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Wolves
Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
[www.wolfology.com]
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, August 2004
AUGUST 6-13, 2004
Monitoring
NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2003 annual wolf report is at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
The mid-year rough estimate of the wolf population for Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming is about 66 breeding pairs. This will likely result in a total population estimate of 800 to 850 wolves in December 2004, a roughly 10% increase over the December 2003 estimate of 763 wolves in 51 breeding pairs [male and female that successfully raise at least 2 pups until December 31]. It takes lots of hard work to get these data and we appreciate everyone’s efforts, especially our hard working field crews. Reports from the public and other agencies are important to help our crews know where to start searching. Because of differences in the methods used to estimate wolf populations in each area [visual observations are more frequent in Montana and Wyoming than central Idaho because of less vegetative cover and less rugged terrain]. Therefore, fall/winter flights are especially important in estimating the status of the wolf population in Montana and Wyoming so all of these estimates should be considered very preliminary. The only ‘official‘ wolf population agency estimate is made four months from now, at the end of each year. This mid-year estimate is much more inaccurate than the end-of-year estimate but does indicate the wolf population continues to expand slightly, especially in Idaho. The specific break down is:
Yellowstone National Park- In Yellowstone National Park, the 2004 mid-year wolf population estimate is 12 breeding pair, 16 packs [two or more wolves traveling together] of wolves, and a total of about 169 wolves. Last winter’s count was 11 breeding pair, 14 packs, and 157 wolves. It appears the Yellowstone population is at or a little above what it was last winter, as expected because the Park seems full. Mid-year estimates for 2004 are: 340F group- 7 adults/no pups; Agate creek- 10 ad/4-6 pups; Bechler- 4 ad/3 pups; Chief Joseph- 7ad/2 pups; Cougar Creek- 5 ad/5 pups; Druid Peak2- 11 ad/7 pups; Geode Creek- 4 ad/11 pups; Gibbon Group- 5 ad/1 pup; Leopold- 6 ad/12 pups; Mollie’s- 4 ad/5 pups; Nez Perce- 4 ad/?? pups; Rose Creek II- 4 ad/??; Slough Creek- 7ad/7 pups; Specimen Ridge- 3 ad/5 pups; Swan Lake- 10 ad/3 pups; and Yellowstone Delta- 11 ad/6 pups.
Wyoming outside of YNP- In Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park there are an estimated 6 breeding pairs, 8 packs of wolves, and +68 wolves. In December 2003 there were an estimate 5 breeding pairs, 13 packs and 77 wolves. It appears that the number of wolves outside Yellowstone National Park is the same as last year or perhaps sightly lower.. Mid-year estimates for 2004 are: Teton- 9 ad/8 pups: Washakie- 5 ad/6 pups: Owl Creek- 2 ad/4 pups: Carter Mnt- 1 ad/4 pups: Absaroka- 3 ad/pups ??: Sunlight Basin- 8 ad/3 pups: Greybull River- 8 ad/pups but # unknown: Beartooth- 7 ad/pups??: Daniel Pack- unknown status: Green river- 2 ad/no pups: and 2003 packs no longer existing in 2004 because of control- Gros Ventre and Pinedale.
Montana portion of GYA- There are 38 adults and at least 33 pups in 8 breeding pairs [>2adults and >2 pups], and 10 packs [>2 wolves traveling together] of wolves in the Montana portion of the GYA compared to 5 breeding pair, 12 packs and 67 wolves in 2003. Mid-year in 2004 our estimate is: Red Rocks- 2 Ad/pups??; Freezeout- 8 Ad/7 pups; Bear Creek- 2 Ad??/0 pups, Chief Joe- 7 Ad/2 pups, Lone Bear- 4 Ad/3 pups; Casey Lake-2 Ad/5 pups; Sheep Mtn.- 2 Ad/1 pup; Mill Creek- 4 Ad/7 pups; Mission- 2 Ad/4 pups; Moccasin- 3Ad/+2 pups; Phantom [Red Lodge]- 2 Ad/2 pups. So the wolf population in the Montana portion of the GYA is about where it was last year.
SW Montana in central Idaho Ex. Pop. Area- The estimate for the packs in SW Montana is +16 adults and 9 pups, in 3 breeding pair and as many as 11 packs- up slightly from the 2003 estimate of 1 breeding pair, 5 packs and 23 wolves. In 2004 they are: Grassy Top- 2 Ad/? pups; Black Canyon- 3 Ad/? pups; Battlefield- +2 Ad/4 pups; Painted Rocks- +2 Ad/? pups; Sapphire- 5 Ad/3 pups; Skalkaho- +2 Ad/+2 pups; Como Lake- ?Ad/? pups, Willow Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Mt Haggin- maybe 6 Ad/? pups; Fish Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Lupine- ? Ad/? pups.
