Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/21/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 5/15, 1999

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges and are localized near their dens. A third den has been confirmed in the Rose Creek pack. One of the Rose Creek females and wolf #16 (just north of Yellowstone Park) moved their pups. to new dens. Wolf #16 moved her den away from human disturbance another mile or so. Soda Butte pack appears to still be near the southern part of Yellowstone Park. The carcass of wolf #82, a black yearling male from the Rose Creek pack, was picked up in the Park on the 18th. Cause of death is being investigated.

In Idaho, a member of the White Cloud pack that was relocated on the 7th because of livestock depredations, traveled about 100 miles and was back with its pack within days. The control trapping for that pack was terminated on the 19th. Wildlife Services is cooperating with the Nez Perce Tribes monitoring effort again this summer and together they have just put 3 trapping teams in the field to collar wolves. The Tribes' 4 monitoring crews will start field work June 1.

Service and National Park Service began radio-collaring wolves in Glacier National Park on the 10th. On the 16th, another suspected member South Camas pack was radio-collared, the 12 year old female had been tagged in 1993. Traps were moved north and on the 17th, a suspected member (Blk. yr. female) of the North Camas pack was captured and collared. Diane and Tom will be in the Polebridge, MT area until 2 more wolves are caught (4 have been captured in 11 days so far) or until the 26th.

Brian Cox traveled to the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, WY on the 19th. He reported seeing scattered tracks and hearing one wolf howl. The ranch manager reported hearing wolves on several occasions in the direction of the old Washakie pack den and it could be that wolves have denned in the area. Searches in this area will continue. If an area of concentrated wolf activity can be located (den or rendezvous site) attempts will be made to capture and radio-collar a wolf in this area. Cattle are back on the ranch but will be held behind an electric fence until the elk calf in June, to minimize the potential for grizzly bear and wolf depredations.

Control

Two members of the White Cloud pack were captured by Wildlife Services on the 7th. The Tribe relocated the male and female yearlings to the northern part of the experimental area.  Within a few days the male was back with the pack after traveling about 100 miles. Control ended and the situation is in a wait and see mode.

Research

The Nez Perce Tribes' study of cattle losses and wolves on the Diamond Moose Allotment west of Salmon, Idaho has a MS graduate student through the University of Idaho. John Oakleaf, a former seasonal wolf biologist for the Service in Montana, will do a great job. 

Information and education and law enforcement

Jimenez talked with about 45 concessionaires in Grand Teton National Park about wolf management issues in the Park on the 20th.

Fontaine traveled to Valier, MT to follow-up a seemingly good report of a dead wolf along the road. There was a large dead pig (shot) in the grass just off the road that was apparently mistaken for a wolf. Not the first such mistaken identity but one of the stranger ones we have followed up on.

Senator Burns (MT) announced he was holding another "Wolf Summit" in Helena, June 2.  Invited participants include a diversity of parties interested in wolf management. Bangs was asked to attend.

CNN ran a short piece on wolves during their Earth Matters program on the 16th.

On the 14th, wolf news made USA Today again in the "Across the US" section for Montana. A short statement alluded about the upcoming court case and how hard it might be to "remove" 400? wolves from Yellowstone National Park. Recovery is farther along than we thought.

Doug Smith met with 4 biologists, including wolf expert Anders Bjarvall, from the Environmental Protection Agency of Sweden on the 15th and 16th. They were visiting the Park to assist them during their preparation of a carnivore management plan for Sweden. Sweden now has about 50-70 wolves in 6 packs, in addition to lynx, wolverine, and brown bear.

Smith and a Park Ranger met with a couple of guides that hunt just outside Yellowstone Park's southern boundary, in Jackson, WY on the 21st. These outfitters were very appreciative of meeting with Park staff in the back country last year and wanted to foster that cooperative relationship.

Roy Heberger and Carter Niemeyer met with local ranchers, hunters, and other interested people in Bend, OR on the 17th, to discuss wolves and wolf management.

The Helena office has canceled the 2 term (up to 4 years) GS-5 biological technician positions. Forecast budget problems beginning in FY 2000 (Oct 1 1999) make it impossible to hire any seasonal biologists or term biologists for the foreseeable future. We thank everyone that took the time to apply. The 5 top candidates (all excellent) were contacted and were told the jobs had been canceled. I guess the rest of us will just have to work a little smarter and prioritize our efforts even more than before but please be understanding if we happen to be a little slow responding to certain issues. Keeping recovery costs low was the only issue that both those who supported and opposed wolf recovery agreed upon and we will continue to do our best.

The Service will host a wolf handling workshop by Dr. Dave Hunter in Helena on May 27.  Interested persons should contacted Joe Fontaine (406)449-5225 x206

The Wildlife Society Bulletin 1998 Vol 26(4), the commemorative issue celebrating the 50th anniversary of "A Sand County Almanac" and the legacy of Aldo Leopold, is out. It contains an article by USFWS Direct Jamie Rappaport Clark and many wolf articles including ones dealing with: habitat for wolves in eastern North America; potential wolf recovery and dispersal in the eastern U.S. via Canada; restoration efforts in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming; the Mexican wolf; credibility of stories about famous livestock depredating wolves; costs of maintaining wolves in agricultural regions on Minnesota; satellite telemetry of wolf territories in northwestern Alaska; GPS collars on deer and wolves; and a review of the book "Wolf Country" by John and Mary Theberge.

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site athttp://www.r6.fws.gov/wolf in addition to the regular distribution. Last month the weekly wolf report had the most "hits" on the Region 6  web page, so somebody reads this thing!!.

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