Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 4/12/02

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 4/5 to 4/12, 2002

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s email and web sites are back. Thanks for your patience. Please forward copies of the 2001 annual report and weekly reports to others.


See for maps of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report is available and we should begin mail distribution around April 20th 2002. This year’s annual report is excellent, great job Tom Meier!!, and thanks to all those who contributed their data.

About ½ of the packs in the Yellowstone system have denned and the earliest yet denned on April 1. So far [April 11] Druid (main group), Leopold, and probably Rose Creek, 103 group, Nez Perce, and Chief Joe. Not denned were Mollies, 105 group, 106 group, Tower, and Swan Lake. Don’t know about Delta, Cougar Creek or Sheep Mountain.

A group of 2 black and 3 gray wolves was seen by a MT FW&P biologist near Red Lodge, MT this week. No radioed wolves are believed to be present. A pack member will be collared if the opportunity presents itself.

One of the radioed collared relocated "pups" now a yearling was found dead near Vinal Lake in the Yaak, MT drainage. Its death is under investigation by LE.

Wolves should be searching out den sites now and are denning. Monitoring flights will be conducted to determine the number of locations of denning wolves.

Please report wolf sightings in MONTANA, IDAHO, OR WYOMING!! If outdoors enthusiasts or AGENCY BIOLOGISTS report evidence of wolves to you please pass that information along to the Service. This appears to be a record year for wolf dispersal and evidence is mounting that there are several packs and pairs that have formed that do not contain radio-collared members. We find them primarily through public and agency reports- so please help!!


On the 5th, another calf was confirmed killed by Whitehawk pack. The remaining 5 pack members (adult pair and 3 yearlings), were killed on the 7th. In the past entire wolf packs have been eliminated because of chronic depredation problems on 4 other occasions. Many pro-wolf individuals were very upset by this and the previous control action in Paradise Valley and have written numerous emails about this issue. A news story appeared about all the emails protesting the lethal control of wolves and the Service response to those concerns. On the 10th a flood of other calls and emails were received thanking the Service either for its personal response to the citizen concerns or for conducting the control actions as promised. Others were still very upset. The Service’s written response to the public’s concern about the recent level of lethal control of problem wolves is posted on our R6 web site

On the 10th a large gray uncollared adult male was killed in the Ninemile drainage. This area has been the site of three separate attacks that killed 5 llamas. Three blacks and 4 grays were on an elk kill. Control is over unless more livestock are attacked.

On the 8th, a sheep rancher northeast of Helena, MT [but in the Yellowstone experimental area] had several sheep killed by what was suspected to be a mountain lion. He removed the carcasses and talked to Wildlife Services. On the morning of the 9th a lone black wolf was standing just outside the 1/4 mile fenced area where the sheep herd is kept. Two Wildlife Service specialists examined the sheep carcasses and they were confirmed wolf kills. Nine lambs were killed outright, 3 others died later, and 3 more were wounded and probably will die. In addition a ewe was killed. The lone black male wolf was shot by WS while it was bedded on a hillside above the sheep on the 9th. The wolf was a disperser (#203) from the Chief Joseph pack (just north of Yellowstone Park). This is the first natural dispersal out of the Yellowstone area into what is basically the northwestern Montana area. He was last located January 6 in the Madison Valley, a distance of about 130 miles from where he was killed.


The Yellowstone National Park winter predation study began on March 1 and ended on March 30. The 30-day study follows wolf packs every day on the ground and by aircraft [weather depending] to measure the predation rate and prey selection of wolves. This work has been conducted Nov.15-Dec.15 and March 1-30 for the past 5 years. This has been the worst winter weather on record for flying but ground crews are doing their best to keep up. A summary is Leopold (9 wolves): 6 elk [4 bulls, 1 calf, 1 unknown and also scavenged bison that was not predation. Rose Creek (8 wolves): 3 elk kills [2 bulls, 1 cow]. Druid: 30 wolves but in 4 separate groups and each are becoming territorial. Together they made 23 kills, more old cows and bulls than normal plus scavenged 2 winter kill. One bison was killed.


Asher conducted more rubber bullet training in the Paradise Valley on the 1st and put newer batteries in the RAG box in use there. She also hiked into the area where the Sheep Mountain pack had localized searching for a potential den but none was found and the wolves started moving around again. She did the same for the Chief Joe pack which has been hanging out in Cinibar and Tom Miner Basin. If the packs were cleaning out dens in "bad" locations we would fill the dens with moths balls and disturb the sites to hopefully get the wolves to den in better locations. Last year we successfully caused the Chief Joe pack to den in Yellowstone National Park rather than Cinibar Basin again. Fontaine visited the area again on the 9th and the dens had not been re-excavated. Fontaine, seasonal biologist Paul Frame and Val Asher will visit it again on 4/16.

