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Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery
2003 Annual Report

A cooperative effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nez Perce Tribe, the National Park Service, and USDA Wildlife Services. T. Meier, editor.

Wolves (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky Mountain states (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) continue to increase in distribution and numbers. Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2003 were 368 wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, 301 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area, and 92 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area for a total of 761. By state boundaries, there were an estimated 345 wolves in the state of Idaho, 234 in Wyoming and 182 in Montana. Of approximately 94 groups of two or more wolves, 51 met the definition of "breeding pair," an adult male and female raising two or more pups until December 31. This made 2003 the fourth year in which 30 or more breeding pairs were documented within the three-state area. Recovery criteria have been met for removing Northern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species List. In Fall 2003, Montana finished its state wolf management plan and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) sent the completed state wolf management plans of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming out for independent scientific peer review. The process to determine whether USFWS can proceed with a delisting proposal in 2004 is ongoing.
Wolves in the area subsist mainly on elk (Cervus elaphus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), moose (Alces alces), and bison (Bison bison). Livestock depredations in 2002 included 52 cattle (Bos taurus), 99 sheep (Ovis aries), nine dogs (Canis familiaris) and five llamas (Lama glama) confirmed lost to wolves. Approximately 23 of 80 known wolf packs were involved in livestock depredations. In response, 46 wolves were killed within the 3-state area. No wolves were translocated in 2003. As new packs are formed between the original core recovery/release areas, the three populations increasingly resemble and function as a single, large population. Approximately 12 research projects are underway, examining wolf population dynamics, predator-prey interactions and livestock depredation.
Gray wolf populations were extirpated from the western U.S. by the 1930s. Subsequently, wolves from Canada occasionally dispersed south into Montana and Idaho but failed to survive long enough to reproduce. Public attitudes toward predators changed and wolves received legal protection with the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. Wolves began to successfully recolonize northwest Montana in the early 1980s. By 1995, there were six wolf packs in northwestern Montana. In 1995 and 1996, 66 wolves from southwestern Canada were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) (31 wolves) and central Idaho (35 wolves).
The Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) wolf population contains three recovery areas: The Northwest Montana recovery area includes northwest Montana and the northern Idaho panhandle. The Greater Yellowstone recovery area includes Wyoming and adjacent parts of Idaho and Montana. The Central Idaho recovery area includes central Idaho and adjacent parts of southwest Montana. Wolves in the three recovery areas are managed under different guidelines, depending upon their designated status under the ESA. NWMT wolves are classified as endangered, the most protected classification under the ESA. GYA and CID wolves are classified as nonessential experimental populations and managed with more flexible options than the endangered population. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), responsible for administering the ESA, believes that 30 breeding pairs of wolves, with an equitable distribution among the three states for three successive years, would constitute a viable and recovered wolf population. That criterion was met at the end of 2002. If other provisions required for delisting are met, adequate regulatory mechanisms in the form of state wolf management plans that would reasonably assure that the gray wolf would not become threatened or endangered again, the USFWS will propose delisting (removal from protection under the ESA).
Wolves in Montana (including the NWMT recovery area and parts of the GYA and CID recovery areas) were monitored in 2003 by USFWS biologists Joe Fontaine in Helena and Tom Meier in Kalispell, and Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) biologist Val Asher in Bozeman. They were assisted by Mike Ross of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Paul Frame (seasonal USFWS employee) and Therese Hartman (USFWS volunteer). Other USFWS personnel in Montana included wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs (Helena), and law enforcement agents Roger Parker (Agent-in-Charge, Billings), Rick Branzell (Special Agent, Missoula), and Doug Goessman (Special Agent, Bozeman). In the parts of Montana that lie within the GYA and CID recovery areas, wolves were monitored cooperatively with the National Park Service (NPS) and Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) respectively. Many other individuals, organizations and agencies contribute toward wolf monitoring and management.
Wolf control activities in all recovery areas were carried out by USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services (WS). WS personnel involved in wolf management in Montana in 2003 included state director Larry Handegard, eastern district supervisor Paul J. Hoover, western district supervisor Kraig Glazier, wildlife specialists John Bouchard, Steve Demers, Michael Hoggan, Chad Hoover, R.R. Martin, Graeme McDougal, Theodore North, James Rost, Bart Smith, and James Stevens, and pilots Tim Graff and Eric Waldorf. The Montana WS operation covers parts of the NWMT, GYA, and CID wolf recovery areas.
Eight wolves were captured and radio-collared in NWMT in 2003. Seven were caught in USFWS trapping efforts, and one was caught by a fur trapper and collared by USFWS. At the end of 2003, 15 radio-collared wolves (16% of the population) from 10 different packs or pairs were being monitored in NWMT. These packs, together with uncollared packs that have been documented, totaled about 92 wolves. Radio-collared wolves were located from aircraft approximately twice per month. Collared wolves in and around Glacier National Park (GNP) were located more frequently from the ground by GNP staff.
Packs included in NWMT as of December 2003 were Kintla, Murphy Lake, Ninemile, Castle Rock, Whitefish, Spotted Bear, Great Bear, Fishtrap, Red Shale, Fish Creek, Candy Mountain, Lonepine, Lazy Creek, Hog Heaven, Great Divide, Blanchard Creek, Chief Mountain and Holland Lake. The Lupine Pack began restricting its activities to Idaho and is now counted in the Central Idaho population. The last remaining member of the Yaak "pack," a partial family of wolves translocated from SW Montana to the Yaak area in 2001, was apparently killed in 2003. A new pair of wolves, the Candy Mountain Pair, has been identified and radio-collared in the Yaak valley. Other new pairs or packs have been identified in the Middle Fork of the Flathead River (Great Bear Pair), and the Swan Valley (Holland Lake Pack). The Halfway Pack was virtually eliminated in control actions early in the year, and only one wolf is known to remain in the area. Sightings from the Green Mountain area (near Noxon) also suggested that only a single wolf remains there. There have been no recent reports of wolves in the Potomac and Ural areas, and those packs are no longer counted. The Grave Creek Pack seemed to disappear in 2003, with the few reports of wolves in fall 2003 probably coming from the Murphy Lake and Wigwam Packs' forays into the former Grave Creek territory. Packs of wolves in the Yaak, Kootenai, Wigwam, Spruce Creek and Belly River drainages of Canada may stray into Montana, but den and spend most of their time in Canada and are not counted in the NWMT population. The Murphy Lake and Kintla Packs spend a significant part of their time in British Columbia, but are considered part of the NWMT population. Along the border between the NWMT and CID recovery areas, the Fish Creek Pack is counted in the NWMT population, while the Bighole and Lupine Packs are counted in the CID population.
Reproduction was confirmed in the Whitefish, Spotted Bear, Fishtrap, Lazy Creek, and Hog Heaven Packs. Several packs that had bred in previous years, including the Red Shale, Murphy Lake, Kintla and Fish Creek Packs, did not localize at a den, but moved widely throughout the summer, outside even their normal winter territories. The Castle Rock, Halfway, and Ninemile acks were probably too severely affected by lethal control actions to breed in 2003. For two packs, Grave Creek and Green Mountain, there was no evidence that they even existed in 2003. In order to count as a breeding pair toward recovery goals, an adult male and female and at least two pups must be present in the pack at year's end. The Spotted Bear Pack was thought to have had only one pup in 2003. The remaining four packs were counted as breeding pairs. Track observations in the Chief Mountain area suggest that a pack of wolves there may have grown from five to eight wolves, and thus may have reproduced in 2003, but too little is known about their numbers or territory to count them as a breeding pair.
At least 21 wolves from the NWMT population died in 2002. All known mortalities were human-caused, with 14 wolves being killed by depredation control (one by a rancher, 13 by WS), four by vehicle strikes, and two by illegal shooting. The collar of Yaak wolf 230 was found in the Yaak River, and she is also believed to have been illegally killed. Two wolves that dispersed away from NWMT packs (Whitefish male 260 and Grave Creek female 257) were legally killed in Alberta and British Columbia, respectively. Four radio collars, on breeding wolves from the Spotted Bear, Murphy Lake, and Grave Creek Packs, were thought to have failed in 2003. One wolf, a yearling female from the Red Shale Pack, slipped her collar. Two wolves dispersed within the recovery area, Whitefish male 263 to the Kintla Pack and Spotted Bear female 271 to the new Great Bear Pair. Two other wolves, Ninemile female 268 and Yaak male 232, are missing and may have dispersed or been killed.
....Livestock Depredation and Management
With the reclassification of wolves in NWMT from endangered to threatened in April of 2003, the rules governing wolf management across the Northern Rocky Mountain States became nearly uniform across the three recovery areas. In NWMT, the use of nonlethal ammunition (by permit) and hazing by private citizens is now allowed, and livestock owners may legally kill wolves caught in the act of attacking livestock on private lands. In chronic depredation situations, livestock owners may obtain permits to shoot wolves on sight, on public or private lands. Although some feared that liberalized rules would result in excessive lethal control of wolves in NWMT, in fact no wolves have been killed in depredation control activities since reclassification took effect.
All reports of wolf depredation on livestock are investigated by WS, who implement control after consultation with USFWS. Six of the 21 known wolf packs in NWMT were involved in livestock depredations in 2003. Confirmed losses in 2003 included six cattle and three sheep killed by wolves. Another four cattle were classified as probable wolf kills. Other damage attributed to wolves included the escape of 11 bison from a pasture near Trout Creek, and the chasing of sheep in the same area. In wooded and/or mountainous country, livestock carcasses may not be found promptly, if ever. It can be difficult or impossible to confirm wolf depredation when livestock carcasses are eaten or decomposed. Therefore, confirmed losses represent only a portion of actual  losses. Whether this is a large or small portion of such losses is the subject of much controversy and research. Depredation control efforts in NWMT resulted in the death of 14 wolves. Nonlethal control methods included trapping and hazing of packs to move them away from livestock, nonlethal ammunition, fladry, guard animals and Radio Activated Guard (RAG) boxes.
Ninemile Pack: The Ninemile Pack had repeatedly killed livestock in recent years, and continued to do so in 2003, with confirmed losses of three sheep and the possible killing of six goats. One wolf, collared male 6468, was shot by WS on April 6. Three wolves were seen in the area later in the summer, and no further depredations have occurred.
Castle Rock Pack and Halfway Pack: The long-lived Castle Rock (formerly Boulder) Pack and the newer Halfway Pack, both located in the Avon area, were involved in chronic depredations in 2002 and early 2003. On January 28, a bull was confirmed killed by the Castle Rock Pack, and the rancher shot one wolf at the carcass. The next day, an adult cow was confirmed killed by the Halfway Pack. Twelve wolves were killed in the area by WS in February and March. Movements of wolves between the two packs prevented an exact identification of their pack status, but it was thought that seven of the wolves killed were from the Castle Rock Pack, and five from the Halfway Pack. In addition, one Halfway Pack pup was killed by a vehicle in February and an adult male wolf was illegally shot in the Halfway Pack territory in November. In spite of these losses, there were still estimated to be four wolves in the Castle Rock Pack and one in the Halfway Pack at the end of 2003.
