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Wolves
Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
[www.wolfology.com]
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, March 2004
FEBRUARY 27-MARCH 5, 2004
Monitoring
NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2003 annual wolf report was posted this week. It can be accessed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ and has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
The Washakie pack that had 5 pack members captured and radio-collared on Feb. 14th near Meeteesee, WY, were located by aerial telemetry on the 4th. They were all back in their normal home range in the Dunoir Valley, just north of Dubois, WY. The ranch manager in the valley that is the center of their normal territory reported he also saw 7 tracks walking in fresh snow right down the road that morning. The ranch has had depredations in the past and having 6 radios [5 fresh and one old] in the group should be of help to him should there be depredations this summer. Cattle normal return to the ranch in May. He has a receiver and was provided the new frequencies.
Idaho wolf B172 (Partridge group) is on mortality east of Riggins. Wolf B99, a Selway pack wolf collared as a pup in 2000 that has been missing for almost a year, was re-found in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, not far from her natal territory. The Nez Perce Tribe recently had a report from ID F&G of 10 black wolves seen during their helicopter ungulate survey in this very area.
Control
On the 27th, WS confirmed a calf was killed near Cameron, MT by the Sentinel pack which has no radio collared members. The last radioed wolf in the pack was illegally killed several months ago. On the 2nd, a steer was killed by members of the Sentinel pack south of Ennis MT in the Madison Valley. Over the Leap Year weekend and about 12 miles to the north 2 more calves were killed and the Sentinel pack was suspected [but later it turned out not to be them]. Several wolves were reportedly seen among near cattle a day later but were chased away by the livestock producer. All 3 depredations [total of 3 calves and a steer killed] were on private land. Wildlife Services was already in the area and had been authorized to lethally removed wolves seen at the depredations sites and to try to get a collar in the Sentinel pack. All three of the pack’s radio-collared members had been illegally killed this fall and winter, leaving us no way to monitor the pack. On the 2nd, WS assisted by Asher [TESF] and Mike Ross {MT FW&P] darted and collared a gray female pup in the Sentinel pack. WS then flew to where the 2 calves were killed and found another unradioed group of 4 wolves. Unfortunately they were not able to collar any of that group. WS was asked to removed 2-3 members of the Sentinel pack and to get a collar in the group of 4 if possible. On the 5th, the Sentinel pack was chased out of cattle again and killed an Australian Shepard dog on private property. WS was authorized to remove the entire pack. No shoot-on-sight permits were issued then because we did not someone in this highly emotional situation to shoot the collared wolf, making control even more difficult. Unfortunately during the control on the 5th, the spotter plane found the radioed pup several miles away but it was apparently bleeding severely. LE is investigating this as a potential illegal take. The Sentinel pack was snow tracked back into the mountain forest and contact with them has been lost. Loss of the radioed animal has set back control actions to the beginning. Trapping will be conducted and shoot-on-sight permits will be issued to the affected producers.
On the 27th, a livestock producer near Lone Pine in NW MT reported that a lone black wolf with a front-leg limp was in among his cows, which were calving. No depredations were reported. He was informed he can run it off, shoot it if it is attacking livestock, and if it hangs around he can obtain a permit to use less-than-lethal munitions. The situation will be watched closely, however later 2 calves were found dead and one was confirmed as a wolf kill the other was too old to tell. On the 1st, WS reported that while they were investigating a suspected calf kill a few miles to the south of Lone Pine, a wolf was on the hill watching them. They were told that if it was a confirmed wolf depredation to shoot that wolf if possible. They confirmed the wolf depredation and shot a gray female pup. Control has ended unless there are more depredations. The carcass was given to the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes and they will take biological samples and use the skull and pelt for tribal educational purposes.
Two more calves have been confirmed as wolf depredations by WS near Hammett, Idaho on the 5th. This pack killed a total of cow and 3 calves on private land so far. This area is mainly in livestock production and non-lethal measures were exhausted since none were deemed feasible by the Service. On the 5th, WS shot at all 3 uncollared wolves believed to be involved from a fixed-winged aircraft. Two carcasses were located and the third is still being located.
A possible wolf-killed calf on private land was reported in the Avon area on the 5th. WS is investigating.
Research
The March Yellowstone National Park annual late winter predation study began this week. Wolves on the northern range are followed from the ground and air as frequently as possible during March to determine locate kills and prey selection.
