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- July 20 through July 24, 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.
The Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery 2008 Annual Report is available at: http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov .
Delisting Litigation Status
On June 2, a lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Missoula (9th Circuit) by a coalition of 13 environmental and animals rights groups. Another separate lawsuit challenging the USFWS delisting criteria was filed shortly after in the 9th Circuit by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. While the two groups have their own attorneys, both those cases have now been consolidated in the Missoula District Court under Judge Molloy. Their complaint alleges the NRM wolf population is not recovered and that the delisting violates the federal Endangered Species Act for many legal reasons, including delisting can not occur without an adequate Wyoming regulatory framework in place, which is not currently the case. A request for a preliminary injunction has not been filed at this time. In addition, the State of Wyoming, Park County, and the Wyoming Wolf Coalition filed lawsuits in the 10th Circuit District Court (Cheyenne, Wyoming) challenging USFWS’s rejection of Wyoming’s regulatory framework and the Wyoming state wolf management plan. Those three cases have been consolidated in the Wyoming court.
USFWS trapping efforts ended east of Dubois, WY due to potential conflicts with summer recreation activities on back-country roads where trapping was attempted. Two bobcats were trapped and released onsite. One large male wolf pup was caught and fitted with a padded radio collar. Trapping efforts may resume later this summer, before big game hunting season.
W.S. and USFWS crew trapped 2 wolves in the Sweetwater Pack, south of Lander, WY. One male wolf was fitted with a VHF collar. A female wolf, that had previously been radio collared in YNP, was released on site.
Summer monitoring of Yellowstone wolves is focusing on reproduction and summer predation at this time. Pup production appears typical of non-disease years, with no evidence of significant pup or adult mortality patterns as in previous disease years. Wolves are beginning to move to higher elevations typical of summer patterns that mirror ungulate movements to higher elevations presumably following greenwave patterns. Spring and summer precipitation and temperature patterns are producing some of the
greenist landscapes this far into the Yellowstone's summer as has been seen in well over a decade. Bull and cow/calf elk groups are appear abundant at higher elevations in many wolf pack territories, and field observations indicate robust calf production and survival so far.
Biologists from WDFW, USFS, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources have recently confirmed the presence of two wolf packs with litters in Washington. On July 10, a howling survey obtained a response from pups of the year at a suspected rendezvous site used by the Lookout Pack in Okanogan County near Twisp [outside the NRM DPS & still listed as endangered]. Both adults were radio-collared in 2008. The pack’s den site was discovered on July 15, 2009. As is typical it was located on a ridge a few hundred feet from water. Scats were collected to examine food habitats and possibly get a minimum pup count through future genetic analysis. Also based on multiple reports from loggers, biologists verified the presence of a new pack in Pend Oreille County, adjacent to the Idaho Panhandle [in the NRM DPS & delisted as of May 2, 2009]. A howling survey on July 9, detected both adults and pups. Sightings by local loggers indicate at least five pups. Remote cameras have been deployed in the area. Trapping will soon be conducted to radio-collar the adults in this pack. This is the first reproductive pack confirmed in northeastern Washington.
OR DOW received a call about an adult black wolf and 3 pups just north of the Salt Creek Summit-- 7-8 miles SE of Wallowa Lake) (in the NRM DPS and delisted on May 2, 2009). OR DOW found a rendezvous site and began trapping. On July 17, 2009 B300 (ID disperser with a dead radio) was captured. She was in good shape, weighed 77lbs., and was nursing pups. This area has lots of cows and the livestock owner has been helpful and is being kept informed. OR DOW then got a call about a black adult wolf seen feeding on an elk carcass a couple miles away. Large wolf tracks were located by the carcass, so OR DOW will try to collar that wolf too.
On 7/22/09, WGFD and the USFWS confirmed a yearling steer had been killed by wolves, east of Bondurant, WY. Several packs intermittently use the area and efforts are ongoing to determine which wolves were involved in the depredation.
Summer predation studies in YNP are going strong, with 4 Lotek downloadable GPS collars in two packs dedicated to this research. Collar performance and intensive field work by a dedicated crew is yielding excellent data on prey selection and kill rates associated with Wolf Project's Matt Metz's M.S. study.
Law Enforcement and Related Activities
Nothing to report at this time.
Outreach and Education
On the 20th, Bangs did a phone radio interview ~6-8 min with a morning station out of Perth, Australia about wolves and the proposed fall 2009 hunt in Montana. He covered the basics of wolf biology, history of wolves in NRM, and why the USFWS is such a huge supporter of professional science-based regulated hunting [as used for elk, lions, etc.] as a conservation tool to reduce damage and to increase public tolerance, funding, and local participation. Amazing how wolf stories travel throughout the world. A USFWS employee traveling in Indonesia this spring reported he heard about wolf delisting in the NRM on the radio in Jakarta. It is understandable how wolf issues might be of interest to folks in some place like Europe [eg. within the historic range of wolves] but oddly folks even far outside wolves' historic range seem to be interested. Wolf stories become symbolic of human interaction with nature or perhaps it is just the pet/dog connection. Regardless, this is more evidence that the world really is watching how wolves will be managed in the NRM.
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.