Murphy Lake Pack: The Murphy Lake wolves did not den in 2003, but moved widely outside their historic territory, spending a great deal of time in the Pleasant Valley area, well south of where they had been found previously. In the summer, one calf was confirmed killed by the pack in Pleasant Valley, and another calf was probably killed by the pack, though the carcass was lost before it could be examined. The Murphy Lake Pack is the fourth pack of wolves to kill livestock in the Pleasant Valley area. Previously, the Marion, Pleasant Valley, and Little Wolf Packs were all removed in response to depredations there. The Murphy Lake Pack left the area, traveling as far north as the Elk River in British Columbia, so no control action was taken.
Lonepine Pack: Two cows, on separate ranches, were confirmed killed by wolves west of Ronan in January 2003. The hills between Ronan and Hot Springs were searched by aircraft in hopes of finding and collaring the three wolves thought to live there, but none were found. Reports of wolves in the area continued into fall 2003. The area lies within the Confederated Salish-Kootenay (CSKT) Reservation, and USFWS, WS, and CSKT personnel cooperate on wolf monitoring and depredation investigations.
Hog Heaven Pack: One calf was confirmed killed by wolves north of Niarada in May 2003. The depredation was discovered when USFWS personnel radio-tracked the Hog Heaven Pack. This depredation also occurred on CSKT lands. The rancher was given telemetry equipment, and monitoring of the pack was intensified, but no control was carried out because the pack had not depredated previously. The area represents the southern edge of the Hog Heaven Pack territory, and they appeared to stay farther north, and to avoid killing livestock, for the remainder of the year.
Three full-time employees worked for the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 2003: Project Leader Douglas Smith, Biological Science Technician Debra Guernsey and Biologist Dan Stahler. Rick McIntyre worked as a seasonal employee on the Druid Peak Pack Road Management Project. Elena West also worked on the Road Management Project, through the Yellowstone Park Foundation (YPF). Matt Metz worked the summer months and in October and November, and Janice Stroud worked October and November as a biological technician through YPF. Other Volunteers staffed the two early (Nov.-Dec.) and late (March) winter study periods.
Wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park (YNP) were monitored by Project Leader Mike Jimenez (USFWS), seasonal biologist John Stephenson (USFS), and volunteers Keysha Fontaine, Tom Dempsey, Stacy Biebel, Nancy Nolan, and Nancy Bockino. USFWS law enforcement agents in Wyoming were Dominic Domenici (Agent-In-Charge, Casper), Tim Eicher (Special Agent, Cody), and Roy Brown (Special Agent, Lander).
Wyoming employees of Wildlife Services who were involved with wolf control or management in 2003 included state director Rod Krischke, district supervisors Sam Crowe and Merrill Nelson, specialists Marshall obin, Jack Clucas, Arnold DeBock, Casey Hunter, Michael Peterson, Jed Edwards, Rod Merrell, William Ross, Tracy Frye, Stephen Moyles, James Peringer, and pilot Ted Jensen.
Monitoring of wolves in the Montana portion of the GYA was conducted by Joe Fontaine (USFWS), Val Asher (TESF), and Mike Rosee (FWP), along with other TESF, USFWS, FWP, WS, and NPS personnel and volunteers.
Yellowstone National Park
Population status: At the end of December 2003, at least 174 wolves in 14 packs occupied Yellowstone National Park. This represents a population increase of about 17% from 2002, when 148 wolves in 14 packs lived in the park. Thirteen packs counted toward the breeding pair objective for the Yellowstone Recovery Area. One more pack that was present in May 2003 (Buffalo Fork Pack), but lost its only radio-collared wolf (#105F), is of unknown status but held at least 4 wolves and denned in spring 2003. Field work in the area where they resided revealed tracks, but it could not be determined if the tracks were from the remnant Buffalo Fork Pack, or the neighboring Rose Creek Pack.
Eight of these packs (96 wolves) reside on the northern range and seven packs (78 wolves) live throughout the rest of the park. Pack sizes ranged from 5 (Gibbon group) to 20 (Swan Lake Pack) and averaged 11.3. Pack size was not significantly different between the northern range and the rest of the park.
One new pack formed and one was lost in 2003. The Gibbon group formed late in 2003, probably from wolves dispersing out of the Nez Perce and Cougar Creek Packs, and was not considered a breeding pair. The Tower Pack was lost when male #208 died from natural causes (exact cause is unknown). The pack had consisted of two individuals and the fate of his uncollared mate is unknown.
With only one new pack, wolf distribution and movements in 2003 were largely the same as in 2002. Most packs on the northern range showed typical movements: low elevation in winter and for denning and high elevation for foraging in summer. Wolf packs elsewhere in the park...except for the Cougar Creek Pack, made extraterritorial forays outside the park in search of prey. The Nez Perce Pack, for example, visited the National Elk Refuge in January, and the Yellowstone Delta Pack spent significant periods of time in the Teton Wilderness. Mollie's pack moved for short periods of time into the North Fork of the Shoshone River. The Bechler Pack used Targhee National Forest and the Bechler area through the winter. They were probably able to use this deep-snow area of the park because it was a mild winter. We do not expect this pattern of use to continue when more normal winters for that area return.
Reproduction: At least 75 pups were born and 59 survived in 15 wolf packs in 2003. At least 16 and possibly 17 total litters were born; the Druid Pack Peak had at least two and possibly three litters of pups. The number of pups born per pack averaged 5 and ranged from 2 to 13 (at least 2 litters). Pup survival varied by pack. The Geode Creek Pack had eight pups but only two survived to fall, while the Leopold Pack's eight pups all survived. Other packs with good pup survival were Druid Peak, Slough Creek, Swan Lake and Yellowstone Delta. Other packs with poor survival were 302's group (gone at the end of 2003) and Agate Creek. The remaining packs either had moderate or unknown levels of pup survival.
Twelve wolf dens were visited in summer 2003 to measure den characteristics and collect scats for summer food habit studies. Among packs that were not denning for the first time, seven (64%) of 11 packs re-used old densities.
Mortalities: Fifteen wolves (12 adults and three pups) were known to have died in YNP during 2003. Seven were females, six were males and two were of unknown sex (partially decayed pups that could not be sexed). All the wolves that died within YNP died from natural causes.
A prey-caused death was observed in Pelican Valley in March. A battle with a bull bison killed one of Mollie's Pack wolves, and injured two others. The bison kicked one wolf, throwing it 10-15 m in the air, and hooked another with its horn, also launching the wolf airborne for several meters. The wolves eventually killed the bison, taking all of one day to do it.
One wolf from the Agate Creek Pack died from apparent disease. Although we were able to retrieve the carcass from the field the day after discovering the mortality, disease analysis on the carcass was inconclusive because of slight decay of the tissues. Disease experts at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks lab in Bozeman, Montana had excluded other causes of death and other evidence from the necropsy was suggestive of death due to unknown disease. Prior to necropsy in Bozeman, a field trip of visiting veterinarians inspected the carcass externally, and also corroborated a disease cause of death, based on bleeding from the anus and mouth.
Mange (Sarcoptes scabei), an infestation of a mite that burrows under the animal's skin leading to hair loss, has been reported for wolves living around YNP. Wolves both east, west, and north of YNP have been documented with mange. Mange in wolves has not been documented within YNP.
Survival: A park-led effort to determine annual survival of wolves in all three recovery areas of the northern Rocky Mountains is nearing completion. Average annual survival for a radio-collared wolf in Yellowstone ecosystem is 80%. Pups had the lowest annual survival rate at 74%, followed by adults (>1 year old) at 80%, and yearlings at 83%. Annual survival for males and females for all age classes was 81% and 78%, respectively. Since reintroduction in 1995, annual survival has ranged from a low of 62% in 1997 to a high of 90% in 1999. Survival of wolves in the Idaho recovery area (79%) was approximately equal to the Yellowstone recovery area, whereas the northwest Montana recovery area had a significantly lower annual survival (56%).
Status of Original Reintroduced Wolves: Only two wolves from the original 31 reintroduced are still alive, both reintroduced in 1996. The last 1995 wolf to die was # 2M on December 31, 2002. He was killed by wolves in the Geode Creek Pack after he lost his dominant (alpha) status in the Leopold Pack and was traveling alone or with a few other wolves between other wolf territories, always a risky lifestyle. He was eight years old when he died. Wolf # 41F and # 42F, both originally of the Druid Peak Pack, are the two wolves released in 1996 that are still alive. Number 41 dispersed from the park and lives in Sunlight Basin, Wyoming. Number 42 is alpha female of the famous Druid Peak Pack and is observed by thousands of adoring wolf watchers each year in Lamar Valley. She is also eight years of age. Formerly black, she is now completely gray.
Monitoring: Wyoming outside YNP
Population status: We combined three census techniques to estimate the total number of wolves in Wyoming outside YNP: 1) direct observations of wolves, 2) winter track counts of wolves traveling in snow, and 3) reports of repetitive wolf sightings from other agencies and the general public. We counted the number of wolves in known packs containing radio collared wolves using visual observations from the ground and aerial telemetry flights. We maintained 22 collars in nine packs (27% of the population). Collared wolves were located, on average, twice a month by airplane and more often by ground crews. We tracked wolves in winter and counted the different sets of wolf tracks in snow. In packs where local residents repeatedly saw and counted wolves, we incorporated those observations into our estimates. We averaged the high and low population estimates to calculate other statistics used to describe the wolf population in Wyoming.
We estimated that at least 76-88 wolves inhabited western Wyoming outside YNP in 2003. Eight packs, totaling 63-70 wolves, produced pups. Pack size ranged from 3 to 17 and averaged 9.1 wolves. Another 13-18 wolves were located in five new groups that did not produce pups. In 2003, the wolf population increased 19% from 2002 levels (from 69 to 82 wolves.)
Established Packs:
Washakie Pack -- The Washakie Pack was one of the earliest packs to form outside of YNP in 1998. The pack's home range includes the Dunoir Valley near the town of Dubois, Wyoming. The Washakie Pack has consistently produced pups over the years. In 2003, the pack consisted of 8-9 wolves (4-5 adults, 4-5 pups).
Teton Pack -- The Teton Pack first denned in Grand Teton National Park in 1999. Pack size has ranged from 2 to 23 wolves. In 2001 and 2002, the pack produced double litters totaling 9 and 11 pups respectively. In 2003, the pack consisted of 12-14 wolves (4-5 adults, 2-3 yearlings, 6 pups). Their traditional home range includes a small corner of Teton Park and the Gros Ventre River drainage.
Green River Pack -- In 1999, wolf # 237f was born in the Gros entre Pack near Jackson, Wyoming. In 2001, she left the Gros Ventre drainage and paired with wolf # 162m, which had dispersed from the Rose Creek Pack in YNP. The two wolves denned and produced pups in the upper Green River Basin in 2002. After killing at least eight cattle in summer 2003, the male wolf # 162m was removed in a control action. Within three weeks, a new male wolf # 267m from the Teton Pack joined the Green River Pack. Wolf # 267m was also removed when the Green River Pack continued killing livestock. Again, within a few weeks, another male wolf # 72m from the Nez Perce Pack in YNP joined the Green River Pack. In December 2003, the pack contained three wolves (two adults, one pup).
Daniel Pack -- The Daniel Pack was first discovered in 2003 in the foothills of the Wyoming Range, near Daniel, Wyoming. In 2003, the pack contained 16-17 wolves, having produced a double litter of pups (4-6 adults, 11-12 pups). By December 2003, it appeared that the pack may be splitting into two different groups.
