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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From:               Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 7/27/2007

Subject:            Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 7/20/07 to 7/27/07

 

NEW WEB ADDRESS- http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualreports.htm. The 2007 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2006] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ .  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

In early July, Pat Sinclair of MT WS and the Madison Valley Ranchlands riders found wolf activity in Antelope Basin.  Last week the riders found a den and a rendezvous site that had four black pups.  Ross [MFWP] set traps on the 22nd,  ~ one mile away, and saw a gray adult.  Two pups have been caught but they were too small to collar.  Attempts to catch an adult are continuing.  Livestock producers in the area suspect there is a black and gray pair plus at least four pups.

On the 25th, Bassing, Harrison, and Bradley [MFWP] caught and collared a 2 year old breeding female wolf in the Fishtrap Creek area in the north end of the Big Hole valley.  This is thought to be a new documented pack.  Traps were pulled.

Shannon Kachel, Adia Sovie, Nick Mitrovich, and Kent Laudon (MFWP) captured the alpha female of the Meadow Peak pack on the 24th.  Kris Boyd and Jonathan Derbridge (MFWP) have been operating a trapline on the Thompson Peak pack.

Kachel, Mitrovich, and Sovie have concluded their volunteer appointments in NWMT.  Thanks for all the hard work and accomplishments!

Natasha Maeir, Samantha Dwinnell, and Carly Levell have begun their volunteer appointments in NWMT for MFWP.  Welcome!

A telemetry flight on the 25th, detected the collar of the Eagle creek female (Jardine, MT area) on mortality mode.  It will be investigated soon as possible- could be a mortaltiy or shed collar.

Nate Borg and Niemeyer [IDFG] put out radio collars on two newly identified wolf packs this week.  Borg and Julie Mulholland trapped and collared a sub-adult female in a pack east of Idaho City, ID on the 24th that will be called the Thorn Creek pack.  Borg estimates at least four adult wolves (also supported by public reports) and 4-5 pups in this pack based on howling.  On the 26th, Borg and Niemeyer captured and collared the alpha female of a pack newly named the Archie Mountain pack southeast of Lowman, ID.  Based on public reports and howling the pack is comprised of at least three adult wolves and five pups.

Niemeyer scouted the Scott Mountain area [ID] on July 24 and located additional wolf sign for trapping efforts next week.  Trapping efforts for the Bear Valley pack are temporarily stalled due to forest fire activity and heavy smoke in the area.  Borg and Niemeyer plan to work both areas next week.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] continued trapping efforts to put another collar in the Jureano pack; Jason also verified multiple pups in the Hughes Ck pack.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] and the wilderness crew continued trapping in the Selway unsuccessfully this week, but did watch a wolf work his trapline.

A NPT biologist, aided by information from MTFWP and D. Ausband, successfully trapped 2 wolves (pup, adult male) in the Big Hole pack this past week.  The pup was ingeniously fitted with a temporary collar using a trap transmitter, which aided in relocating the pack after they moved following capture of the pup.

Another NPT biologist captured a gray female wolf while trapping for the Coolwater Ridge pack.  Preliminary assessment suggests this individual is not a member of the Coolwater Ridge pack, but further monitoring will be made to determine its status.  The radiocollar of B163, presumed alpha female of Coolwater Ridge pack, appears to be failing, as it is switching from mortality mode to normal mode.  Trapping will likely resume for this pack the next 10-day hitch.

The third NPT crew obtained a pup count of 5 grays for the Giant Cedar pack.  They also tracked B222 of the Chesimia pack, but 2 days worth of data indicated she was travelling alone at that time.  Investigation of former Chesimia pack homesites showed no wolf activity and information from the livestock producer in that area suggested possibly only 2 wolves present.  Road surveys of the Grandad pack (uncollared) area turned up very little wolf sign, so no determination of pack size, breeding status, or capture effort was made.  Finally, the White Bird Ck. pack's lone radiocollared wolf (B285) was monitored for 2 days; he was seen at close range both days and appeared to be travelling alone.  This pack's alpha female was legally shot before giving birth this spring, so it's likely this pack did not produce pups, although aerial locations for B285 have been fairly localized since denning season.

Taylor and Woodruff (USFWS) trapped and radio collared an adult male wolf in the Sunlight Pack west of Cody, WY. The male wolf was fitted with a down loadable GPS collar which provided locations for our cooperative research project involving the University of Wyoming (UW), USFWS, and WYG&F.

Control

On the 11th a calf was confirmed killed by wolves on the Mt Haggin State Wildlife Management Area south of Anaconda, MT.  The Mt Haggin pack was believed involved.  The Western Montana wolf crew spent the past week and a half in the area trying to learn more about this pack and haze wolves out of livestock.  The collared male, SW67, has been found with one other uncollared wolf but no pups have been found.

