Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/12/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 6/30-7/12, 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 established a rendezvous site on private pasture land just north of Yellowstone National Park and in proximity to a Forest Service grazing allotment. The Service and Park biologists, in cooperation with the livestock producers, are attempting to move the wolves away from the livestock to a new rendezvous site and hopefully reduce the potential for conflict. The initial hazing has moved the wolves about a mile from the private land but closer to the grazing allotment. Money was obtained from Defenders of Wildlife and film maker Bob Landis to hire 2 wranglers to watch both herds and keep the wolves away. This will also allow more time to haze the wolves. Monitoring has also been increased.

A gray radio collared wolf was recently observed in the Sunlight Basin area. It's possible that it's wolf #166 from the Rose Crk pack that was missing on the last flight.

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. Necropsy results showed that the wolf had been struck and killed by a vehicle.

Meier, with the help of several volunteers, is still trapping in the Murphy Lake area. On the 1st, he caught a 33 pound pup that he tagged and released unharmed. The Pleasant Valley adult male and 2 year-old wolf that were relocated to Spotted Bear were located in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The adult male was near Gates Park on the Sun River and the 2 year-old was near Big Prairie on the South Fork of the Flathead River. The male pup was last located just west of McDonald Pass near Helena. On June 30, Glacier National Park biologists retrieved the carcass of wolf #8756. Wolf #8756 was a 12 year-old female and the former alpha of the South Camas pack. It appears that she died of old age. She will be sent to the Bozeman Lab for necropsy..

Control

WS confirmed that the Pleasant Valley female and 2 other wolves killed 15 sheep near Pendroy, Mt. on July 7. This is the second time this group has been involved in a livestock depredation. They are ranging from Gibson Reservoir to the Boone and Crockett Ranch and over to Bynum Reservoir. This makes it extremely difficult to monitor them or do any type of aversive conditioning. The Service has authorized WS to kill all 3 wolves.

Jimenez is trying to determine the movements and location of the Washakie pack to begin trapping operations to radio tag the pack. This has been difficult due to the remoteness and lack of sign. There have been no additional depredations.

One of three offending wolves was captured before depredations ceased near Stanley, Idaho.

That wolf was moved to the back country and control was stopped.

Wolf B-55 has been implicated in a series of depredations and the Service authorized Wildlife Services to use lethal means of control on B-55. However, B-55 apparently returned to the pack. The sheep herd where the depredations occurred is being moved to a new area as scheduled and control efforts have ceased.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

The Bass Creek alpha male was accidentally killed on June 28 while being restrained to doctor a trap related injury. A "catch pole", used to restrain the male, jammed and wouldn't release. A catch pole is a long metal pole with a cable running through it and a loop on the end. Catch poles are used by biologists, zoo keepers, animal wardens and other animal handlers to subdue animals for a variety of reasons. The loop is placed around the neck of the animal and pulled tight to control the animal's movements. The loop is loosened by pulling out on a knob at the end of the pole. In this incident the knob would not release the loop. The biologists scrambled to find something to cut the cable but by the time they found a tool to do the job, the male had quit breathing. They removed the loop and administered CPR but it didn't work. We try to reduce the possibility of an animal being injured or dying when handled but there are always the unforeseen circumstances. All catch poles are being cleaned and checked or refurbished to ensure this doesn't happen again. We will also have a pair of bolt cutters handy when using a catch pole in case it does jam.

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

Boyd-Heger and Bangs have been on vacation for the past 2 weeks.

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