Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 3/17/06

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 3/10 to 3/17, 2006


NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2006 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2005] can be viewed at . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, discussions of litigation and funding issues, summaries of scientific studies, an extensive bibliography, and additional informational websites. More information can also be viewed at .


On the 13th, at approximately 3:30 a.m., a rancher, 3-4 miles NW of Cambridge, ID shot a wolf that was tangling with his guard dogs. Apparently 2 wolves were involved. The one that was killed was an 85 lb. gray female. IDFG LE and WS both responded to the scene. IDFG took possession of the carcass. Investigation is continuing. Neither of the guard dogs were seriously injured. Examination of the wolf’s carcass revealed a heavy infestation of Trichodectes canis, the dog-biting louse, the first reported in Idaho on wolves. In 2005, 2 members of the Battlefield pack in SW MT were confirmed with light infestations the first documented on NRM wolves.

On the 15th-16th, ID WS Wolf Specialist Rick Williamson tracked the movements of the Copper Basin Pack following both tracks and telemetry signals. He found them near Mt. Borah and followed them while they made a 20 mile circle through several ranches with hundreds of new born calves over two days. At one point, at a ranch near Mackay, ranch hands fired at them to scare them away from the cattle. The ranchers in the area are keeping very alert to the wolves' movements. So far, no depredations have been found, but it is probably only a matter of time.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] contacted a rancher near Prairie, ID who reported having 3 gray wolves on his property. They have apparently been running thru his cattle and he knows the rules about legally shooting them if they are attacking or molesting livestock. He was interested in trying non-lethal techniques and Michael will work with him on some options.

On the 16th a yearling cow was confirmed as being killed on private property by an uncollared group of wolves near Pinedale, WY. This ranch which is adjacent to state elk feedgrounds and had previous cattle losses this year and 2 adult male wolves had already been removed. On the 17th, WY WS removed the remaining 4 wolves [2 Ad. male and 1 yearling female and one carcass was not recovered because of blowing snow] from shooting from fixed-wing aircraft. Jimenez [FWS] helped WY WS supervisor Nelson retrieve the carcasses. The 3 wolves examined were in good condition. Control has ended.


On the 17th, Dan Carney [Blackfeet Tribe] reported that a yearling heifer had been confirmed by MT WS as being killed by a group of 2-3 wolves west of Hwy 89 by Cut Bank Creek. Three heifers had been unintentionally left-out in an area that now had about 3 feet of snow. Consequently the Tribe determined that the best course of action was to try to trap, radio-collar, and release a wolf on-site.

A series of sheep depredations in McCone and Garfield Counties in central Montana have alarmed livestock producers. Over 100 sheep have been injured or killed. The first depredation was discovered on December 31st in McCone County and several more were discovered January 10th and 12th. WS investigated the three incidents and due to the smaller canine track and other factors determined that a dog, or wolf-hybrid was responsible. In early February, a McCone County trapper reported that he saw a wolf in the area from an airplane. Three more depredation events took place north, south and west of Jordan in Garfield County between mid-February and early March (2/18, 3/6, 3/11). The 6 depredation events are spread over a 30-mile radius centering just east of Jordan. Due to factors such as the distance involved and the extent of the damage, WS confirmed the most recent depredations as wolf. MFWP authorized lethal control of one wolf by both WS and its staff in the area and issued shoot-on-site permits to affected landowners. Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is assisting in that control action by providing special access to MFWP/WS to work on adjacent refuge lands. Because the last three depredations were in Garfield County, WS is focusing work there. Aerial control will be ongoing this weekend and most of next week.


