Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/01/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/25-10/01, 1999

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges. The Soda Butte pack is near the SE arm of Yellowstone Lake. Two pups were seen from the air in the Gros Ventre pack. Other sightings indicate 4-5 pups.

A hunter from Colorado recently called in with a wolf sighting just outside the northern border of YNP in the Ash Mtn area. Apparently he was setting up his tent in blizzard conditions when his llama, Lester, became nervous and started doing warning calls. The guy looked around and there were at least 7 wolves, adults and pups, in a meadow close to his tent. He watched the wolves for quite awhile before he started getting wet. He said "Lester wasn't happy" and apparently Lester was watchful all night although the wolves had left the immediate area. The hunter figured there were at least 7-12 wolves by the number he had counted and the howling that was going on all around him. This was probably the Rose Crk pack. Although Lester was concerned about the wolves there was no incident. He wanted to know what he could do if the wolves tried to kill Lester and if successful who would pay. I explained that he could chase the wolves away in a noninjurious manner and that Defenders of Wildlife would probably pay for Lester. Although not a proponent of the reintroduction he thought the sight of the wolves in the meadow and their howling was something to behold. Meanwhile, he and Lester are getting ready for another hunting trip later this season.

Meier captured and collared 3 pups from the Little Wolf pack in NW Montana. Two of the pups were recaptures from earlier in August. Trapping for members of this pack will cease this coming weekend. Trapping is also ongoing in the Murphy Lake pack area. The relocated adult male from Pleasant Valley was located 10 miles south of Condon. Two weeks prior he was in the North Fork of the Sun River in the Bob Marshall. The yearling male was not found but had been last located in the Big Prairie area along the South Fork of the Flathead River in the Bob Marshall. The yearling has been located in this vicinity on several locations.

This was the last week for the Nez Perce field crew. They did an excellent job and their efforts are appreciated. Babcock captured and collared a pup in the Twin Peaks pack.

 

Research

John Oakleaf and the University of Idaho have provided the following summary figures regarding the Diamond Moose Calf Mortality Study. As of the end of August, John has documented 9 calf mortalities including 3 wolf kills, 1 coyote kill, and 5 from non-predation causes. Wolf monitoring crews and permittees have found 5 calf carcasses including 2 wolf kills, 2 probably wolf kills, and 1 non-predation cause. Of the 14 total calf mortalities documented 7 (50%) wolf or probable wolf kills. Of the 6 calves that died of non-predation causes, many are suspected of dying from dust pneumonia stemming form the unusually dry summer. John will continue to collect data till the end of the grazing season.

Yellowstone National Park, Grizzly Research Team, and Hornocker Wildlife Institute finished intensive monitoring of radio-collared wolves, grizzly bears, and mountain lions north of Yellowstone National Park. The study looked at the distribution of these large predators as the dominate predator temporarily swarmed into the area (human hunters).

Control

Nothing new to report.

Information and education and law enforcement

US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, Dale Harms, has retired. Dale is primarily recognized for his work on grizzly bear recovery issues but he was also responsible for much of the early success in the wolf recovery program in Montana. He help fund and oversee research by the University of Montana’s Wolf Ecology Project, draft both the 1980 and 1987 Wolf Recovery Plans and the 1988 Interim Wolf Control Plan, and was key to establishing, staffing, and mentoring the Service’s wolf recovery field program. Wolf recovery is where it is today in large part to Dale’s efforts in the early stages. Thanks Dale and Happy Retirement (it is good to see someone make parole).

Brian Cox gave a presentation to about 20 people at a Women’s Club meeting in Lander, WY 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