From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT
JUNE 1-13, 2003
NEW WEB ADDRESS- See the 2002 annual wolf report at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.....Early counts indicate that there are 14 groups of wolves may be denning in Yellowstone National Park. Seven groups of wolves maybe denned in Wyoming outside the Park. It appears that 7 packs may be denning in the GYA in Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park..... While disease, pup loss, control, and illegal killing will reduce the number of breeding pairs, at this time it appears that numbers of breeding pairs and wolves will be as high as last year, when there were 23 breeding pairs in the GYA. Nez Perce biologists estimate that at least 14 wolf packs maybe denned in central Idaho. Northwest Montana appears to have the same number of packs denned.....In northwest Montana pups have been seen with the Whitefish, Hog Heaven and Fish Trap Packs. The Kintla, Ninemile, Spotted Bear, and Lazy Creek packs also seemed to have localized at dens and have probably produced pups. Trapping efforts continue for the Grave Creek Pack, where no collared wolves remain and an effort is being made to locate the Great Divide pack near Helena..... The Murphy Lake Pack was found on Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge, more than 30 miles south of their usual range. A dead wolf, probably killed by a vehicle, was found north of Whitefish. The Lazy Creek wolves cross the highway in that area, and the dead wolf is probably a yearling from that pack.....Monitoring in Wyoming confirmed that the Sunlight pack has 3 pups and the Teton pack was thought to have 5 pups but this week at least 6 pups were observed. It appears that Green River, Washakie, Beartooth, Greybull River and Absaroka have all denned but no pups have been observed at this time. The week of the 2nd trapping was ongoing to place radio collars in the Beartooth pack and on wolves in the Dunoir Valley. Trapping in the Beartooth pack has stopped and trapping is ongoing in the Sunlight Valley. Trapping in the Dunoir Valley continues.....Jim Peringer, WS in Wyoming, trapped and collared an adult male wolf west of Thermopolis on June 4th. This was a cooperative effort between the local WY G&F warden and WS., both reporting at least 2 sets of wolf tracks in this area since late winter. Monitoring indicates that there are two wolves traveling together but no indication that they have denned. Monitoring efforts will continue. ....This summer Idaho field crews will be surveying 38 different wolf groups and areas of known or suspected wolf activity. Reproductive status of 18 documented radio-collared wolf packs and 7 new potential breeding pairs (radio collared dispersing wolves that have localized) will be assessed. In addition, 4 areas of known past wolf activity and 9 areas of suspected wolf activity will be surveyed for the presence and status of wolves.
To date, 10 wolf litters have been identified. Reproductive packs at this time include 4 documented packs including Big Hole, Buffalo Ridge, Landmark, and Moyer and 6 new packs including B105 – Hazard Lakes, B107 – Galena (note name change), B111 – Ohara Point, R241 – Steel Mountain, Soldier Mountain, and Hemlock Ridge.....The Hazard Lakes pack is near the Confluence of the Little and Main Salmon River near Riggins, Idaho and is composed of alpha male B105 and an unknown mate. The Galena pack is in the Sawtooth Valley near Stanley and is composed of the alpha female B107 and an unknown mate. The Ohara Point pack is composed of dispersing wolf B111 (Jureano Mountain pack) and 1-3 other adult wolves near Elk City. The Steel Mountain pack is in the upper reaches of the Middle Fork of the Boise River and is composed of R241, a dispersing wolf from the Sheep Mountain pack in Montana just north of YNP, and 1-3 other wolves. The Soldier Mountain pack is a newly documented pack in the Big and Little Smoky River drainages, north of Fairfield, Idaho. The Hemlock Ridge pack is a newly documented pack in the Pierce, Idaho area. Tribal crews were able to radio collar a wolf in this area and document the presence of a wolf litter, after receiving a report of an adult wolf and pup in the area from the Clearwater National Forest. The Clearwater National Forest was instrumental in this successful effort by providing timely and accurate information about wolves in the area, providing housing and access for Tribal field crews, and coordinating on the ground field efforts. A job well done. Tribal field crews and the Clearwater National Forest will continue to monitor this pack to better determine numbers, status, movements, and activities of this pack.....Niemeyer and Husseman investigated reports of wolf activity in the Idaho City area. Some wolf sign was observed, but more efforts will be required to document the status of wolf activity in this area. Multiple reports have been received of 4-6 wolves in the Bruce Meadows/Cape Horn/ and upper end of the South Fork of the Payette River area. Dispersing Wolf Fang wolf B109 has been located from the air in this general area on recent monitoring flights. Tribal field crews will continue to survey this area through the summer. Tribal field crews are investigating reported wolf activity, not associated with the Galena pack, in the Sawtooth Valley. ....To date, 21 radio collars have been placed on wolves in 2003; 14 using helicopter capture, 1 ground darted, and 6 trapped..... Yellowstone wolves are tending dens, with most packs being split between individuals or small groups tending dens and small groups hunting or feeding at kills away from the den. Seven pups were seen at the Druid den (possibly 3 litters), 7 pups with the Leopold pack (possibly 2 litters), 2 pups with Cougar Creek pack, and 8 pups with Agate (possibly 2 litters). The Yellowstone Delta pack, along with recent immigrant 276M of the Washakie Pack, are up in the Delta at the end of the Southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake at one of their traditional den areas. There has been a lot of movement from first dens to second and third den/rendezvous sites (8 packs).