The cooperative Service, Forest Service, WY G&F study of wolf/elk relationships on WY elk winter feed grounds in the Gros Ventre drainage continues. The pattern is very similar to previous years. Elk and elk kills appear slightly more spread-out than usual as elk are not as concentrated on feed grounds as they have been in past years. Elk feed grounds really haven’t been visited that often by the wolf pack and elk simply walk between feedgrounds if they feel pressured but really haven’t moved anywhere. Also there seem to be a few more bulls dozen or so compared to the ‘normal’ 3-4. Calf/cow ratios are over 23 calves/100 cows up again from previous years. Jimenez reported that volunteers have found about 37 kills or the typical 4-5 elk per week for the Teton pack of 11-14 wolves.
Information and education and law enforcement
On the 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. "Wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have both crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states," Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register this week. Comments will be accepted for 60 days. Comments should be directed to the following address: USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601 or westerngraywolf@fws.gov.
Carter Niemeyer and Steve Nadeau attended and were introduced to the Idaho Legislative House Resource Committee where the Governor's Office of Species Conservation and IDFG Director Huffaker gave an update on the proposed 10(j) rule amendment. Niemeyer was interviewed by local television. Wolf training for Idaho Fish and Game personnel will begin next week.
Bangs gave a talk to a group from the Nature Conservancy in Tom Miner Basin [just N. of YNP] on the 27th. About 20 people attended. Their group went into YNP to wolf watch on the 28th and saw several wolves.
Bangs met with MT FW&P officials in Helena on the 2nd to discuss the potential for Montana FW&P biologists to fill the Kalispell, MT position just vacated by Tom Meier with a MT FW&P biologist. The state is also considering having their biologists ‘shadow’ our efforts in SW MT, in anticipation of the state assuming most authority for wolf management in Montana- even before wolves are delisted.
Volunteer Therese Hartman gave two wolf talk stalks in the Swan Valley that were well received. At the Swan Valley School, grades K-8, there were about 45 students and teachers in attendance. She talked about wolf biology along with why/how we trap and monitor wolves. In the afternoon she gave another talk to about 45 members of the local AARP group. She gave both groups lots of encouragement to contact us if they hear of any wolf activity.
The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Project for the 2004 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho. Applications must be received at Gray Wolf Recovery Project office no sooner than March 1 and no later March 31, 2004. 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.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seasonal wolf biologist positions will be advertised this spring- The FWS intends to advertise for 4 GS-7 seasonal wolf biologist positions [Cody and Jackson, WY and Kalispell and Missoula, MT] for this summer’s field season. These will be our typical field biologist jobs that include locating wolves and wolf dens, wolf capture and radio-tracking, assisting Wildlife Services as requested, and interacting with the public and other agencies. Lots of travel and remote back-country work may be required. Successful competition for these types of positions is usually very difficult without previous large carnivore field experience. Information about these seasonal positions- that normally run from April/May through September/October- will be accessible through USA Jobs in about a month. Please do not call this office about any additional information about these jobs until we announce that they are being advertised and where and how to apply. Thank you.
MARCH 5-12, 2004
Monitoring
The former alpha female of the Hog Heaven pack was found dead. Six other pack members were seen on site during the tracking flight. Her carcass was recovered on the 8th. She weighted 48 lbs., had turned white, her teeth were nubs, and she was missing toes on one of her front feet [a probable old trap injury?]. Her carcass will be examined to determine cause of death but starvation is suspected. She was one of five wolves darted and relocated from the Castle Rock pack [near Helena, MT and an attempt to reduce the potential for livestock depredations in that area] to Parsnip Creek in NW MT in March 2001 as a yearling.
The carcass of an uncollared black female [sex not absolutely certain] yearling from the Fish Trap pack was recovered along Hwy. 2 [mi 80.8] near Marion, MT on the 9th. She was apparently just hit by a vehicle and her carcass was severely mangled. Both carcasses are being examined by the MT FW&P wildlife lab in Bozeman, MT for examination.
The last radioed Taylor Peak wolf # 281, that like its pack mate had mange, was on morality mode on the 9th. On the 11th, its carcass was recovered and will be examined by the MT FW&P Bozeman Wildlife Lab. It was likely killed by complications resulting from mange. The Taylor Peaks pack is essentially gone. It appears the Madison Valley went from 3 known wolf packs [Sentinel, Taylor peaks, and Freezeout, and a recently discovered group of 5 Ennis Lake/Bear Trap? was found March 2004], now there will only the Freezeout pack left.
Control
A possible wolf-killed calf on private land was reported in the Avon area on the 5th. WS investigated and it turned out to be just a dead calf that was scavenged by birds and coyotes.