Central Idaho- In Idaho, NPT and IDFG crews have documented twenty-nine litters [minimum of 106 pups and 149 adults- it is very difficult to estimate numbers of adults and yearlings in each pack in Idaho because packs are rarely visible during aerial relocations] and all 29 of those packs qualified as breeding pairs. There are 45 groups of wolves currently being monitored in central Idaho. In 2003 central Idaho had 26 breeding pairs and about 368 wolves. At this pont in time it appears the nubmer of wolves will increase in central Idaho. The 2004 mid-year central Idaho minimum wolf population estimate includes: Bennett Mtn- 1 ad/0 pups; Big Hole- ? Ad/? pups; Buffalo Ridge 5 Ad/3 pups; Calderwood- 2 ad/ 3 pups; Castle Peak- ?Ad/? pup; Chamberlain- ? ad/ ? pups; Chesimia- 2 Ad/3 pups; Cold Springs- 2 Ad/4 pups; Cook- 9 Ad eliminated by control; Coolwater 2 Ad/3 pups; Eagle Mountain 4 Ad/3 pups; Eldorado- ? Ad/ ? pups; Five Lakes Butte- 2 Ad/? pups; Florence- 6 Ad/ 7 pups; Galena- 3 Ad/ 3 pups; Gold Fork- 2 Ad/ 3 pups; Golden Creek- 6 Ad/ 6 pups; Gospel Hump- 11 Ad/ 4 pups; Hazard Lake- 5 Ad/ 3 pups; Hemlock Ridge- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Jureano Mtn.- ? Ad/ ? pups; Kelly Creek- 3 Ad/ 2 pups; Landmark/Bear Valley- 6 Ad/ 5 pups; Magruder- 10 Ad/ 5 pups; Marble Mtn.- 3 Ad/2 pups; Monumental- 3 Ad/ 3 pups; Morgan Creek- 5 Ad/ 2 pups; Moyer Basin- 2 Ad/ 4 pups; O’Hair point- 10 AD/ 4 pups; Orphan- 2 Ad/ 5 pups; Packer John- 2 Ad/ 5 pups; Partridge- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Red River- ? AD/ ? pups; Scott Mountain- 5 Ad/ 4 pups; Selway ? Ad/ ? pups; Soldier Mtn.- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Steel Mountain- 9 ad/ 4 pups; Timberline- 2 Ad/ ? pups; Twin Peaks- 2 Ad/ 2 pups; Warm Springs- 2 Ad/3 pups.
NW Montana- The 2004 mid-year estimate for NW Montana is +35 adults and 24 pups in 8 breeding pair compared to 92 wolves in 4 breeding pairs in 2003. The estimate in 2004 is: Ninemile- 3 Ad/? pups; Garnet- 1 Ad/? pups; Blanchard Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Halfway- 3 Ad/0 pups; Great Divide- ? Ad/? pups; Kintla- +2 Ad/+2 pups; Whitefish- 3 Ad/+2 pups; Murphy Lake- ? Ad/? pups; Wolf Prairie- 2 Ad/3 pups); Fish Trap- ? Ad/? pups; Candy Mtn- ? Ad/? pups; Grave Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Spotted Bear- ? Ad/4 pups; Great Bear- 2 Ad/? pups; Red Shale-+2 Ad/? pups; Kootenai- ? Ad/? pups; Yaak ? Ad/? pups; Green Mtn- ? Ad/? pups.
Nez Perce biologists have been attempting to document the status of wolf activity in the Monumental Creek drainage, within the Frank Church River-of-No-Return Wilderness Area for the past few years. An initial survey of the area this year indicated the presence of the uncollared Monumental pack, but status could not be verified. Holyan surveyed this area for the second time this year and was able to verify the presence of a minimum of 3 pups. He also captured and collared an adult female wolf from this pack. This radio collar will help us learn more about the status and territory of this newly radio-collared pack.
Nez Perce biologists Adam Gall and Ana Kampe attempted to capture and collar members of the elusive Magruder pack. This pack has eluded our collaring efforts for the past two years. Although we were not able to locate the only radio-collared wolf in this pack from the air to help direct the crews efforts, they were able to find the Magruder pack after backpacking in several miles to the bottom end of Dry Saddle Ridge. After setting and monitoring an extensive trap line, Adam and Ana were able to capture and collar an additional member of this pack.
After working with Dave Spicer, IDFG, to survey for the uncollared Marble Mountain pack last hitch, Anthony Novack and Meschia Connine returned for additional work in this area. Following up on additional information provided by Dave, they were able to locate the current rendezvous site, obtain a minimum pup count of 2, and captured and radio-collared two members of this pack. Thanks to Dave and the field crew, the Monumental pack is now back on the air.
Control
Dave Thomas {WS] confirmed a wolf depredation of a full grown cow on a grazing allotment on Potlatch land 16 miles SE of Elk River on the 10th. He had a significant attack and kill site and lots of tracks and scat. The wolves came back and howled at him while he was finishing up the investigation. He set two traps, via guidance from Niemeyer, to collar and release any captured wolves on site. An IDFG CO helped WS with this investigation. They captured, radio-collared, and released a gray, male pup (about 45-50 lbs) at the Elk River depredation site in central Idaho. This new pack may be called the Chesimia pack. WS will continue trapping.
WS confirmed a wolf predation of a 300 lb. calf near Fairfield, Idaho and didn't pick up any wolf radio signals in the area. WS set foot-hold traps and contacted the Forest Service to inform them of the wolf predation and that WS is trapping in the area.
On the 11th WS investigated a report of an adult cow killed by wolves in a valley next to the Dunoir Valley, north of Dubois, WY. The Washakie pack has killed several other cattle in that area. The carcass was being actively fed on by several grizzly bears and had been fed on by wolves. From the limited remains WS could only classify it as a probable wolf-kill. Lethal wolf control is ongoing because of the chronic level of cattle depredations by that pack this summer.
