Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/24/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/18-9/24, 1999

 

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges.

The Kelly creek pack was seen with 7 pups. It appears that the Snow Peak pack did not reproduce.

Reproduction was confirmed in 12 wolf packs in central Idaho this year. These 12 packs produced a minimum of 68-72 pups. Two of these groups will not be counted as breeding pairs because they were removed after repeated livestock depredations. The number of breeding pairs is not counted until Dec. 31 each year. If the number of breeding pairs does not decline further Idaho will have 10 breeding pairs for the second year in a row. Trapping has resulted in 22 captures with 16 wolves fitted with new radios.

Trapping in northwestern Montana begins anew this week. A video was taken of 3 wolves feeding on a ewe carcass on private land near Lincoln, MT. None appeared radioed and one was believed to be a pup. The ewe died of natural causes and had been doctored by the herder. While looking at the ewe carcass the herder discovered a dead herding dog about 150 yards away. WS investigated and determined that it had been killed by wolves. While there is no control for dog depredations in NW Montana, WS set traps, with the Service’s appreciation, to try to catch and radio-collar one of them. The traps were pulled after a guard dog was seen chasing a wolf away from the sheep. During trapping the guard dogs had to be tied up at night and WS was concerned this would leave the sheep unprotected and if a dog was caught in a trap it could be killed by wolves. The sheep herd will be shipped out of the area on October 1 and the situation is being closely watched. Thanks to WS and Dave Nelson for close coordination and a job well done. We will attempt to get a radio in this group when the sheep are removed.

Control

Jimenez placed a radio-frequency activated light/siren device in a horse pasture near Grand Teton National Park. Monitoring of the Teton pack indicates that they have been traveling in the direction of this 300 acre private pasture and may have chased the horses.

The pilot locating the Sheep Mountain pack (Yellowstone) saw them in Slip and Slide Creek within 150 yards of a dead cow on the 21st. Its calf was standing next to the carcass. The livestock owner was contacted and WS investigated the next morning. The cow apparently died of natural causes and had been doctored by the rancher. Wolves consumed over half the cow carcass. The calf was fine and was placed with the rest of the herd. The wolves were nearby and howled at the WS specialist and rancher as they investigated the carcass. WS specialist Jim Rost did a great job in coordinating this investigation with the different agencies and involving the rancher- thanks Jim! He met with several local ranchers while in the area and one reported a dead beef animal, one had a limping cow, and another had livestock chased through a fence. All of these incidents were believed by the producers to involve wolves. The Service is very interested to see what level of missing livestock is reported when cattle are brought off the allotments.

Niemeyer traveled to Idaho to help with control of the Jureano pack. In 4 days he managed to catch both pups, which were radio-collared and released, and the adult male, that was killed. The captures were quite amazing considering the pack has been repeatedly trapped and quite wary. WS and Carter deserve a "Well Done". Since the pups were left in their home range with a yearling male the chances are good they will survive. Hopefully this will end the cattle depredations by this pack.

The Stanley Basin pack depredated on both cattle and sheep this summer. On September 10 they killed up to 10 additional sheep. The producer was issued a lethal take permit for wolves seen attacking livestock on his allotment. More agency control is also being discussed. In Idaho this year 5 livestock producers were eligible for lethal take permits for wolves seen attacking livestock on their federal allotments. Only 3 wanted the permits and to date no wolves have been taken under these permits.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

Jimenez participated in a program at the Murie Center in Jackson, WY on the 23rd and 24th. A dozen other people concerned about western lifestyle and the environment attended.

A man who reported to have "accidentally" killed the alpha female wolf in the Jureano pack near Salmon. ID, earlier this summer but cooperated with investigators was fined $1,500.

Boyd prepared a draft article for the Brown Bear Resources Newsletter on the affects of the winter of 1996/97 on wolves in NW Montana.

Bangs did an interview for a radio program with High Country News on the 22nd.

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 besides the regular distribution.

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