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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 2/16/2007

Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 2/09/07 to 2/16/07

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2006 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2005] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/annualreports.htm . 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. Everyone is plugging away on the interagency 2007 annual wolf report [covering all of 2006] should be completed by March 1, 2007.


Correction- In our Nov. 20, 2006 weekly we reported about a wolf that may have been in a coyote trap as many as 5 days and that it died shortly after being radioed and released by MFWP. While the wolf may have been in the trap several days, its fairly clean pelt [the area was muddy from recent rain] suggested it may have been in the trap less than a day. The wolf was reportedly lethargic when MFWP arrived and did not drug well. It was fairly dehydrated which MFWP believed might have slowed his metabolism of both the drug and the reversal agent. So it may have been the drug that pushed him over the edge due to his poor condition. MFWP used medetomidine/ketamine to immobilize him and atipamezole to reverse that. MFWP also administered fluids in an attempt to counteract dehydration. A necropsy will be conducted by the MFWP Bozeman wildlife laboratory. The USFWS and its many federal, state and tribal agency partners deeply appreciate all the cooperation trappers have voluntarily given to the wolf management program over the years by reporting wolf activity and by quickly reporting incidental captures so those wolves could be safely collared and released.

On the 13th, MFWP staff conducted a helicopter darting and collaring operation for moose in the Mt Haggin area near Butte, MT. Wolf collaring and darting gear was brought along in the event that wolves were spotted but no wolves were seen.

Michael Lucid [IDFG] attempted aerial darting wolves in the Warm Springs pack on the 15th, however the wolves moved into the timber and the effort was aborted. Efforts to dart wolves incidental to big game captures and surveys across the state continues.

Trapp [MFWP] and Martin [MT WS] responded to a landowner near Nye, MT who reported he saw a gray wolf walking past his house with a trap on its foot. Tracks indicated a lone animal that likely had broken off the chain of a smaller trap. High winds and drifting snow prevented following it and its location is unknown.


On Feb. 5th, a lion hunter reported that his hounds had gotten in a fight with wolves near the Tin Cup drainage near Darby, MT. He reported that his dogs were injured but would be OK and he thought 2 wolves were involved. Bradley [MFWP] was incidentally in this same area on the 4th and had cut tracks of several wolves presumably from the Lake Como pack.

Ty Smucker (MFWP technician in 2006 and current volunteer) confirmed wolf activity in the Mill Creek area off Lolo Creek on Feb. 3 after Plum Creek foresters reported seeing wolf tracks in the area. This is presumably the Big Hole pack although the collared female B151 could not be found during a flight on the 4th. On the 6th a rancher in the area reported that wolves had been passing through his cows and had been frequenting his ranch and crossing the highway on multiple occasions (this is also close to where a wolf was reported struck by a vehicle on Jan 10th). He was advised of 10j and encouraged to harass any wolves seen on the property.

Bradley [MFWP] visited with ranchers near Helmville, MT on Feb. 5th and 6th to discuss recent wolf activity in their area and ideas for reducing risk of conflicts during calving season.

On the 7th, IDFG biologist Dave Spicer investigated a report that a pet dog that was killed by wolves up Big Creek in the St. Joe drainage. Wolf sign was found all around the site. The dog was a 7-month old- 75 lb spayed Great Pyrenees pup. It was attacked about 100yds from the house. It was not reported as being fed upon. The owner was informed of the 10j rules.

On the 11th, 2 mountain lion hunting Plott hounds were killed and a third 2 ½ year-old Plott hound was severely injured but after veterinarian care will live. ID WS confirmed that attack on the 12th. The dogs were attacked as they hunted lions near Avery, ID, and the Avery Pack was "probably" involved. The hunters rushed to the scene and fired shots to drive the wolves away.

On several occasions during the week, wolves from the Copper Basin Pack had to be vigorously harassed from cattle pastures where calving cows were present. In one incident, two ID WS employees, an IDFG Conservation Officer and a rancher, all in different vehicles, chased two wolves from pasture to pasture until they were no longer near the livestock. The rancher said if he had been in back of one of the WS vehicles with a lariat, he could have easily lassoed one of the wolves. No depredations have been found since the last control action on this pack took place on Feb. 2nd.

On the 16th, Jim Perhinger [WY WS/FWS] investigated a 2-yr-old heifer carcass on private land near Meeteesee, WY. The carcass was several days old, wolves have been repeatedly seen in the area and wolf tracks were all around it. But evidence of depredation was inconclusive and the cause of death could only be listed as a probable wolf-kill. The Gooseberry pack that uses this area has been previously involved [and controlled] for livestock depredations. The situation will be monitored closely.


FYI published today- Creel S, D. Christianson, S. Liley, and J. Winnie. 2007. Effects of predation risk on reproductive physiology and demography in elk. Science 315:960.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

WOLF DELISTING PROPOSED- The proposal was published in the Federal Register on Feb 8th, and public comment will be solicited for 60 days. See http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov for further information. Open houses [3-5PM] and hearings [6-8PM] are scheduled for- [Feb 27th] Cheyenne, WY; [28th] Salt Lake City, UT; [March 1st] Helena, MT and [March 6th] Boise, ID; [7th] Pendleton, OR; and [8th] Spokane, WA. Comments can be emailed to WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov [Include RIN # 1018-AU53] or mailed to- USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601.

JOBS- Wolf Research Volunteers needed. The Montana Wildlife Research Unit is seeking 6 volunteers for remote field wolf research in Idaho from mid-June to mid-Sept 2007. These positions include a $500/month stipend. If you are interested please send a cover letter that describes your skills as they relate to this position, a current resume, and contact information for 3-5 references to: David Ausband, MT Coop. Wildlife Research Unit, Nat Sci. Bldg, Rm 205, Univ MT, Missoula, MT 59812. 406-243-4329 or david.ausband@mso.umt.edu by 5:0PM MST March 16, 2007.

On Feb. 11th, Liz Bradley [MFWP] met with landowners in the Petty Creek drainage W. of Missoula who reported seeing 2 light colored wolves and regularly seeing wolf tracks around their house. They have several miniature horses and were concerned about their safety. She confirmed wolf tracks nearby and discussed some recommendations to reduce chance of conflicts with the horses. The Fish Creek pack has been known to use this area in the past.

On the 12th, Bradley gave a presentation to ~50 people in Missoula, MT at the Five Valleys Chapter of the Audubon Society meeting. On the 14th, Bradley met with the board of the Blackfoot Challenge to discuss recent wolf activity in the Blackfoot Valley.

On the 13th, Trapp [MFWP] gave a wolf presentation to about 40 3rd graders at the Red Lodge Elementary School in Red Lodge, MT.

On the 15th, Bangs [FWS] and Sime [MFWP] participated in a local Helena TV ½ hour talk show about the wolf delisting proposal and the transition from federal to state management.

The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . 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

Contact Us:  WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov

Service Links:

Western Gray Wolf Home Page Mountain-Prairie Region Home Page

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