WS investigated a report that 2 ewes were killed and another bit in the face on private land by a lone wolf near Stanford in central Montana on the 7th. Tracks and howling from a lone wolf has been occasionally reported in this area in the past. WS concluded the sheep were attacked by coyotes but the guard dog also fed/disturbed the carcasses which led to the mistaken suspicion that a wolf might have been involved.
WS investigated a 3/7 report of a wolf on a dead calf on private land near Polaris, MT in the Grasshopper Valley- where the Fox Creek pack was removed. The young calf was confirmed a wolf kill by WS on the 8th. A lone wolf was responsible and WS was authorized to lethally remove it. It didn’t come back to the carcasses which was not consumed, apparently the rancher scared it off before it had a chance to feed.
WS confirmed that a lone grey wolf bit a llama on fenced private property in the Ninemile Valley on March 1. The landowner legally tried to shoot it, as it bit the llama. WS tracked the wolf but it appeared uninjured. The landowner was issued a shoot-on-sight permit for one wolf since this has been an area of chronic livestock depredations.
A rancher near Ennis Lake in the Madison Valley found a severely wounded heifer that he euthanized on the 9th. WS confirmed it was attacked by wolves. As they looked around for a place to trap or place its carcass they stumbled upon a steer that had been killed a few days earlier and had been fed on. It too was killed by wolves. The group of at least 4 uncollared wolves in the Madison Valley near Ennis Lake [Ennis Lake pack?] killed 2 calves on Feb. 29th. WS was authorized to remove all 4 wolves and these 3 ranches were issued shoot-on-sight permits for 4 wolves on their private land. WS were be trapping and flying the area in an attempt to remove both this pack of 4 and the Sentinel pack of 7. Asher and MT FW&P specialist Ross are on site and providing assistance. On the 11th, WS shot 5 from the Sentinel pack at a bait station. Three pups were females. The yearlings [nearly 2-yr-olds now] were a female and 2 males. One uncollared wolf was still unaccounted for. The injured remaining Sentinel pack member [it was observed limping but is moving around] will be monitored to see if it joins up with the 7th Sentinel pack member, but it will be removed as soon as practical next week. On the 12th, WS shot all 5 wolves in the Ennis Lake pack. One adult male [#249] had an old radio and it appears to have been still operating. He was a Nez Perce wolf collared in the Park on Feb. 2002 and last located south of Mammoth on Dec. 10, 2002. WS, Asher, and Ross did a very professional and thorough job. In total the Sentinel pack [7 wolves] killed a calf on the 26th, a steer on the 29th, and a dog on the 5th. The Ennis Lake pack [4 wolves] killed two calves on the 28th and a steer around the 7th and a heifer on the 9th. This control action has received almost daily media coverage for two weeks and statements of concern from both of Montana’s Senators, its lone Congressman, its Governor, and several county commissioners.
Research
The March Yellowstone National Park annual late winter predation study began this week. Wolves on the northern range are followed from the ground and air as frequently as possible during March to determine locate kills and prey selection. Pretty much a typical late winter kill rate so far.
There are 4 visiting scholars in Yellowstone National Park this winter are Dr. John Vucetich and Dr. Rolf Peterson from Michigan Technological University and Dr. Robert Wayne and Dr. Blaine Van Valkenbergh for University California, Los Angeles.
Information and education and law enforcement
Smith gave a talk to a trip/course of ten people taught by biologist Dr. Diane Boyd on the 5th. That afternoon he did an interview with Guy Clarkson who is making a Canadian film on the Rocky Mountains entitled "Shining Mountains". It will take a look at the Rocky Mountains including wildlife from Yellowstone north to the Yukon. On the 11th Smith talked with MSNBC Fred Francis about wolves in Yellowstone Park for a special show on "Yellowstone to Yukon". The MSNBC show will air Sunday night 3/14 at 8PM EST.
Dr. Rolf Peterson is teaching a wolf ecology course in Yellowstone Park over the weekend of the 13-14th.
Carter Niemeyer, Curt Mack, Rick Williamson, Craig Tabor , Mark Collinge (director WS), Jeff Allen (OSC), Steve Nadeau(IDFG) and Jon Heggen (IDFG enforcement chief), have been training IDFG staff and preparing them for wolf management by the state this past week. The first session was in Lewiston on March 9, with 85 IDFG staff attending, and the second training in Boise had 95 IDFG and WS staff attending. Training continues next week in Idaho Falls and Salmon.