Greybull River Pack -- In 2002, a male radio-collared wolf # B58 from central Idaho was trapped and re-collared in the Greybull River drainage near Meeteetse, Wyoming. Wolf B58 (now numbered as wolf # 274m) along with eight other wolves formed the Greybull River Pack. In fall of 2003, wolf # 274m was found dead and the cause of death is still under investigation. In December 2003, the Greybull River Pack had 7-8 wolves (3-4 adults, 4-5 pups).
Absaroka Pack -- In December 2003, we estimated that the Absaroka Pack contained 4-5 wolves (2-3 adults, 2-3 pups) despite a serious mange problem that appeared to be affecting the pack's survival. Two radio-collared wolves in the pack died from mange in 2003. Another radio-collared Absaroka wolf with mange was killed in a control action. The collar from the alpha female stopped functioning in summer 2003. One collar remained in the Absaroka Pack, but the young collared wolf may have dispersed. Due to numerous reports describing other Absaroka wolves appearing underweight and missing hair over large portions of their bodies, it is not certain if the Absaroka Pack will persist.
Sunlight Pack -- Dispersing wolves # 41f and # 52m from YNP recolonized the Sunlight Basin area in 1999 to form the Sunlight Pack. The pack has consistently produced pups each year and contained eight wolves (five adults, three pups) in December 2003. Five Sunlight wolves were radio collared in winter 2003 and four of them had mange. Wolf # 52 died of natural causes (other than mange) in November 2003.
Beartooth Pack -- For the last three years, wolf # 77f from YNP and an uncollared male wolf produced pups in the Beartooth Pack. The pack's home range extends into the Absaroka Mountains south of the Wyoming/Montana border and east of YNP. In December 2003, the pack had 7-9 wolves (4-5 adults, 3-5 pups).
Carter Mountain Pack -- Wolf # 275m dispersed from the Greybull River Pack and paired with an adult female wolf (now numbered # 359f). Both wolves were radio collared in December 2003 and reside in the Carter Mountain area between Cody and Meeteetse, Wyoming.
Gros Ventre Pack -- The Gros Ventre Pack produced small litters in 1999 and 2000. However, after two adult Gros Ventre wolves were killed in control actions in summer 2000, the pack no longer produced pups. Over the last several years, the Gros Ventre Pack had only 2-3 wolves. Based on the lack of visual observations, winter track counts, and reported sightings, we concluded that the Gros Ventre Pack no longer existed after 2002.
Reproduction: Eight packs containing 63-70 wolves produced nine litters with at least 34 pups. Mean litter size was 4.1 pups. In 2002, six packs produced a minimum of 29 pups with a mean litter size of 4.8 pups. Breeding pairs counting toward wolf recovery goals are defined as one adult male and one adult female and at least two pups surviving to the end of the calendar year. Five of the eight packs producing pups in 2003 met this criteria: Washakie, Teton, Daniel, Absaroka, and Beartooth Packs. The Green River Pack did not count as a breeding pair because even though it whelped at least five pups, only one pup survived. Both the Greybull River and Sunlight Packs lost alpha males and therefore (at the time of this report) did not count as breeding packs. The Daniel Pack produced a double litter totaling 12 pups. However, two females breeding within the same pack were counted as a single breeding unit. In 2001 and 2002, the Teton Pack produced double litters totaling 9 and 11 pups respectively. In 2003, after one of the breeding females died of natural causes, the pack produced a single litter of 6 pups.
Mortalities: A total of 27 wolves were known to have died in Wyoming outside of YNP. Humans caused 85% of all mortalities (control = 66% [n=18; 12 males and 6 females] and illegal killings or deaths under investigation = 19% [n=5; three males, one female, and one undetermined]). Natural causes accounted for 11% of mortalities (n=3; two males and one female) and unknown causes 4% (n=1; 1 male). These mortalities did not include missing wolves whose fates were unknown, including pups that may have perished from unknown causes. Of the 46 pups seen around den or rendezvous sites, 34 pups survived until December 31, 2003, for a survival rate of 74% to the age of eight months. This is only an estimate of maximum survival rate because pups are not usually seen until mid-summer, when some pup mortality has already occurred.
Population movement and dispersals in Wyoming: Wolves have dispersed south and east of YNP and recolonized new areas in western Wyoming. The former alpha male (wolf # 072m) of the Nez Perce Pack in YNP dispersed south to the Upper Green River drainage and paired with wolf # 237f of the Green River Pack. Three dispersing wolves have been consistently seen in the Owl Creek drainage west of Meeteetse, Wyoming. One wolf (# 318m) was radio collared in summer 2003. We will continue to monitor these wolves and determine if a pack actually forms in 2004.
Further east near the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming, 2-3 dispersing wolves have been seen in the Big Horn Mountains. Wolves in Wyoming have also dispersed north back to YNP. Wolf # 276m was born in the Washakie Pack near Dubois, Wyoming and dispersed north to join the Delta Pack in YNP.
Several young wolves (including two radio collared wolves) from the Teton Pack dispersed south from their natal home range. Three Teton dispersers recolonized an area near Cora. Another 2-3 Teton wolves have remained near Big Piney. Neither of these groups of wolves produced pups in 2003.
Monitoring: Montana portion of GYA
Monitoring continued on twelve packs living partly or entirely within the Montana portion of the GYA: Sheep Mountain, Mill Creek, Lone Bear, Taylor Peak, Sentinel, Freezeout, Bear Trap, Mission/Moccasin, Whitehall, Red Lodge, Chief Joseph, and Rose Creek II. The Chief Joseph pack, though classified as a Yellowstone National Park pack, spends considerable time outside of the park and has expanded its home range into the Taylor Fork and Madison drainages. The Rose Creek II pack also travels outside of the Park into Montana. In 2003, 19 wolves were captured, of which 15 were radio-collared. One wolf was a recapture, one pup was ear-tagged and released, and two pups were euthanized due to emaciation and severe mange. Packs were monitored throughout the year by TESF, NPS, WS, FWP, MSU and USFWS personnel via radio telemetry, visual observation and snow tracking. Nine of the twelve known packs showed signs of denning activity but only five could be confirmed as breeding pairs by the end of 2003. Eight of the twelve packs were involved in confirmed depredations on livestock. Of the 28 known wolf mortalities, three died of natural causes, three were legally shot by landowners with control permits, two were euthanized because of severe mange, 16 were shot by WS in control actions and four are under investigation as illegal kills.
Research in Yellowstone National Park
Wolf-prey relationships: Wolf-prey relationships were documented by observing wolf predation directly and by recording the characteristics of wolf prey at kill sites. Wolf packs were monitored during two winter-study sessions, 30-day periods in March and November-December during which wolves were intensively radio-tracked. The Leopold, Geode Creek, and Druid Peak Packs were monitored by two-person teams from the ground and from aircraft. The Swan Lake, Agate Creek, Rose Creek II, Slough Creek, Mollie's, Nez Perce, Cougar Creek, Bechler, Yellowstone Delta, Chief Joseph, and Sheep Mountain Packs were monitored from aircraft only. YNP staff recorded and entered into a data base behavioral interactions between wolves and prey, predation rates, the total time wolves fed on their kills, percent consumption of kills by wolves and scavengers, characteristics of wolf prey (e.g., nutritional condition), and characteristics of kill sites. In addition, similar data were collected opportunistically throughout the year during weekly monitoring flights and ground observations. The abundance and sex-age composition of elk within wolf pack territories were also estimated from the ground and from fixed-wing aircraft.
Composition of Wolf Kills: Project staff detected 99 definite, 239 probable, and 37 possible kills made by wolves in 2003, including 313 elk (83% of total), 22 bison (6%), 7 moose (2%), 3 deer (1%), 1 cougar (Felis concolor) (< 1%), 4 coyotes (Canis latrans) (1%), 4 wolves (1%), 1 porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) (< 1%), and 19 unknown prey (5%). The composition of elk kills was 27% calves (0-12 months), 21% cows (1-9 years old), 8% old cows (=10 years old), 26% bulls, and 17% elk of unknown sex and/or age. Bison kills included five calves (unknown sex), 11 cows, five bulls, and one unknown sex and age. During winter, wolves residing on the northern range killed an average of 1.8 elk per wolf during the 30-day study period.
Winter Studies: During the 2003 March winter study (30 days), wolves were observed for 425 hours from the ground. The number of days wolf packs were located from the air ranged from none (Chief Joseph, Yellowstone Delta, and Bechler) to 11 (Leopold, Geode, and Druid Peak). Sixty-three definite or probable wolf kills were detected, including 57 elk, four bison, one mule deer, and one moose. Among elk, 10 (18%) were calves, 15 (26%)

Wolf-Carnivore Interactions: Studies of wolves, grizzlies, and cougars are ongoing. Phase II of the project is scheduled to begin this summer when several wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, and cougars will be fitted with GPS collars operating on the same duty cycle. Programming the collars in such a coordinated fashion will allow better understanding of large carnivore interactions, landscape use, and predation rates. In late 2003, a Wildlife Society Bulletin article described the results from Phase I of the project.
Wolf-Scavenger Research: Research on the relationship between wolves and animals that scavenge wolf kills is continuing. In addition to wintertime work, a major effort is underway in summer to document the difference between winter and summer scavenging. Wolf kills in summer seem not to attract as many scavengers as those in winter. Preliminary research indicates that this may be due to differences in food abundance available to the scavenger guild in summer relative to winter. Work will continue this summer (2004).
....Other Research -- Indirect Assistance or Collaborative Work with the Wolf Project
Topic: Wolf-cougar interactions.
Collaborator: Toni Ruth, Howard Quigley.
Institution: Wildlife Conservation Society.
Topic: Wolf-coyote interactions.
Collaborator: Robert Crabtree, Jennifer Sheldon.
Institution: Yellowstone Ecological Research Center.
Topic: Wolf-bear interactions.
Collaborator: Charles Schwartz, Mark Haroldson.
Institution: Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team.
Topic: Wolf-scavenger relationships.
Collaborator: Chris Wilmers, Wayne Getz, Robert Crabtree.
Institution: University of California at Berkely; Yellowstone Ecological Research Center
Topic: Wolf-elk relationships, Firehole watershed.
Collaborator: Robert Garrott, Eric Bergman.
Institution: Montana State University.
Topic: Wolf-elk calf mortality.
Collaborator: L. David Mech, Shannon Barber.
Institution: USGS; University of Minnesota.
Topic: Wolf-pronghorn.
Collaborator: John Byers.
Institution: University of Idaho.
Topic: Wolf-willow.
Collaborator: Francis Singer.
Institution: USGS.
Topic: Wolf-aspen.
Collaborator: William Ripple.
Institution: Oregon State University.
Topic: Wolf -- trophic cascades.
Collaborator: L. David Mech, Mark Boyce, Nathan Varley, Rolf Peterson.
Institution: USGS; University of Alberta; Michigan Technological University.
Topic: Wolf predation.
Collaborator: Tom Drummer.
Institution: Michigan Technological University.
Topic: Wolf survival.
Collaborator: Dennis Murray.
Institution: University of Idaho; Trent University.
YNP wolf staff gave approximately 50 formal presentations to approximately 2500 people and an untallied number of informal talks both within and outside YNP. USFWS staff gave numerous presentations and status reports to federal and state agencies, conservation groups, rural communities, guide/outfitters organizations, livestock associations, schools, and various private institutions. These included 13 formal talks to approximately 1700 people. Wolf recovery personnel also participated in television interviews and newspaper feature stories.
