Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From:  Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/5/98

Subject:  Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 4/27-5/8, 1998

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in the normal home ranges. There are 6 wild dens in Yellowstone and 2 of those (Rose and Druid) are believed to have two litters. There are 2 more females that still could den. The female in the Nez Perce pen had 5 pups about May 1. That group will be released about June 1. Only 5 of the 13 breeding pairs in central Idaho had denned, but others may still den. The alpha pair of the Landmark pack (7 wolves that used a remote Wilderness area) are dead. The male's signal was in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and the female (who was lactating) was found dead on a trail. It is assumed that any newborn pups died. A law enforcement investigation is being conducted. The Bear Valley trio moved north and though the Landmark pack's territory. Wolves in northwestern Montana are using their traditional areas. Field crews have begun to search for trapping areas this week.

Control

The Service's Interim Wolf Control Plan for the Northern Rocky Mountains is undergoing formal peer and public review. A Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register on April 23, 1998. The review only addresses wolves listed as endangered in northwestern Montana and northern Idaho. The document summarizes wolf control efforts in northwestern Montana from 1987 through 1997 and recommends slight modifications. Recommendations include scientific investigation on techniques to better resolve conflicts, consistent and broader application of control procedures, far fewer relocations of problem wolves, more monitoring, and better record keeping. Anyone interested in providing comments can request a copy of the 32 page document by leaving their name and address with the Service's Helena field office (406)449-5225 X202. Comments must be received by May 26, 1998.

Research

Nothing new to report.

I&E

The Annual Wolf Working Group Meeting was held April 28-30th at Chico Hot Springs, Emigrant, MT. The meeting was attended by about 80 people and received generally good reviews for the diversity of viewpoints and overview of wolf restoration and management programs from throughout North America. USDA Wildlife Services wolf specialist Carter Niemeyer was selected by his peers as the Conference's Alpha Award recipient for 1997. Congratulations Carter!! the recognition was well deserved.

The May issue of National Geographic World, a children's magazine, has a great story on wolves.

The May issue of International Wolf has an article by Bangs on wolves of Mongolia and another article by Bangs and Niemeyer on wolf control.

A meeting was held in Jackson, Wyoming on April 29 with ranchers within the territory of the Washakie pack north of Dubois, WY. The Service's Director wanted to hear the concerns of local livestock producers first hand. Partly as a result of this meeting there will be increased monitoring of the wolves, wolf specialist Niemeyer visited the area (concluding that the Washakie pack did kill the 3 dogs), and that a way to modify the special rules will be investigated to see if administrative or regulatory changes can be made to address the concerns that were expressed. Also- !!JOBS!! Attempts to hire 2 field wolf biologists and station them in Wyoming are being accelerated! If you or someone you know may be interested in these positions please contact Ed Bangs. These positions will likely be filled at the GS-9 and GS-11 level. Recruitment will be done over the next several months and may include experienced wolf or large carnivore biologists in or outside of Government Service.

9th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS RULING- The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling (4/29/1998)on an appeal by man who was convicted of illegally killed a wolf north of Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The appeal was about very similar issues to the ones raised by the Farm Bureau and Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and Audubon and were ruled on by Judge Downes in Wyoming. The appeals court opinion stated "We hold that the regulations protecting the gray wolf experimental population are valid" and "We do not agree with the Wyoming District Court's analysis". The court affirmed the man's conviction. The appeal of the December 1997 Wyoming opinion will still be heard by the 10th Circuit but the recent appeals decision is great news.

 

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 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV