Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/26/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/20-3/26 1999

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in their normal home ranges. The Chief Joseph pack did travel to Hebgen Lake but were back at their old den site on the 24th. Soda Butte returned to near Yellowstone and was in the Thorofare on the 24th. Female #16 is still hanging out near her den but we would still be surprised if she was having pups this early. The earliest that wolves have whelped in Yellowstone was April 5th (1997). Searches on and near the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois indicate 3-4 wolves are using that area, none of which are currently radio-collared. Service biologists pulled their live-snares on a draw bait in an unsuccessful attempt to collar one of the wolves. If the wolves continue to hang around the old Washakie den site, leg-hold traps will be set as conditions allow.

The radio-collared yearling female wolf from the Jureano Mountain pack is still in eastern Oregon. A helicopter netgunning capture effort was tried on the 26th. If that doesn't work trapping will be attempted in early April. She continues to move widely and has been staying in remote and heavily wooded terrain where capture is unlikely.

The radio-collar from a wolf from the Whitefish pack was retrieved this week. The collar which had been padded when put on a pup last summer apparently just slipped off.

.Control

A wolf or small group of wolves killed at least 2 calves (one on the 10th and another on the 15th) and possibly another earlier in the Big Hole Valley in southwestern Montana. Control was initiated immediately. Flights indicating there were no radio-collared wolves in the area. After several days of unsuccessful searching, control efforts have been put on hold until there is some indication of where the wolves are or if fresh snowfall can allow for tracking.

The 3-4 wolves near Dubois, WY have been harassing dogs. They wounded a dog last month and have been harassing dogs at both the Diamond G ranch and another nearby house this past week. On at least one occasion the landowner drove the wolves off by firing a gun near them. If these wolves attack another domestic dog we will attempt to move some or all of them.

The trio of wolves north of Jackson were moving through private land near calving livestock this week. Local landowners harassed the wolves out of the area. No losses were reported. A receiver will be provided to one of the landowners so they can know if the wolves come back.

Research

Yellowstone National Park concludes its 30-day intensive winter wolf predation study on March 30. Doug Smith reported that a lone uncollared wolf attacked and killed a bison calf (and while it was doing it 5 coyotes were nipping at the wolf's heels). The Crystal pack killed an adult cow bison on the 16th. The attack lasted 15 minutes, bison are tough. The Yellowstone den study starts April 1.

Information and education and law enforcement

Bangs and Niemeyer gave a presentation to about 30 local residents in Jackson, MT on the 25th.

Niemeyer gave a presentation at the Montana Bowhunters banquet in Kalispell, MT on the 26th.

The Helena office plans to hire 2 term (up to 4 years) GS-5 biological technicians this spring. Interested persons must have wolf, or at a minimum, large carnivore field experience to be competitive. Interested persons should send their name and address to (Wolf Jobs, USFWS, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601) Those people will be notified (in about a week). Please no phone calls. In addition the Service in Helena will hire at least two seasonal GS-5 biologists for a 6 month appointment.

Bangs and Fontaine will be out of the office next week. Contact Diane Boyd-Heger or Tom Meier in Helena, MT; Mike Jimenez and Brian Cox in Lander, WY; Yellowstone National Park; or the Nez Perce Tribe for direct assistance.