Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains
Mountain-Prairie Region

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- May 11 through May 15, 2009

           
Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual 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. All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose.  Please distribute as you see fit.

Annual Reports
The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available at: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .
                             
Status of the NRM wolf delisting rule 
The Final Rule to Establish a Gray Wolf – Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment and Remove it from the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species became effective May 4, 2009.  It was published in the Federal Register Vol 74, No. 62 pages 15123-15188on April 2, 2009.  The rule, the literature cited, and Questions and Answers about it are posted on the USFWS website at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .  The rule delists wolves in Montana, Idaho, eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north central Utah.  Wolves in Wyoming will remain under the adequate regulatory mechanisms of the ESA.  The US Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to manage wolves in all of Wyoming under the provisions of the 1994 nonessential experimental population rules.  Management under the ESA will continue until such time Wyoming develops a regulatory framework that the Service determines meets the purposes of the ESA.  After that happens the Service may initiate the mandatory federal regulatory process [including public review and comment] to turn management over to Wyoming.  

Monitoring
On 5/8/09, WY Wildlife Services trapped and radio collared 2 adult female wolves from the Greybull River Pack.

During winter 2009, the 17 wolves captured near Jackson, WY were tested for 2 strains of Brucellosis (Brucella canis and Brucella abortus). All 17 wolves tested negative for Brucella canis and fifteen wolves tested negative for Brucella abortus. Two wolves tested positive for Brucella abortus.  To put these test results in perspective, the Supervisory Veterinarian for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Terry J. Kreeger, DVM, PhD) offered the following comments:  “A positive serology titer for Brucella abortus in a wolf means that the wolf had been infected with the bacteria sometime in the past (probably in the last 12 months) and developed an immune response reflected in the antibodies measured by the diagnostic tests.  A positive test does not mean that the wolf is currently infected with living bacteria, although it can be.  How a wolf became infected by Brucella abortus is speculative.  Possible ways of becoming infected include: 1) consumption of a fetus aborted by an infected elk or bison; 2) consumption of an adult, pregnant, infected elk or bison (particularly consumption of the reproductive tract); 3) consumption of an adult, infected, but not pregnant elk or bison (unlikely source); or 4) contact with the environmental site of an aborted fetus (also unlikely).  Wolves can become infected with Brucella abortus and transiently shed the bacteria in the feces, although the amount of shed bacteria is thought to be insufficient to infect cattle, elk, or bison”.

Control
Recently, two separate situations in YNP with habituated wolves have occurred. In the first situation, the Canyon pack denned within a half mile from the Mammoth/Park Headquarters area where there is also a residential area.  The wolves have traveled through the residential area and killed elk there as well as close to the road near visitors.  None wolves of the wolves (4 of them, 3 males and 1 female) have been a human safety threat, regardless they have been hazed from the residential area (bean bags and cracker shells) and will be continually hazed each time they enter this area.  Results from hazing have been effective and it has reduced the time they come in to the developed area.  These practices are consistent with how grizzly bears are treated as a grizzly was hazed from the same area on May 14.  If there is any evidence of a human safety threat then the offending animal will be removed.  The den area is being protected through a closure and visitors are advised to not approach these wolves for photographs or any other reason as it negates the effectiveness of the hazing.

In the second situation, a young wolf dispersing probably from the Gibbon Meadows pack chased people on bicycles and a motorcycle on several occasions.  It is unclear how many times as it appears the wolf has been illegally fed and this and other incidences of habituation have gone unreported.  This wolf is considered a human safety threat and active measures to remove it have been ongoing since May 7 without success.  There is no plan at the moment to suspend activities to find and kill this animal because it is considered a threat to human safety.  Again, visitors are advised to not approach wolves or any other wildlife in YNP as it is unsafe and leads to habituated wildlife which ultimately will have to be removed. 

Research
The annual Yellowstone Park Wolf Project Winter Study took place in March 2009 examining wolf predation.  Prey selection and kill rate were typical for late winter: primarily bulls and old cows were taken with few calves.  Bone marrow fat was good through mid-month and then noticeably declined, which is about 2 weeks later than normal.  Possible reasons were favorable forage production during summer 2008 which increased condition of elk, especially bulls, entering the winter period.  Supporting this idea were very few poor condition elk killed during the early winter study period.  Winter conditions were considered average with snowpack for many drainages reporting around 100%.

Other findings were that because of the 40% population decline on the northern range, including the loss of three large packs (Oxbow Creek, Leopold, and Slough Creek), several small packs that were previously excluded moved into these vacant areas and became territorial.  Some of these new packs were the Blacktail and Cottonwood packs.

Law Enforcement and Related Activities  
On 5/11/09, a private individual reported to authorities that an adult wolf was killed by an M-44 that he had placed for coyote control on private property in the Big Horn Mountains. A subsequent investigation by a USFWS Law Enforcement Special Agent concluded that the individual had complied with all regulations concerning the legal use of M-44’s. No further actions were taken and the case was closed.

Outreach and Education
Nothing to report at this time.

Further Information
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.

For additional information, please contact:
Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Ed_Bangs@FWS.GOV

Mike Jimenez (307)733-7096 or (307)330-5631 or  Mike_Jimenez@FWS.GOV

Last updated: November 8, 2012