Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/19/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 11/13-11/19, 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 the radio-collared male and at least 2 other wolves were near Nez Perce inside of Yellowstone Park. No new problems have been reported.

The Teton female was located at the north end of Grand Teton, once when a couple of her pups were reported near the old rendezvous site. By week’s end her and all pups were suspected of being in the north end of Grand Teton.

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 our track surveys this winter.

Research

The Yellowstone National Park 30-day intensive winter wolf predation study began on November 15th. The study attempts daily monitoring of wolf packs in the northern Yellowstone area from both the ground and from the air. All ungulates killed by wolves are recorded and information on sex, age, and condition of those kills is used to determine the potential affect on wolf predation on the northern range elk herd.

Control

A wolf-like canid(s) reportedly killed several sheep and a guard dog near Soda Springs in southeastern Idaho. WS is attempting to remove the animal.

Fontaine, Boy, and Meier built a temporary pen (electric fence) on Forest Service land near the Spotted Bear ranger station. The former Bass Creek female and her 5 pups will be released at this site which is between the Swan Valley and Bob Marshall Wilderness complex in NW Montana in early December. The wolves will be held a few days before they are released so that they can calm down after being transported and hopefully so the pups will remain with the female.

Information and education and law enforcement

NOVA television has a web site featuring information about wolves and the Yellowstone recovery program. It can be found by searching the internet for NOVA WOLF.

Jimenez gave a presentation to the Teton Science School on the 17th. About 35 7th and 8th graders from a science class form IL and 7-8 college graduate students attended .

Bangs and Smith answered questions about the potential impacts of wolf recovery on the northern Yellowstone elk herd during a radio show in Livingston, MT on the morning of the 15th.

Bangs was on a panel during the annual meeting of the Idaho Cattleman’s Association in Boise, ID on the 17th. The discussion, titled "Who is more endangered?", was attended by about 150 people. Wildlife Services, Service and Nez Perce Tribal biologists also attended the meeting.

Fontaine gave presentations in Kalispell on the 16th, and Condon on the 18th to discuss the status of wolf recovery and a recent revision of the Service’s Wolf Control Plan for NW Montana and N. Idaho. The relocation of the Bass Creek female (originally from the Murphy Lake pack in NW MT) and her 5 pups, back into northwestern Montana in early December was also discussed. About 25 people attended each meeting.

A hunter in the Thompson River area of NW Montana reported finding a wolf skeleton and radio-collar. A special agent recovered the collar and some remains and the cause of death is under investigation. Many thanks to the hunter for reporting this observation. The Thompson River pack went off the air in 1997. Despite intensive searches, we have been unable to document the presence of more than an individual wolf or two in that area since that time.

The Service’s wolf biologist in Wyoming, Brian Cox, resigned from the position for personal reasons. At this time there are no plans to refill the position even though that leaves project leader, Mike Jimenez, as the only full time Service wolf biologist in Wyoming. Mike will be needing help from other Service and other agency folks in Wyoming, so be helpful if you can. Brian plans to return to Oregon where he still has a house, to look for work. Brian worked hard and his efforts on behalf on the wolf recovery program during the past year have been appreciated. Good luck and thanks for your efforts, Brian!

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