Livestock Depredation and Management
Wyoming portion of GYA
Potential livestock depredations in Wyoming were investigated by WS and USFWS. Depredations were classified as either confirmed, probable, or other, based on specific criteria agreed upon by the USFWS and WS. If wolf depredation was confirmed, nonlethal or lethal control, or a combination thereof, was implemented under the direction of the USFWS. Seven of the eight wolf packs in Wyoming outside YNP were involved in at least one depredation and were responsible for at least 86 livestock lost to wolves (51 confirmed and 35
probable depredations) including 40 cattle, 36 sheep, and 10 goats. Two horses were injured by wolves, but survived the attacks. Depredations in 2003 more than doubled from the 27 depredations (23 confirmed and 4 probable) reported in 2002. WS documented 66% (n = 57) of all depredations on public grazing allotments and 34% (n = 29) on private property. Defenders of Wildlife paid compensation for confirmed and probable livestock losses from wolves. Control actions in response to livestock depredations included: trapping and radio-collaring four wolves; intensive monitoring; increasing riders on grazing allotments; harassing wolves with rubber bullets, cracker shells, and lights; moving livestock to different pastures; and issuing four shoot-on-sight permits. When nonlethal control methods were not effective, wolves were killed in an attempt to prevent further livestock depredations. In 2003, 18 wolves were killed in control actions, three times the number of wolves killed in 2002. The following is a brief summary of wolf depredations that occurred in 2003 and the lethal control responses:
Washakie Pack: Over the last several years, the Washakie Pack has repeatedly killed livestock on public and private land. In 2003, at least four cattle were killed by wolves. One wolf was killed in a control action.
Teton Pack: The Teton Pack killed one cow in the Gros Ventre drainage in summer 2003, but no wolves were removed from the pack. In separate instances, at least eight or nine young Teton wolves dispersed south to the Pinedale/Cora/Big Piney area and repeatedly killed numerous livestock. Five wolves were killed in different control actions.
Green River Pack: At least nine cattle and one sheep were confirmed to have been killed by wolves from the Green River Pack in summer 2003. Several other livestock losses were considered probable wolf kills. Three wolves were killed in control actions.
Sunlight Pack: Sunlight wolves killed numerous livestock in 2001 and 2002. In 2003, at least three cattle were killed on private land. Other livestock losses were reported as probable wolf kills. Three wolves were killed in control actions.
Absaroka Pack: Wolves from the Absaroka Pack killed at least five cattle on public land in 2003. One wolf was killed in a control action.
Daniel Pack: At least three cattle and two sheep were killed by wolves and reported as confirmed wolf kills. An additional 20 sheep were recorded as probable wolf kills. Two wolves were killed in capture-related deaths during control actions.
Greybull River Pack: Wolves from the Greybull River Pack killed at least killed three cattle on private land. Control actions were attempted but no wolves were killed.
Ten Sleep: A single wolf in the Big Horn Mountains, near the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming killed one cow and two sheep. One wolf was shot feeding on recently killed sheep.
Cokeville: On several occasions, two wolves were reported traveling in the midst of sheep on private property in Southwest Wyoming near the town of Cokeville. When wolves killed several sheep, two wolves were removed.
Depredation and Management: Montana portion of GYA
In the Montana portion of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Area (Figures 1, 3), eight of 12
known wolf packs were involved in livestock depredation in 2003 (Table 1b). Cattle and sheep
depredations continue to be a significant problem in this area. A variety of nonlethal techniques
have been used to help reduce depredation, in addition to the lethal removal of 19 wolves in
2003. Confirmed losses in 2003 included 10 cattle and 83 sheep killed by wolves, with an
additional 15 cattle, 17 sheep and one horse classified as probable wolf depredation.
Taylor Peak Pack: A mule was injured in February and reported as a probable wolf attack. The
mule was later euthanized due to a tendon that had been cut. Denning was confirmed and five
pups were observed during early summer. A landowner trained in less-than-lethal munitions hit
wolf #198F with a cracker shell while hazing her out of his cattle. In July, project personnel
worked closely with the Madison Valley Ranch Lands group who were using sheep as weed
control on a ranch in the Taylor Peak territory. The sheep producer provided a herder and guard
dog. The Service trained the herder in less-than-lethal munitions and a portable electric night
fence was provided. On July18, two ewes and two lambs were confirmed as wolf kills by WS
and an additional lamb was confirmed on the 24. Wolf #198F was reported near the sheep on
several occasions and was lethally controlled on July 26. Investigation of the fence showed it
was not producing electricity nor sturdy enough to contain the sheep and therefore was not being
used. The producer found another electric fence, improvements were made and fladry was
added along with a RAG box. A telemetry receiver was also provided to the herder. Wolves
near the night bedding area were reported multiple times by the herder but no depredations
occurred during the duration of the project. Trapping and collaring efforts continued throughout
the summer. One 30lb male pup was caught but was too small to collar. He was eartagged and
released on site. Wolf #281M was recaptured and released on site. In October WS darted and
collared a yearling male #335 who showed signs of mange. Two 30lb pups were trapped by
FWP and TESF on October 21-22 and were euthanized. Both wolves were very emaciated and
had severe cases of mange. The pups were sent to the Bozeman lab and both tested positive for
sarcoptic mange. The two yearlings, wolf #281M and #335M are both showing signs of hair loss
and probably have mange as well.
Sentinel Pack: No depredations were confirmed in this pack. However, there were reports of
the wolves harassing cattle, and two cows from the same herd died and were scavenged by the
pack in the Madison drainage. Trapping and darting efforts by WS, MTFW&P and TESF placed
four new collars in this pack. Five collared wolves were on mortality by December. One died
from natural causes, and the other four are under investigation. There are now no radio-collars
in the pack which is believed to consist of four to five wolves. Three pups were observed in June
but both adults were killed so this will not be counted as a breeding pair.
Freezeout pack: Thirteen pregnant ewes were confirmed as wolf kills by WS in April, and more
sheep were injured. Four wolves, including wolf #235M, were lethally removed. The breeding
female is still collared but the male, #161, has been missing since September.
Mill Creek Pack: No depredations were reported for this pack in 2003. Shoot-on-sight permits
were issued to landowners for both sheep and cattle depredations that occurred in December
2002. Two wolves, a 2-year old male and a female pup, were shot by a landowner with the
shoot-on-sight permit. A permanent, predator-proof fence for night pasturing sheep was
provided by Defenders of Wildlife to the landowner who lost the sheep. On January 17, a
yearling female wolf (#297F) was collared and released. She was found in mortality on January
29 and was found to have been killed by a cougar.
Sheep Mountain Pack: Reports were received that the wolves were chasing cattle in September
and horses in November. Telemetry flights were increased to acquire more information on the
pack. On October 15, one calf was confirmed killed by wolves, and on November 14 two more
calves were confirmed as wolf kills. WS successfully trapped and collared three wolves, one
adult male and two yearling females (#332F, #333F, #334M). The decision was made to remove
a third of the pack and a shoot-on-sight permit was issued to the livestock owner. WS removed
one mangy-looking adult female on December 4 and the livestock owner shot one adult breeding
female on December 5. On December 21, three additional wolves, two gray yearling females
and one adult black male, were removed by WS. Final calf counts by producers bringing in their
stock noted one injured calf and 17 missing calves. These were documented as
Red Lodge Pack: During the months of January and February, WS confirmed that two calves
were killed by wolves and that nine calves were missing. Two additional calves were
unconfirmed due to the lack of evidence, and one calf was reported as a probable wolf kill. On
January 23, WS net-gunned and collared a black adult female. On February 24, four wolves
were lethally removed including the collared adult female. Four wolves are suspected to remain
in this pack.
Lone Bear Pack: The Lone Bear Pack was seen scavenging a calf carcass on April 20, and on
April 21, another dead calf was investigated by WS but unconfirmed due to a lack of evidence.
On April 23, WS confirmed a calf killed by the pack, and one gray yearling female was lethally
removed. The Lone Bear wolves killed seven sheep on December 17, and nine more sheep the
next day. A control action removed two wolves, male #285 and one un-collared gray yearling
female. A shoot-on-sight permit was issued to the landowners for two wolves, but no additional
wolves were killed. A proposal was drafted by the sheep owner and submitted to Defenders of
Wildlife for modification of the existing woven wire fence to include electric wire on the outside
and additional height, to create a predator-resistant fence. Two collared wolves remain in this
Mission/Moccasin Pack: On August 24, in the Boulder River area, one calf was confirmed as
having been killed by wolves and another calf was wounded and died later. One cow was
reported killed but was unconfirmed. Two wolves were collared by WS in September, a gray
yearling female (#326F) and wolf #242F, originally collared as a pup in the Sheep Mountain
Pack in 2001. We have yet to confirm if there are two packs between the Mission and Moccasin
areas, hence the double name.
Chief Joseph Pack: A calf was killed by the Chief Joseph wolves in the Taylor Fork drainage on
August 13. In September, one calf was killed in Tom Miner Basin and a second calf was not
Trapping efforts occurred throughout the summer, and in September a breeding female,
#327, was trapped, collared and released.
Bear Trap: No livestock depredations were reported in 2003. On July 18, a gray adult female
(#323F) was collared and released on site on the Flying D ranch in the Gallatin Range. This
wolf traveled back and forth from the ranch to Paradise valley and is now with Sheep Mountain
male #334, spending time in Sheep Mountain Pack territory and up and down the Paradise
Valley. A group of five wolves have been consistently sighted on the Flying D Ranch
throughout 2003. No collars are in this pack.
Rose Creek II Pack: Although categorized as a YNP pack, the Rose Creek II Pack occasionally
leaves the park. Between July 23 and August 8, seven lambs and one ewe were confirmed as
wolf kills in the Beartooth/Absaroka wilderness. The sheep were lawfully present on a USFS
grazing allotment that had been in place before designation of the area as wilderness. No control
action was taken. On October 23, wolf #207 was on mortality and confirmed to have been killed
by other wolves.
Miscellaneous and Lone Wolves: An Idaho wolf from the Moyer Basin Pack, B-144M, was
caught by a coyote trapper on December 19 in the Eightmile drainage of Paradise Valley. The
trapper contacted wolf project personnel and the wolf was re-collared and released. B-144M
continues to travel up and down both sides of Paradise Valley.
On January 14, five ewes were reported by WS as probable wolf kills near Harlowtown. On
May 24, 22 lambs were confirmed as wolf kills near Fishtail, Montana. Control efforts by WS
were unsuccessful and the producer was issued a shoot-on-sight permit. On October 15, three
ewes were confirmed killed near Nye, Montana, but aerial control was unsuccessful.
Depredation and Management: Idaho portion of GYA
There are no known wolf packs in the Idaho portion of the Yellowstone recovery area (Idaho
east of Interstate 15). One calf was confirmed killed by wolves near Kilgore, Idaho in late
August. The owner of the calf shot a wolf at the carcass. Two weeks later, a lamb was killed
nearby, and was classified as a probable wolf kill. Herders reported seeing two wolves in the
area. No further depredations were reported. A pair of wolves that appeared in the area of Big
Sheep Creek, Montana, some 50 miles to the west, (Grassy Top Pack) may be the same wolves.