MARCH 13-26, 2004
Monitoring
B172's collar (which has been on mortality for some time) was retreived by WS and turned over to FWS.
Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge personnel confirmed the presence of two wolves, (black and gray) on the refuge. The pair was observed on the 25th close to refuge headquarters. This is probably a newly establishing pair. The refuge has offered to help keep track of their presence. A big thanks to all of you.
Control
On March 16th, Asher, Ross and WS confirmed the presence of 2 wolves in the Madison Valley. An effort is being made to radio collar one of the wolves but all control has been completed.
WS confirmed a wolf killed calf just south of Roscoe, Montana. Traps were set but the wolves never returned and the traps were later removed.. On the 21st, WS confirmed a wolf killed ewe about 10 miles away from where the calf was killed. This is the same producer that lost some sheep during the summer of 2003. Traps were set to try and radio collar and release a wolf on site to try and determine if this a pack, newly establishing pair or just dispersers.
On the 19th, a producer in the Bitterroot Valley near Sula observed a wolf chasing his cattle when he was checking on the calving. This is close to the Sapphire pack territory. WS is trapping to try and place a radio collar in the pack. Thanks for the help WS.
Another calf depredation was confirmed by Idaho WS near Hammett, Idaho, on March 18. The USFWS authorized WS to capture and collar a wolf near the depredation site. Wolves involved in future depredations in this area will be removed. Two wolves were killed by WS on March 5 on a neighboring ranch after depredating on a cow and two calves.
Information and education and law enforcement
Niemeyer (USFWS) and Williamson (WS) attended an Oregon Wolf Advisory Committee meeting on March 19 in Bend, Oregon at the Committee's request. They presented information regarding Wolf Interactions with Domestic Animals and discussed Wolf-Human Interactions. Both presenters fielded questions from the Committee after the presentations.
Sime, FWP and Fontaine gave presentations to 8 graduate school candidates from Antioch New England Graduate School, Keene , NH on the 19th . The course is Wolves and the Yellowstone Ecosystem taught by Professor Meade Cadot. The group had just returned from viewing wolves and grizzly bears in the Park and had met with several biologists. On the 22nd they met with Asher to help her with any management activities and talk about wolf management. Two years ago she had the class help her remove a cow carcass to keep it from attracting the wolves. This year the students got off easy since she had no ongoing field activities that they could help with..
The state of Idaho completed its wolf management training this week. Carter Niemeyer, Curt Mack, Rick Williamson, Jeff Allen (Govs. office), Wildlife Services, Jon Heggen, and Steve Nadeau from Idaho Fish and Game travelled to four areas of the state and conducted training for about 300 Fish and Game Staff. Training included expectations and roles, coordination with cooperating agencies, depredation protocol, wolf location and activity, law enforcement protocol, and other training issues and needs. The state will be transitioning into statewide wolf management over the summer in cooperation with other state, federal and tribal agencies.
JOBS- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seasonal wolf biologist positions will be advertised starting Wednesday March 10 and will close March 23rd. The FWS intends to hire 4 GS-7 seasonal wolf biologist positions [Cody and Jackson, WY and Kalispell and Missoula, MT] for this summer’s field season. If applicants want to be considered for all four locations they must submit an application for each location. See www.usajobs.opm.gov DEU6-04-26 thru 29 for details and to apply.
On the 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. "Wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have both crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states," Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register this week. Comments will be accepted for 60 days beginning March 9th. Comments should be directed to the following address: USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601 or see westerngraywolf@fws.gov for details.
MARCH 26-APRIL 2, 2004
Monitoring
The necropsy report on Hog Heaven wolf 278, northwest Montana, indicated that it was emaciated and likely died of complications involving pneumonia. No evidence of trauma was observed. Apparently, the tooth wear and staining suggest that the wolf may have been much older than the 4-5 years of age that was originally estimated when it was first captured. A tooth will be sent into the lab for sectioning to determine the correct age.
A resident in the Ninemile Valley called to report that 1-2 wolf/hybrids were running loose in the valley. The hybrids were either dumped there or may have escaped from the owners. Apparently, a resident was trying to capture one of the animals and was licked on the hand indicating that it was definitely a pet. FWP and LE were contacted to make them aware of the situation. There have been no additional reports.
Hartman conducted a monitoring flight for packs in NW Montana on the 29th and 30th and located the Hog Heaven, Fish Trap, Murphy Lake, Whitefish, Kintla, Great Bear, and Red Shale in their normal home ranges.
Control
WS killed a wolf in the Big Hole Valley that had recently killed a calf. The wolf was thought to be the last member of the Fox Creek pack. No additional control will be conducted.