WE NEED HELP FROM COOPERATORS AND PUBLIC- We are currently into the trapping season, when we try to radio-collar wolves from previously unknown packs and beef up our collar coverage in known packs. This is the time of the year when pups begin to be seen and heard, and reports of pups are the most valuable information we can get, to help target our trapping efforts. Please pass on any reports of wolves being seen or heard, particularly sightings of pups, reports of groups of wolves howling, or wolves barking (usually a sign of pups nearby). With the size and terrain of western Montana and other areas, our searching blindly about for wolf sign is almost futile, and reports from agency people and citizens on the ground are invaluable.
Meier and Hartman investigated a calf kill near Trego, MT on June 6th. The remains were turned over to WS personnel for investigation. The Murphy Lake Pack, their territory surrounds the town of Trego, Montana, was not found on a telemetry flight June 4th, and appeared not to have been in the area where the calf died.....The Hog Heaven wolves are being monitored as frequently as possible to determine if they are threatening cattle, since a confirmed calf depredation May 27. Collared and uncollared wolves have been found near cattle several times, but no further depredations have been found. The rancher was given a telemetry receiver to help him know when wolves were in the area. The cattle are on the north edge of the Confederated Salish-Kootenay Reservation.....Trapping control efforts ended near Dubois, WY. The only road access to the ranch where the depredations occurred is through another ranch. That landowner requested that Service personal no longer drive across his land. Of course we respected his will and all traps were immediately pulled on the 28th. The ranch manager where the depredations occurred still has an active shoot on sight permit for 2 wolves. Trapping was being conducted to radio a member of what is apparently a new pack and then lethally control 2 or more members of the pack that killed a calf. The radioed members of the Washakie pack are at the den many miles to the northeast. No wolves were removed and there has been no further confirmed depredations. The neighbors will have to work this one out themselves.....A landowner in Idaho reported what he thought were wolves chasing and attacking his horses and mules although no wolves were observed. Injuries to the stock were minor and the landowner did not request an investigation by WS. Recovery personnel will work closely with the landowner to better determine wolf activity in that area.....Wolf-livestock conflicts continue to be averted in and around the Buffalo Ridge pack thanks to a cooperative and pro-active effort by area producers, federal agencies, the Defenders of Wildlife, and the Recovery Project. Thanks to all participants for your patience, efforts, and willingness.....Although the Galena pack continues to use the Sawtooth Valley in close proximity to grazing sheep, no livestock depredations have occurred to date. Producers, U.S. Forest Service, and the Recovery Project continue to coordinate to minimize potential for conflict. Producers are helping to monitor the movements of wolves and are taking steps to avoid areas frequented by wolves. Recovery Project personnel are encouraging the Galena pack to move out of the Valley farther into the White Cloud Mountains.
Correction of information concerning the depredation near Fishtail, Montana (Thanks Jim):
An apparent lone black wolf killed 18 sheep on the 22nd, one on the 23rd, and 2 on the 24th near Fishtail, Montana. The ranch had sheep killed several years ago but hasn’t had any problems until now. A herder, no guard dogs as previously reported, saw a large black ‘skinny’ canid in the sheep. WS was authorized to remove the animal. They are trapping and the landowner and his employees were given a shoot-on-sight permit for one black wolf on his private property. There have been no additional depredations at this time.
The first of a series of newborn elk calf captures in Yellowstone National Park began late last week. Out of 14 early calves radioed, 6 were killed by predators within days. Three by grizzly bears, 2 by wolves, one by coyotes. Elk calving peaks June 1, and a swamping strategy is one whereby calving peaks to flood predators with calves so they can’t eat them all. The early results reenforce everyone’s prediction [typical everywhere there are large predators, especially bears, there will be high initial losses of new-born calves] that there is intensive predation on ungulate neonates. The next round of elk calf collaring will begin on the 30th. In theory calf loss will be highest among those calves born first and last- with higher survival of calves born during the peak of calving. The study will examine causes and rates of elk calf mortality.....Yellowstone National Park is also examining summer wolf predation in more detail besides just tagging elk calves. They have been monitoring members of the Druid pack using GPS locations [multiple locations are taken each day] were that are downloaded weekly. Starting June 1 the Park will step-up those efforts by having volunteers watching the pack as much as possible and by walking the course of GPS locations and cluster to look for kills.
