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Wolves
Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
[www.wolfology.com]
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, December 2003
DECEMBER 5-12, 2003
Monitoring
On the 9th, Jimenez and Hawkins & Powers net-gunned, radio-collared and released a young female in the Sunlight Basin pack. She had a light case of mange. The other collared pack member [an older female] was seen but appeared to be in very poor condition and unable to keep up with the pack. The Sunlight pack consists of 7 wolves. Jimenez and crew also captured a 110lb female and 118 lb. male out of the Carter Mountain threesome, south of Cody, WY. All 3 are now collared and appeared to be in great condition.
Idaho trappers reported that two wolves were incidentally captured in leg hold traps set for coyotes and escaped. Another wolf was accidentally caught by a coyote set but it also escaped. We thank the trapper who reported these incidental captures as they often give us the opportunity to radio-collar and release the wolves for monitoring purposes.
A B.C. big game hunter reported shooting a 3-yr-old female wolf [ear tag #257] that was radio-collared in July 2001as a member of the Graves Creek pack in NW Montana but that has been missing since March 2002. The man was hunting 15 miles north of Eureka, MT and the Canadian border on Nov. 18. He reported he saw more deer and elk in his usual hunting area than ever. The pack of 6-8 wolves howled and several moved past him. He legally harvested one that was in prime condition and it turned out to be collared. We thank him for reporting the harvest information and for returning the radio-collar.
Control
An uncollared group of 5 wolves in the Big Hole Valley of SW Montana [in the ID ex. pop. area] near Jackson, MT killed a calf on the 4th, another on the 5th [as reported in the 12/5 weekly], 2 more on the 6th, and one calf is severely wounded. WS was authorized to remove the entire pack, which is likely a new pair and pups. The rancher was issued a shoot on site permit for 3 wolves on his private property on the 9th. Nearly all of the wild prey [except moose] move out of this area in winter. The only the abundant prey left are livestock, and they are very numerous. None of the previous packs that tried to establish in this area survived because they too became chronic livestock killers and were removed by agency control actions. Control is ongoing.
The Lone Bear pack [GYA] near Livingston, MT was suspected to have attacked a band of sheep on private property on the 10th. The band of 98 sheep were in a 10 acre pasture enclosed by woven wire and 2 strands of barbed wire. Wolves have been in the area several years but there havenít been any sheep problems previously. Six ewes were killed and at least 3 others were injured and may die. WS was authorized to remove 1/3 of the pack. The next night wolves returned killed 10 ewes and wounded another 4-7 that may die, on the adjacent private property. Asher located Lone Bear wolves in the vicinity late on the night of the 11th [great extra effort Val]. On the 12th aerial tracking early AM found the Lone Bear wolves near the sheep and WS ground shot a collared male and uncollared female. Both wolves had moderate mange. Thanks to WS for an effective and timely control effort. A total of 6 wolves, 3 radioed and 3 unradioed, were seen feeding/near the sheep. Agency control is completed unless there are more depredations. The 4 landowners were issued shoot on site permits for their private property that allow a total of 2 more wolves to be killed if they return to this area.
Research
Yellowstone National Park is wrapping up their early winter study [Nov 15- Dec 15] to determine wolf predation rates. There is low snow cover and as would be expected wolf predation rates appear typical for early winter. Field crews saw the Agate and B-302 packs [was a male, female with two pups] clash. A dead B-302 pup was found on site, and the other is presumed dead.
Jessica Montag, Michael Patterson, and Bethany Sutton [Wildlife Biology Program, School of Forestry, Univ. of Montana] have published their final project report 2003 "Political and Social Viability of Predator Compensation Programs in the West". It is available at http://www.forestry.umt.edu/pcrp/
Information and education and law enforcement
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming completed their analysis of the peer reviewers comments on the state wolf management plans. WY G&F posted their comments on their web site. This is just one of the many steps in the Serviceís process to decide whether a delisting proposal is warranted at this time. The Service will develop its recommendations based upon the peer review comments, the state responses, and other relevant information by mid-December. These recommendations will go up through the chain of command in the Service and DOI. The Director hopes to make a final decision on the adequacy of the state wolf management plans by early January. The decision to propose delisting is a subsequent and separate decision that should also be made in early 2004.
The 12/11 Bozeman Chronicle reported that big game hunters in Region 3 [southwest MT adjacent to Yellowstone National Park] experienced a very good hunting season due to healthy herds and weather. Despite this yearís high harvest MT FW&P is looking at increasing harvest even further, possibly allowing 2 cow elk limits in some areas, to reduce herd size to within management objectives.
