Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

 

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 6/25/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/21-6/30, 1999

 

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges and continue to be localized near their dens or nearby rendezvous sites. The Sheep Mountain pack, just north of Yellowstone National Park has at least 6 pups, and will soon be living with livestock on Forest Service grazing allotments. Monitoring has been increased. On the morning of the 22nd, the Sheep Mountain alpha female (#16) was seen feeding on an already bloated cow carcass on private land. The rancher indicated the cow had been sick and was euthanized by him but appreciated the call.

The male of the Teton pack (formerly a Washakie pack member) was found dead near the highway in Grand Teton National Park on the 20th. LE is investigating the cause of death, which appears vehicle related. Monitoring efforts are continuing.

Boyd-Heger and Meier started trapping efforts for the Murphy Lake pack on the 26th and on the 29th captured the alpha female. They will be staying, at least part of the time at the Lost Trail Refuge in Pleasant Valley.

Control

The male of the Bass Creek pair and 5 pups were captured and moved to an enclosure near McCall, ID after one calf was killed and 2 others missing. The wolves killed other livestock earlier this year. The alpha female was captured on the 27th and was wearing a non-functioning radio collar. She is wolf #57 from the Murphy Lake pack that disappeared in March, 1998. Two additional pups were caught on the 28th and the remaining pup on the 29th. The litter of 8 consisted of 3 males and 5 females. Wildlife Services trappers and Nez Perce biologists did an excellent job in capturing the entire pack. We also greatly appreciate the help and cooperation of the local livestock producers. It was their ingenuity that got the radio collar activated light and siren device into the development stage and their tolerance that allowed it to be field tested. Thanks.

WS confirmed that a calf was killed and 2 more wounded along the East Front, west of Choteau, MT. The relocated Pleasant Valley yearling female was in the area this winter with another wolf. However, her last few locations, including one about the time of the depredation, indicted she was using an area about 6-8 miles to the north. We have increased monitoring of her. If there is evidence she is frequenting the area where the depredations occurred she will be removed. If it appears she has not been using the area where the depredations occurred we will probably have to wait for another depredation to target the responsible wolf. A dead cow on a neighboring ranch was also investigated by WS and it was not killed by a wolf or other predator but was being scavenged by bears.

On the 22nd a MDFWP warden reported a possible wolf depredation on 12 sheep near Drummond, MT. Most had bite marks to the top of the neck and one carcass was partially buried. WS investigated and determined that a mountain lion was responsible for the depredation

The Sheep Mountain pack, of 7 adults and 6 pups, is using a rendezvous site in the middle of a soon-to-be active cattle grazing allotment. The permittee has expressed interest in working with others to help him put his cattle elsewhere or to put on an extra rider, if his business does not suffer. Discussions amongst the Park, Service, permittees, and Defenders of Wildlife are continuing. The pack is also near other cattle allotments. An attempt will be made to try and haze the wolves from the rendezvous site and away from the livestock allotments. This is the first year the pack has been in this area during the summer.

Observations at the Diamond G Ranch indicted 2 gray and 2 black wolves (and possibly another limping black wolf) continue to be occasionally observed but have not concentrated their movements as expected with a den. On the 29th, Wildlife Services confirmed that a 12 day-old colt was killed by wolves. An effort will be made to radio collar one of the pack members and release it on site to determine pack size and if they have produced pups. If there are additional depredations the wolves will be removed.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Oral arguments before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO have been rescheduled for July 29 at 1:00PM.

Jimenez gave a presentation to about 40 biologists at the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society 70 miles south of Rock Springs, WY on the 23rd. On the night of the 25th Jimenez gave a talk to a dozen or so guests of the Turner TripleX Ranch in Jackson, WY.

Nez Perce Tribal wolf biologists gave a program to the Idaho Department of Land in Stanley, ID and also sponsored a livestock producers meeting in Stanley.

Fontaine was on leave the week of the 21st, Meier, and Niemeyer were burning off some comp. time early in the week. Bangs will be gone from June 25 through July 9th, giving a paper at the International Wildlife Society Conf. in Budapest, Hungary and using some vacation time. Fontaine will be acting, call him with any issues at 406-449-5225 x 206.

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