Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 8/13/99

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 8/6-8/13, 1999

Monitoring

Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges and continue to be localized but are starting to move a little more with their pups.

The Teton pack female has found the road-kill ungulates left for her and has been feeding at the site. Her 5 pups also appear to be doing well.

Soda Butte is generally in the area along the south boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Work by Tribal crews continues to determine which packs have reproduced and the number of pups. However, they couldn't verify whether the Kelly Creek, Selway and Snow Peak Packs have produced pups this year.

Trapping efforts for members of the Graves Creek pack in NW Montana have stopped because the pack could not be found. Trapping will begin again if they are located in a favorable spot. Meier began searching for the Little Wolf pack so members could be radio collared. He will begin trapping sometime next week.

 

Control

In central Idaho 3 depredations have been reported. Several sheep were killed north of McCall, A calf was killed near Stanely, and calves were killed west of Salmon. Another calf was found by the livestock producer in the cattle mortality study and control on the Jureano Mountain pack is ongoing. To date no wolves have been trapped. Heavy rains washed out several attempts to set traps in the location of the livestock losses.

Three of the Bass Creek pups being held in captivity with their mother because of livestock depredations this summer were found dead in the pen. Disease is strongly suspected (parvo) and a veterinarian is working on vaccinating the remaining 5 pups.

Research

The Diamond Moose Calf Mortality study is an effort by many Cooperators to determine what is happening to the calves that do not return from the Diamond Moose Grazing allotment at the end of the summer season. The Nez Perce Tribe wanted to use scientific methods to determine what is happening to the calves and to identify potential ways to reduce the losses once the causes are determined. The Cooperators came together and through a series of meetings, agreed on the outline of the investigation and began the search for the funds needed to support the project. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Salmon-Challis National Forest were large, early, financial contributors to this effort the Nez Perce Tribe was still unable to secure all the funds needed to finish the first year of the investigation. Then, in response to requests by the Nez Perce Tribe, several smaller, private donations were made by the Wolf Education and Research Center, the Lemhi County Cattleman's Association, the National Wildlife Federation and the Defenders of Wildlife. The Idaho Congressional delegation, at the urging of several Cooperators, and with the support of Governor Kempthorne urged the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to find the funds needed to fund the remainder this year's effort. Director Clark informed the Congressional delegation that there were no new funds available in FY99 to dedicate to the investigation. At the urging of the Idaho Cattleman's Association and the Nez Perce Tribe, Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo and Representative Mike Simpson requested the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation consider getting involved in supporting the Diamond Moose Calf Mortality Study. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, based on a request by the Nez Perce Tribe has awarded the $20,000 needed to complete this year's work on the mortality investigation.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funds are only available if matched by private funds. Thus, the private funds contributed to date have, in essence, been doubled. Without the financial support of the investigation Cooperators and other supporters contributing private funds to this effort, the Nez Perce Tribe couldn't accept the funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Information and education and law enforcement

Wolf Project Personnel from NPS, FWS, and WS met the 10th and 11th in Yellowstone National Park to attend a safety and training course on animal capture from a helicopter. About a dozen people attended the course. The training was excellent and included darting and netgunning from a helicopter in simulated animal capture drills. Mike Coffey, NPS, and Gary Brennan of Hawkins and Powers Helicopters did a great job. A wolf staff meeting was also held to discuss upcoming issues, schedules, and program direction.

Justice Department attorneys where on a Conference call with Federal District Judge Downes of Wyoming to update him on wolf recovery and control activities regarding the Diamond G Ranch case. Attorneys representing the Diamond G Ranch were also on the August 12th call. The judge ordered Bangs to meet with Diamond G Ranch manager Jon Robinette next week to try and figure out a solution.

There have been several meetings with cooperators of the calf mortality study to review the progress of John Oakleaf's efforts. John, in a very short time, has established close communication with members of the Diamond Moose Grazing Association regarding his efforts and findings. Effective, clear communication and hard work, have been a key to his success to date.

Boyd-Heger gave a presentation at the Glacier Institute on the 4th and to a field ecology camp at the Institute on the 6th.

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