On the night of the 10th, members of the Teton wolf pack killed and ate a 400 lb. calf in Grand Teton National Park in NW WY. Jimenez confirmed the depredation and that the cattle were being legally grazed in GTNP. The WY Service field crew is on site with cracker shells, rubber bullets, and lights etc. During the night of the 12th wolves were in cattle chasing and testing them until they were driven off by cracker shells. The wolves quickly returned however and were driven off several times, but no depredations occurred. Our biologists will be camped by the cattle for another night. GTNP or the herder will take over those actions soon. The cattle are between the pack’s rendezvous site and a river bottom- where the elk are so the wolves are crossing back and forth through cattle to get to the elk. They were observed going through cattle again the night of the 11th . We will watch the situation closely for now and recommend a more active course of action if there are any additional depredations. Several conservation groups from the GYA have called asking about Service and Park response to this situation, and what they are going to do, if more conflicts occur.
MT FWP volunteer Hartman has been radio tracking the Wolf Prairie pack (new pack west of Kalispell) from the ground twice a week. Ranch hands reported seeing two large pups on July 30. On August 4th, Hartman located 1 dead cow and contacted the ranch manager. The ranch manager reported finding a total of 3 dead cows in the same area with similar injuries. The manager did not think the cows had been killed by wolves and did not contact Wildlife Services. Hartman examined the most intact carcass and believed that the wounds (withers area only) were not consistent with wolves. Bears have been seen in the area and sign was observed near the cow carcass suggesting the bear had at least been scavenging. A sweep with a metal detector was
inconclusive but ranchers reported that livestock had been illegally shot in the area in the past. Investigations will continue. Ground tracking indicates that the new pack is constantly near cattle, but no further depredations have occurred (since 1 confirmed calf, 3 probable calves, and 1 probable cow on July 14).
Research
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
A Lewiston, Idaho, man pleaded guilty in Federal Court on July 29, 2004, to the killing of a gray wolf and was ordered to serve one year of probation with nationwide revocation of hunting privileges and to pay $21,252 in civil restitution to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The man admitted in court that he had shot and killed the wolf during a 2003 elk hunt near Elk River, Idaho, and had taken the tail of the wolf to his Lewiston residence. The wolf, an adult female, was not radio-collared. Congratulations to FWS and IDFG partnership in bringing this one to a successful closure of this law enforcement case.
On July 16th the DOI and Service announced a proposal to delist the Eastern Distinct Population Segment of the gray wolf. The wolf population in the DPS is estimated at more than 3,200 wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and the numerical recovery goals have been met for the DPS. All three of those states have state laws and state wolf management plans that will assure the wolf population remains recovered should the Endangered Species Act's protections be removed. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on 7/21. All outreach documents, including a pre-publication version of the proposed rule on file at the OFR, are now on our web site at: http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/edps/eastern-dps.htm The Office of the Federal Register has confirmed that the Notice of Public Hearings for the proposed rule to delist the Eastern Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf will publish on Friday, August 13, 2004. The notice was signed by Acting Director Elizabeth Stevens on August 6, 2004.
The Wisconsin DNR is providing opportunities for the public to comment on the state wolf management plan on the DNR web. The DNR will conduct a 30-day comment period through September 2 for interested person to submit comments. Web groups with interest in wolf management are encouraged to link to the questionnaire. http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/news/on/2004/on040803.htm#art1 http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/mammals/wolf/
MT FWP biologists Therease Hartman gave a wolf talk at the Big Larch campground in Seeley Lake on Friday, August 6th. There were over 85 people in attendance. She began her talk with a
puppet show that has the wolf giving his side of the story regarding a couple of popular fairy tales. The puppet show also helps address the human safety issue that is a frequent topic at campground talks, where people might be hiking in wolf territory. After the puppet show she talked about wolf history and ecology, followed up by a question and answer period. Some attendees were locals and there were people from Colorado, California and Canada.
MTFWP is in the process of hiring 3 field-based state wolf management specialists. They plan to have the process completed and staff in place by the end of September. Nearly 140 people applied and competition for these Kalispell, Big Timber, and Dillon, MT based positions is high.
AUGUST 14-20, 2004
Monitoring
Therese Hartman conducted a monitoring flight in NW Montana and all packs appear to be at their normal rendezvous sites. No signal could be located for the Red Shale and Great Bear packs. Therese searched the area from Glacier National Park southward throughout the Bob Marshall and along the east front where there have been wolf reports but still no sign of them. She also listened for missing radio collared wolves.
Val Asher continues to try and radio collar a member of the Phantom pack near Roscoe, Montana. Jack Bucklin removed his traps from the vicinity of the Sapphire pack southwest of Phillipsburg, Montana for a short period of time and is now trapping near the pack again. We initially thought there was a Skalkaho pack as well as a Sapphire pack but observations by Bucklin and landowners in the area indicate by the number of adults and pups that this is the Sapphire pack. Paul Frame is continuing to try and capture a member of the Spotted Bear pack but no luck yet. Therese continues to monitor the Wolf Prairie pack at least twice a week from the ground or air. She located the rendezvous site and is coordinating with the livestock producers in an attempt to prevent additional livestock depredations. Diane Boyd is heading to the west fork of the Bitterroot on the 23rd in and attempt to radio collar a member of the Painted Rocks pack.
