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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/13/2007

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/06/07 to 7/13/07

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 1994 EIS on wolf reintroduction is now posted there too.

Monitoring

NPT crew #1 [all field crews are mixes of Isaac Babcock, Tyler Hollow, Bjornen duPont, Katrina Chandler, Jim Holyan, and Curt Mack] trapped and radiocollared 2 wolves (adult male B329 and adult female B330) in the Hemlock Ridge pack. They were also able to obtain a minimum pup count of 2 based upon howling- this pack’s rendezvous site is in very thick vegetation every year since they were discovered. This crew also finalized the pup count on the Lick Ck. pack; 6 gray pups were observed, whereas the previous count had been 2. A telemetry receiver was delivered to a livestock operator in the Chesimia pack territory.

On the 11th, NPT crew #1 recaptured and re-radiocollared B157 (formerly suspected alpha male of Jungle Ck. pack) along with a lactating female (B331). It is unknown at this time if this pair and their 6 pups (howled up ~ 1/4-1/2 mi. from where their parents were caught and they came running to the road) represent the Jungle Ck. pack or if B157 split off/was driven out and founded this group- he was aerially located in areas outside of known Jungle Ck. pack turf throughout the winter and spring. Further investigation will be needed to clarify this issue, as there is also current wolf activity in the "traditional" Jungle Ck. pack home range.

NPT crew #2 searched for the Jungle Ck. pack, but has been unable to locate them. They were able to find B157 (formerly believed the alpha male of Jungle Ck.), but his membership in the pack is questionable. During the winter he was located outside of tradtional Jungle Ck. pack territory and to date it appears he is alone. He was located on a freshly killed elk on the 8th and traps were set in the vicinity in hopes of re-collaring B157 (he was originally collared in 2003) , or preferably an unknown wolf in his company. This crew also investigated the probable den site (based on April and May aerial locations) of the Carey Dome pack, but were unable to locate a den or rendezvous site in that area. They also followed up on a report of wolf activity near Maki Lake (McCall Ranger District) and did locate 3 sets of tracks from an unknown group of wolves.

NPT crew #3 re-investigated an area of wolf sign in the Thunder Mt. pack territory, but since that sign was initially located there was no further wolf activity found, so no capture operation was conducted. This crew then attempted to locate the Stolle Meadows pack for a reproductive survey, but neither of the 2 radiocollared wolves (B249, B259) was detected in 3 days of searching. This crew then located B309 (suspected alpha female of Carey Dome pack), but she was alone so further effort is needed to determine this pack's reproductive status.

Mack [NPT] spent 2 days ground tracking for the recently GPS radiocollared B327 (Gold Fork home range), but was unable to detect the signal. ID WS was able to aerially locate this wolf on July 3rd.

Mack is scheduled for a flight over the northern McCall subregion and the Clearwater region during the latter part of the week of July 9-14. Holyan [NPT] is scheduled for flights over the McCall subregion on July 14 and 15.

IDFG a report of wolf pack activity near Lucky Peak reservoir close to Boise on the 3rd, Carter Niemeyer and Nate Borg [IDFG] went to investigate and set traps on the 5th. Lots of fresh wolf sign in area and it will be a new pack. Michael Lucid and the wilderness crew [IDFG] hiked hundreds of miles in the Moose Ck drainage and surrounding areas week of the 2nd in the Selway Wilderness. They found a little sign but no obvious rendezvous site or high wolf use area. Jason Husseman [IDFG] trapped for Jureano Mtn. the week of the 2nd, and caught and released unharmed two black pups; on the 2nd, Jason caught a yearling black male and fitted it with GPS collar for the Tribal/IDFG/Univ. MT study. Steve Nadeau [IDFG] horse packed 18 miles in Bear Valley on June 30th and hiked in on the July 1st looking for the rendezvous site and to get a pup count on the Bear Valley pack which has avoided capture for the last 2 years. The Univ. MT research crew also spent a week in the area and identified pups with several adults howling while field testing their model and survey technique.

Carter Niemeyer and Nate Borg [IDFG] captured and collared a 3 year old male wolf in the Bear Valley pack on the 11th. On 6-25 Nate Borg and Julie Mulholland [IDFG] collared a subadult, gray female wolf that was captured in the Steel Mt. pack on Carter’s trapline.

Control

On the 9th MT WS confirmed that a yearling heifer was killed by wolves on a ranch in the Upper Madison South of Ennis, MT. A control action on the Wedge pack has been initiated and a SOS permit was issued to the landowner for the removal of one adult wolf. There are 3 adults (one collar) and ~ five pups currently in the Wedge Pack.

On the 10th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the Phantom Hill pack killed 2 ewes and 3 lambs on a grazing allotment in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area near Sun Valley. Another 2 lambs were confirmed killed by the same pack on the 12th. IDFG, USFS, WS, Defenders and a producer met to discuss nonlethal methods for conflict resolution. The cooperators and producer will first attempt trapping, hazing, and other efforts to reduce or eliminate the conflict before lethal control options are evaluated. Long-term solutions are also being evaluated.

Research

Yellowstone National Park reports that their summer predation study utilizing GPS collars and searching for clusters of wolf activity is going well, in past summers GPS collar failure was a major problem. The tentative results are interesting. Wolves are mainly killing bulls in summer. Few cows and few calves were killed, similar to the results gathered from the elk calf mortality study. While the field crews are more likely to miss calves than other types of prey [they are small and consumed quickly] but the kills discovered so far are mostly bull elk.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement
The public hearing on the USFWS reopening of the proposal to delist the wolf population in the NRM will be held in Cody, Wyoming July 17 5:30PM-8:30PM at the Cody Auditorium. An open house to explain that proposal will be held 4:30-5:30PM. The public comment period on the delisting proposal runs from July 6-August 6, 2007. For further information please see http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Public hearings on the USFWS proposal to modify the 10j special rule for experimental wolves in states with approved wolf management plans will be held in Cody, WY July 17. An open house to explain the proposal and answer questions about it will be held 12:30-1:30PM. The hearing will follow from 1:30P-3:30PM at the Cody Auditorium. A 6-7PM open house and 7-9PM hearing will be held in Helena, Montana July 18th at Jorgenson’s Inn, and in Boise, Idaho July 19th at the Boise Convention Center. The public comment period on the proposed rule modification runs form July 6-August 6, 2007. For further information please see http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

On the 12th and 13th, MFWP Sime attended a meeting of the Washington Wolf Working Group which is developing a state wolf management plan. She gave presentations about Montana's experiences with wolf conservation and management and the state's plan and about wolf-ungulate interactions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the discovery of a dead gray wolf in Union County, Oregon. The animal had been shot, and was recovered on May 25, 2007, from a forested area north of Elgin. The carcass was badly decomposed when first discovered, making initial identification of the animal difficult. Testing confirmed it was a mature female wolf, genetically related to the wolf population in Idaho, and that it died from a gunshot wound. Service LE agents are requesting that anyone who may have information regarding the death of this or any other wolf contact them immediately at 503-682-6131. This is the fourth confirmed wolf to have been found in eastern Orgeon. In March 1999, a radio-collared female was captured near John Day and returned to Idaho. In 2000, a collared wolf was found dead along Interstate 84 south of Baker City, and a wolf without a radio collar was found shot between Ukiah and Pendleton. All three animals were also confirmed to have been migrants from Idaho. It’s important for people to be thinking about the possibility of wolves in their area and to understand how to respond,” said Russ Morgan, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf coordinator in Northeast Oregon. “It is illegal to shoot a wolf, even one mistaken for another animal. Hunters in particular need to identify their target before shooting because wolves can look similar to coyotes.”

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


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