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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From:       Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/23/2007

Subject:     Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/16/07 to 3/23/07




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

Nothing new to report.  

Control

On the 17th, a heifer was confirmed killed by wolves in the Big Hole valley west of Wisdom, MT by MT WS.  It was likely killed late the 15th or early the16th.  This is in the Battlefield pack territory but it is unknown how many wolves were involved.  In November and December of 2006, six wolves were removed from this pack after 3 calves were killed.  At the end of the year, 4 wolves were estimated in this pack but recently the collared female has been observed traveling alone, most often in Idaho, and was located in Idaho on the 15th.  MFWP requested MT WS remove up to 2-3 uncollared wolves in the vicinity of the ranch and a shoot-on-sight permit was issued to the landowner.  MT WS removed two wolves on the 19th.  The control action is completed and the SOS permit cancelled.

A rancher near Helmville, MT reported that 3 wolves (likely the Elevation Mtn pack) passed through a calving pasture and harassed cattle on the morning of the 22nd.  No cattle were reported killed or injured.  MT WS is exploring options to trap and collar wolves in the vicinity.

On the 21st, ID WS investigated a report that a horse had been killed by wolves on a private ranch near St. Maries, ID.  While it appeared that wolves fed on the horse’s carcass, there was not enough evidence to determine a cause of death.

On the 19th, IDFG officers in coordination with USFWS and ID WS investigated a wolf that was shot by a rancher as it reportedly harassed livestock on private land south of Sun Valley, ID.  The wolf was an uncollared gray female 80-90 lbs.  Investigation determined the shooting was within the legal provisions of the 2005 experimental regulations.  Two other wolves are still in the area and attempts by the rancher at scaring the wolves away using non-lethal means are ongoing.

On the 23rd, WY WS confirmed a calf was killed by wolves from the Greybull River Pack on private land west of Meeteetse, WY.  One very old female wolf had been hanging around livestock in the area.  The USFWS authorized lethal removal of this older wolf and WY WS aerial gunned her from fixed wing aircraft near the depredation site on the afternoon of the 23rd.   Control has been completed and we continue to monitor the situation.

Research

On the 17th, Trapp, Paugh, and Pelej [MFWP] assisted in the setup of Turbo-fladry for the cooperative Utah State Univ. research project south of Big Timber, MT.

Yellowstone’s late winter wolf predation study [March1 - 30] is ongoing.  Kill rates by packs are highly variable, but most elk killed so far have poor marrow typical of late winter.  At least one bison was killed the past week, and 2 bison carcasses were fed on, all on the northern range, indicating that bison maybe an important food source to wolves.  Several packs have made extraterritorial moves and clashed with resident packs (e.g., Mollies moved  to Lamar and Hayden moved to Madison Jct).  Several hunts have been observed from the air and ground, two hunts by the Leopold pack exceeded 2 miles [measured by GPS unit] of a wolf chasing an elk at top speed.  In both cases the elk outran the wolves.  Time elapsed was less than 8 min.  Bull elk are dropping their antlers and anecdotal data indicates wolves are targeting them.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

Midwest Wolves delisted
-The Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment and wolf population delisting rule was finalized on March 10, 2007.

Laudon [MFWP] gave an update on management and the current status of wolves to a half dozen environmental educators for the Glacier Institute on the 22nd.

On the 20th, Trapp [MFWP] gave a presentation on wolf management and delisting to about 20 people from the Philanthropic Educational Organization.

On the 20th, Todd Grimm and Justin Mann [ID WS] spoke to about 20 grazing permittees and FS employees at a meeting at the Nez Perce National Forest office in Grangeville, ID.  ID WS spoke about wolf depredation identification, control and compensation programs available.

On the 20th, Carter Niemeyer [USFWS retired] spoke about the human symbolism involved in wolf management as part of a North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conf. panel discussing wolf management in relation to ungulate management in Portland, OR.

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

Service Links:

Western Gray Wolf Home Page Mountain-Prairie Region Home Page

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