Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/08/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/02-08, 1999

 

Monitoring

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

In NW Montana, we had an excellent summer field season. Diane Boyd-Heger and Tom Meier did a great job. A special thanks to volunteers Keri Rodgers, Ed Heger, and Paul Frame for their assistance. This summer there were 31 captures that resulted in collaring 17 wolves, with no mortalities. Fifteen of those 17 are still on the air which makes for 26 radio-collared wolves being monitored in NW Montana. That’s about one third of the estimated population. Congratulations to everyone for a fine job.

WS helped Service biologists look for wolves in the Lincoln, MT area. A couple of wolves that appeared to have at least one pup with them killed a sheep herding dog in that area several weeks ago. If any recent activity is located trapping and radio-collaring will be attempted.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Control

Jimenez and Cox met with Dr. John Shivik (USDA Wildlife Services) near Jackson to test a prototype radio signal activated siren device. Speaker attachments can reach way out there and "music" included helicopters, gunshots, human activity and vehicles, and hopefully Star-Spangled Banner by J. Hendricks. The device worked great but John commented that this type of device wouldn’t work except in confined areas, much smaller than the several hundred acre horse pasture they were evaluating. The rancher was provided a receiver after the wolf first reportedly chased horses and hasn’t heard any wolves or had any more problems.

The Sheep Mountain pack killed a calf on Sunday afternoon and the depredation was confirmed on Monday by WS. The rancher did all the right things and quickly reported the carcass. On Wednesday the 6th, WS removed 3 uncollared pack members, as instructed by the Service. Several wolves were jumped off the calf carcass. After the helicopter arrived and a tough chase through timber, 3 were killed. Unfortunately the 2 females and male were all young of the year. Hopefully disturbing the pack and removing some of the food demands and the killing rate by adults may resolve the problem. This time of year pups are approaching 70lbs and are easily confused with adults. However, livestock have been reportedly chased since then and additional control of an adult male that was with the depredating group may be implemented. The alpha female and other pack members were about 25 miles away when the control action was conducted.

A rancher reported that a black wolf had about 25 of his horses (mixed yearlings and adults) backed up against a cliff face and that some friends ran the wolf off. This occurred near Dailey Lake, in the Sheep Mountain pack territory and no horses were injured. This incident happened about 3 hours after the 3 wolves were shot in the Sheep Mountain pack.

The rancher who received permit to shoot depredating wolves on his ranch in Wyoming has reportedly not seen any wolves on ranch property or found any suspected wolf-caused depredations.

Information and education and law enforcement

Fontaine and Dave Nelson (WS) gave presentations to about 20 advanced science students at Capital High School this week.

Jimenez and Cox spent several days contacting hunters in the Dubois and Cody areas to ask for their assistance to report wolf sightings and to remind them to "be sure of their target" before shooting any coyotes. Grand Teton National Park provided wolf information to all hunters that had permits to assist the Park with the elk reduction program.

Wyoming Special agents continue to travel the back-country south and east of Yellowstone National Park, contacting guides and hunters about bear and wolf issues.

Two Dutch biologists, Marcel Huijer and Edgar van der Grift visited Helena and Yellowstone to learn about the wolf program and large predator management. Large predators such as wolves and brown bears were eliminated from Holland about 400-500 years ago.

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