Information and education and law enforcement

On the 6th, Doug Smith gave a presentation to the Sig Olsen memorial in Ashland, WI. The meeting was hosted by the Timber Wolf Alliance and was attended by 100 people.

On April 7 Nez Perce, Service, and Wildlife Services staff met with Custer County Livestock producers in Challis, ID.

On the 8th, the same agency representatives, Niemeyer, Mack and Williamson, met with Custer County Commissioners in challis. That afternoon they met with Lemhi County Commissioners, and Lehmi County Livestock producers in Salmon, ID.

On the 10th, Bangs met with a coalition of representatives from conservation groups who were discussing ways to facilitate large carnivore conservation in the Rocky Mountains. About 15 people participated in the meeting in Dillon, MT.

On the 11th, Bangs and Niemeyer gave a morning wolf presentation to the Service’s Regional Office in Portland, OR that was attended by about 30 people. In the afternoon they and Curt Mack and others met with the Oregon Fish and Game Commission to discuss wolf management issues in OR. About 70 people attended that afternoon session.

On the 12th, Mack participated on the Threatened Species Protection panel during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Conf. in Lewiston, ID

On the 12th, Bangs gave a presentation on wolves at the annual meeting of the Idaho Academy of Sciences in Rexberg, ID. About 80 people attended.

On the 16th of January, Montana released its draft state wolf management plan for public review and comment. The draft "Planning Document for Wolf Conservation and Management in Montana" and the Wolf Advisory Council’s "Report to the Governor" are available via MT FW&P’s website at: . To request copies call 406-444-2612.

THE ANNUAL WOLF CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD IN BOISE, ID. THE CONF. IS SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 23rd and 24th at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel 1-800-233-4611. CONTACT Joe_Fontaine@FWS.GOV. Joe Fontaine (406)449-5225 x206. The agenda is attached. See to register or for more information.

The 14th Annual North American Interagency Wolf Conference

Owyhee Plaza Hotel, 1109 Main St, (in the Ballroom on the Mezzanine level)

Boise, Idaho

Monday - April 22nd through Wednesday - April 24th

Schedule of Events

Monday April 22nd

8:00 am - 4:00 pm ~ Field Trip: Dances with... Sheep?

Its spring lambing season and the Soulen sheep ranch has invited those interested in discussing issues surrounding sheep ranching in wolf country... or is that wolf restoration in sheep country? Lunch and transportation will be included. Carter Niemeyer, US Fish and Wildlife Service Idaho Wolf Project Leader, will be on hand to answer questions about the Service's role in managing wolves and livestock conflicts in Idaho. Suzanne Laverty, Northwest Field Representative, will discuss Defenders of Wildlife's wolf compensation and proactive programs. Departs from the Owyhee Plaza Hotel lobby at 8 am. Lunch and transportation is provided. Cost: $45.

7:00 - 9:30 p.m. "A Night of Wolves" Public Earth Day Event

Owyhee Plaza Hotel, 1109 Main St, (in the Ballroom on the Mezzanine level) in Boise


Join us for an evening of educational and cultural presentations featuring stories and songs of the ancient relationship between wolves and the indigenous peoples of the West, presented by Black Beaver of the Nez Perce tribe; "Wolves: A Legend Returns to Yellowstone," a documentary by National Geographic’’s Bob Landis will be followed by an update on Yellowstone wolves by National Park Service Wolf Coordinator Dr. Douglas Smith; and a unique wolf program by Colorado’’s Mission Wolf, featuring Rami, a wolf raised in captivity and "educational ambassador" for her species. Local, regional and national environmental groups will participate with displays and information. Admission: $5 adults and $2 for children 12 and under.

Tuesday April 23rd

The 14th Annual North American Interagency Wolf Conference

Sponsored by Boise State University, Defenders of Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, and Yellowstone National Park

Owyhee Plaza Hotel, 1109 Main St, (in the Ballroom on the Mezzanine level) Boise, Idaho

8:00 am - 8:05 am ~ Introductions and announcements by conference coordinators, Joseph Fontaine, US Fish and Wildlife Service and Suzanne Laverty, Defenders of Wildlife.

8:05 - 9:00 am ~ The Ripple Effect. Dr. Paul Paquet, University of Alberta.

9:00 - 9:30 am ~ Status of Wolf Recovery in Southwestern Montana. Val Asher, Wildlife Biologist, Turner Endangered Species Fund.

9:30 - 10:00 am ~ Wolf Recovery in the Southern Rockies. Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund.

10:00 - 10:30 am ~ Wolf Update for Wisconsin and Michigan. Pam Troxell, Timber Wolf Alliance Coordinator.