The mid-year rough estimate of the wolf population for Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming is about 66 breeding pairs. This will likely result in a total population estimate of 800 to 850 wolves in December 2004, a roughly 10% increase over the December 2003 estimate of 763 wolves in 51 breeding pairs [male and female that successfully raise at least 2 pups until December 31]. It takes lots of hard work to get these data and we appreciate everyone’s efforts, especially our hard working field crews. Reports from the public and other agencies are important to help our crews know where to start searching. Because of differences in the methods used to estimate wolf populations in each area [visual observations are more frequent in Montana and Wyoming than central Idaho because of less vegetative cover and less rugged terrain]. Therefore, fall/winter flights are especially important in estimating the status of the wolf population in Montana and Wyoming so all of these estimates should be considered very preliminary. The only ‘official‘ wolf population agency estimate is made four months from now, at the end of each year. This mid-year estimate is much more inaccurate than the end-of-year estimate but does indicate the wolf population continues to expand slightly, especially in Idaho. The specific break down is:
Yellowstone National Park- In Yellowstone National Park, the 2004 mid-year wolf population estimate is 12 breeding pair, 16 packs [two or more wolves traveling together] of wolves, and a total of about 169 wolves. Last winter’s count was 11 breeding pair, 14 packs, and 157 wolves. It appears the Yellowstone population is at or a little above what it was last winter, as expected because the Park seems full. Mid-year estimates for 2004 are: 340F group- 7 adults/no pups; Agate creek- 10 ad/4-6 pups; Bechler- 4 ad/3 pups; Chief Joseph- 7ad/2 pups; Cougar Creek- 5 ad/5 pups; Druid Peak2- 11 ad/7 pups; Geode Creek- 4 ad/11 pups; Gibbon Group- 5 ad/1 pup; Leopold- 6 ad/12 pups; Mollie’s- 4 ad/5 pups; Nez Perce- 4 ad/?? pups; Rose Creek II- 4 ad/??; Slough Creek- 7ad/7 pups; Specimen Ridge- 3 ad/5 pups; Swan Lake- 10 ad/3 pups; and Yellowstone Delta- 11 ad/6 pups.
Wyoming outside of YNP- In Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park there are an estimated 6 breeding pairs, 8 packs of wolves, and +68 wolves. In December 2003 there were an estimate 5 breeding pairs, 13 packs and 77 wolves. It appears that the number of wolves outside Yellowstone National Park is the same as last year or perhaps sightly lower.. Mid-year estimates for 2004 are: Teton- 9 ad/8 pups: Washakie- 5 ad/6 pups: Owl Creek- 2 ad/4 pups: Carter Mnt- 1 ad/4 pups: Absaroka- 3 ad/pups ??: Sunlight Basin- 8 ad/3 pups: Greybull River- 8 ad/pups but # unknown: Beartooth- 7 ad/pups??: Daniel Pack- unknown status: Green river- 2 ad/no pups: and 2003 packs no longer existing in 2004 because of control- Gros Ventre and Pinedale.
Montana portion of GYA- There are 38 adults and at least 33 pups in 8 breeding pairs [>2adults and >2 pups], and 10 packs [>2 wolves traveling together] of wolves in the Montana portion of the GYA compared to 5 breeding pair, 12 packs and 67 wolves in 2003. Mid-year in 2004 our estimate is: Red Rocks- 2 Ad/pups??; Freezeout- 8 Ad/7 pups; Bear Creek- 2 Ad??/0 pups, Chief Joe- 7 Ad/2 pups, Lone Bear- 4 Ad/3 pups; Casey Lake-2 Ad/5 pups; Sheep Mtn.- 2 Ad/1 pup; Mill Creek- 4 Ad/7 pups; Mission- 2 Ad/4 pups; Moccasin- 3Ad/+2 pups; Phantom [Red Lodge]- 2 Ad/2 pups. So the wolf population in the Montana portion of the GYA is about where it was last year.
SW Montana in central Idaho Ex. Pop. Area- The estimate for the packs in SW Montana is +16 adults and 9 pups, in 3 breeding pair and as many as 11 packs- up slightly from the 2003 estimate of 1 breeding pair, 5 packs and 23 wolves. In 2004 they are: Grassy Top- 2 Ad/? pups; Black Canyon- 3 Ad/? pups; Battlefield- +2 Ad/4 pups; Painted Rocks- +2 Ad/? pups; Sapphire- 5 Ad/3 pups; Skalkaho- +2 Ad/+2 pups; Como Lake- ?Ad/? pups, Willow Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Mt Haggin- maybe 6 Ad/? pups; Fish Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Lupine- ? Ad/? pups.
