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Threatened and Endangered Species
As many as 20 bald eagles use the Refuge during spring and fall migrations. In 1970, Refuge staff first documented a pair of eagles but successful nesting was not confirmed until 1978. Since 1995, a bald eagle pair has produced eaglets from the same nest each year. Refuge personnel monitor the nest and nest area throughout the year to document existence of adult and immature eagles.
In summer 1998, a new pair of bald eagles was observed flying in the vicinity of Idlewild Trail. Refuge staff monitored the area and in early summer 1999, discovered the eagle's nest. This pair successfully fledged two young in 1999.
Between 1981 and 1988, The Peregrine Fund released approximately 45 captive-produced young from three Centennial Valley hack tower sites. After 1988, The Peregrine Fund stopped hacking peregrines in the Valley because released and possibly wild pairs were beginning to nest within the area.
Peregrine falcons are now regularly observed between March and September. A few birds are occasionally seen in October and November. In 1999, all three Valley hack towers were occupied by returning peregrine falcons and two of them successfully fledged young. For the first time ever, the Refuge hack tower peregrine pair had a productive nest, fledging one young. Also in 1999, a new falcon pair established a nest in one of the normally productive Valley towers. The fact that it was the pair's first season there is the reason why the nest did not produce young this year. However, the third Valley hack tower pair fledged four young, compared to last year's three. Total Valley hack tower production of five peregrine fledglings for 1999 was almost equal to the six fledged in 1998. Successful production of peregrine fledglings for 1999 was confirmed in one of the two cliff sites in the Valley, fledging two young.
During the summer of 1999, at least 44 young from 27 active peregrine eyries were produced in Montana for an average of 1.59 young/eyrie; seven (6.1%) of them came from nest sites in the Centennial Valley.
The Gray's Lake foster-reared whooping crane that summers at Red Rock Lakes NWR returned in 1999. Based upon the habitat use pattern and other behaviors, this was most likely the same crane that spent the last few summers at Red Rock Lakes NWR. In 1990, this crane was identified as an adult male, A06, and in 1998 was 17 years old, the oldest male in the Gray's Lake NWR flock (whoopers that were foster-reared by sandhill cranes).
During 1998 and 1999, the whooping crane spent the entire summer directly north of Refuge headquarters in the grasslands and willows bordering Odell Creek. In 1999, he was last seen in his usual foraging grounds in the company of two sandhill cranes on September 10, when Refuge staff set up a spotting scope for a visiting Massachusetts Audubon Society tour group. In 1998, his fall departure from the Centennial Valley came on September 13, when he was observed circling to gain altitude with a flock of sandhill cranes. During an aerial crane survey in the Teton Basijn on September 15, 1998, he was sighted with the three Gray's Lake foster-reared whooping cranes that summer there.
All was quiet on the "whooping crane front" until the the last week of September 1998, when a total of three unconfirmed whooping crane sightings were reported in Beaverhead County. Two sightings came from the north and south of Dillon, Montana, and the third was from just east of Lima Reservoir. In the absence of confirmed sightings, three possible explanations emerged. Since there are only four known whoopers in the Centennial Valley-Teton Basin area, it is thought that the Dillon sightings were either a whooping-sandhill crane hybrid or white-morph sandhill cranes, both known to use the area. The Lima Reservoir sighting could have been a crane hybrid or morph, or the Red Rock Lakes whooping crane returned from the Teton Basin (a later flight over the Teton Basin revealed only the three Teton Basin whoopers without the RRL crane).
Grizzly Bear and Gray Wolf
The Refuge lies outside the Yellowstone Recovery Zone for grizzly bears; but the Refuge and adjacent areas may be used by a small number of bears seasonally. Wolves are being reintroduced into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as part of the recovery plan. As recovery of grizzly bears and wolves progresses in Yellowstone and the central Idaho wilderness complex, the Centennial Valley and management practices therein will become increasingly important. The Centennial area will serve as a linkage zone between the two ecosystems.
Category 2 Species
The Refuge also provides habitat for several Category 2 species. These species include: North American wolverine, trumpeter swan, ferruginous hawk, mountain plover, white-faced ibis, Montana Arctic grayling, and spotted frog. (The Fish and Wildlife Service discontinued the Category 2 Species list in 1996.) The Service also identifies and lists proposed, candidate, and nonessential experimental species.
In addition to the Fish and Wildlife Service, other federal agencies, the state of Montana, and the Audubon Society each maintain lists of wildlife species of concern, some of which occur on or near the Refuge. The Bureau of Land Management lists Special Status Species, the National Forest Service documents Sensitive Species, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lists Threatened and Endangered Species, and the Audubon Society maintains national and Montana State WatchLists. These species may represent a significant contribution to the local economy, recreation or aesthetics (e.g., big game), serve as an indicator species for specific habitat conditions (e.g., sagebrush dependent), be of national significance (waterfowl, neotropical migratory birds), or have a legal aspect to their management (Threatened, Endangered, and Sensitive). The Gravelly Landscape Analysis Documentation, a recent publication intended to describe and better understand the role of public lands in southwest Montana, contains information about the occurrence of such species in the region.
Injured and Sick Wildlife
Throughout the year, Refuge staff respond to reports of injured and sick wildlife and routinely note and investigate any unusual wildlife behavior. During banding, trumpeter swan health is monitored carefully. Blood is drawn from any swan appearing unfit and samples are sent out for analysis. Injured swans, as well as raptors and other birds in reasonable condition, are transported to Big Sky Wildcare in Bozeman, Montana, for treatment and rehabilitation. In the rare case that a trumpeter is found dead, the Refuge sends the swan to the National Wildlife Health Research Center (in Madison, Wisconsin) for necropsy to determine the cause of death.