The Nez Perce Tribe Wolf Recovery Program, headed in 2003 by Project Leader Curt Mack and
biologists Isaac Babcock, Adam Gall, Jim Holyan, Jason Husseman, Kent Laudon, and Anthony
Novack, conducted management and monitoring of the Central Idaho wolf population.
Volunteers Emily Babcock, Barry Braden, Teresa DeBlieck, Tyler Hollow, Denise Jantzer,
Kampe, Casey King, Rob LaBuda, Rob Lonsinger, Karen Loveless, Susannah Phillips,
Jennifer Rykowski, Erin Simmons, and Barbara Trapp assisted during the field season.
Consuelo Blake, office assistant, joined the Recovery Program in June. Jon Trapp, a graduate
student affiliated with Prescott College, initiated his field work on den-site characteristics. Mike
Schlegel helped during helicopter capture.
The USFWS was represented in Idaho by recovery coordinator Carter Niemeyer, and in Montana
by biologist Joseph Fontaine. Law enforcement agents in the Boise USFWS field office
included Senior Agent Craig Tabor and Special Agent Scott Kabasa. Special Agent Scott
Bragonier is headquartered in Twin Falls. USFWS Special Agent Rick Branzell covers that
portion of southwestern Montana that is part of the central Idaho recovery area.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game joined in wolf management and coordination during
2003. Personnel involved included State Coordinator Steve Nadeau in Boise, and Regional
Supervisors, District Biologists, and Conservation Officers throughout the state.
Wildlife Services personnel involved in wolf control or management in 2003 included State
Director Mark Collinge, Assistant State Director George Graves, District Supervisors Charles
Carpenter, Craig Maycock and Todd Grimm, Wildlife Specialists Jeff Ashmead, Lee Czapenski,
Jon Farr, Doug Hansen, Doug Hunsaker, Gary Looney, Justin Mann, Kelly Parker, Shane
Robinson, Eric Simonson, Dave Thomas, and Rick Williamson, and Pilot Sam Kocherhans.
Forty-six individual wolves were captured (50 total captures) during the 2003 field season, 14 by
helicopter darting and/or helicopter net-gunning, and 32 by leg-hold trapping. Additionally, one
wolf was ground-darted, the first known instance that method has been successfully employed on
wolves. Of that total, 33 new wolves were collared, eight wolves were recollared, two were not
collared, and three were lethally controlled at the time of capture. At the end of 2003,
approximately 43 wolves (12% of the estimated population) were being monitored in 37
documented groups or as lone/dispersing wolves. These packs, along with 16 areas of suspected
wolf activity, accounted for about 368 wolves in the central Idaho recovery area. Approximately
345 of these live in the state of Idaho (Table 3) and 23 in the state of Montana (Table 1b).
Radio-collared wolves were located approximately twice per month by airplane, more frequently
during the spring denning and fall hunting seasons. Packs in Idaho as of December 2003
included Big Hole, Buffalo Ridge, Castle Peak, Chamberlain Basin (extant but not monitored
due to loss of radio-collars), Cook, Eagle Mountain, Eldorado (no radio-collars), Five Lakes
Butte (no radio-collars), Florence (no radio-collars), Galena, Gold Fork, Gospel Hump, Hazard
Lake, Hemlock Ridge (no radio-collars), Jureano Mountain, Kelly Creek, Landmark, Lupine,
Magruder, Monumental (no radio-collars), Morgan Creek, Moyer Basin, O'Hara Point, Orphan,
Red River, Scott Mountain, Selway, Soldier Mountain, Steel Mountain, Thunder Mountain (no
radio-collars), Timberline, and Twin Peaks (no radio-collars) Packs (Table 3, Figures 1, 4).
Also, there are 15 areas of suspected wolf activity in Idaho, that have not been confirmed:
Avery; Bovill/Deary; Bennett Mountain; Carey/Craters of the Moon; Copper Basin; Lemhi;
Lower Mores Creek; Lower North Fork of the Clearwater; Lower Selway/Lochsa; Marble
Newsome Creek; North Fork of the Salmon; Upper Selway; Upper South Fork of the
Payette/Bear Valley; and Wolf Fang. The Marble Mountain and Wolf Fang Packs were
confirmed in 2002, but the loss of radio-collars has since precluded the ability to monitor them in
In addition, at least five packs are thought to live in the Montana portion of the recovery area; in
the East Fork of the Bitterroot River drainage (Sapphire Pack), the West Fork of the Bitterroot
River drainage (Painted Rocks Pack), in the Flint Creek drainage (Willow Pack), in the southern
Big Hole valley (Fox Creek Pack), and in the Big Sheep Creek drainage (Grassy Top Pair)
(Table 1b, Figure 4). An area of suspected wolf activity in the Montana portion of the Idaho
recovery area is Como Lake. Pack activity was confirmed here in 2002, but none of the wolves
are radio-collared and this area was not monitored in 2003.
Reproduction was confirmed in 30 packs, producing a minimum of 102 pups. Twenty-six of the
30 reproductive packs met the recovery standards of a breeding pair (Tables 1b, 3). Eighteen
wolves were known to have died in 2003; 16 of human-related causes (including seven removed
in control actions), and two of unknown causes. The fates of nine collared wolves that dispersed
away from their territories in 2003 or before were determined. Six wolves went missing in 2003
and may have dispersed.
Sixteen new Idaho wolf packs were documented in 2003: Castle Peak (with alphas B2 [formerly
of Wildhorse Pack] and an unknown female); Cook (unknown origin); Eagle Mountain
(dispersed male B136 from the Marble Mountain Pack and an unknown female); Eldorado
(unknown origin); Florence (unknown origin); Galena (female B107 from the Moyer Basin Pack
and an unknown male); Hazard Lake (male B105 from Stanley Basin Pack and a female of
unknown origin); Hemlock Ridge (unknown origin); Magruder (male B110 from the Moyer
Basin Pack and a female of unknown origin); Monumental (unknown origin); Morgan Creek
(unknown origin); O'Hara Point (male B111 from Jureano Mountain and a female of unknown
origin); Red River (unknown origin); Soldier Mountain (origin suspected from previous Big
Smoky Pack [2000]); Steel Mountain (male R241 from Yellowstone National Park and a female
of unknown origin); and Timberline (unknown origin). This represents the largest single-year
increase in newly documented packs for Idaho. In addition, two new packs (Fox Creek and
Sapphire) and one pair (Grassy Top) of wolves were documented in southwest Montana by
USFWS personnel.
As noted above, several packs were documented that contain no functioning radio-collars. Field
biologists verified these packs through follow-up investigations of reports of wolves or wolf sign
received from other agencies or the public, or based on previous project knowledge. For most of
these groups, capture efforts were undertaken to equip wolves with radio-collars, but were not
successful. Collars were in place in the Florence, Hemlock Ridge, and Thunder Mountain Packs,
but were lost due to chewing, illegal take, and dispersal, respectively.
Of the five packs known to live in the Montana portion of the CID recovery area, only one, the
Willow Pack, is currently radio-collared. Collared wolves from the Painted Rocks and
Battlefield Packs were illegally killed in 2002, leaving no radio-collars in those packs. A wolf
fitted with a radio-collar in the Big Hole area in the fall of 2003, but it is not known at this
time if it is associated with any other wolves. The Battlefield and Como Lake Packs are no
longer considered to be verified packs because no reports of wolf activity have come from those
areas recently. A pack of wolves appeared in the southern Big Hole valley late in the year (Fox
Creek Pack), and killed four calves in December 2003. The pack was eliminated by wolf control
actions in early 2004. The Sapphire Pack and Grassy Top pair were known only from sightings.
The Recovery Program continued to support research that will provide sound scientific data
leading to wolf conservation and management. A Master's of Science research study was
initiated in 2003 that is designed to characterize the physical attributes and habitat characteristics
of wolf den-site selection in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Winter Predation and Interactions of Cougars and Wolves in the Central Idaho Wilderness.
Investigators: Holly Akenson, James Akenson, and Howard Quigley.
Cooperators: University of Idaho, Hornocker Wildlife Institute - Wildlife Conservation Society,
DeVlieg Foundation, Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Fieldwork was concluded in 2002. The data is being analyzed and will be presented in articles
published in scientific journals.
Wolf Den-Site Selection in the Northern Rockies
Investigators: Jon R. Trapp (Prescott College), David Parsons, Paul Beier (Northern Arizona
University), Curt Mack (Nez Perce Tribe), Paul Paquet, Edward O. Garton (University of Idaho).
Cooperators: Nez Perce Tribe, USFWS, USFS, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park,
Wolf Education and Research Center, Sun Ranch, Plum Creek Timber Company, Yellowstone
National Park, and the Geographic Data Service Center.
The key to the expansion and survival of any species is successful reproduction. Wolves most
commonly give birth to their young in hillside excavations, or dens. This Master's of Science
research study was initiated to examine wolf dens in the Northern Rockies to determine which, if
any, variables are significant in den-site selection. Data was collected at over 30 wolf dens in
Idaho, Montana, and Canada in the summer of 2003.
Data collection was focused at two levels: micro- and macrohabitat. Microhabitat variables
included vegetative composition and structure, canopy cover, hiding cover, slope, aspect, soil
analysis, habitat type, den measurements, and distance to water, roads, and human disturbance.
Macrohabitat data was further broken down into two levels: the den-site and the den-area. The
den-area consisted of four collection plots 50 meters away from the den on the cardinal
directions. For each den-site found, a randomly generated contrast site was created within the
range of the selected wolf pack. The same data, with the exception of the den
measurements, were collected at the contrast site. The contrast site allowed for a comparison
between presence (the den-site) and absence (another location within the wolves? home range
without a den).
Macrohabitat will be analyzed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). By utilizing the
computer mapping abilities of GIS, many questions can be answered at the landscape level. GIS
layers can supplement some of the data collected in the field such as slope, aspect, and habitat
type. Digital Elevation Models with 30-meter resolution allow for slope, aspect, and solar
radiation analysis. Roads, trails, and hydrology layers can be used with den coordinates to figure
out precise distances from dens to these features. Satellite and aerial imagery can be examined
to calculate distance to openings and canopy closure. Ultimately, GIS modeling has the potential
to predict potential wolf den-sites across the Northern Rockies.
In Idaho, den-sites were primarily hillside excavations under trees, with an average slope of
28%. Most dens were in forested areas with a young-mature age structure composed of mixed
conifers, mainly Douglas fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii). Dens were characterized with greater
canopy, hiding, and herbaceous cover, and also significant amounts of downed woody material
(2-6 inches in diameter). Most dens were located within 100 meters of water. Four dens were
within 100 meters of a four-wheel drive or hiking trail. Further analyses of distances to roads,
trails, and water will be completed using GIS.
Literature Review of Worldwide Wolf Monitoring Techniques
Principal Investigators: Curt Mack (Nez Perce Tribe), Kyran Kunkel (Montana State
University), and Wayne Melquist (University of Idaho).
Cooperators: Idaho Department of Fish and Game and USFWS.
The Nez Perce Tribe is initiating an effort to summarize the current worldwide state of
knowledge regarding wolf counting/survey/and monitoring techniques. This effort will include a
complete published and grey literature search, as well as a questionnaire survey designed to
collect unpublished information from current wolf managers. This is the initial stage of, and will
provide the foundation for, a proposed research study to develop post-delisting monitoring
protocols for wolves in Idaho. Results of this study will also be useful to other states developing
wolf survey and monitoring protocols.