Central Idaho- In Idaho, NPT and IDFG crews have documented twenty-nine litters [minimum of 106 pups and 149 adults- it is very difficult to estimate numbers of adults and yearlings in each pack in Idaho because packs are rarely visible during aerial relocations] and all 29 of those packs qualified as breeding pairs. There are 45 groups of wolves currently being monitored in central Idaho. In 2003 central Idaho had 26 breeding pairs and about 368 wolves. At this pont in time it appears the nubmer of wolves will increase in central Idaho. The 2004 mid-year central Idaho minimum wolf population estimate includes: Bennett Mtn- 1 ad/0 pups; Big Hole- ? Ad/? pups; Buffalo Ridge 5 Ad/3 pups; Calderwood- 2 ad/ 3 pups; Castle Peak- ?Ad/? pup; Chamberlain- ? ad/ ? pups; Chesimia- 2 Ad/3 pups; Cold Springs- 2 Ad/4 pups; Cook- 9 Ad eliminated by control; Coolwater 2 Ad/3 pups; Eagle Mountain 4 Ad/3 pups; Eldorado- ? Ad/ ? pups; Five Lakes Butte- 2 Ad/? pups; Florence- 6 Ad/ 7 pups; Galena- 3 Ad/ 3 pups; Gold Fork- 2 Ad/ 3 pups; Golden Creek- 6 Ad/ 6 pups; Gospel Hump- 11 Ad/ 4 pups; Hazard Lake- 5 Ad/ 3 pups; Hemlock Ridge- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Jureano Mtn.- ? Ad/ ? pups; Kelly Creek- 3 Ad/ 2 pups; Landmark/Bear Valley- 6 Ad/ 5 pups; Magruder- 10 Ad/ 5 pups; Marble Mtn.- 3 Ad/2 pups; Monumental- 3 Ad/ 3 pups; Morgan Creek- 5 Ad/ 2 pups; Moyer Basin- 2 Ad/ 4 pups; O’Hair point- 10 AD/ 4 pups; Orphan- 2 Ad/ 5 pups; Packer John- 2 Ad/ 5 pups; Partridge- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Red River- ? AD/ ? pups; Scott Mountain- 5 Ad/ 4 pups; Selway ? Ad/ ? pups; Soldier Mtn.- 4 Ad/ 5 pups; Steel Mountain- 9 ad/ 4 pups; Timberline- 2 Ad/ ? pups; Twin Peaks- 2 Ad/ 2 pups; Warm Springs- 2 Ad/3 pups.
NW Montana- The 2004 mid-year estimate for NW Montana is +35 adults and 24 pups in 8 breeding pair compared to 92 wolves in 4 breeding pairs in 2003. The estimate in 2004 is: Ninemile- 3 Ad/? pups; Garnet- 1 Ad/? pups; Blanchard Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Halfway- 3 Ad/0 pups; Great Divide- ? Ad/? pups; Kintla- +2 Ad/+2 pups; Whitefish- 3 Ad/+2 pups; Murphy Lake- ? Ad/? pups; Wolf Prairie- 2 Ad/3 pups); Fish Trap- ? Ad/? pups; Candy Mtn- ? Ad/? pups; Grave Creek- ? Ad/? pups; Spotted Bear- ? Ad/4 pups; Great Bear- 2 Ad/? pups; Red Shale-+2 Ad/? pups; Kootenai- ? Ad/? pups; Yaak ? Ad/? pups; Green Mtn- ? Ad/? pups.
Control
WS confirmed that a pair of uncollared wolves, a gray and a black, the Phantom pack, that has sporadically but repeatedly killed cattle and sheep around Fishtail, MT killed 8 ewes on private land August 18th. Confirmed livestock depredations on private [land] by this pair has been ongoing since mid March when they killed a calf and March 21st they killed a ewe about 10 miles away. This producer also lost some sheep during the summer of 2003. April 9th the pair killed another calf and on April 14th another calf was confirmed killed by a single wolf. They killed 3 bucks, 2 ewes, and 2 lambs on the 21st of May but the WS wasn’t able to confirm wolves, as black bears were a possibility. On the 28th of May, 4 ewes and 8 more lambs were killed in the same manner and wolf depredation was deemed responsible. On the 2nd of June, another ewe and 2 lambs were killed. WS has been requested to lethally remove this pair of wolves and any other wolves associated with them.
Several wolf packs have been involved in livestock depredations in Idaho during the past week. Domestic sheep in the vicinity of the Gold Fork, Partridge and Steel Mountain wolf packs have been confirmed killed by wolves. Control actions on adult wolves in these packs is pending depending on future depredations.
The Jureano wolf pack is suspected of the confirmed killing of a domestic calf west of Salmon, Idaho. Trapping, radio-collaring and release will be the first incremental step in determining if the Jureano pack is involved since only the alpha male is collared and has not been located in the area.
The Chesimia wolf pack south of Elk River was confirmed to have killed an adult domestic cow. Trapping and radio-collaring efforts continue for this newly identified pack. One pup has been collared.
The Bechler pack from Wyoming was suspected in a confirmed calf depredation east of Ashton, Idaho. Trapping efforts in this area have been discontinued by WS since no wolves returned to the depredation site.
During recent wolf control actions near McCall, Idaho, an old, gray faced adult female (showing signs of past lactation) wolf was captured by Wildlife Services personnel and unfortunately released without its non-functioning radio-collar being replaced. We are certain that the wolf was B-45, the controversial wolf that dispersed into Oregon from Idaho, and was subsequently helicopter captured and returned to Idaho in March 1999. The radio-collar was old, non-functioning and had colored remnants of tape that identified it as B-45. B-45's radio-collar ceased functioning nearly two years ago. It was unknown whether she and her radio-collared mate (his collar is non-functioning) were alive or dead until this recent capture. Efforts have been ongoing in recent years to capture and recollar both wolves. She may represent another unidentified wolf pack in the immediate vicinity of recent sheep depredations near McCall.
