Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 11/05/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 10/30-11/05, 1999

 

Monitoring

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

Hunters have reported seeing wolf sign in the Alice Creek area near Lincoln, Montana which is where at least 3 wolves are suspected to have set up a territory. A male wolf relocated from the Pleasant Valley pack last winter was located in the North Fork of the Sun River and was seen with 2 other unmarked wolves. A wolf track was found by a Wildlife Service specialist near the Cabinet Mtns south of Libby while investigating a possible harassment of livestock by wolves. This is near an area were tracks and scat were found this summer. There was no indication that wolves ran the steer from the corral, only otter or beaver tracks were found in proximity to the corral.

Famous former Rose Creek alpha female #9 was located by Slough Creek in the Lamar Valley. Lone female #115 was still in the Taylor Fork. Former Soda Butte wolves #44 and #124 (both last located by Yellowstone lake) and #123 (last found by Jardine, MT) are missing as is #92 formerly with the Nez Perce pack. Soda Butte pack, now consists of wolves #14, #104, and #126, has been staying in the Thorofare area.

The Teton female was located near the Dubois airport. The ranch manager from the Diamond G Ranch was contacted and he could pickup her radio signal from his house.

The Nez Perce Tribe reported that B-68, relocated from the Stanley Basin pack this summer, may have joined the Twin Peaks pack. Wolf B-82, a pup collared in the Twin Peaks pack this summer, apparently slipped its collar last week.

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

The USDA-APHIS has proposed allowing wolves and wolf hybrids to be inoculated with the same vaccines used for dogs. The amendment to the Virus-Serum-Toxin Act regulations would expand the definition of "dog" to include all members of the species Canis familiaris or Canis lupus, or any wolf-dog cross. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by Nov 29, 1999. Additional information are available at

The information in the proposal means that APHIS believes dogs, wolves and hybrids can be safely and effectively vaccinated with canine vaccines.

Control

Control trapping on the Diamond G Ranch ended on the 5th. Only coyotes were captured. Tracks and sightings of at least one wolf continue to be reported in the area. If any members of the Teton pack had been captured they would have been collared and released on site. If the Teton alpha female is found with a new wolf on the Diamond G Ranch it would probably be the one associated with depredations in that area and the Service might try to remove it. The female, whose mate was killed by a vehicle last summer, (he was from this area originally), is probably searching for potential suitors. Hopefully she will not start "dating" a wolf that has been involved in chronic livestock depredations.

On the 3rd, two 90lb. yearling gray female wolves were removed from the Sheep Mountain pack. The radio-collared male yearling wolf was a member of that group. Six pack members, 3 black and 3 gray, were located in the valley bottom on private land near cattle. However, the cattle did not appear to have been harassed and both of the wolves that were killed had only deer remains in their stomachs. The alpha female was located across the valley to the west up in the mountains. She was in timber and not seen, it is unknown if any other wolves were with her. We estimate that there are probably 8 members left in the Sheep mountain pack. Reducing pack size should make them less likely to attack large prey such as cattle. Reducing the pack’s kill rate should also reduce the chances for further livestock depredations. No additional control is planned unless the pack attacks livestock again. The Service has received extensive criticism over this control action from people who believe that killing wolves for attacking livestock, especially livestock grazed on public land was unfair. Media coverage is expected to focus on this controversy.

A calf carcass in the Paradise Valley was examined on the 3rd, but no determination as to cause of death could be made. The carcass had been extensively fed upon but no wolf sign was located at the site. The calf carcass was only a couple of miles from a confirmed calf depredation made by the Sheep Mountain pack last week.

Information and education and law enforcement

Curt Mack, wolf project leader for the Nez Perce Tribe, gave a presentation at the Idaho Woolgrowers Meeting in Boise, ID this week.

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