WS investigated a report on 3/7 of a wolf on a dead calf on private land near Polaris, MT in the Grasshopper Valley where the Fox Creek pack was removed. The young calf was confirmed aa a wolf kill by WS on the 8th. A lone wolf was responsible and WS was authorized to lethally remove it. It didn’t come back to the carcasses which was not consumed, apparently the rancher scared it off before it had a chance to feed. On the 30th WS lethally removed that lone wolf. No additional control will be conducted.
WS confirmed a wolf-killed calf just south of Roscoe, Montana. Traps were set but the wolves never returned and the traps were later removed. On the 21st, WS confirmed a wolf-killed ewe about 10 miles away from where the calf was killed. This is the same producer that lost some sheep during the summer and fall of 2003. Traps were set to try and radio collar and release a wolf on site to try and determine if this is a pack, newly establishing pair or just dispersers. The producer was issued a shoot on sight permit for one wolf.
Three wolves were observed chasing cattle in Tom Miner Basin on the 27th and 28th. Ross and Asher put up fladry on the 29th and 30th. On the 2nd the producer saw one wolf outside of the pasture but no additional problems. The night of the 1st 3 wolves chased a herd of bison through a cattle guard in Cinnibar Basin. The producer has been issued non-lethal munitions and asked to harass the wolves as much as possible. The 3 wolves may be part of the Chief Joe or Swan Lake pack. The radio collared members of the Chief Joe pack were located last week in Taylor Fork and the Swan Lake pack was located in the park. In previous years, the Chief Joe pack attempted to den in Cinnibar Basin until we displaced them by plugging the dens prior to denning. This will be done again if they attempt to den in the area.
Another domestic dog was reported attacked by a pack of wolves in the Sunbeam, Idaho, area on April 1 according to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game official (IDFG). The owner euthanized the badly injured dog. A total of three dogs have reportedly died of injuries resulting from wolf attack in this vicinity. IDFG and Wildlife Services will investigate further to determine if any non-lethal measures will resolve the situation.
Information and education and law enforcement
Carolyn Sime, FWP, attended the unveiling of a full-bodied wolf mount at the Kootenai National Forest Supervisors Office in Libby on the 31st. This was an adult male that was hit and killed by a vehicle near Bull Lake in western Montana. Warden John Obst was instrumental in coordinating the effort.
COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT:
WILDLIFE HANDLING AND CHEMICAL IMMOBILIZATION
FOR RESEARCHERS AND MANAGERS
Gallatin County Fairgrounds, Bozeman, Montana
June 11-13, 2004
Global Wildlife Resources is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting wildlife professionals and is offering a three day wildlife handling course this spring in Bozeman, Montana. This is one of the most extensive chemical immobilization courses in North America and includes hand-on labs. It has been invaluable to state, federal, and tribal wildlife professionals, zoo caretakers, animal control officers, and students.
This unique training emphasizes professional and humane animal handling and covers practical techniques to maximize field success and human and animal safety. The course focuses on the needs of researchers and managers to understand the skills and equipment associated with wildlife capture, physical restraint, and chemical immobilization. The course also covers in detail each aspect of animal handling such a radio-collaring, weighing, sample collection and patient monitoring.
Course content includes:
Five-step Preparation for Field Operations * Legal Responsibilities * Professionalism
Drug Delivery Systems * Immobilizing Drugs * Patient Monitoring
Marking * Sampling * Veterinary Emergencies
Euthanasia * Human Safety * Ethical Issues
Honoring each animal through equipment and techniques
The course instructor is Dr. Mark Johnson of Global Wildlife Resources, Inc. in Bozeman, Montana. Dr. Johnson, former veterinarian of Yellowstone National Park, has participated nationwide in a wide range of wildlife handling field operations. He also teaches wildlife professionals and students nationally including those at several universities, national parks and at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center.
Each course will be limited to 25 participants. The course includes labs each day, course booklet, and Certificate of Training. The 3-day course fee is $400 before May 20 and $425 thereafter. Get reduced rates at the Hampton Inn (406.522.8000 by May 20, 2004.
GWR courses promote care, honor, and respect for each animal that is handled;
and are often a profound career experience for course participants.
To register: visit our website, print the registration form, and mail the form and registration fee to:
Global Wildlife Resources, Inc.
P.O. Box 10248, Bozeman MT 59719-0248
Office:(406) 586-4624
www.wildliferesources.org for course outline, testimonials, and additional information