Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

 

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/12/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 11/05-11/12, 1999

Monitoring

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

The Sheep Mountain pack remains split. The female was still by herself on the east side of the pack’s territory, while radio-collared male and at least another gray wolf were near Windy Pass on the far western side of the pack’s territory. The good news is both groups of wolves were high in the mountains far from the Paradise Valley where recent depredations occurred and no new problems have been reported.

The Teton female was located with her 5 black pups near Towgotee pass, apparently headed back toward Teton Park- because no adult male is in the pack it will likely not count as a breeding pair in 1999. The Gros Ventre pack was seen in a large meadow and it consists of 2 dark colored pups, a light gray adult ad 2 black adults- because it has 2 pups it will likely count as a breeding pair on December 31 when the determination of breeding pairs is made. It appears that there will be 9 breeding pairs counted in the Yellowstone recovery area in 1999.

Information from monitoring flights and reports from the public indicate the potential for two new breeding pairs. Dispersing Stanley Basin female wolf B38 and suspected mate appear to have settled in the high rugged country of the headwaters of Big Creek, adjacent to the Chamberlain Basin pack to the northeast and Thunder Mountain pack to the southeast. Dispersing Jureano female wolf B45 has settled in the Secesh Summit area north of McCall, Idaho. We suspect she has been associating with a group of 2-4 other wolves reported in the area. Tribal biologists will be monitoring these wolves closely through the winter and spring months to assess pair bonding and reproduction. Relocated Stanley Basin male wolf B68 was last located with the Twin Peaks pack. Project personnel will monitor this wolf to determine if B68 continues to associate with the Twin Peaks pack. Dispersing Jureano female wolf B46 was last located back in her natal pack's territory. The Jureano pack currently consists of one subadult and two pups. B46's movements will be monitored with interest through the winter months. Newly collared Twin Peaks pack pup B82 slipped its collar in early November. Newly collared Selway pack pup B70 was found dead in early November. Her death is under investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Law Enforcement. Her carcass was retrieved and shipped to the National Forensics Lab in Ashland, Oregon for necropsy.

Lone wolf B-64-M continues to use habitats along the Idaho side of the Bitterroot Mountains. He was last located in the lower Brushy Fork drainage less than a mile from the Big Hole pack.

Lone wolf B-65-F, relocated from the White Cloud pack during a control action this spring, was last located in the Elk Summit Area during June. She has not been located since last July. A weak radio signal transmitted by her radio collar is hampering efforts to track this wolf.

Dispersing subadult male wolves B40 and B47 continue to travel together in the northwestern Sawtooth Valley area northwest of Stanley, ID. They were last located in the lower Marsh Creek drainage.

B-68-M was relocated from the Stanley Basin pack, in response to livestock depredation earlier this summer, to the Selway River drainage. He was located southwest of Darby Montana for several weeks before radio contact was lost in late summer. He was relocated during the end of October with the Twin Peaks pack.

Wolves will increasingly begin to disperse this winter and we anticipate an increase in new wolf pack formation. Please report wolf sightings so that we can focus aircraft searches or track surveys this winter.

 

Research

A new book "Carnivores in Ecosystems: the Yellowstone Experience" 429 pages, edited by Tim Clark, Peyton Curlee, Steve Minta, and Peter Kareiva was just published by Yale University Press. The book has articles on Yellowstone wolves (by Doug Smith, W. Brewster and E. Bangs) as well as papers on a host of other carnivores in the Yellowstone area.

The Diamond Moose Calf Mortality Study is winding down its first field season. Graduate student John Oakleaf will be heading to the University of Idaho campus to analyze the information collected this summer and prepare the year end report. The second year of the study will be initiated next spring.

 

Control

On the 8th a cow was reportedly attacked and killed, possibly by wolves, near Polson, MT. WS investigated and found the calf was killed by a predator but wounds were not typical of wolves. Dog tracks were found on site. Two large Rotwieller dogs were located at the site the next morning. They were captured and held for the local animal control officer.

The Service and Idaho Wildlife Services are currently attempting to capture a "wolf like canid", of unknown origin and status, responsible for killing one guard dog pup and up to 8 ewes and injuring 2 adult guard dogs and 3 ewes. The depredations have occurred on leased private lands near Soda Springs, Idaho. It is not known whether the canid is a wolf or a wolf dog hybrid. Lethal control has been authorized.

 

Information and education and law enforcement

Several people from the Jackson Wyoming area asked about donating to help monitor wolves or fund research projects. An account was set up with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 1994 to accept and distribute private funds. Donations for wolf monitoring, research, or education can be send to this fund with instructions how the money should be used. For instance, funding donated for monitoring wolves near Jackson, WY will only be used for purchasing radio-collars, telemetry receivers, or paying for monitoring flights to monitor the Teton, Gros Ventre, or any other new packs that live near the town of Jackson, WY. Donations to reduce wolf-livestock conflict could be used to purchase light or siren scaring devices, or support other noninjurious methods of preventing livestock or pet damage by wolves. People who provide donations will be informed how and when their contribution was used. Interested people should send donations to: Yellowstone Wolf Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 1120 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, with instructions how you would like your contribution to be used. This form of additional funding can greatly contribute to obtaining more accurate information about wolves than the recovery program can normally afford to conduct. Monitoring information can help reduce the chance for conflict between people and wolves- often saving the life of wolves.

Diane Boyd will give a presentation at the Glacier Institute in Whitefish on the 13th to discuss wolves in Glacier National Park and the affect of the severe winter of 1996/97 on wolf numbers throughout northwestern Montana. Diane also had an article published in the Fall edition of Silvertip Tracks, a publication of the Brown Bear Resources, Inc. on the same topic.

Apparently, while searching for information on Yellowstone wolves a professor came across a web site for NOVA television featuring information about wolves and the Yellowstone recovery program and an interview with Bangs. Access was ?

The Service (Fontaine) will hold 6:30PM meetings in Kalispell (MT FW&P) on the 16th, and Condon (Community Center) on the 18th to discuss the status of wolf recovery and a recent revision of the Service’s Wolf Control Plan that directs wolf management to reduce livestock conflicts in northwestern Montana. The planned relocation of the Bass Creek female (originally from NW MT) and her 5 pups that have been held in captivity in central Idaho since June, back into northwestern Montana will also be discussed.

Idaho Project personnel participated in the Idaho State Legislative Wolf Oversight Committee meeting in Boise, Idaho. They also participated in a cooperators meeting to coordinate field activities for the upcoming winter season of the wolf and cougar predation studies in Big Creek and Panther Creek. 

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at besides the regular distribution.

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