The Nez Perce Tribe received a grant from the USFWS Tribal Wildlife Grants Program to fund
the following proposed research, which will be an extension of the literature review described
Developing Monitoring Protocols for the Long Term Conservation and Management of Gray
Wolves in Idaho
part of USFWS efforts to restore endangered populations of gray wolves, an imperiled
species, to the northern Rocky Mountains of the conterminous United States, 35 wolves were
reintroduced into Idaho between 1995 and 1996. The Nez Perce Tribe (Tribe), has supported
wolf recovery efforts, in part, because of the cultural and religious significance of this species.
The Tribe, working through a cooperative agreement with USFWS, has been charged with the
responsibility of monitoring and documenting the status of the recovering wolf population in
Idaho. Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains have recovered more rapidly than anticipated
and USFWS is intending to initiate the delisting process as soon as 2004.
To date, wolf population estimation has relied on time-intensive and expensive radio telemetry
techniques. Although this approach worked well with initial small population sizes, these
techniques are no longer appropriate or cost-effective given the current, much larger recovered
population size and near-statewide distribution. The Tribe, USFWS, and the State of Idaho are
interested in a collaborative partnership effort to develop a less intensive and more cost-effective
approach for estimating wolf population numbers across the varied landscapes of Idaho. We are
proposing to initiate a 3.5-year research effort to develop standardized protocols for estimating
wolf population parameters appropriate for meeting post-delisting monitoring and management
Standardized monitoring protocols will be important in satisfying the USFWS? 5-year postdelisting
monitoring requirements and is crucial to insure sustainability of the population
through effective post-delisting conservation and management of wolves. Results of this effort
will also be useful to other states, particularly Montana and Wyoming, developing monitoring
protocols for wolves across the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Program personnel presented informational talks and status reports throughout the year to
various federal and state agencies, public and private institutions, special interest groups, and
rural communities. Additionally, scores of informal presentations to small groups or individuals
were conducted during this time.
Livestock Depredation and Management
Of the 37 documented packs of wolves in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, nine packs were
involved in confirmed or probable livestock depredations in 2003. WS investigates all reports of
livestock depredation and then takes appropriate actions in consultation with USFWS. WS
determined that a total of 13 calves, 118 sheep, and six dogs were confirmed killed by wolves in
the CID recovery area in 2003. Another six calves and 27 sheep were classed as probable wolf
kills. Seven wolves were killed in depredation control (two by ranchers, five in government
actions), and none were translocated. Another six wolves were captured and released on-site in
these operations, although two died as a result of their captures within a week. The number of
investigations conducted in 2003 was similar to 2002, although the numbers of livestock killed
was higher because larger numbers of sheep were killed. The Cook Pack (82 confirmed kills
plus 10 sheep injured) and what was suspected to be the Hazard Lake Pack (15 confirmed kills
three probable kills) were responsible for the majority of this increase. These two groups of
wolves were responsible for 91% (107 of the 118 sheep confirmed killed or injured) of the total
domestic sheep loss in the Idaho portion of the recovery area. Subsequent capture efforts
revealed a neighboring group of wolves adjacent to the Hazard Lake Pack, which may have been
responsible for some of the depredations attributed to the Hazard Lake Pack. The number of
wolves lethally controlled in 2003 (seven) was less than the number killed in 2002 (14). One
wolf was legally killed while in the act of depredating on a domestic calf (in addition to a wolf
shot under similar circumstances in the Idaho portion of the GYA). The year-to-year similarity
in depredation investigations and losses may be related to the continued presence of wolf packs,
despite prior wolf control, in areas that overlap livestock grazing allotments.
Buffalo Ridge Pack: Three calves were classified as probable wolf depredations in early spring,
but no control action was initiated and no further depredations were reported. The Recovery
Program and Defenders of Wildlife worked with livestock producers to alleviate potential
conflicts in this pack's territory.
Cook Pack: Two wolves, an adult female and a subadult male, were lethally controlled in this
pack that was involved in several depredation incidents, killing or injuring 92 sheep. In addition,
two pups were captured (one was radio-collared and released). Sheep losses attributed to this
pack represented a minimum of 78% of total sheep losses in the recovery area.
Florence Pack: At least three confirmed wolf depredation events on sheep in the Allison Creek
drainage, where three sheep were confirmed killed and 12 others probably killed, led to the
discovery of this pack. One livestock guarding dog was also killed by wolves. A trapping
operation by WS commenced in conjunction with the second depredation, but no wolves were
captured and the control action was discontinued. A follow-up capture operation by the Nez
Perce Tribal crew, unrelated to the depredations, was later successful in radio-collaring a pup,
but its collar was chewed off by pack mates and recovered nine days later.
Gold Fork Pack: In July, one calf was confirmed killed and one probably killed on private land
within the pack territory. The latter calf was discovered alive and had probably been attacked
and injured by wolves in this pack's home range. WS initiated a control action, but the radiocollared
wolves moved well away from the area where the calf was found and did not return
while traps were in the ground.
Hazard Lake Pack/Partridge Group: In May, B105 was implicated in an attack on sheep penned
near a private residence near Pinehurst, Idaho (seven sheep killed, five injured, and two missing).
Fladry was placed on the fence, and no further incidents occurred. A gray male subadult/adult
wolf was lethally controlled in this pack's territory in August, following confirmed wolf
depredations on three sheep grazing on a public allotment. In September another male wolf,
B172, was trapped, radio-collared, and released following a confirmed depredation on five sheep
on a public grazing allotment. It was not certain whether these two individuals were part of the
Hazard Lake Pack. B172 was aerially located with known Hazard Lake Pack member B105 on
one occasion. Subsequent monitoring indicated that B172 is associated with wolves, the
Partridge group, apparently not affiliated with the Hazard Lake Pack. Three confirmed
incidents and one probable incident were attributed to these wolf groups in 2003. In
addition, three instances of wolves harassing horses and dogs in the Hazard Lake Pack's territory
were reported.
Jureano Mountain Pack: The Jureano Mountain Pack was involved in only a single confirmed
depredation incident in 2003. B137 was shot by a landowner while feeding on a freshly-killed
domestic calf. Investigation of the calf's carcass by WS indicated that wolves killed it, so the
shooting of B137 was legal.
Morgan Creek Pack: The Morgan Creek Pack was verified after they depredated on one
domestic calf in their namesake drainage. Two wolves were trapped, but one broke the chain on
the trap and escaped with the trap on its foot. It was recaptured six days later, treated, radiocollared,
and released. Unfortunately this wolf perished one week later. The other animal, male
B161, was radio-collared and released.
Miscellaneous and Lone Wolves: Two wolves, a male and a female, were lethally controlled
near Willow Creek Summit, Idaho, in separate incidents. The male was implicated in the deaths
of one confirmed and two probable wolf-killed calves in February, and the female in one
confirmed wolf-killed calf in June. Female B156 and male B157 were trapped in the Pearl Creek
drainage north of McCall, Idaho in conjunction with confirmed depredations on sheep. The
female died of handling-related complications the day after her capture. B157 was radiocollared
and released. Following the death of B156, subsequent investigations suggested the
presence of at least one other wolf besides B157, but further monitoring of B157 indicated that
he was alone.
Depredation and Management: Montana Portion of CID
Willow Creek Pack: Two calves were confirmed killed by wolves in the Willow Creek Pack
territory near Philipsburg, Montana in August 2003, and another in October. An adult wolf was
shot by WS at the carcass of the third calf.
Fox Creek Pack: Four calves were confirmed killed by wolves in the southern Big Hole Valley
in December 2003. The newly formed Fox Creek Pack (two adults and five pups) was removed
in control actions in early 2004.
Other depredations in the Montana portion of the CID included a lion hound killed by the
Sapphire Pack in February 2003, a calf fatally injured by a lone, dispersing wolf southwest of
Dillon, MT in January 2003, and five calves (two killed, three injured) that were classified as
probable wolf depredations.
Reclassification and Delisting of the Gray Wolf
once common throughout North America, are protected under the ESA because human
persecution nearly eliminated them from the contiguous United States. By 1974, there were
none left in the northern Rocky Mountain states (NRM). The ESA prohibited people from
harming wolves and mandated that all federal actions seek to conserve and not jeopardize
wolves. Ultimately, three distinct wolf recovery programs in the Midwest, NRM, and Southwest
were initiated. In the NRM, 2003 marked the fourth consecutive year that 30 or more breeding
pairs of wolves were documented. The population of 761 wolves has achieved biological
recovery objectives.
USFWS can propose delisting of the NRM wolf population when it determines that the
population has recovered and it is reasonably assured that wolves would not become threatened
again if the ESA protections were removed. The ESA contains several checks and balances, and
protections to ensure that any decision to delist a species is scientifically sound and will not
result in it becoming listed again. The ESA requires that all decisions be based on the best
scientific data available. USFWS is mandated to examine all of the factors that may have caused
a species to become threatened and to determine that they are not likely to cause the species to
become threatened again. Regulating the level of human-caused mortality is the primary factor
that must be resolved before delisting could be proposed. The ESA requires that USFWS must
determine that regulations, other than the ESA, will prevent unchecked human-caused mortality
from once again driving wolves toward extinction. Wildlife mortality is typically regulated by
state fish and wildlife management agencies. USFWS requested that Montana, Idaho, and
Wyoming develop state wolf management plans so that wolves would be adequately conserved
under state management. In addition, USFWS believed that state wolf plans would help the
public to understand the consequences of delisting and would provide a solid administrative
foundation for the final decision. USFWS provided various degrees of funding and assistance to
the states while they developed their wolf management plans. State laws, as well as state
management plans, must be consistent with long-term conservation of the wolf population. The
links for the state wolf plans for Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are available at .
Montana, Idaho and Wyoming had all completed their respective state wolf plans by September
2003. USFWS immediately sent the three state plans for independent peer review. Peer
reviewers were asked, ?In combination, would the three state plans assure conservation of the
wolf population at or above recovery levels.? Twelve North American wolf management and
research experts were asked to review those plans. Eleven reviews were received. They were
then reviewed by the state wildlife management agencies, to allow each state to provide their
perspectives on the reviewers? comments. On December 10, 2003 the three states provided their
responses back to the USFWS, completing the peer review process. After further internal and
legal review at the Regional Office and Washington D.C. level, recommendations were provided
to the USFWS Director.
In early January 2004, the Director determined that: Montana?s state wolf management plan was
an outstanding professional effort and deserved special recognition. Montana?s wolf
management plan was clearly adequate as a regulatory mechanism to maintain and conserve a
recovered wolf population. Idaho?s state wolf management plan, when examined by itself,
to contain some conflicting and confusing statements regarding whether adequate
regulatory mechanisms would be in place to protect gray wolves. However, passage of Idaho
House Bill 294 in 2003 resolved those concerns. Idaho?s wolf management plan was adequate
as a regulatory mechanism to maintain a recovered wolf population, assuming step-down
planning followed through on their plan?s overall policy commitments. The Wyoming state wolf
plan called for wolves to be considered ?trophy game? in the national park and wilderness areas
of the state and considered as ?predators? throughout the remainder of the state (and as trophy
game in a larger area of Northwest Wyoming if less than eight packs were outside the National
Parks). The combination of large areas and the uncertainty of monitoring wolf mortality under
predatory animal status, the changing between ?predatory animal? and ?trophy game? status in
certain areas and the potentially limited area in which human-caused mortality of wolves could
be regulated were major concerns. Wyoming?s unique and complex proposed regulatory
framework, and the vague direction provided by Wyoming law did not assure the Service that
Wyoming?s plan will conserve wolves at or above a recovered level in Wyoming. The Director
determined that Wyoming must designate wolves as trophy game state-wide so the Wyoming
Game and Fish Department has legal authority to manage them, and Wyoming must clearly
commit to managing for 15 or more well distributed packs. These changes will require changes
in Wyoming state law that cannot be made until early 2004. The Service will not propose that
the wolf population be delisted until Wyoming state laws and their state plan can assure that
Wyoming?s portion of the NRM wolf population will remain secure without the ESA
A delisting proposal would include relevant data and a thorough analysis of USFWS?s rationale.
