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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From:               Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 10/05/2007

Subject:            Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/28/07 to10/05/07

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

On the 16th, a MT bow hunter reported finding a dead wolf wearing a radio collar up Indian Creek in the Madison Valley.  On the 26th, MFWP and USFWS LE retrieved the reported wolf, it was SW157F.  This wolf was collared in Bear Creek in the Madison in January of 2007 and was found alive during a recent radio monitoring flight on September 11 in the Gallatin.  The cause of death is under investigation.

A woman that raises llamas reported seeing wolves in Shields Valley, MT.  MFWP gave her fencing ideas. Not missing radioed wolves appear to be in the area.

On Sept. 29th, MFWP responded to a report of a mangy wolf near a ranch house in Paradise Valley.  Two wolves were found near the vicinity and hazed off the property.  Both the Chief Joesph wolves (394M and SW113m) had mange and were running together.  MFWP may remove them if they settle on someone’s land [mangy wolves sometimes use old haystacks or under abandoned buildings to stave hypothemia], but for now they behaving normally.  MFWP will continue to closely monitor this pair.  Public reports of any sightings of mangy wolves in this area will be helpful. Reports can be sent to http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf .

Wolves might be back in the Trail creek/Wineglass [Upper Paradise Valley] again (old Lone Bear territory).  Local rancher heard of 4-6 wolves near Pine Mt. in that area, but MFWP haven't heard any missing collars to date there.  Big game hunts have that area locked up right now so there is no access for field work at this time.

MFWP reported a sighting of 5 gray wolves on the a ranch N. side of Madison Valley about a week ago.  This is visible country but MFWP haven't had any other reports and haven't found sign as of yet.  This might be different group than the Beartrap pack that consists of 7 pups and 4 adults (all black with one gray adult) near the Gallatin River SW of Bozeman, MT.

Mill Creek ranchers in Paradise Valley, haven’t reported any depredations since mid-August.  Three pups are now collared in that area and they are running from Pine creek to Mill creek.

Boulder Range Rider program (south of Big Timber, MT) is winding down. MFWP attended a meeting with landowners there last week, not much has changed (two packs...Moccasin and Baker Mountain are in that area.  They are trying to find funding for next year.

A rancher in Tom Minor Basin, MT is estimates they have a 15% calf loss but still need to crunch numbers.  Possible packs using that area were Swan Lake which was largely removed, and the Eight Mile pack, and Chief Joe.  Defenders of Wildlife and Keystone [NGO’s] have been talking with the rancher about a possible Range Rider project for next year.

Carter Niemeyer and Nate Borg [IDFG] continued to try and catch up to the elusive Bear Valley and Scott Mt. packs.  Jason Husseman [IDFG] is trying one last time to catch up to the Hughes Ck. pack on the ground.  Michael Lucid [IDFG] shuttled vehicles and did equipment inventory now that the ID wilderness crew is done for the season.  The trapping season will be over in the next few days as the big game hunting season is beginning and the weather is turning decidedly winter-like in the high country.  Some capture efforts may continue this winter from helicopters.

NPT field season ha concluded.  We thank Isaac Babcock, Tyler Hollow, Katrina Chandler, and Bjornen duPont for their excellence in the field in 2007.  Thanks as well to the folks at Taylor Ranch.  NPT crews investigated 38 documented packs, 1 suspected pack, 2 areas of suspected wolf activity, and 3 other groups (multiple efforts were made on some individuals/packs in all categories); a min. of 101 pups were documented by NPT personnel or within the NPT area of responsibility (Clearwater region and McCall subregion); documented 5 "new" packs (some of these packs may have been in existence prior, but were officially first counted in 2007); and captured 21 wolves (18 were radiocollared).  Holyan [NPT] may continue field efforts as feasibility and need warrant.

From 9/20-25, NPT Crew #1 conducted a capture operation on the newly-documented Hard Butte pack (wolves occupying the former Hazard Lake pack territory).  A minimum of 3 pups was documented based upon howling.  No captures were made and traps were pulled due to the presence of a band of sheep/accompanying dogs and because it appeared the wolves had left the area.