Research
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
Niemeyer gave a presentation on Idaho wolf recovery to a Defenders of Wildlife conference at the Yellowstone Institute in the LaMar Valley in Yellowstone National Park on August 15.
MTFWP is in the process of hiring 3 field-based state wolf management specialists and currently screening applicants. They plan to have the process completed and staff in place by the end of September. Nearly 140 people applied and competition for these Kalispell, Big Timber, and Dillon, MT based positions is high.
AUGUST 21-SEPTEMBER 3, 2004
Monitoring
Mike Ross and Val Asher collared a 48-pound female pup from the Phantom pack, on the 26th. The pack is thought to be responsible for a number of sheep and calf depredations near Roscoe, MT since mid-March. Based on earlier sightings there were thoughts of there being two separate groups of wolves, so this pack will be monitored to determine their movements and possible involvement. Traps were pulled Aug 31 and a receiver was left with the landowner who will share location data with neighbors. Project personnel got a visual on the pack and think the group consists of two adults, one gray and one black and two pups, one gray and one black.
Jack Bucklin removed all of his traps near the Sapphire pack [east of Hamilton, MT] rendezvous site on the 25th. A number of ATVs came into the meadow and apparently displaced the wolves. Trapping has discontinued but will resume in the Ninemile Valley after the holiday. A family that was camping on the edge of the meadow watched the adults bring a small animal to the pups as the pups moved out into the meadow. One of the adults came within 200 yards of the camp, sat down, and watched the family for about 30 minutes before going back to the pups. The family thought it was a great opportunity to see the wolves. Sightings from the people in the area and this family indicate that there are 5 adults and 5 pups.
Paul Frame captured a 40-pound male pup on the 21st belonging to the Spotted Bear pack. On the 26th he stopped trapping and will be taking a few days off before trying to collar members of the Murphy Lake pack. Diane Boyd began searching for the Painted Rocks pack in the west fork of the Bitterroot on the 23rd but there was little sign and trapping was unsuccessful.
On the 26th Doug Hansen (Nez Perce [NP]) and Justin Mann, WS, captured a 100-110# gray male wolf in the same set that B-45 was captured in. near McCall Idaho This wolf had an old non-functioning radio collar that appeared to have been put on the wolf as a pup and a yellow ear tag in the left ear. It was a Greater Yellowstone Area wolf #239 that dispersed from the Washakie pack near Dubois, WY to western Idaho, a distance of approximately 333 airline miles.
Jason Husseman (IDFG) has been searching for suspected wolf packs in the North Fork of the Salmon River, and assisting Rick Williamson (WS) in attempting to capture wolves in the Salmon area. Michael Lucid and Lauri H-Brown (IDFG) have been searching and trapping in the Copper Basin area for suspected wolf activity. Although wolf sign has been found, wolf pack activity centers have not but this effort continues.
NP biologists set up a trapline around the O'Hara Peak pack's rendezvous site but were unable to capture any wolves. They also attempted to locate and trap the Orphan pack. Although they picked up signals from alpha female B61, there was not sufficient sign to warrant setting up a trapline. An extensive trapline was run in the Eldorado wolf pack's territory, but biologists were not able to locate concentrated wolf sign or capture wolves.
NP biologists are trying to document the status of a new wolf group north of McCall. They suspect recently captured wolf B45 was associated with this group and may be the alpha female. They trapped this area for a few days and although was not able to capture a wolf, confirmed the presence of at least 3 adults. Justin Mann, WS, recently trapped a second wolf with a non-functioning radio collar in the same area B45 was captured and suspect this wolf is also associated with this new group of wolves. This latest captured wolf is male Y239, a wolf born into the Washakie pack near Dubois, Wyoming. Y239 was recollared and Tribal crews will continue to monitor Y239 to determine the status of these wolves.
Isaac Babcock (NP) successfully ground darted a pup, B222, from the Chesimia pack near Elk River, ID. This pack, composed of what appears to be just the alpha pair and their 3-4 pups, was documented when Dave Thomas (WS) captured and collared B221, also a pup, during a control action about 2 weeks ago. This is only the second time a free-ranging wolf has been captured using this technique, both times by Isaac.
Kent Laudon (NP) scoured the area where the uncollared Eldorado pack had a rendezvous site in '03, but despite extensive and intensive surveys, he was unable to capture a wolf. This pack was not using the '03 site and Kent was able to find wolf sign only at widely scattered locations in the vicinity.
Anthony Novack and volunteer Anastacia Kampe (NP) attempted to radio-collar additional members of the O'Hara Point pack north of Elk City, ID. To date no wolves have been captured, although the rendezvous site has been located and traps are set nearby. A dead wolf pup was discovered at the rendezvous site; it was collected and will be sent to the Forensics lab in Ashland, OR to determine the cause of death.
Jim Holyan (NP) spent 3 days searching for the Orphan pack in hopes of conducting a trapping operation there, but was unsuccessful in locating the pack. He then began surveying in the Burgdorf area where recent reports indicate that yet another pack, including pups, may be established. He heard 2-3 wolves howling and is continuing to trap.