Yellowstone National Park continues with their annual late winter wolf predation study for the month of March. Volunteers are following wolf packs in the northern range daily to determine prey selection and kill rates. Smith said it appears to be a very strange year. Elk are in horrible condition and they are starting to see lots of winter-kill elk. Wolf kills rates appear near normal but the bone marrow condition of wolf-killed elk appear near starvation levels. The Park has normal snow depth but has had freezing thawing conditions that hardened snow making it tough for the wind to blow it off ridges or for elk to dig through it.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement


The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Project for the 2006 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho. Work Environment: Work is conducted throughout the Nez Perce Tribe’s (Tribe) area of responsibility within the Central Idaho Experimental Population Area of Idaho, including front-country (road accessible) and backcountry (remote and Wilderness) areas. This is a physically demanding position; extreme climate and terrain will be encountered. Volunteers may be required to carry up to 80 lbs. for varying distances over trail and cross-country conditions. Accommodations vary from cabins to backcountry houses to tent camping depending upon the locations of wolves and logistics. Travel is mostly by 4-wheel drive, ATV, fixed-wing aircraft, and foot. Work Schedule: Typically 10 days on/4 days off, though work may extend beyond the 10 days depending upon conditions, Project needs, and logistics. Duration: Expected approximately late May through September, but may be shorter depending upon access, workload, volunteer availability, and Project funding. Preference will be given to qualified applicants able to commit for extended periods of time.

Compensation: Includes transportation and $17/day while on duty. Housing (travel trailers, USFS accommodations, and bunkhouse-style quarters) is available for non-duty days. Volunteers are covered under the Tribal Workmen's Compensation program. Primary Duties: 1) assist in locating, via ground and aerial telemetry, potential breeding packs/pairs of wolves to determine reproductive status, 2) assist in obtaining accurate counts of wolf pups at home sites, 3) assist in documenting locations of wolf home sites, 4) assist in collecting scientific data on the ecology of wolves in Idaho, 5) assist in capturing, processing/handling, and radio collaring wolves, and 6) other duties as assigned. Qualifications: 1) documented experience backpacking and camping for extended periods of time in remote settings, 2) proficiency with orienteering (use of map and compass for navigating) required, 3) good physical condition, 4) must hold valid driver's license and be insurable under the Tribe's insurance policy, 5) must be willing to comply with the Tribe's drug and alcohol policy, 6) possess the ability to get along with others in backcountry settings for 10-day + time periods, 7) possess the ability to communicate verbally with interested and affected publics, 8) completion of, or enrollment in college/university Wildlife, or related, curriculum preferred, 9) radiotelemetry experience preferred, 10) capture, immobilizing, and handling/processing experience with wild animals preferred, and 11) experience flying in fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters preferred. Application Period: Applications will be accepted from March 15, 2006 until March 31, 2006. Applications must be received at Gray Wolf Recovery Project office no later March 31, 2006. Applications received outside the above dates will not be considered- no exceptions. How to Apply: Submit a cover letter expressing interest in the Project, and resume detailing educational and employment backgrounds, along with the name and contact information of 3 work-related references. Send application materials to: Nez Perce Tribe Gray Wolf Recovery Project, Attn: Volunteer Program, P.O. Box 1922, McCall, ID 83638, Telephone: (208) 634-1061, Fax: (208) 634-3231.

Delisting Proposed for Mid-Western Wolves- The Summary of the Proposal document of the 2006 Proposal is available at .

Steve Nadeau [IDFG] gave a brief presentation on wolf management to 30 new IDFG employees during their tour of headquarters on March 16. Michael Lucid [IDFG] gave a presentation to 15 members of the Emmett, ID Kiwanis Club on March 15.

On the 16th, Idaho WS' Central District Supervisor, Chuck Carpenter, and Wolf Specialist, Rick Williamson, gave a presentation to the Gooding Rotary Club's Farmers Night in Gooding, ID. A power-point presentation on evaluation of wolf predation and identification was provided to over 100 people. A discussion on the 10(j) rule and a question and answer session followed the presentation. The program was well received by the group.

On the 14th, Sime, Trapp, and Christensen [MFWP] met with about 120 landowners and livestock producers in Circle, Montana to discuss the recent sheep depredations. The meeting was organized by Senator Burns and was very helpful in providing accurate information.

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at . This report is government public property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.

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