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 Gray Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains

From:               Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT 9/14/2007

Subject:            Status of Gray Wolf Recovery, Week of 9/07/07 to 9/14/07

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2007 annual interagency wolf report [covering all 2006] can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ .  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.


On the 6th, Laudon and Boyd (MFWP) went to the North Fork Canada to investigate wolf 272's (Spruce Creek pack, aka Nettie pack) radio collar on mortality mode.  The collar was found in a rendezvous site, apparently chewed off by other wolves in the pack.

On the 8th, Boyd, Levell, Dwinnell, and Maier (MFWP) captured and collared a yearling female in the Ashley pack.  Carly Levell has finished her volunteer position.  Thanks Carly! 
Dwinnell and Maier have been following up on reports in two different areas and have located what we believe to be the Marias pack.  A trapline has been initiated.  Dwinnell and Maier have also followed up on reports SE of Martin City and have located that pack as well.

On the 10th, a  MFWP monitoring flight was conducted to concentrate on packs where we have missing radio-collars or no reproductive data.

On the 11th, a Canadian Biologist reported that radio collared wolf NW207F from the Kootenai South pack was harvested in Canada on the 26th.  The location is estimated to be approximately 3 miles north of the US/Canada border.  This is the 2nd radio-collared wolf from that pack to be harvested in Canada in the last 2 years.

On Sept. 11-13th MFWP volunteers Quinn Harrison and Kari Holder followed up on a report of wolves in the Goose Lake area on the ID/MT border east of Hoodoo Pass.  They documented 5 gray wolves (3 adults, 2 pups) on the Idaho side.

On the 14th, Laudon, Dwinnell, and Maier (MFWP) captured a pup likely from the Marias pack.  The pup was too small to collar and released unharmed.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] re-captured and radiocollared a pup in the Moyer Basin pack that was previously trapped in August, but was released uncollared due to its small size.  The pup had grown enough in the several weeks between captures that it was fitted with a GPS collar that will provide data for a research project investigating alternative wolf population censussing methods.
Nate Borg and Melinda Conners [IDFG] verified reproduction and got a pup count of 1 each in Marble Mt. and Avery packs.  Calder Mt appears to have moved to the MT side of their territory.
The Archie Mt. pack appears to be spending time in the Lowman, ID  area and is being seen by locals near their cabins and homes.  A couple packs appear to be in lower elevations and due to fires and drought are ranging in different areas than normal for this time of year.

Nate Borg and Melinda Conners [IDFG] caught and collared a pup in the Avery pack and an adult female in the Marble Mt. pack this week.  Additionally they verified 2-3 pups in the Fishhook pack.  Melinda is finishing up her short but successful stint with IDFG this week.

Jason Husseman [IDFG] captured 2 pups in the Galena pack near Stanley.  Jason also visited a historical den/rendezvous site location for the uncollared Landmark pack and found evidence of reuse and reproduction at this site.  Michael Lucid {IDFG]  verified 2 pups in a new pack on the East Fork of Moose ck he is calling the Battle Ridge pack for now.  The wilderness crew will be wrapping up their efforts this week as the big game hunting season begins on September 15.

Carita Bergman, wildlife biologist for Alberta has taken a position on the Queen Charlette Islands with Parks Canada in B.C.  Good luck and thanks for all your assistance.  She forwarded a great map showing that a GPS collared wolf from western Alberta dispersed through NW MT and has settled in central Idaho.  It traveled about the same distance (400 miles) & came from the same general area as the one that dispersed to the Halfway Pack west of Helena, MT couple of years ago.  The collar is scheduled to blow off in a month.

Wolf work in Wyoming, both in terms of monitoring and depredations & control, have slowed way down with the opening of the big game hunting season.


On the 6th, MT WS and CSKT shot 4 members of the Hewolf Mountain pack near Dixon, MT.
This included a gray 2.5 year old female, black 2.5 year male, gray 2.5 year male and a black yearling male. The entire pack (9 including pups) were in the middle of a local ranchers cow/calf pairs. No depredation occurred t that time.  Due to chronic depredation this summer, efforts to remove the remainder of this pack are ongoing.

On the 7th, MT WS went in to remove the collared crippled female in the Fleecer Mtn pack near Divide, MT and found that she had reconnected with 3 other wolves, so she was not removed.  Later in the evening on the 7th, a FS permittee in the area reported seeing 4 wolves trying to attack one of his calves.  He shot at the wolves and missed.  The wolves continued to hang around the cattle through the weekend and MFWP authorized WS to kill 1 uncollared wolf.  On the 10th, one uncollared wolf was shot.  That same day, WS recorded a probable calf kill on the same ranch where the first depredation had occurred.  The livestock producer also reported 2 missing calves in the same pasture where this occurred.  On the morning of the 12th, MFWP personnel saw  2 uncollared wolves chasing cattle close to where the 1st depredation had occurred.  The collared wolf was not far away.  There is very little wild game in the area, besides pronghorn, during this time of year and the livestock producer is currently calving both on private property and on their adjacent FS allotment.  The wolves have not left the area and appear to be keying into these calves, creating a high potential for further conflict.  For these reasons, MFWP has requested WS to remove the remaining 3 members of this pack.

On the 11th, MT WS investigated and confirmed a wounded llama on the Swingley road east of Livingston, MT. The nearest known pack would be Baker Mountain. The landowner saw and shot at one gray wolf but missed. A veterinarian doctored the llama but its unknown if it will survive.  No control action was authorized but MFWP visited with the landowner to see if improving an existing night pen will deter any further conflicts.

MT WS services confirmed a lamb killed by wolves on a ranch near Lincoln, MT on the 12th.  The herder saw a black and a gray wolf in the area, WS has set traps on the carcass for a collar and release a wolf on-site.

On Sept. 9th, MT WS confirmed 2 calves killed by the Bearmouth pack on private property southwest of Drummond, MT.  On the 10th, one more calf was confirmed killed in the same area.  Prior to this on Aug. 23rd the pack was confirmed to have injured 5 yearlings.  One wolf was killed at that time.  MFWP crews stepped up monitoring after that time and found the collared female away from cattle on 2 occasions.  Two other days they were unable to locate her.  Recent monitoring has found the pack in close proximity to livestock.  Because of repeated depredations and that the wolves are remaining with the cattle and actively hunting livestock, MFWP has requested WS to remove the rest of this pack.  WS killed 2 pups and 1 adult on Sept. 12th and another pup was killed on the 14th. Control is ongoing.

On the 6th , MFWP received a call from a hunter who reported seeing a dead cow on a grazing allotment in the Elkhorn Mountains south of Helena.  The hunter also reported what he thought was a wolf near the carcass.  MFWP referred the call to MT WS.  MT WS was able to reach both the US Forest Service and the owner of the cow and completed the investigation the same day.  The cow apparently suffocated and was scavenged by a black bear.  MFWP and the USFS have received intermittent wolf reports in the Elkhorns, but no wolf activity has been confirmed to date. Thanks for the great work, WS!

On the 10th, ID WS confirmed that  a wolf killed 2 ewes on a Boise National Forest allotment on Beaver Creek between Idaho City and Lowman, ID.  Another ewe was confirmed at the same site on the 13th.  Traps have been set in hopes of capturing and removing the offending animal.

Last week a calf was killed and another might have been killed by a wolf in eastern Washington, a couple of miles south of the Canadian border.  Traps were set to collar and release anything that was captured on site, but the animal never returned.  This area is about 15 miles west of where photos of a wolf were taken by a remote camera in extreme northeastern Washington in late August.


Literature- Frame, P.F. and T. J. Meier.  2007.  Field-Assessed injury to wolves captured in rubber-padded traps.  J. Wildlife. Management (71):20742076.  Rubber-padded jaws reduce foot injuries to wolves but pull-outs might be slightly more often.

Information and Education and Law Enforcement

On the 11th, the Service published a Notice of Availability in the FR and invited public comment on an Environmental Assessment for the proposed 10j special rule and re-opened the comment period for the proposed 10j rule.  The comment period will close Oct 11th.  The EA and 10j proposal and instructions on how to submit comments are available at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov  .   We are continuing to analyze the public comments on the delisting proposal [+260k] and previously opened proposal to modify the 10j rule [+176k].

Doug Smith [NPS] gave a talk at a conference: West Northwest Carnivores and Connectivity put on by Wildlife Conservation Society at West Yellowstone, that 25 state and federal agency people attended on Sept 5th.  On the 11th, he talked with about 50 people at the Yellowstone Institute in the Lamar Valley.

On the 11th, Sime and Kujala [MFWP] were in Havre in NE MT and on the 12th, they were in Miles City in SW MT to give a presentations at the MFWP Regional Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings. Sime and Kujala also presented an overview and answered questions posed by the Agency Oversight Subcommittee of the Montana Environmental Quality Council on the 13th.  These presentations are meant to introduce MFWP efforts to design public harvest strategies for wolves post delisting.  Formal public comment opportunities on an actual detailed proposal are planned.  Kujala, Sime, MFWP Gude (biostatistician) and University of Montana Cooperative Research Unit will attend the FWP Commission Work Session on September 27 to present a summary of the CAC meetings and efforts to date in developing wolf harvest strategies and monitoring protocols in light of Montana wolves and the Montana landscape.


The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed at 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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