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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/16/2007

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/9/07 to 3/16/07

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2007 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2006] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, discussions of litigation and funding issues, summaries of scientific studies, an extensive bibliography, and additional informational. The December 2006 wolf population estimate was 1,300 wolves in 173 packs comprising 86 breeding pairs [MT 316w, 60p, & 21 bp; ID 673w, 72p & 40bp; WY 311w, 41p, & 25 bp]. In 2006, wolves were confirmed to have killed at least 184 cattle, 247 sheep, 8 dogs, 3 other livestock and in response 142 wolves were killed.

Monitoring

On the 11th, MFWP wardens retrieved a gray male wolf that was hit on highway 191 south of Big Sky, MT near the Sage Creek area. The wolf was taken to the MFWP lab in Bozeman for a general necropsy.

On the 5th, MT WS collared and released a male wolf south of Augusta, MT in response to depredations this past January. Trapping since then had been difficult due to cold temperatures or the wolves not returning. There was additional wolf reported in the area as well.

On the 9th, Michael Lucid and Nate Borg [IDFG] re-collared female B-170 (Galena disperser missing since 2005) near Prairie, ID. B170 had been incidently caught by a coyote trapper. An adjacent sprung trap had a wolf claw in it and other sign indicated at least 2 wolves. However, a follow-up on March 11th visit resulted in a visual of just 1 wolf. B170 appeared to have nursed pups in the past and appeared pregnant.

On the 12th, Holyan [NPT] met with a resident in Cascade, ID that had seen single wolves on 2 separate occasions in a pasture containing 3 calves. One of the calves was subsequently found dead, but it doesn't appear wolves were responsible. Holyan found probable wolf tracks in the area, but due to warm weather tracks were melted out and may have been from a multitude of large dogs in the area. Options for deterring further wolf visitations were discussed and the citizen was interested in trying fladry. Defenders of Wildlife was contacted and expected to work with this individual.

On the 12th, Mack [NPT] conducted a partial (due to uncooperative weather) flight of the southern portion of the Clearwater Region and northern portion of the McCall Subregion. Observations included; 3 black and 3 gray wolves in the Earthquake Basin pack. Holyan [NPT] completed a flight of the remainder of the McCall Subregion on the 15th. Observations included; 7-8 wolves of the Blue Bunch pack chasing a cow elk (the elk was not killed), 3 members of the Sleepy Hollow pack, and 13 gray wolves of the Monumental Ck. pack.

Control

On the 10th, a rancher in the Madison Valley in SW MT saw 3 gray wolves chasing his cattle. He shot at one of the wolves as allowed under the 2005 10J rule. The wolf acted like it was hit but continued to run off. The rancher did not find the wolf or any sign of it being hit but immediately notified the proper authorities.

On the 12th, Jason Husseman [IDFG] accompanied ID WS’s Rick Williamson to look at a possible depredation (turned out to be a coyote-killed calf). They also followed up in some areas where the ranchers had been seeing tracks and determined a wolf had passed through. On the 14th, they returned to do some more follow-up on the wolf activity in the area. A flight on the 15th indicated the wolf tracks observed were likely made by SW64 (Montana dispersing wolf) as he was located near Lemhi, ID in the basin above the cattle ranch.

Research

Correction- Yellowstone National Park does not have data on winter forage quality in Hayden and Pelican valleys, so any mention of poor forage conditions for bison was just speculation on my [Bangs] part. Further, bison are not ‘dropping one by one’, rather wolves have fed on a few bison carcasses in both valleys that died from unknown causes.

Winter predation studies of wolves in YNP continued. Flights were cancelled March 12-14 due to high winds, but ground crews were operative. Wolf kills discovered this week by ground crews were all elk, and except in one case, the trend of poor bone marrow continued suggesting that wolves are selecting elk in poor condition. It is typical that wolf-killed elk in March have bone marrow in poor condition. Aerial and ground crews will continue daily monitoring of wolf predation through March 30.

On March 9th, Trapp and Paugh [MFWP], volunteers, and members of Predator Conservation Alliance assisted in the setup of a new research project testing electrified fladry (Turbo-Fladry) south of Big Timber. The turbo-fladry will be set up in 3 calving pastures as part of a graduate project to evaluate effectiveness of reducing depredations.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Volunteer Opportunity- Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; GRAY WOLF CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT PROGRAM; is seeking good volunteers for the 2007 field season. The primary duties are to conduct wolf surveys to locate new or otherwise uncollared wolf packs. Survey information will be used to document and capture/collar new wolf packs. Volunteers may also assist with the capture and radio collaring of wolves, conduct reproductive surveys, locate and collect data from wolf home sites, and assist with wolf livestock conflict management. Applicants should have the following skill set: Backpacking and camping for extended periods of time in remote settings, Orienteering proficiency, excellent physical condition, ability to get along with others in backcountry settings for 2+ week time periods, ability to communicate in a helpful friendly manner with interested and affected publics, completion of, or enrollment in college/university wildlife, or closely related curriculum. Application deadline is March 23. Selections will begin the following 2 weeks. Additional volunteers may be selected throughout the field season as needed. How to Apply: A cover letter highlighting your professional interests and experience as they pertain to these positions and detailing your period of availability. A resume detailing education, employment, and experience. A list of names and contact information of 5 qualification related references. Send application materials to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attn: Wolf Volunteer Program, 490 N. Meridian Rd., Kalispell, MT 59901, Telephone: (406) 751-4586, Fax: (406) 257-0349. For more information on the Montana Wolf Program visit www.fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf.

Midwest Wolves delisted-The Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment and wolf population [all of MN, MI, and WI and parts of adjacent states] delisting rule was finalized on March 10, 2007. The Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of the gray wolf has been removed from the Endangered Species Act.

On the 7th, Liz Bradley [MFWP] gave a presentation to the Blackfoot Challenge Wildlife Committee. About 25 people attended.

Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation on Rocky Mountain wolf delisting and Montana wolf management at the annual MT Eastside Agency Biologists meeting in Billings on the 14th. There were about 40 biologists attending from BLM, MFWP, USFS, NRCS, USFWS, universities, and tribes.

On the 14th, Laudon [MFWP] presented wolf management and population updates to the MFWP Region 1 Citizen Advisory Committee.

On Saturday March 17th,Michael Lucid [IDFG] presentation to 43 students at a Boise State University Project WILD course.

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . This report is government public property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.

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


Contact Us:  WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov

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