On the 24th, NTP Crew #2 scouted out the recently rediscovered B315 (missing since Jan. '07), but could only manage to detect a very faint signal from the ground; no signals were heard for either B327 or B349.  This crew also recovered the remains and radiocollar of B219 on the 25th (missing from the Magruder pack since May 2005); evidence has been turned over to USFWS Law Enforcement.  Thirdly, they spent 9/26-28 near Bovill, ID searching for the radio signal of a GPS-collared Canadian wolf that walked to central ID from Alberta, Canada; no signals were heard in the vicinity of the most up-to-date locations available and no wolf sign was seen on the multitude of roads traveled.

Control

On Oct 2nd,  ID WS confirmed that wolves had injured a 600# calf on BLM land on Sage Creek between the Trail Creek Road and Willow Creek Summit near Mackay, ID.  The Pass Creek wolves may be responsible.  This calf probably will not survive.  All of the cattle have been removed from the area and there are a lot of hunters in the area right now.  For the time being, WS will not be starting a control action.

MT WS specialist Jim Rost collared a male pup in the Mill Creek pack on September 30 and another on October 2.  Traps have been pulled and the pack will be monitored. No depredations have been reported since August 19, although the injured cow confirmed on August 8 is not doing very well.  We would like to thank the landowners that granted access to their properties for this collaring effort.

MFWP spoke to a rancher in eastern MT that lost sheep to wolf-like canids [suspected hybrids] and had SOS permit.  The rancher has 28 lambs left of 80 and 68 ewes of 80 (5 ewes died of natural causes).  MFWP will check in with her on fencing options, etc. and revisited with her on the 10j rule, but no wolves or depredations have been reported in the past 45 days, so the SOS permit canceled.  One wolf-like canid was incidentally killed on September 1 on the same private land as where 2 lambs were confirmed killed by a large canid earlier in August.  A tissue sample will be sent for genetic testing ,which will hopefully determine whether this wolf is related to the northern Rocky Mountain wild wolf population or it too came from a private captive situation. The large canid killed last year after a series of sheep depredations in this same general area was confirmed to be the product of human manipulated breeding and came from unknown privately held captive stock.  Because the best available information suggests there could still be 1-2 canids likely of captive origin, MT WS was authorized to opportunistically remove up to 2 canids from this general area that looked suspicious to them(i.e. low physical resemblance to wild wolf) for up to 45 days.  MWFP will revisit the situation as soon as genetic results of the animal killed in August 2007 become available.

On the 3rd, ID WS confirmed that a pair of wolves killed an adult cow on private land on Moores Flats, just east of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.  Traps are being set as ID WS continues to try and remove these two animals.

On the 3rd,  ID WS shot 1 gray wolf from the Galena pack in Champion Creek in the Sawtooth National Forest.  These wolves were involved in a depredation on sheep on the 2nd and the control action by IDFG authorized the removal of one uncollared wolf.  

On the 3rd, ID WS confirmed that wolves killed 4 ewes and a buck on a Sawtooth National Forest allotment near Alturous Lake.  These sheep had become separated from the band which was removed from the FS allotment last week.  ID WS is taking no control action because of the number of hunters in the area and the fact that the livestock are no longer present.

On the 3rd, ID WS confirmed that members of the Timberline pack killed 3 ewes on Rock Creek on the Boise National Forest north of Idaho City.  WS already has a control action in place to remove 2 wolves and traps were set.

On the 4th, ID WS investigated a report that wolves had killed a ewe on a Sawtooth National Forest grazing allotment on Rock Creek, near Fairfield.  ID WS could not confirm the depredation, but did call it probable.

On the 2nd, WY WS confirmed a 2nd calf killed by wolves west of Cody, WY. Control is ongoing and 2 wolves will be removed from the Absaroka Pack.

Research

On the 2nd, Sime and Jude [MFWP] met with Dr. Mike Mitchell and David Ausband [Univ. MT] to further refine data analysis and monitoring protocols and another paper on wolf monitoring that is in preparation.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

The comment period for the Environmental Assessment for the proposed 10j special rule and re-opened the comment period for the proposed 10j rule will close Oct 11th.  The EA and 10j proposal and instructions on how to submit comments are available at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] gave a presentation to about 30 members of the Fruitland Lions Club on Oct. 4.

On the 4th, Jimenez [FWS] spoke at a Watchable Wildlife Conference in Tucson, AZ. The conference was co-sponsored by various state and federal agencies.  Participants came from all over the US, Canada, and Mexico.

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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