In a previous control action, WS collared a lone wolf in the Sunlight Basin area that was using the home range of the Absaroka Pack. On a follow-up flight, WS located the Absaroka Pack and confirmed 5-6 adults and 4 pups. All the wolves looked healthy with no signs of mange.
Jon Trapp and Liz Bradley trapped and collared 3 more wolves in the Teton Pack, deploying a total of 3 GPS collars for Grand Teton NP research and 3 VHF for routine monitoring. Their trapping efforts will shift to the Washakie Pack.
While investigating a suspect bear-killed calf [was just being scavenged by a bear] WS also located sign of 3 wolves that were also scavenging on the carcass in the upper part of the West Fork of the Madison Valley in SW MT. No radioed groups of wolves are believed to be using this area.
Control
Rick Williamson (WS) captured and collared a pup (B223) from the Jureano Mountain pack near Salmon, ID during a control action there. This confirms that the Jureano Mountain pack reproduced this year, although at this time it is not known if they qualify as a breeding pair. Alpha male B106's signal has not been heard for some time, and because he was the only collared wolf, documenting the status of this pack was difficult. The addition of B223 will greatly facilitate monitoring here.
A reported depredation south of Grangeville, ID was being investigated by Justin Mann of Wildlife Services. Control actions for the Gold Fork and B45 packs have concluded.
Gary Looney (ID WS), confirmed 3 more depredations on sheep by the Steel Mtn. pack. He was authorized to lethally remove one adult wolf and started trapping. On Tuesday the 24th, he captured a 50-# gray male pup. Since he did not have a collar with him at the time and it was a 25-mile trip to get in cell phone range to try and get a radio collar, he released the pup on site. The depredations have stopped since the capture and release of that pup and trapping has ceased as of the 30th.
Three members of the Hazard Lake wolf pack in west-central Idaho were lethally removed by helicopter gunning on August 31 (B-182 and B-185, both subadult females) and September 1 (B-105, the alpha male) after repeated efforts to remove them by ground techniques had been unsuccessful. B-105 has a long history of being involved in livestock depredations. The Service, WS and the Tribe provided non-lethal training and less-than-lethal munitions and RAG boxes to the sheep producer and their personnel on July 8 and in late July. The producer also used multiple guard dogs and herders with each band of sheep in conjunction with the non-lethal techniques provided, but still suffered repeated depredations. Incremental removal of the Hazard pack was authorized beginning July 29 after one lamb was killed on July 23 and another 23 sheep were injured and missing. The July 23 attack was followed by another depredation on July 29 when the Hazard pack was implicated (telemetry) in the injury of 21 sheep and the disappearance of another 14 sheep. Two wolves were lethally removed on July 30 (subadult male) and August 1 (subadult female). Subsequently, nineteen more sheep were classified as "possible" kills or missing on August 4 from attacks by the Hazard pack. B-105 and B-182 were documented to be in the area of most of the depredation incidents and were specifically targeted for removal. Lethal ground removal efforts to remove the Hazard pack continued without success through August 23 when six more sheep were killed and six were injured. The Service authorized the removal of one additional wolf (B-183 or B-185) for removal in addition to the ongoing effort to remove B-105 and B-182 at that time. Remaining members of the Hazard pack include B-183, the uncollared alpha female and at least 3-5 pups. Control actions have ceased unless further depredations occur.
On the 26th, WS confirmed that wolves had attacked two yearling heifers about two weeks apart on private land near Red Lodge, MT. The first heifer appears to be healing but will be scarred. The other heifer sustained more injuries and will be euthanized by the ranch. A black and gray wolf were seen by employees of the ranch. WS will trap to radio collar and will monitor the situation unless more depredations occur.
On Aug. 23, Mike Ross and other FWP personnel issued cracker shells to an allotment rider in the Taylor fork area as wolves had been seen in the cattle. The rider hazed wolves on numerous occasions and asked for more shells which were issued on the 25th. Both the Chief Joe and Bear creek radioed animals have been in the area and no depredations have been found or documented as of yet. The rider commented that he shot off a cracker shell under a black radio collared wolf (possibly the Bear Trap male) and since then has seen its behavior change to being wary when he rides up on it. We will follow up on the riders opinion on harassing tools and their effectiveness.
Ross received a call from a pet owner in the Norris area Sept.3 that her dog was killed by a wolf while out on its chain. The owner did not want project personnel to investigate and felt it could have been another predator as bears have been seen frequenting the area.
A sheep producer on a remote [5 miles from a road] Forest Service allotment had his sheep band tested by wolves on the 29thth but his herder and dogs drove the wolves off. On the 30th the wolves returned and killed his border collie. His guard dog was badly wounded and is now missing. WS headed to the area in the Gravelly range NE of Dillon, MT and confirmed the wolf attack and a dead herding dog. It doesn’t appear that any sheep were killed either night. WS set traps and will attempt to put collars on this pack, to determine if this is a new pack or if it is the existing Freezeout pack and hopefully drive them from the area. The producer drove up that night and gave the herder another guard dog. He was issued a special take permit to take up to 2 wolves in the act of biting grasping wounding his sheep, horses, or livestock herding or guarding animals on that allotment. WS pulled traps Sept. 2 as the area is swarming with bow hunters.
