Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 5/28/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 5/22-5/28, 1999

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges and localized near their dens. It appears that some packs have moved their pups to rendezvous sites close to the dens. Soda Butte pack was located up Pacific Creek on an elk kill on the 25th. Grand Teton National Park named the pair and their pups the Teton Pack.

The Nez Perce Tribe's trapping crew caught a pup in the Big Hole pack near Powell, Idaho this week. The Tribe checked out the Bass Creek pair near Stevensville, MT and saw 7 pups.

The Service and National Park Service began radio-collaring wolves in Glacier National Park on the 10th and ended efforts on the 26th. Four wolves were caught and one was recaptured. We believe this effort put radio collars on members of 2 packs in the area. Pilot Dave Hoerner flew over the old Spruce Creek den .5 miles north of the border and saw 2 wolves lying by it, indicating that pack has pups in 1999. While not a high priority, we are looking at trying to put a collar in that pack if conditions and time allow and Canadian authorities are supportive of the idea. Human activity level around the Graves Creek den is being monitored on a daily basis by Forest Service biologists. The den is in an area close to good spring bear hunting and other recreational opportunities that could potentially displace the female and her pups. Prior activities had no known effect but human activities have increased with better weather. If activity levels increase then the area will be closed to all human activities. The 1988 Interim Control Plan suggests that there will be no major disturbance within 1 mile around a den or rendezvous site from March 15 to July 1. Monitioring has been ongoing for about 2 weeks and the female hasn't been displaced.

The manager of the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, WY, reported seeing a gray and a black wolf among the cattle on several occasions but no problems. If an area of concentrated wolf activity can be located (den or rendezvous site) the Service will attempt to capture and radio-collar a wolf in this area.

Control

Another wolf kill was reported near the Birch Creek and Two Medicine River near Valier. This is almost directly south of the last depredation near the Canadian border. An attempt was made to capture the animal with no success. A lone dispersing wolf could be responsible, there isn't that much for a wolf to hide behind in that country. If it can be caught, it will be relocated to NW Montana. If depredations continue and it can't be caught it will be killed.

Wildlife Services investigated a possible depredation near the Bass Creek pack involving 3 calves. One calf suffered a broken leg and was destroyed before Wildlife Service had a chance to look at it. No determination could be made on how the second calf died because because it was nearly consumed by scavengers or predators. The last calf was injured but it could not be confirmed that it was attacked by wolves. The situation is being monitored.

Research

Teton National Park will begin nighttime monitoring of the Teton Pair in an attempt to identify where the adults are doing their hunting.

Information and education and law enforcement

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.

The Helena office has canceled the 2 term (up to 4 years) GS-5 biological technician positions and 2 seasonal positions and doesn't expect to do any more hiring during the next year.

The Service held a wolf handling workshop by Dr. Dave Hunter, from the Turner Endangered Species Fund, in Helena on May 27. About a dozen biologists attended and it was an excellent workshop.

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 besides the regular distribution.

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