It would be published, and extensive public and professional peer review would be requested.
After public comment and any new information were analyzed, USFWS could withdraw the
proposal, modify it, or finalize it. The NRM wolf population could be delisted as early as 2005.
Upon delisting, each state would be responsible for the conservation and management of wolves
within their respective borders. Coordination among the three states is expected, and already
established through a memorandum of understanding signed by the respective governors, and
cooperation between state wildlife agencies. After the wolf population is delisted, the ESA
requires a mandatory, minimum 5-year post-delisting oversight period. That period, during
which USFWS reviews the implementation of state management plans, provides a safety-net to
ensure that the species is able to sustain itself without ESA protection. If wolves became
threatened again, USFWS could re-list them by emergency order.
Nationwide wolf reclassification:
The reclassification of wolves nationwide was completed on April 1, 2003. The rule created a
new Western Distinct Population Segment (DPS) for wolves, consisting of Wyoming, Montana,
Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the northern half of Utah and Colorado.
This proposal did not change the status of wolves in the experimental nonessential populations
(Central Idaho and Yellowstone) but changed the status of wolves in the rest of the Western DPS
from endangered to threatened. Wolves were also reclassified to threatened in 22 north-central
and northeastern states (Eastern DPS), and delisted in all or part of 14 southeastern states. The
reclassification and accompanying special rule [4d] allows wolves to be managed under virtually
same rules throughout the northwestern U.S. Activities that are allowed under threatened
status include the use of nonlethal munitions to haze wolves away from livestock and the ability
for livestock owners to legally kill a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock, herding or
guarding animals, or dogs on private property. The activities of government agencies in
managing depredating wolves are not significantly different under the threatened status.
Although wolf reclassification is being litigated, it is a separate administrative procedure from
delisting, and is not expected to affect the timetable for proposing the delisting of wolves in the
Western DPS (see Litigation).
Reclassification Litigation: On April 1, 2003, the USFWS finalized a reclassification rule that
delisted wolves in the southeastern U.S., established three distinct population segments
[Western, Eastern and Southwestern] and changed the status of wolves from endangered to
threatened in the Western and Eastern DPS?s. Wolves in the Southwestern DPS remained listed
as endangered. A number of advocacy groups filed a 60 day notice of intent to sue. In late 2003,
about 20 groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the reclassification was illegal for a wide variety of
reasons. Another suit was filed by other groups over similar issues in Vermont in December
2003. These litigation efforts will be ongoing for some time.
The United States District Court for the District of Idaho. Western Watersheds Project and
Idaho Conservation League vs. Sawtooth National Forest, Bill Levere, Sawtooth National Forest
Supervisor, and USFS, Case No. CIV 01-389-E-BlW.
This case was initiated in Summer 2002 and revolves around the establishing legislation for the
Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). That legislation suggests preferential use by
wildlife in the SNRA. The SNRA has been historically used for livestock grazing under federal
grazing permits. Since the USFWS's reintroduction efforts in 1995, the wolf population in Idaho
has expanded, with at least one wolf pack using part of the SNRA. Because of chronic livestock
depredations by wolves on private land adjacent to the SNRA and within it, agency wolf control
ultimately resulted in the removal of all 10 members of the Whitehawk Pack. Environmental
groups filed suit, and the Judges' preliminary ruling directed the USFS to give preference to
wildlife but also to balance out wildlife with permitted livestock grazing. The Court ruled that
the USFS needed to do a more thorough environmental assessment of the conflict between
livestock grazing and predators, primarily wolves, in the SNRA.
The Court further issued an injunction on the USFWS that prohibited lethal control of wolves
that depredated on livestock within the SNRA during the summers of 2002 and 2003. The
USFWS requested the Judge reconsider that position since the USFWS was not part of the
original litigation and that control of wolves that attack livestock is a necessary part of wolf
restoration in the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The FWS/DOI
worked with DOJ and filed an appeal of the court's decision. The appeals court suspended its
consideration of the appeal, until a closely related case, now before the Supreme Court, is ruled
upon. The USFWS stands ready to continue to assist in reducing livestock depredations by
non-lethal methods in the SNRA, as this case is being decided. The Court's 2003 injunction
in November 2003, but the plaintiffs are expected to ask the court for another injunction
this spring just as they have for the last two grazing seasons.
Funding of Wolf Recovery
Wolf recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains from 1973 through 2003 cost about $16,785,000
(with no adjustments for inflation). If recovery continues at the current rate and management
costs remain within predictions, wolf delisting should be completed in 2005 at an additional cost
to taxpayers of $1,500,000 annually for 2004 and 2005. The total cost for the restoration,
management, recovery, and delisting of wolves between 1973 and 2005 should be less than
FY 2003 (Oct 1, 2003 to Sept 30, 2003): total USFWS funding $1,567,0000. In FY 2003,
funding for wolf recovery was increased by Congress over FY 2002 levels. Region 6 (which
includes Montana and Wyoming) received nearly $776,000. $100,000 was used to fun WS
control programs, and $30,000 to help with state of Montana wolf planning. The remainder was
used to conduct the usual monitoring, management, control, and information program, complete
the National Wolf Reclassification, and coordinate preparation of a delisting proposal. Region 6
is also the lead on litigation issues related to wolf recovery. Funding also included $100,000 in
recovery funding to intensify efforts to assist the states to complete their state wolf management
plans, obtain professional peer review in late 2003, help the states to prepare for post-delisting
monitoring, and begin preparation of a delisting proposal.
Funding levels for Region 1 also increased. Region 1 (which includes Idaho) received $867,000,
which it used to fund $455,000 to the Nez Perce Tribe, $248,000 to the Idaho Governor?s Office
of Species Conservation ($90,000 of that funding was distributed to livestock producers for
missing livestock in central Idaho), and nearly $174,000 to the USFWS Idaho wolf recovery
program. Region 1 received an additional $40,000 to assist Region 6 to prepare the delisting
proposal and to assist Idaho to prepare for post-delisting monitoring.
In addition, WS maintained a $1,300,00 addition to their budget in MT, ID, and WY for predator
control related to endangered and threatened species (primarily wolves). Yellowstone National
Park maintained their NPS-funded wolf monitoring and research program at about $210,000 per
In addition to federal funding, the private Turner Endangered Species Fund is funding the salary
of an experienced wolf biologist in Bozeman, Montana. Val Asher is directly supervised by the
USFWS to monitor wolves and to assist in resolving conflicts between wolves and private
landowners in southwestern Montana. Defenders of Wildlife provides a compensation program
for livestock killed by wolves, with expenditures of more than $308,000 from 1987 through
December 2003. Universities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have also provided substantial
funding and support for their graduate students conducting wolf research.
Law Enforcement
USFWS Law Enforcement--Montana
In 2003, wolf incidents involving the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) in the District
of Montana were comparatively fewer than in past years. During calender year 2003 there were
two wolf mortality investigations opened by the OLE in Montana. One of these investigations
involved the discovery of a dead female pup that was radio-collared. The other dead wolf was
an uncollared male. Both cases are currently under investigation by Montana-based USFWS
Special Agents, and further details of these investigations cannot be divulged at this time.
Special Agents are continuing work on wolf mortality investigations that were opened in
calender year 2002. These investigations remain active with some referrals made to the Office
of the Solicitor.
USFWS Law Enforcement--Wyoming
USFWS enforcement personnel investigated seven wolf mortalities in Wyoming in 2003. One
(Sunlight male 52) was determined to have died of natural causes (disease). The other six, all
suspected to have been killed illegally, are under investigation.
USFWS Law Enforcement--Idaho
What follows is a list of known wolf mortalities occurring in Idaho during calendar year 2003
that were investigated by USFWS Special Agents:
The collar of Wolf B133 was found by USFWS agents in the South Fork Boise River near Pine,
Idaho, on 01/08/2003. Agents had been notified the previous day that a monitoring flight that
day had detected the collar transmitting a mortality signal. The collar had obviously been cut,
and it appeared it had been thrown from a bridge into the water, and had been there for some
time. It is presumed that this wolf was killed, and the investigation remains open.
An uncollared wolf was shot by a coyote hunter near the Idaho/Utah state line in Oneida County.
The shooter, upon determining that the animal was likely a wolf, promptly contacted Idaho Fish
and Game, who notified USFWS LE. The shooter reported that he was unaware of wolves being
in the area, and that he thought the wolf was a coyote. The case was declined for criminal
prosecution by the Boise US Attorney's office, and the case has been closed.
Buffalo Ridge Pack Wolf B143 was found dead near Clayton, Idaho in May after his collar
began emitting a mortality signal. A Forensics Lab has determined that the cause of death was
Compound 1080. This investigation remains open.
Wolf B131, a dispersing male from the Wolf Fang Pack, was found dead in May near Idaho City
after its collar emitted a mortality signal. Forensics Lab examination determined that the wolf
had been shot with a load of BB shot. Observation reports indicate this wolf was frequently seen
near roads. This investigation remains open.
B158 was found dead in October near Idaho City after the collar emitted a mortality signal.
The wolf had been shot with a high-powered rifle. This investigation is ongoing.
Two wolves, B152 and an uncollared wolf, were found dead and reported by a citizen to an
Idaho Fish and Game officer in November. The wolves were found in separate locations, both
near Pierce, Idaho. The state officer conducted initial crime scene investigations and turned the
carcasses over to USFWS agents.
USFWS LE agents collected an uncollared gray wolf of unknown sex in February 2004 near the
town of Elk River. The agents estimated that the wolf had been dead since the fall of 2003. This
is an open investigation.
USFWS agents continued, when able, to conduct pro-active wolf protective patrols in areas
where there were documented concentrations of illegal mortalities. USFWS agents in Idaho are
currently coordinating with Idaho Fish and Game to assist them in preparing wolf delisting and
the transition from federal to state management of wolves.

Idaho Wolf Management Planning
The Idaho State Legislature passed, and the Governor signed, HB294 in April 2003. The bill
allows the Department of Fish and Game to become reinvolved in wolf management, coordinate
with all entities involved to assist in delisting wolves, and then to implement the State Wolf Plan.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission also passed a wolf policy that allows the Department to
do what is necessary to begin managing wolves. The Department, along with the Governor's
Office of Species Conservation, has been deliberating with the Nez Perce Tribe to develop an
MOA that defines a role for the Tribe once wolves are delisted, and a process to coordinate
monitoring and management efforts between the State and the Tribe prior to delisting. The
Department of Fish and Game is planning training sessions, hiring personnel, defining roles and
responsibilities, purchasing equipment, enhancing ungulate monitoring efforts, coordinating
among agencies, and otherwise preparing to begin managing wolves. The State will be prepared
to be the primary wolf manager in Idaho as soon as it is feasible, logical, and legal. The USFWS
has determined that the State Wolf Plan is adequate to fulfill state requirements for delisting.