On the 22nd, ID WS confirmed that members of the Phantom Hill pack killed a ewe on FS land near Ketchum, ID on Baker Creek.  Efforts to keep the wolves from the sheep continue.

On the 22nd, ID WS confirmed that members of the Steel Mountain pack killed 2 ewes and 2 lambs near Rocky Bar on FS land near Trinity Lakes, ID.  Traps have been set with the intention of lethally removing two wolves.

On the 24th, ID WS captured and radio collared an adult black female wolf on FS land near Falls Creek, SE of Ririe.  This wolf was captured after WS confirmed that a wolf killed a dog in a campsite last week.  This wolf had given birth this spring and a gray pup was seen nearby.

On the 25th, ID WS captured and killed a sub-adult gray male wolf from the Morris Flat pack on private land East of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.  WS also confirmed that the Morris Flat pack killed another lamb on private land East of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.  The control action on this pack is still ongoing.

On the 26th, ID WS confirmed that wolves killed a calf on a Nez Perce National Forest grazing allotment in Voodoo Creek, East of Kooskia.  It is in the O'Hara Point pack territory.   Traps have been set and ID WS will radio collar the first wolf captured.  If an additional wolf is captured, it will be lethally removed.

On the 21st, WY WS confirmed a calf killed on public land south of Dubois, WY. On the 23rd,  WY WS examined a 2nd dead calf in the same area and recorded it as a probable wolf kill. WY WS suspects wolves from the East Fork Pack were responsible for the depredations. One female wolf in the pack is radio collared; however, she frequently travels out of the area. The USFWS field crew set traps in the area in an attempt to collar another wolf.

On the 23rd, WY WS confirmed that wolves from the Gooseberry Pack attacked and severely injured a calf west of Meeteetse, WY.  This area has had chronic wolf depredations in past years. A yearling was killed on the 27th, but more will be removed if there are additional depredations.

On the 26th, WY WS confirmed a cow killed by wolves in the Beartooth Pack (7 adults plus pups) west of Cody, WY.  Earlier this summer, Beartooth wolves killed a calf in the same area. An adult was killed on the 27th, and more will be removed if depredations continue.

Research

Yellowstone Park researchers report that the summer predation study is going well.  Approx 31 kills have been found May-mid through mid-July and they are 20 bulls, 5 cows, 5 calves, 1 mule deer.  These data support the results of research done by following tagged elk calves [wolves killed few] and generally, but less so, scat analyses (scat analyses show more mule deer used in summer).  Collar locations decrease from one every 30 min now to 8/day starting Aug. 1.

Monitoring flights have picked up pups in all twelve YNP packs this year and so far pup survival looks good thru July.

Yellowstone Park is very dry, with the driest summer in recent memory.  The vegetation looks poor quality Park-wide, except for isolated high elevation pockets.  Several forest fires are burning in the Park.

The cooperative research project (involving Univ WY, USFWS, and WYG&F) in the Sunlight Basin area, west of Cody, WY is in progress. Downloadable GPS collars provide locations for wolves in the Absaroka and Sunlight Packs every 20 minutes.  UW field crews are investigating clusters of radio locations (>2 telemetry points) in an attempt to determine summer predation patterns of wolves in the Sunlight Basin area.  Despite logistical challenges, the project is going well. One GPS collar failed and another GPS collared wolf died since the project began. USFWS field crews trapped and were able to replace both GPS collars.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

An employee on a ranch in the Madison Valley killed an adult female wolf on the 23rd.  His actions are currently under investigation by the USFWS law enforcement.

Todd Grimm and Justin Mann, from ID WS, as well as Steve Nadeau and Dave Cadwaller, from IDFG, Jim Holyan and Keith Lawrence, (NPT Wildlife Program Director) Holyan, and Chandler [NTP] and Jeff Allen from OSC attended a workshop sponsored by the Idaho Farm Bureau in Grangeville, ID on the 24th.  The purpose of the workshop was to update attendees on the proposed 10j Rule amendment, the status of the delisting process, State management, wolf control, and livestock compensation programs.  Approximately 35-40 non-agency folks were present.

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] , Rick Williamson [ID WS] and Jeff Allen [OSC] gave presentations on the future of wolf management to about 40 people including ID Governor Otter and the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association, and several other agency people on July 26 in a backcountry setting north of Hill City, ID.

The Service is completing an Environmental Assessment for its proposed modification of the10j rule.  The EA will be available for public review and comment for 30-days probably starting in August.  Those dates have yet to be finalized, but will be widely announced. The public comment period for the 10j rule itself will be open during that same time period.

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at 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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