Information and education and law enforcement
The carcasses of Buffalo Ridge wolf B143 and dispersing Wolf Fang wolf B131 were recovered by USFWS Law Enforcement. Both deaths are under investigation.....Fontaine tried to retrieve a radio collar from the Big Hole River on the 2nd but was unsuccessful due to the high water from spring run off.
A paper on "Attitudes toward wolves and wolf payment programs by farmers, bear hunters, and other people in northern Wisconsin" can be found at http://www.geography.wisc.edu/wolfproject/.
JUNE 13-20, 2003
The alpha female [and only radio-collared member] of the Buffalo Fork pack was found dead on the 14th. She had recently nursed pups but the remaining 4 pack members should be able to successfully rear them. She was apparently killed by other wolves and the Rose Creek pack only a mile or so away from her carcass.....The carcass and radio-collar of a pup from the Sentinel pack south of Bozeman that darted last winter was recovered. The carcass was intact but very decayed and the wolf had been dead for some time. Cause of death did not appear to be caused by illegally.....Therese Hartman, assisted by volunteers Kassy Holzheimer and Elizabeth Morton, captured and radio-collared a yearling female wolf from the Spotted Bear Pack on June 19.....Litters were documented for four additional wolf packs in central Idaho this week including Chamberlain, Jureano Mountain, Orphan, and Scott Mountain. Jim and Holly Akenson, University of Idaho researchers and caretakers at Taylor Ranch assisted the Tribe in documenting the litter for the Chamberlain Basin pack.. Good job Jim and Holly! A total of 14 wolf litters have been documented so far in Idaho this summer. ....Capture efforts in the Grave Creek Pack territory [NW MT] have been suspended, after no fresh wolf sign was seen in more than two weeks of trapping.
Herders watched as a lone wolf killed a 200lb calf in central Idaho, just north of Arco. They couldn’t react fast enough other than to drive the wolf off the carcass. WS confirmed the loss and traps have been set near the calf’s carcass. If the wolf is captured it will be killed.....The remains of a calf, found near Trego, MT about June 5, were thawed out and examined by Wildlife Services specialist Ted North. He determined that the calf had not died of predation. WS specialist McDougal also examined a dead calf near Big Hole, MT from last week, and it was also not killed by predators. There have been very few depredations by wolves so far this summer.
Yellowstone National Park was trying to examine summer wolf predation by monitoring members of the Druid pack using GPS locations [multiple locations are taken each day] were that are downloaded weekly. Unfortunately the GPS collars don’t seem to be functioning properly and were only transmitting a couple of locations per day. That isn’t frequent enough to determine of wolves route of travel and identify location clusters to look for summer kills.
Information and education and law enforcement
Asher met with several ranchers from the Taylor Fork area of Montana, south of Bozeman, MSU researchers, and MT FW&P. It appears there was some confusion among the local residents over who was ultimately responsible for wolf-related issues and who should be contacted. The rules are: for dead wolves you go to FWS law enforcement, livestock losses to Wildlife Services, and everyhthing else goes to the Service, although MT FW&P and the Univ. can certainly help out or pass information along. Val Asher is the representative for the USFWS in that area. The meeting went well and it was clarified that the USFWS is the only agency with direct wolf-management authorities while wolves are listed. After delisting MT FW&P would be the sole lead management agency.....The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise, Idaho filed a request for a clarification of the Judge’s order regarding its prohibition of "any" wolf control in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area on the 18th. The FWS asked that non-lethal measurers be allowed by the court should there be a depredation. The Service assisted in preparing that request and appreciates DOJ’s efforts.....On Friday, Bangs met with a USA Today reporter who is writing about the success of wolf and grizzly bear recovery in the western United States.
JULY 21-27, 2003
Routine trapping to radio-collar wolves as part of the monitoring program in Wyoming has been temporarily suspended. The summer tourist/back country season has started in earnest and there was a large increase in activity [hikers, horseman and dogs] in areas where trapping was being conducted. To avoid conflicts with dogs, trapping is being put on hold, at least in those areas.....The Nez Perce Tribe confirmed that B2 - the old Wildhorse alpha male - does have pups. This new pack is called the Castle Peak pack and is the second documented pack within the SNRA this summer. B107 - the Galena pack was the first documented pack within the SNRA this summer. Both packs now residing within the SNRA are first-year packs composed of an alpha pair and their litter of pups, Castle Peak with 4 and Galena with 5 pups.....Trapping efforts continue for the Spotted Bear Pack. Pups have been confirmed in the Hog Heaven, Fishtrap, and Whitefish packs and are suspected in the Kintla, Lazy Creek, Spotted Bear and Ninemile Packs. Efforts are still underway to locate the Great Divide pack and try and place a collar in the pack.
