Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

GRAY WOLF RECOVERY

WEEKLY PROGRESS REPORT

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/26/98

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 6/1-6/26, 1998

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in their normal home ranges. There are 6 wild dens in Yellowstone and 3 of those (Rose and Druid) are believed to have two litters each. A lone female denned north of the Park on National Forest lands and is raising 6 pups. This is the second time she has raised pups by herself. The wolves, including this year's pups, in the Nez Perce pen were released June 22. The female from the pen immediately carried her pups to the nearby active den of a wild female that had been in the pen last year and the combined group is doing well. A 70lb yearling was found dead near Antelope Creek in the Park in early June. Its sibling was killed by a car last year along the western edge of the Park. No foul play is suspected but a routine necropsy is being conducted.

The most recent information indicates there are likely 8 packs/pairs raising pups in central Idaho. Field crews in Idaho, with assistance from USDA Wildlife Services, have collared 9 wolves. Trapping in the Kelly Creek area along the MT/ID border resolved the identity of the unknown male in that pack. Turns out he was a wolf radio-collared as an adult (#9013) in Glacier National Park in 1990. He dispersed into the Kelly Creek area in 1992 and contact with him was lost in 1993. He apparently stayed in that area and finally paired with a reintroduced wolf- that's a long time to wait for a mate (indicating there weren't any other wolves around). They had pups in 1996. He is at least 10 years old now which is fairly old for a wild wolf.

Wolves in at least 6 packs in northwestern Montana are using their traditional areas and rasing pups. Field crews have been trapping and have caught 2 wolves. Rain has made capture efforts difficult. Indications from tracks and sign indicate that there are at least 2-3 packs that are raising pups but don't have radio-collared pack members yet. Hopefully, efforts this summer will allow us to more accurately estimate the number of wolf breeding pairs in northwestern Montana.

 

Minimum Numbers of Wolf Breeding Pairs Successfully Raising Pups Since 1995

          Year              Northwest Montana    Yellowstone          Central Idaho                  Total

1995 8 2 0 10
1996 7 4 3 14
1997 7 7 6 20
1998* 6 6 8 22

*minimum estimate to date

Note: The stabile number of wolf breeding pairs in 1998 is probably a function of the age structure of the reintroduced wolves and that their offspring have not yet become sexually mature. During the upcoming winter of 1998/99, the first large numbers of dispersing wild-born sexually mature wolves born to the reintroduction wolves should begin to disperse and form new packs.

Control

Another calf was killed in the Ninemile Valley the first week of June. Trapping in an attempt to kill another wolf was unsuccessful. After two weeks and because no other calves were lost, control stopped.

The Washakie wolf pack (female and 5 yearlings) killed one calf and may have killed 4 others on the Diamond G Ranch. No pups were produced by the pack this year. The adult female and one yearling were killed and one more yearling will be killed. Wildlife Services and Service field biologists are on site monitoring the wolves and conducting control. If the remaining 3 wolves depredate on livestock again they will all be killed.

The Diamond G Ranch filled a lawsuit requesting all the wolves be removed and that complaint will be heard by Federal District Court in Cheyenne, WY on July 20th.

Research

Nothing new to report.

I&E

Bangs and Smith gave presentations to the Forest Carnivore Workshop hosted by the USDA Forest Service in Yellowstone National Park the first week of June. About 30 people attended including agency employees, outfitters, and ranchers.

A French film crew for France Public TV filmed the trapping operation in NW Montana and interviewed Fontaine and crew members. The focus will be grizzly bear and wolf restoration and management in the western U.S.

MT field members Kris Higgins and John Oakleaf gave a presentation to 15 people at a Dude Ranch west of Kalispell, MT.

The paper "Restoration of gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming" presented at the NW Section of The Wildlife Society's meeting in Spokane, WA this spring, was awarded the TWS Oregon Chapter's 1998 Dimick Award. The annual award is granted for the best overall paper of the general session. Ed Bangs, Joe Fontaine (FWS), Doug Smith (Yellowstone NP), Curt Mack (Nez Perce Tribe), and Carter Niemeyer (Wildlife Services) were co-authors. Congratulations to the Interagency Team!

!!JOBS!! The Service will hire 2 permanent field wolf (GS 11/9) biologists and station them in Lander, Wyoming. In addition, 2 four-year term biologists (GS 9/7) will be hired and stationed in Helena, Montana. The jobs will likely be advertised for 30 days beginning in mid-July. If you or someone you know may be interested in these positions, simply send your name and address and you will be notified about them and how to apply, once the jobs open. Please do not call for further information.

The weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http://www.r6.fws.gov/wolf in addition to the regular distribution.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV