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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/21/2007

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/14/07 to 9/21/07

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.

Monitoring

TENTATIVE 2007 MID-YEAR WOLF POPULATION STATISTICS- Each year we give a rough mid-year wolf population estimate for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains [NRM].  There are no known wolf packs in the NRM outside of Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming.  Our official interagency estimates in our 2007 annual report will certainly be different and much more accurate than these because of better wolf monitoring conditions in fall/winter and increased levels of wolf mortality and dispersal later in the year.  These figures do give some insight into the likely trend of the wolf population, conflicts, and control relative to last year.  Overall, the NRM wolf population in 2007 will be higher, wolf control about the same, and confirmed livestock depredations lower than that documented in 2006.  Please remember that breeding pairs [adult male & female and 2 or more pups] can only be determined after December 31, so the mid-year estimate is what might be present at the end of the year and is likely high.

Tentative 2007 Mid-Year Wolf Population Statistics
State Year #Wolves Packs breeding pairs cattle killed sheep dogs other Wolves
MT 2006 316 60 21 32 4 4 2 53
MT 2007 394 71 37 48 19 1 1 50
ID 2006 673 69 40 29 205 4 0 45
ID 2007 788 75 41 36 150 7 0 40
WY 2006 311 40 25 123 38 0 1 44
WY 2007 362 33 27 28 16 2 0 45
Total 2006 1300 172 86 184 247 8 3 142
Total 2007 1545 179 105 111 185 10 1 134

Early in the week, MFWP got a report of an injured black wolf wearing a radio-collar in the Rye Creek area in the Bitterroot Valley, MT.  The wolf was said to look thin and was unable to move very well.  MFWP visited the area on Tuesday the 18th and could not find the wolf.  There are 3 different black radio-collared wolves in this area (from 2 different packs) but none of them
were found in the immediate vicinity of where the sighting was reported and all were alive.  Missing Idaho collars were searched for but none were found.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] investigated a report of wolves in the uncollared Owl Creek pack territory (near the confluence of the Middle Fork Salmon River); tracks of 4-6 wolves were observed in fresh snow, indicating this pack is still active in the area.

Nathan Borg [IDFG] attempted to capture wolves in the Boundary pack along the Canadian border.  He verified wolf activity but did not see evidence of reproduction.  Carter Niemeyer [IDFG] continued his attempts at capturing wolves in the Bear Valley and Scott Mt. packs.

The IDFG Wilderness crew has finally finished off their efforts as the fire season winds down and hunters pile into the Selway.  IDFG would like to thank Jonathan Ball, Kari Holder, and Josh Vale for their professional efforts and hard work under tough conditions.  Along with Lacy Robinson, who will remain on board for a few more weeks, the crew hiked more than 500 original miles of trails, 100 miles of adjacent roads, verified several packs, tested a rendezvous site GIS model, and otherwise covered the entire Wilderness trail system looking for and verifying wolf pack activity.  We would also like to thank the USFS for allowing us to stay at the Fenn Ranger Station through the summer, and helping to fund the study, and helping provide some logistical support.  Michael Lucid and Lacy will summarize the results of the effort and they will be included in the annual report.

NPT Crew #1 scouted in the Soldier Mt. pack territory in hopes of capturing and GPS radiocollaring a wolf in this study area as part of the research led by the Univ. of MT Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit.  Some wolf sign was observed, but not enough to warrant placement of traps.
 
NPT Crew #2 attempted to ascertain whether GPS radiocollared wolf B327 was affiliated with other wolves in the Gold Fork/Orphan home ranges.  His signal was heard on several days, but he was always located within an area closed due to fire restrictions.  This crew also surveyed in the former Hazard Lake pack territory for wolf presence, but none was detected.

Mack [NPT] elicited howling responses from multiple wolves on 3 consecutive days within the former Hazard Lake pack territory.  The Carey Dome pack had a rendezvous site nearby, but based on aerial telemetry, it is believed that the wolves heard were not part of this pack.  A NPT biologist is scouting the area and will conduct a capture effort if the wolves are still present and trapping can be conducted without undue interference with the hunting season.
 
Holyan [NPT] conducted flights on 9/18, 9/20, and 9/21.  Of note was a visual of the recently re-collared Selway pack; 2 gray wolves (this pack was formerly all black) + 13 black (minimum) were observed.  In addition, B315, missing since Jan. '07, was located not far from her last known whereabouts, and B219 (missing since May 2005) was detected on mortality mode ~ 75 miles from her last known location.  USFWS Law Enforcement has been notified and a NPT team will attempt to investigate the site on the 24th. 

On the 18th, USFWS field crew in WY (Woodruff and Taylor) captured an adult female and a pup from the Buffalo Pack. Another wolf pulled out of their traps.

Control

MT WS confirmed a lamb killed by wolves on a ranch near Lincoln, MT on the 12th.  The herder saw a black and a gray wolf in the area. On the 15th MT WS trapped and collared a gray female wolf there and all traps were pulled.  Monitoring of the situation will be ongoing.

On Sept 16th, MT WS removed a black adult male wolf in the Highland Mtns, south of Butte, MT from the Fleecer Mtn Pack.  Control is ongoing to remove the remaining 2 members of this pack.

On the 14th, MT WS/MFWP radio-collared a pup in the Mill creek pack as a response to cattle depredations. WS will continue trapping efforts to collar an adult as it is uncertain if the pup's collar will stay on due to having to pad the collar with foam.

On the 19th, a llama died from it's injuries due to a wolf attack confirmed on 9/11 east of Livingston, MT.  Pack affiliation of the invovled lone uncollared gray wolf is uncertain.

On the 21st, MT WS confirmed a calf was killed by wolves on private land southwest of Philipsburg, MT.  The Sapphire pack was believed involved because all 3 radio-collared wolves were found near or on the ranch that day.  MFWP authorized MT WS to trap on the carcass over the weekend and remove any wolves that return.  MFWP authorized the removal of at least 4 wolves by means of  trapping on the carcass and by aircraft.

On the 15th, ID WS confirmed that wolves from the High Prairie Pack killed 4 ewes on Fall Creek near House Mountain, ID.  A livestock guarding dog and several other sheep were also reported missing.  The depredation occurred on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment.  An on-going control action is in progress from previous confirmed predation.  IDFG has given authority to remove up to 2 wolves.

On the 15th, ID WS confirmed wolf predation to one buck sheep near Trinity Ridge on a Boise National Forest grazing allotment.  The Steel Mountain pack is suspected as being responsible.  IDFG has authorized the removal of 1 uncollared wolf from that pack.  On the 18th, WS captured the alpha female and replaced her collar with a new radio-collar since the one she was wearing is several years old and expected to fail soon.  On the 19th, ID WS found a fresh sheep carcass and confirmed that it was killed by wolves.

On the 17th, ID WS investigated a reported incident of wolf predation and confirmed 3 of 8 sheep that were looked at as wolf predation. This incident  occurred up the Pearl Creek drainage between Pearl Creek and Outlet Creek of the Payette National Forest.  This is in the same area where WS received a report last week of about 80 missing sheep and where the remains of 3 sheep were found but cause of death was not determined due to severe decomposition.  WS has set traps with the intention of radio-collaring the first wolf captured and the authority to remove up to 2 wolves, excluding pups.  The Jungle Creek Pack is suspected.

On the 17th, ID WS received a report from a cattle producer that a 550 pound calf was attached by wolves resulting in severe injuries to its flank and hind legs.  An ID WS employee investigated the report the same day and confirmed the calf was attached by wolves.  The attack occurred near Moyer Creek off of Panther Creek in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.  The calf died the following day.  Telemetry signals from 2 of the 3 radio-collared wolves belonging to the Moyer Basin pack were received about a mile from where the attack occurred.  IDFG has given the authority to remove up to 2 uncollared adult wolves.

On the 18th, ID WS received a phone call from a rancher complaining of a wolf that was seen harassing his cattle on private property.  This producer has had wolf problems in previous years.  He was provided again with the 10(j) rules regarding wolf predation on livestock.  There are no known wolf packs or radio-collared wolves in the area so ID WS will be trapping in an effort to capture, radio-collar and release a wolf.  The property is located north of Moore, Idaho.

On the 19th, WY WS removed one sub-adult wolf from the East Fork Pack near Dubois, WY. One more adult will be removed.  The pack consists of > 7 wolves.

On the 21st, WY WS confirmed a calf killed on private property west of Cody, WY. Control is ongoing to remove 2 wolves from the Absaroka Pack.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On Sept. 11th, the Service published a Notice of Availability in the FR and invited public comment on an Environmental Assessment for the proposed 10j special rule and re-opened the comment period for the proposed 10j rule.  The comment period will close Oct 11th.  Instructions on how to submit comments are available at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] gave a presentation to a group of 25 biologists at a Large Carnivore Corridor workshop in West Yellowstone on Sept. 5.

On the 20th, Jimenez (USFWS) briefed Grand Teton National Park Law Enforcement on wolf issues and reviewed investigation protocols & communications for the coming year.

On the 21st, Jimenez [USFWS] and Sime [MFWP] traveled to Tucson, AZ to give papers at the annual meeting of The Wildlife Society.  They will be on a panel on the social aspects of wolf management and will be representing the interagency wolf working group for the NRM and MFWP.

Doug Smith gave a presentation at Weber state Univ. in Ogden, UT on the 19th.

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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