A rancher in central Idaho saw a wolf attacking his calf on private land and shot it. It turned out to be yearling wolf B131 from the Landmark pack. This is the area where fladry was tested last year and while it seemed to work short-term, the pack eventually ignored it and began to kill again cattle.
We were notified that papers for the Banff September World Wolf Congress accepted papers on N. Rocky Mountain wolf issues including: Non-Lethal methods to enhance wolf recovery and deter wolf/human conflict in Montana; Restoration of a gray wolf population in the northwestern United States; Approaches to Wolf Management and Conservation.
Information and education and law enforcement
On the 25th, Fontaine retrieved the radio collar from B100 from the Big Hole River. The case is under investigation.
JUNE 27-JULY 4, 2003
WY LE investigated the carcass of yearling female wolf #280 in Wyoming and recovered the radio-collar- good job Tim! and thanks! The carcass had melted down considerably, it had been on mortality mode nearly 2 weeks. It was on a large ranch that has been very easy to work with and hard for the general public to access. No foul play was suspected.....Three wolves recently died in YNP. They were the only collared wolves in their respective packs and 2 of the 3 packs had pups. Wolf 105F was found dead on 6/9/03. She was originally from Druid Peak but established her own pack on the boundary of YNP and Gallatin NF. She had nursed pups this year and was killed by other wolves, likely Rose Creek wolves. Wolf 251F, also originally from the Druid pack, was found dead on 6/26/03. She had a territory in northern YNP and pups were observed at her den. She was killed by an unknown predator possibly a grizzly bear as her carcass was cached by a grizzly. Wolf 208M.was originally from the Rose Creek pack and was found dead on 6/17/03. He and his mate lived near the Tower Area. The exact cause of death is unknown but it appeared to be from natural causes.....In Idaho additional pups were documented in the Scott Mountain pack and this pack has at least 5 pups. The uncollared Twin Peaks pack also has pups as does the radioed Selway pack, and work is underway getting complete counts.....Reproduction has been confirmed in only 4 wolf packs in NW MT so far this year. Five pups were just seen in the Lazy Creek Pack, making it the fourth pack (after Fishtrap, Hog Heaven, and Whitefish) in which pups have been confirmed in northwest Montana. Investigations are continuing.
Herders watched as a lone wolf killed a 200lb calf in central Idaho on June 16th. They couldn’t react fast enough other than to drive the wolf off the carcass. WS confirmed the loss and traps were set near the calf’s carcass. On the 29th, WS checked traps near Mackey, Idaho, that were set in response to the depredation. A gray uncollared yearling female wolf was captured and euthanized. The pelt and skull were not salvageable, so they were buried on site. Only one wolf was involved in the depredation so there will be no additional control.....A cow was killed in the Sunlight Basin, WY, Forest Service allotment, probably by the Absaroka pack. Trapping to radio-collar and release on site is being conducted. Lethal control may be initiated depending on the circumstances.....Five members of the Sunlight Basin , WY pack were reportedly seen inside an elk proof fence on private property feeding on a calf. Apparently they slipped through at some of the fence’s open low spots. WS investigated and found the remains of another calf carcass nearby. The two carcasses were largely consumed so while the wolves probably killed them, neither could be confirmed. The calves were just shipped to this pasture, and they sometimes die from shipping stress, so they might have just been scavenged. However this pack has killed cattle before and likely killed these calves. If they come right back into the pasture, we will take that as confirmation they are actively hunting cattle. That area is being trapped and some captured wolves will be removed.....On June 28, the Murphy Lake Pack (5 wolves) was located by aerial telemetry in Pleasant Valley near a dead cow. The herd manager was informed. He reported that it had not been killed by wolves.
Prescott University M.S. graduate student Jon Trapp, who has been investigating den sites in Idaho and will begin den work in northwest Montana on July 6.....The pilot GPS wolf study in Yellowstone [backtracking wolves during the summer to determine summer predator rates] didn’t work out because the downloadable function of the Televilt collars did not work adequately.
Information and education and law enforcement
Idaho Fish and Game has a new wolf web page that will be posted on the Fish and Game Website starting July 1. It is located at www2.state.id.us/fishgame//info/programsInfo/wolves.....Niemeyer, Mack and Steve Nadeau [the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s state-wide Wolf Coordinator] met in Stanley, Idaho to coordinate wolf management and the state’s transition into becoming more actively involved in wolf monitoring and field operations.....As confirmation of how far wolves can disperse, we pass along this story from the Midwest. A gray wolf that was born to the Wildcat Mound pack in Jackson County, Wisconsin was found dead in a soy bean field in central Indiana last month. He was born in April 2002 and was last located in Wisconsin in January, 2003. This was a 407 mile dispersal assuming he went straight through Chicago.
Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV