Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

 

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/26/98

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Weeks of 2/13-2/26 1998

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in their normal home ranges. Two of the trio near Jackson were seen tied on 2/19. Female of the Chief Joseph 2 pack which uses an area north of Yellowstone Park and raised pups by herself in 97 and 98, has been joined by 2 males. In addition a male form the Rose Creek pack continues to be located with a female of unknown origin near the Blacktail Plateau. There are 11 groups of wolves in the Yellowstone area at this time.

Wolves in central Idaho are using their traditional home ranges and at least 12 groups (10 of which bred last year) are present. Field efforts in Northwestern Montana are being expanded by biologists Tom Meier and Diane Boyd-Heger. During the week of 2/16 they travelled to Eureka, MT and looked for wolf sign with assistance form Forest Service biologists. No fresh sign was found but many contacts were made and the area will be searched again if evidence of wolf activity is found. It is possible that 1999 will be the first year that at least 30 breeding pairs produce pups in the northern Rocky Mountains.

The biggest news story involved the dispersal of a radio-collared yearling female wolf from the Jureano Mountain pack into eastern Oregon. She had been missing from the Jureano pack for several weeks and was located between Baker City and the Idaho border in mid-February. Currently the short-term plans are to monitor her movements to determine if she returns to Idaho or if she begins to settle down. This time of year dispersing wolves are in search of other wolves, it is likely she won't find any in Oregon. It wouldn't be surprising for her to return to an area she knows has wolves (Idaho). Bad weather has made monitoring difficult but efforts will continue to be made to follow her movements closely. Depending upon her movement pattern and location she may be returned to Idaho. If she depredated on livestock she could be moved or killed.

Control

The Pleasant Valley pack attacked livestock again on the 18th. On the 19th, 3 of the remaining 6 pack members were shot. The three remaining wolves (2 radio-collared) will be monitored and if they continue to attack livestock they will be killed. The four members of this pack that were relocated in late January continue to move around the Swan Valley and near the release site at Spotted Bear.

A radio-collared dispersing male yearling wolf just east of Salmon, Idaho attacked and killed a calf on the 18th. The wolf was darted on 2/22 and relocated to the South Fork of the Salmon River the next day. Wildlife Services, Tribe, and Service did a great job in difficult logistic conditions.

Research

Yellowstone National Park will begin its winter wolf predation study in March. The study of wolf predation near Salmon Idaho is going well and nearly 50 lion and wolf kills have been examined this winter. The study is funded by the County Commission, among others.

The Tribe completed a draft study plan for investigating the cause and rate of livestock death on remote Forest Service grazing allotments near Salmon, Idaho.

Information and education and law enforcement

The WY, MT, and ID wolf biologists met in Helena on February 25th to attend a wolf snaring class put on by Wildlife Services specialists. The class was excellent.

Doug Smith gave a wolf presentation at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson on the 16th. He gave several presentations during the week of the 22nd, in Fargo, ND, St Paul, MN, and Washington, D.C.

Mike Jimenez and Brian Cox are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wyoming Wolf Recovery Office. They are stationed in Lander, WY and are still getting their phones and computers set up. Currently they can be reached at (307)332-7789.

The Helena office plans to hire 2 term (up to 4 years) GS-5 biological technicians this spring. Those interested persons must have large carnivore field experience to be competitive. Interested persons should send their name and address to (Wolf Jobs, USFWS, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601) Those people will be notified (late March). Please no phone calls. In additional the Service in Helena will hire at least two seasonal GS-5 biologists for a 6 month appointment.

The Service's 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