule and the 2008 modification to it, now apply throughout all of Wyoming.  Wyoming landowners and grazing permittees can shoot wolves in the act of attacking, biting, chasing, molesting, or harassing their livestock.  Any take of a wolf must be reported within 24 hours, the wolf carcass and area must be left as undisturbed as possible, and evidence of such an attack must be evident. The 2005 rule [70 FR 1286] and 2008 rule [73 FR 4720] are both posted on our website.

Volunteer Positions-  MFWP is seeking volunteers to assist with the Montana Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Program for the 2007 field season.  For more information on the Montana Wolf Program visit www.fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf.  This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience and references, while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Montana.  Montana is home to a wide diversity of large wildlife besides wolves, including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, grizzly bear, and mountain lions.  Application Period:  Now until March 21.  Selections will be made during the following 2 weeks. How to Apply:  1) Cover letter detailing your professional interests and experience as it pertains to these positions, and detail your period of availability  2) Resume 3) List of names and contact information of 3 references. Email this info to: klaudon@mt.gov .

On the 4th, Sime [MFWP] gave a presentation at the Region 1 U.S. Forest Service District Rangers meeting.  She talked about wolf population status, recovery and management in Montana and provided a N. Rockies update.  About 80 people attended.

On the 5 & 6th, Sime [MFWP] attended the Crown of the Continent Manager's Forum, a meeting for land managers and fish/wildlife managers from British Columbia, Alberta, and Montana.  She gave a presentation on the 5th.  About 50 people attended.

Mack [NPT] attended the ID chapter of TWS conference in Boise.  While there he met with core team members of the Univ. of MT/Univ. of ID research (alternative wolf monitoring/census) group, specifically to discuss the genetic sampling component of the project.

Holyan [NPT] and Winkler (USFWS LE) investigated the mortality site of Carey Dome alpha female B309.

During the week of February 25th, Bangs [USFWS] was in Washington, DC giving various briefings about wolf delisting.  On February 29th he gave a presentation to about 35 people at the Univ. of Maine.  On March 4th, he gave a presentation to about 25 people at the Service’s northeast Regional Office in Hadley, MA.

Doug Smith [NPS] gave 3 talks.  On March 5th he gave a presentation to about 50 people with the Yellowstone Association at Mammoth and to a 5th grade class on careers in wildlife management in Gardiner, MT.  On the 8th he talked to another Yellowstone Association group at the Buffalo Ranch.

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

Last updated: March 11, 2010