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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/20/2007

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/13/07 to 7/20/07

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

On the 18th, Ty Smucker [MFWP] caught and collared an adult male in the Ninemile pack. MT Volunteers Christina Smucker and Dave Ausband assisted with the processing. We thank a local landowner for reporting wolf activity in the area which allowed us to locate the pack efficiently and led to the capture. Great job crew!

Jonathan Derbridge has returned briefly to assist in trapping and collaring for the MFWP wolf program in NWMT. Thanks Jonathan!

Shannon Kochel, Nick Mitrovich, Adia Sovie, Jonathan Derbridge, and Kris Boyd [MFWP] have located the uncollared Thompson Peak and Meadow Peak packs. Traplines have been initiated. Survey work for the Ashley pack has shown presence of wolves but no specific areas of activity.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] trapped and collared 2 wolves in the Morgan Ck pack this week, a subadult female was fitted with a GPS collar for research purposes [see research section], and a subadult male was fitted with a VHF collar.

Nate Borg [IDFG] has been unsuccessfully trying to put a collar in the Thorn Creek pack southeast of Idaho City for the last few days. He also attempted a pup count in the Warm Springs pack.

Dave Ausband’s [Univ. MT] crew found the rendezvous site of the Scott Mt. pack last week. IDFG trappers will attempt collaring this elusive pack next week.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] and the wilderness crew trapped along the East Fork of Moose ck in the Selway Wilderness this week. No word yet on if they were successful.

IDFG picked up a road-killed young, adult male wolf on the 18th, near Wallace, ID. It was struck on I-90 around MP 66 in the west-bound lane. Carcass was sent to the ID Wildlife Lab for further necropsy. We thank the citizen who reported seeing it.

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 wolf. There are 3 adults (one collar) and ~ five pups currently in the Wedge Pack. A pup was shot on Saturday the 14th, by a landowner with a SOS permit and a yearling female was shot by MT WS on the 17th. The Wedge pack control is now completed.

A calf was injured by wolves within the Wolf Prairie Pack homerange north of Marion, MT around June 27th. The Wolf Prairie pack has been using areas around where the calf was injured. This is the first confirmed depredation by the Wolf Prairie pack this year. The pack is made up of 3 wolves and so far believed to be non-reproductive this year and therefore traveling widely. No non-lethal techniques are available for large area grazing allotments. MFWP will continue to monitor the pack and the area.

On the 14th, ID WS captured, collared and released the alpha male (B-333) of the Phantom Hill pack. So far, the extensive efforts to keep these wolves away from the sheep seem to have been effective, but there will be sheep in the area for several more months. Hopefully they will not depredate again. Carter Niemeyer [IDFG] trained a couple volunteers in nonlethal munitions to assist in the Phantom Hill pack depredations.

On the 16th, ID WS confirmed that members of the Steel Mountain Pack killed 1 ewe and 2 lambs on FS land in Rainbow Creek near Trinity Lakes. On the 19th, WS shot and killed one black wolf.

Also on the 16th, ID WS confirmed that a wolf came into a cowboy's camp site and killed a border collie cattle dog that was chained up only 20 yards from an unattended camp trailer. The camp was on FS land about 20 miles SE of Idaho Falls on Falls Creek.

On the 18th, ID WS confirmed that members of the Morris Flat pack killed a calf on private land East of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. This is the 6th depredation that has been associated with this pack since mid-May. Control efforts are ongoing.

On the 18th, ID WS confirmed that a wolf killed a ewe on FS land on Pole Creek near Stanley. Since the sheep had moved several miles from the depredation site, no traps were set. ID WS will continue to monitor the area for depredation activity.

On the 19th, ID WS confirmed that members of the Morgan Creek pack killed a calf on a BLM allotment near Challis, ID. Control efforts are ongoing to remove the offending animals.

On the 20th, ID WS confirmed that wolves, possibly from the Applejack pack, killed 2 ewes on FS land near New Centerville. Traps have been set.

On the 19th, WY WS confirmed that an apparently lone wolf killed a calf on private land near LaBarge, WY. WY WS was authorized to lethally remove that wolf.

Research

The wolf monitoring research project field crew in Idaho has almost finished surveying GMUs 33, 34, 35. Next area is Unit 43. Two crew members recently quit and Univ. MT is searching for 2 replacements to see us through the rest of the summer. Ausband [Univ. MT] spent several days in the field with the crew and we found the Bear Valley den & rendezvous site (no telemetry, of course). Crews have collected 75 scat and 35 hair samples to date. The field crew and Univ. MT talked about some ways to slightly alter the protocol in order to be more efficient next year. Although the field crew has surveyed over 300 predicted sites so far this summer.

Ausband spent a few days in the field with Liz Bradley [MFWP] observing her protocol for trapping and showing her where he’d bumped into the Big Hole pack and their rendezvous site. Having collared packs near Missoula is helpful for pilot testing the Univ. MT howlbox and hair snags.

Husseman [IDFG] placed a GPS collar in Jureano pack about a week ago. The Univ. MT crew now has 4 of 9 GPS collars placed in ID study packs. There's a 10th collar currently being manufactured at Lotek.

‘Howlbox’ [a remote unit that howls and then records wolf responses] is coming along and Univ. MT is in the process of getting all the components to "talk" to each other nicely. Howlbox can broadcast and record at specified intervals but Uinv. MT are working on getting it to talk to the microphone for recording purposes. Teresa Loya has been doing an excellent job spearheading this effort.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The open house/public hearing on the USFWS reopening of the proposal to delist the wolf population in the NRM was held in Cody, Wyoming July 17th. Open houses/hearings of the modification of the 10j experimental rule were held in Cody, WY on the 17th, Helena, MT on the 18th, and Boise, ID the 19th. About 60 people attended each meeting in WY, about 30 attended in MT, and 70 in ID. The public comment period on both proposals runs until August 6, 2007. For further information please see http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov . Several requests for an extension of the comment period for the 10j rule have been received and are being evaluated.

The 20th was MFWP Jon Trapp's last day with the MT wolf program. He recently accepted a position with the Red Lodge Fire Department as a firefighter/EMT. We thank him for all his hard work, enthusiasm, dedication, and contributions in getting the MT program underway and on solid footing in his area of responsibility. We wish him and his family well and hope he keeps in touch. His calls will be forwarded to 406-461-0587 and MFWP wolf staff will continue working in the local area.

On the 12th, MFWP Asher participated in Living with Wildlife workshop sponsored by Madison Valley Ranchlands Group, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks in the Madison Valley. She presented information about wolves and the MT program to about 40 people.

On the 20th, the CBS Morning show had a segment on wolves that can be viewed at http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3069069n

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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