The Department is defining and developing many of the management strategies that will be used
for managing wolves under the Plan.
Additionally, Idaho is working with Montana and Wyoming to develop a monitoring and
coordination plan that will be included in the delisting package. A tri-state and Tribal proposal
was developed in cooperation with representatives from Montana and Wyoming, to present to
the Congressional Sportsmen Caucus to try to secure long term funding for wolf and grizzly bear
management in the three states.
Montana Wolf Management Planning
The Montana Wolf Management Advisory council was appointed in April 2000 to advise
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) as it prepared a management plan. The Wolf Council
a diverse group, representing the interests of conservationists, hunters, landowners, livestock
producers, outfitters, educators, and others. The Council completed their work in 2001, and
FWP released the "Montana Wolf Conservation and Management Planning Document" in
January 2002. While the planning document reflected what a state wolf plan could resemble if it
were based on the council's work and recommendations, FWP still needed to hear from others
and explore various alternatives before adopting a management plan in full compliance with the
legal requirements of the Montana Environmental Policy Act.
FWP initiated its Wolf Conservation and Management Plan Environmental Impact Statement
(EIS) in the spring of 2002 with a 60-day public comment opportunity in which people identified
the issues and concerns to be addressed in the EIS. FWP released a Draft EIS in March 2003.
The Draft EIS considered five alternatives, one of which was the work of Montana's Wolf
Council. FWP identified this as the preferred alternative. After a second 60-day public
comment period, FWP completed the EIS process by selecting the Council's alternative to
become the Montana Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The final plan was approved by
FWP's director and the FWP Commission in September 2003. More information can be found at
Wyoming Wolf Management Planning
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department completed a final management plan in August 2003.
The plan, for the most part, conformed to HB 229, which the Wyoming Legislature passed in
February 2003. It call for dual status of trophy game in a portion of Northwest Wyoming and
predator status in the remaining portion of the state. The plan committed to managing for 15
packs statewide, including National Park Service (NPS) lands, with at least seven packs outside
NPS lands. The state plan was reviewed by a professional peer review committee who, for the
most part, thought the plan would provide for a long-term, viable population in Wyoming.
Following peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service responded to Wyoming that the plan
was not satisfactory to proceed with delisting. The state is working with other agencies to
resolve the issue.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS
U. S. Forest Service USFS
U. S. Geological Survey USGS
U. S. National Park Service NPS
Nez Perce Tribe NPT
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services WS
Endangered Species Act ESA
Northern Rocky Mountains NRM
Northwest Montana wolf recovery area NWMT
Central Idaho wolf recovery area CID
Greater Yellowstone wolf recovery area GYA
Yellowstone National Park YNP
Glacier National Park GNP
Grand Teton National Park GTNP
Montana State University MSU
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks FWP
Turner Endangered Species Fund TESF
Distinct Population Segment DPS
Confederated Salish-Kootenay Tribes CSKT
For further information or to report wolf sightings, please contact:
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Helena MT: (406) 449-5225
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kalispell MT: (406) 751-4581
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lander WY: (307) 332-7789
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boise ID: (208) 378-5639
Yellowstone Center for Resources, YNP WY: (307) 344-2243
Nez Perce Tribal Wolf Program, McCall ID: (208) 634-1061
To report livestock depredations:
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Montana: (406) 657-6464
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Wyoming: (307) 261-5336
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Idaho: (208) 378-5077
To report discovery of a dead wolf or information regarding the illegal killing of a wolf:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Billings, MT: (406) 247-7355
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Missoula, MT: (406) 329-3000
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Bozeman, MT: (406) 582-0336
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Casper, WY: (307) 261-6365
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Lander, WY: (307) 332-7607
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Cody, WY: (307) 527-7604
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Boise, ID: (208) 378-5333
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Idaho Falls, ID (208) 523-0855
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Spokane, WA (509) 928-6050
USFWS Rocky Mountain weekly & annual wolf updates:
USFWS Midwestern gray wolf recovery, national wolf reclassification proposal:
USFWS Endangered Species Program:
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services:
National Wildlife Research Center:
Nez Perce Tribe Wildlife Program and 2001 progress report:
Turner Endangered Species Fund:
Yellowstone Park Foundation:
Yellowstone Wolf Tracker:
Yellowstone National Park wolf pack data:
Wolf Restoration to Yellowstone:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wolf management planning:
Montana State University wolf-ungulate research:
Idaho Fish and Game:
Idaho Office of Species Conservation:
Wyoming Game and Fish Department:
Wyoming agricultural statistics:
Idaho agricultural statistics:
Montana agricultural statistics:
National agricultural statistics:
Defenders of Wildlife wolf compensation trust:
International Wolf Center:
Wolf Recovery Foundation:
Wolf news reports:
National Wildlife Federation wolf information:
Montana Stockgrowers' Association
National Geographic wolf information:
Wolf Education and Research Center:
People Against Wolves:
Hundreds of people have assisted with wolf recovery efforts in a wide variety of ways and we are
indebted to them all. It would be impossible to individually recognize them all in this report. We
especially want to acknowledge the support and understanding from our families and friends. Major
contributions to wolf recovery efforts were provided by Dave Skates and Laurie Connell (USFWS
Lander, WY), Northwest College (Powell, WY), Jim Williams and Carolyn Sime (MT FWP, Kalispell,
MT), Mark Wilson, Fern Thompson, Robyn Barkley, Brent Esmoil, and Heidi Van Duyn (USFWS/ES,
Helena MT), Tom Hoffman (USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Denver CO), Dave Renwald (Bureau of
Indian Affairs), and Mike Phillips and Kyran Kunkel (Turner Endangered Species Fund). Numerous
agencies have contributed to the recovery program and we thank the USFS, Bridger-Teton National
Forest, Shoshone National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, Flathead National Forest, Lewis and Clark
National Forest, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, National
Elk Refuge, Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Confederated Salish-
Kootenai Tribes, the Blackfeet Tribe, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Montana Fish, Wildlife &
Parks, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Laboratory work was performed by the Montana FWP
laboratory in Bozeman MT, the USFWS forensics laboratory in Ashland, OR, Gary Matson?s Laboratory
in Milltown, MT, and Gary Haas of Big Sky Beetle Works in Hamilton, MT. Veterinarians providing
services and advice to wolf recovery programs included Drs. Clarence Binninger, Charlene Esch, and
David Hunter.
Portions of this report were authored by Tom Meier, Ed Bangs, Joe Fontaine, Mike Jimenez, Roger
Parker, and Craig Tabor (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Doug Smith, Deb Guernsey and Dan Stahler
(National Park Service), Stewart Breck (National Wildlife Research Center), Curt Mack and Jim Holyan
(Nez Perce Tribe), Scott Creel and Robert Garrott (Montana State University), Liz Bradley (University of
Montana), Kim Berger (Utah State University), Carolyn Sime (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks), Steve
Nadeau (Idaho Department of Fish and Game), Steve Moody (Wyoming Game and Fish), and Val Asher
(Turner Endangered Species Fund). Special thanks to Steve Carson (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks)
for preparing maps for this report, and to Jim Renne (USFWS) for producing the website.
We thank our pilots: Dave Hoerner of Red Eagle Aviation; Lowell Hanson of Piedmont Air Services;
Tim Graff and Eric Waldorf of Wildlife Services; Lee Anderson of MT FWP; Bob Hawkins and Gary
Brennan of Hawkins and Powers Aviation; Roger Stradley of Gallatin Flying Service; Gary Lusk of
Mountain Air Research; Jerry Hyatt and Claude Tyrrel of Sky Aviation; Pat and Mike Dorris; Rod
Nielson of McCall Aviation; Steve and Michelle Wolters, Wendy Beye of North Star Aviation; Bob
Danner and Dia Terese of SESS/Stanley Air; Ray Arnold of Arnold Aviation; Leroy Brown and Jack
Fulton of Idaho Helicopters; Steve and Lisa Robertson, and Doug Chapman of Montana Aircraft; for all
of their skill and cooperation.
Amy Edmonds, Scott Emmerich, Reggie Altop, John Waller and Steve Gniadek helped monitor wolves
in Glacier National Park. Volunteers in Yellowstone National Park included Emily Almberg, Paul
Brown, Mitch Eaton, Shaney Evans, Francesco Fonseca, Chris Geremia, Tim Hudson, Daniel MacNulty,
Rick McIntyre, Matt Metz, Guy Miller, Gus Mills, Kylie Paul, Derek Schlickeisen, Heather Sterling,
John Sterling, Janice Stroud, Lisa Turner, Grant Weigert, Elena West, Aaron Wunderlin, Katie Yale, and
Judy York. Assisting in monitoring wolves in Wyoming were John Stephenson, Keysha Fontaine, Tom
Dempsey, Nancy Nolan, Stacy Biebel, and Nancy Bockino. The NPT thanks Mike Schlegel and Ed
Levine for their contributions in Idaho.
Many private organizations have lent their support to the program including Defenders of Wildlife,
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wolf Education and Research Center, DeVlieg Foundation,
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, Twin Spruce Foundation, Yellowstone
Park Foundation, and Plum Creek Timber Company. The efforts of many individuals who have
contacted us to report wolf sightings are greatly appreciated. The dozens of ranchers and other private
whose property is occasionally used by wolves, sometimes at great cost to the owner,
deserve our thanks and consideration.
Arjo, W.M., D.H. Pletscher, and R.R. Ream, 2002. Dietary overlap between wolves and coyotes in
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McNay, M.E. 2002. Wolf-human interactions in Alaska and Canada: a review of the case history. Wildlife
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Mech, L. D., D.W. Smith, K.M. Murphy, and D.R. MacNulty. 2001. Winter severity and wolf predation on
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Table 1A: Northwest Montana Wolf Recovery Area: Wolf Packs and Population Data 2003 (143 KB PDF file) click here
Table 1B: Montana Outside of NWMT Recovery Area (and state totals): Wolf Packs and Population Data 2003 click here
Table 2: Wyoming Wolf Packs and Population Data 2003, and totals for Greater Yellowstone Recovery Area (20 KB PDF file) click here
Table 3: Idaho Wolf Packs and Population Data 2003, and Totals for Central Idaho Experimental Population Areas (20 KB PDF file) click here
Table 4A: Northern Rocky Mountain States Minimum Fall Wolf Population and Breeding Pairs, by Recovery Area 1979-2003 (90 KB PDF file) click here
Table 4B: Northern Rocky Mountains Minimum Fall Wolf Population and Breeding Pairs by State, 1979-2003 (90 KB PDF file) click here
Table 5A: Northern Rocky Mountain States: Confirmed Wolf Depredation and Wolf Management, 1987-2003 by Recovery Area (131 KB PDF file) click here
Table 5B: Northern Rocky Mountain States: Confirmed Wolf Depredation and Wolf Management, 1987-2003 By State (49 KB PDF file) click here
Figure 5: Wolf Population Trends , Northern Rocky Mountain States, 1979-2003 click here
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