10:30 - 11:00 am ~ Status of Red Wolf Recovery. Bud Fazio, Team Leader, Red Wolf Project.

11:00 am - noon ~ The Status of Delisting Wolves in the Northern Rockies

Moderator: Dr. John Freeman, Boise State University

Dave Moody, Wyoming Dept of Game and Fish, Greg Schildwachter, Idaho Policy Advisor, Idaho Office of Species Conservation and Carolyn Sime, Research Biologist, Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Noon - 1:00 pm ~ Buffet Style Lunch

1:00 - 1:30 pm ~ Status of Wolf Recovery in Northwestern Montana. Tom Meier, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

1:30 - 2:00 pm ~ Human Injuries Caused by Presumably Healthy Wild Wolves in Twentieth Century North America. John C. Carnes, University of Idaho; Victor Van Ballenberghe, U.S. Forest Service Northwest Research Station.

2:00 - 2:30 pm ~ Wolf Recovery in the Lower 48 States - What Happens Next?. Nina Fascione, Director of Carnivore Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife.

2:30 - 3:00 pm ~ Permit Buyout as a Partial Solution to Public Lands Conflicts. George Wuerthner, Organizer, National Public Lands Grazing Campaign.

3:00 - 3:30 pm ~ Break

3:30 - 5:00 pm ~ Panel Discussion: Delisting Wolves in Idaho

Moderator: Marsh Franklin, Idaho Public Television

Ed Bangs, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Curt Mack, Nez Perce Tribe, Dr. Ralph Maughan, Wolf Recovery Foundation, Ted Hoffman, Idaho Cattle Association, Suzanne Laverty, Defenders of Wildlife, and Senator Laird Nay, Idaho State Legislature.

6:30 pm ~ no host bar

7:00 pm ~ Banquet dinner followed by music and dancing to Idaho’s Bitter Brush Blues Band. The 2001 Alpha Award will be presented by the Wolf Recovery Foundation.

Wednesday April 24th

8:00 - 8:30 am ~ Westward-Bound Wolves: From Conflict to Resolution. Nancy Weiss, California Species Associate, Defenders of Wildlife.

8:30 - 9:00 am ~ Nonlethal Radio Activated Guard for Deterring Wolf Depredation in Idaho: Summary and Call for Research. Stewart Beck, Wildlife Research Center; Rick Williamson, Wildlife Services; Carter Niemeyer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; John Shivik, National Wildlife Research Center.

9:00 - 9:30 am ~ Restoring the Gray Wolf to Idaho: Progress Report 2001. Curt Mack, Isaac Babcock, Keith Lawrence; Nez Perce Tribe.

9:30 - 10:00 am ~ Break

10:00 - 10:30 am ~ Wolves in Utah: An Analysis of Potential Impacts and Recommendations. Trey Simmons, T. Adams Switalski, Andreas Cahvez, Shiree L. Duncan, and Robert H. Schmidt; Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife, Utah State University.

10:30 - 11:00 am ~ Linking Social Behavior to a Population Viability Analysis for a Gray Wolf Population in the Central Rocky Mountains. Carolyn Callaghan, University of Guelph, Central Rockies Wolf Project; John Vucetich, and Miroslaw Kuc.

11:00 - 11:30 am ~ Citizen Involvement - More Than Just One Vote: Stressing the Importance of Public Education and Citizen Activism in Wolf Recovery Policy Decision Making. Sally Englehart, Wolf Recovery Foundation.

11:30 - Noon ~ The Ethics of Wolf Reintroduction. John Marvel, Executive Director, Western Watersheds Project.

Noon - 1:00 pm ~ Lunch

1:00 - 1:30 pm ~ Wyoming Wolf Restoration. Mike Jimenez, Wyoming Project Leader, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

1:30 - 2:00 pm ~ Reintroduction Obstacles and Achievements: Milemarkers of the Effort. Carter Niemeyer, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

2:00 - 2:30 pm ~ Status of the Mexican Wolf. Brian Kelly, Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

2:30 - 3:00 pm ~ Benefits of a Collaborative Approach. Emily Charoglu, Enviroissues Inc.

3:00 - 3:30 pm ~ Break

3:30 - 4:00 pm ~ Evaluating Predator Compensation Programs: Are They Effective at Increasing Tolerance Towards Predators? Jessica Montag, Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.

4:00 - 4:30 pm ~ Ecology and Behavior of Coastal Wolves. Dr. Paul Paquet, University of Alberta; Chris Darimont, Chester Starr.

4:30 - 5:00 pm ~ The Yellowstone wolves: An update. Dr. Douglas Smith, Yellowstone Center for Resources, Yellowstone National Park.

End of Conference

The Service's weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at  in addition to the regular distribution.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV