Wyoming Gray Wolf Recovery Status Report
From: USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY
Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM
WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- October 27 through November 7, 2008Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) and Wyoming weekly reports can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov . Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites. Information concerning wolf management in Wyoming from 3/28/08 through 7/18/08 can be found on the Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD) web site at http://gf.state.wy.us . Beginning 9/15/08, the USFWS will publish weekly wolf reports for Wyoming. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.
Wolf Litigation and Management:Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) were delisted on March 28, 2008. On July 18, 2008, the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the NRM. All wolves in Wyoming are protected under the ESA as an experimental population and managed by the USFWS.
On September 22, 2008 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to the Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana requesting that the February 27, 2008 NRM wolf delisting final rule be vacated and remanded back to the USFWS for further consideration and action. The Court can take whatever time it believes it needs to make that decision. The Court had reinstated the listed status to wolves on July 18, 2008 via a preliminary injunction that indicated the Court believed the USFWS was unlikely to prevail in its case. The FWS, in consultation with its State and other partners, concluded that the best and most timely way to resolve this issue was to get the final rule back in its hands to closely review the Court's ruling, the final rule, the administrative record, any new information, and then consider whether modifications or some other action might be warranted.
On October 14, 2008, the court vacated the final delisting rule and remanded it back to the FWS. The court dismissed the case without considering its merits, thereby ending the lawsuit and re-establishing full Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the NRM.
On October 24, 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was reopening the public comment period on its proposal to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. The public will have until November 28, 2008, to submit their comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or via U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-Au53; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Dive, Suite 222; Arlington. VA 22203.
We routinely use aerial telemetry flights from November through January to identify wolf packs, determine pack composition, and estimate the total number of wolves in Wyoming. Snow cover improves tracking conditions thereby increasing the accuracy of our estimates. During early winter, we may confirm new packs as well as determine some suspected packs do not actually exist. The USFWS will provide final minimal wolf population estimates in the 2008 Annual Report which will be completed by the end of February 2009.
From January 1 through November 7, 2008 we have documented 68 dead wolves in Wyoming (outside YNP). Causes of mortality included: agency control: n=38 (56% of total mortality); WGFD Predator Area take: n=9 (14%); under investigation: n=7 (10%); natural: n=3 (5%); vehicle strikes: n=2 (3%); individual control: n=2 (3%); capture related: n=1 (1%); and unknown; n=6 (9%).
Table 1. Causes of wolf mortality in Wyoming (outside YNP) 1/1/03 through 11/7/08.
Agency WGFD Individual Illegal/Under
Year Control Pred. Area Control Investigation Natural Vehicle Other Total
2003 18 -- -- 5 3 0 1 27
2004 29 -- -- 1 0 0 6 36
2005 41 -- -- 5 3 2 0 51
2006 44 -- -- 8 1 3 3 59
2007 63 -- -- 5 2 0 5 75
2008 38 9 2 7 3 2 7 68
Total: 233 9 2 31 12 7 22 316
On 11/6/08, WGFD confirmed a calf killed by wolves on private property west of Cody, Wyoming. Numerous depredations have occurred on this property over the last several years. The USFWS requested WS to remove the 2 depredating wolves on the private property and issued the livestock producer a shoot-on-site permit to kill 2 wolves.
The USFWS has managed wolf population growth and distribution in Wyoming (outside YNP) to minimize chronic loss of livestock from wolves. In 2007, we reduced the total number of confirmed livestock depredations by >55% compared to the number of depredations in 2006 by removing chronically depredating wolves early in the grazing seasons. We predict the number of confirmed depredations in 2008 will again be significantly lower than the number of depredations in 2006. While reducing livestock depredations, we continue to maintain the Wyoming wolf population (outside Yellowstone National Park) well above recovery objectives with >20 confirmed packs, ~16-17 breeding pairs, and ~180 wolves in 2008.
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008*
Cattle 34 75 54 123 55 36
Sheep 7 18 27 38 16 26
Dogs 0 2 1 1 2 0
Other 10 1 0 1 0 0
Wolves controlled 18 29 41 44 63 38
* 2008 figures are from January through November 7, 2008.
Nothing to report at this time.
Law Enforcement and Related Activities
Nothing to report at this time.
Outreach and Education
In an article on 10/29/08, the Casper Star Tribune reported that canine distemper was suspected as a cause for lower pup survival in YNP this year. In Wyoming (outside YNP) we provide midyear estimates on the number of wolves, number of packs, pack size, and pup production; however, these estimates are only preliminary. More accurate estimates are calculated later in the winter. So far in 2008, we have documented approxately16-17 packs that produced pups with an average litter size of approximately 4 pups. From 1999-2007, litter sizes in Wyoming have averaged approximately 4.4 pups per litter. In 2008, 1 (possibly 2) packs have been identified with unusually smaller litters. Blood samples taken from wolves this winter during routine capture operations will be tested for various diseases.
To request an investigation of livestock injured or killed by wolves, please contact the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services at (307)261-5336.