Bangs was interviewed by a Billings TV station on the status of wolf recovery and the delisting efforts.
The states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming forwarded their comments on the peer review of their state wolf management plans to the Service on the 10th. We appreciate their quick turn-around and thoughtful responses. Their effort completed the peer review process. The next step is for the Service to develop its independent recommendations for the FWS Director to consider. He is expected to decide if the three state plans are adequate to move on to the next step- which is a decision if delisting should be formally proposed at this time. The Director indicated he hoped to make that decision by early 2004.
Jimenez attended the Predator Board meeting for Park County, WY on the 2nd. About a dozen people attended. On the 5th, he talked to about 60 people from the Teton Science School in Jackson, WY. He is meeting with the Ten Sleep, WY Predator Board on the 12th.
NOVEMBER 21-DECEMBER 5, 2003
Monitoring
NEW WEB ADDRESS- See the 2002 annual wolf report at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
On the 22nd and 23rd, 9 members of the Geode and Agate packs were helicopter darted and radio-collared in Yellowstone National Park as part of the routine wolf monitoring/research program. Service Project leader for wolf recovery in Wyoming, Jimenez assisted. To date 17 wolves in 5 packs have been radioed, the earliest and quickest start to Park capture efforts so far.
Control
Two calves were confirmed attacked by wolves near Jackson, MT [Big Hole Valley] around the 22nd. No radioed packs are known to be in that area.
On the 4th WS killed a gray adult female, 90-100, in the Sheep Mtn pack that had a bad case of mange. This was part of the control to remove 3-4 wolves from that pack.
A rancher in the Mill Creek area shot and killed a wolf under a shoot on sight permit. This is the same area where two calves were killed by wolves on November 14th and they also killed calves in this area earlier this year. An additional wolf can still be taken under this permit.
Research
Yellowstone National Park continued their early winter study [Nov 15- Dec 15] to determine wolf predation rates. There is low snow cover and as would be expected kill rates appear average or below average. The visiting scholar is Dr. Francisco Fonseca, from the Univ. Of Lisbon, Portugal.
Jessica Montag, Michael Patterson, and Bethany Sutton [Wildlife Biology Program, School of Forestry, Univ. of Montana] have published their final project report 2003 "Political and Social Viability of Predator Compensation Programs in the West". It is available at http://www.forestry.umt.edu/pcrp/
Information and education and law enforcement
Mark Johnson, DVM (Global Wildlife Resources), Rick Williamson (Wildlife Services, and Carter Niemeyer (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) conducted a Wolf Handling and Chemical Immobilization Course for approximately 36 personnel representing Idaho/Oregon Wildlife Services, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Umatilla Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Union County Animal Control, USDA Veterinary Services and Oregon State Police. All aspects of wolf handling under field conditions were presented, so that participants could perform thoughtful, professional and humane wolf management tasks when required. Federal, state and veterinary policies were also reviewed for adherance.
Bangs and Niemeyer participated in a conf. call with DOJ appeal attorneys on the 24th and 3rd in preparation for the Dec. 1, Ninth Circuit Court Appeals hearing on the SNRA litigation.
The 11 scientific peer reviews of the Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming state wolf management plans were sent to the states for their comment and response on the 28th. The comments were released to the media on Dec 1. WY G&F posted the comments on their web site on Dec 2. This is just one of the many steps in the Serviceís process to decide whether a delisting proposal is warranted at this time. The states will be sent their response back to the Service in early December. The Service will develop its recommendations based upon both the peer review comments and the state responses by mid-December. These recommendations will go up through the chain of command in the Service and DOI in mid-December. The Service hopes to make a final decision on the adequacy of the state wolf management plans by early January. The decision to propose delisting is a subsequent and separate decision that should also be made in early 2004.
2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference Call for Papers
Papers are now being accepted for the 2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 6 - 8, 2004 at Chico Hot Springs, in Pray, Montana, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. Please submit a single spaced abstract, up to 500 words, and include your full contact information, affiliations, and authors, by email to: Joseph Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov .
The radio signal from a Sunlight Basin pack member was located on mortality in NW WY and is under LE investigation. Already this fall, the carcasses of one radioed and 2 unradioed other pack members have recovered and their deaths are under LE investigation.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a web page that has various links to state wolf management plans and information about wolf reclassification and delisting. It can be accessed at
http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/fnl-rule/index.html
The Service's weekly wolf report can now also be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site 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