On the 27th, a rancher in Paradise Valley reported that wolves killed a calf near the Sheep Mtn. pack territory. WS confirmed the loss of the calf to wolves and the Sheep Mtn. pack was located via telemetry very close to the depredation site. Wolf 334 was previously located by aircraft several times in the cattle and was in cattle during a confirmed depredation. WS was authorized to remove wolf 334 and did so on the 31st. At the time #334 was thought to be the alpha male for the pack but turned out to be the alpha female. Evidently the capture sheets were switched or mislabeled at the time of its capture with another wolf, #332. Regardless, she was the primary wolf preying on the cattle. The male, (whose number is now #332) has not been found since March of 2004.
Ross and Asher visited a landowner in the Boulder area E. of Livingston, MT on 9/1 after receiving reports of the Moccasin Lake pack harassing cattle on FS allotment. A meeting to discuss wolf issues with project personnel and landowners in the area was discussed but no date has been set. The landowner has a shoot-on-site permit for his private land..
WS examined a calf west of Kalispell on the 27th on a forest company allotment and confirmed that wolves were responsible. This is an area north of the Fishtrap pack and south of the Wolf Prairie pack. WS will try to harass wolves out of the rendezvous site and away from the cattle.
A landowner in the Ninemile Valley called to report that a wolf just went thru an electric fence [provided a couple of years ago by Defenders of Wildlife after several other llamas had been killed] to try and kill some young llamas. The llamas scattered thru the back side of the fence. The landowner shot several times in the air and drove the wolf back thru the electric fence. The fence had just been checked and was in good working order. About 3 weeks prior to this incident another wolf came into the yard before being drove off by shotgun blasts as well. The landowner could hear other wolves howling about a mile away. A shoot on sight permit was renewed for the landowner. Jack Bucklin will begin trapping in the area to radio collar one of the Ninemile wolves and monitor the situation. WS will assist when trapping has ceased west of Kalispell.
WS investigated the possible depredation of a horse near Plains on the 30th but it was not confirmed.
WS specialist from the Dillon, MT area trapped a member of the Battlefield pack on the 31st, but couldn’t locate it. He is used his dog to trail it but with no luck that day. The control action [collar and release on site] was in response to a confirmed calf depredation last week. WS continued to search and found the yearling male on the 1st. He was in good shape and was radio-collared and released on site.
On August 21, USFWS and WYG&F examined a dead cow on the Teton Park grazing allotment. The cow was not killed by wolves or grizzly bears, but had been scavenged by a bear. The carcass was removed and we will continue to monitor wolves and cows in the Park closely. At the Park's request, the livestock producer has stationed a ranch hand on the allotment to monitor wolves and cattle throughout each night. Teton wolves have not recently been in the cattle.
On August 25, USFWS examined the remains of a calf possibly killed by wolves on a ranch adjacent to Teton National Park. USFWS is working with the rancher and we will continue to keep a close watch.
Two wolves [52 lb pups] were killed near Dubois, WY under a private land shoot-on-site permit. At least 7 calves have been killed by these wolves this summer. The Washakie pack presently consists of 7-8 adults and 4-5 pups. On the 1st another calf was killed by the Washakie pack on a Forest Service allotment and WS was asked to remove 3-5 more wolves from that area.
A lone wolf that killed a calf on an public land grazing allotment near Kemmerer, WY around the 23rd, and was just been monitored to see if it stayed in the area or killed more livestock, was confirmed to have killed another calf on a public land grazing allotment on the 1st. WS was asked to lethally remove it.
Research
Three GPS collars were placed on Teton Park wolves which will be part of a joint study with Grand Teton Park, USFWS, and the Teton Cougar Project. One study objective is to investigate interactions between grizzly bears, wolves and cougars. In addition 3 regular VHF collars were put in the pack by our WY field crew. Good job, Mike, Liz and Jon.
Two radio-activated blow-off Televilt GPS collars on wolves in Yellowstone National Park did not blow-off. The were designed to be activated at the users discretion and but both attempts from the air and ground failed. There is a programmed "back-up' scheduled to blow off mid-winter so we may have to wait to get the collars back then. Den visits continue in Yellowstone NP to pick-up scats and take den measurements.
Information and education and law enforcement
Therese Hartman [volunteer Mt FW&P] gave a presentation to about 15 people at the Holland Lake campground on August 21. She began with a puppet show and then talked about wolf history in North America and wolf ecology followed by Q and A. Most attendees were from Montana and one family was from Alaska. There were lots of questions about the locations and numbers of wolves in Montana and a good deal of interest in how wolves will be managed by the state while the delisting process proceeds. After the talk everyone took the opportunity to look through the wolf box, posters and a photo album full of pictures of local wolves.
Carolyn Sime, Mike Ross, MT FWP, Val Asher, TESF and Doug Smith, NPS, attended the Montana WS annual conference near Red Lodge. Sime and Smith gave presentations about their respective programs.
On August 30th Doug Smith gave a Yellowstone National Park Amphitheater talk at Canyon to general public. Nearly 100 people attended.
Steve Nadeau gave a presentation and update on wolf management in Idaho to about 100 IDFG wildlife biologist on August 17 at Coeur D'Alene. Jason Husseman and Michael Lucid also presented information on wolf monitoring protocol to the group.
The Service's weekly wolf report can now also be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at http: //westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . This report is government public property and can be used for any purpose. Please distribute as you see fit.
Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV