Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Wolves
Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
[www.wolfology.com]
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, April 2003
From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT

MARCH 28-APRIL 4, 2003
Monitoring
NEW WEB ADDRESS- See the 2002 annual wolf report at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.....Jim Holyan retrieved a radio-collar on mortality from one of the Big Hole wolves near Lolo Pass on March 24th. Apparently the 2-year old collar was just chewed off. The previous week volunteer Therease Hartman attempted to hike into the area but deep soft snow prevented her from reaching it.....A male 100lb. wolf-like canid killed near Spalding, Nebraska December 15, 2002 turned out to be a dispersing wolf from the Midwest, according to recently completed DNA analysis. It is under LE investigation. The last wolf known taken in NE was in 1913.
Please report any sightings of wolf activity to the nearest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state Fish and Game Agency, Forest Service, BLM, Tribal, or USDA Wildlife Services office.

Control
Agency control [traps pulled] has ended in the Ninemile Valley on the 4th. No wolves were controlled and there have been no further depredations. On the 4th, Fontaine met with local residents to provide less-than-lethal-munitions training and explain the new 4d regulations. He was accompanied by a writer who is doing a story for the LA Times Magazine about wolf management.....On the 29th, an unidentified group of four gray and one black wolf were seen outside of Cameron, MT in the Madison Valley. They attacked a black lab who had chased them. The dog got away with several puncture wounds but appears to be doing ok.....Taylor Peak wolves fought with dogs in the Bear Canyon area on the 29/30th. One dog had wounds in several places but will recover. The dog owner ran them off. Sentinel pack has also been found on the Madison Valley several times. They are being monitored to see if they are excavating a den in the area. If so, project personnel will try to push them back into the Taylor Fork drainage.....Sheep fencing is being built in Paradise Valley through Defenders of Wildlife pro-active fund in the Mill creek area. The Mill Creek pack had attacked sheep in that pasture several times. A special thanks to Val Asher for making all that come together.
Research
Yellowstone National Park’s late winter 30-day wolf predation study ended on March 30th. Spring kill rates seem similar to previous years [elk kill/pack every 3 days with more bulls that are in poorer condition than elk kills in fall]. The lower than expected number of calves killed appears to be a result of lower overall calf numbers in the northern range herd.

Information and education and law enforcement
Congratulations!! to Dr. Douglas Smith. Doug was just awarded the National Parks Service’s: Director's Award for Natural Resource Management. It is a National award given to one Park Service employee each year. In some part due to the outstanding level of personal commitment required and to the success of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery program, last year Wayne Brewster, the assistant director for the Park’s Yellowstone Center for Resources received the same national award. Great job Doug! and certainly well deserved.
Gray wolves throughout the eastern and western United States were downlisted from endangered to threatened status effective April 1, 2003. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it established three Distinct Population Segments (DPS) for the gray wolf. Wolves in the Western DPS and Eastern DPS were listed as threatened but in the Southwestern DPS wolves remain listed as endangered. The experimental population areas in central Idaho, Yellowstone, and the southwest remain unaffected by this listing action. The new threatened status in N. Montana and N. Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the northern portions of Colorado and Utah [N. Of I-70] is accompanied by a special 4d rule that allows wolf management very similar but slightly more flexible than that already allowed in the experimental population areas.
In the western DPS [outside the experimental areas which remained just as they were] the 4d rules allow: 1. Anyone to harass any wolf at any time as long as the wolf is not injured; 2. Landowners may shoot any wolf that is physically attacking [biting, grasping] livestock [defined as- cattle, sheep., horses, or mules, and guarding and herding animals- such as llamas and certain breeds of dogs] and domestic dogs on private property [it must be reported within 24hrs]: 3. Federal grazing permittees that have a confirmed wolf depredation may receive a permit from the Service to shoot wolves seen attacking livestock on their federal grazing allotments. 4. The Service may issue permits to injuriously harass [rubber bullets, etc.] wolves; 5. The Service may issue permits to private landowners to shoot wolves on-sight after 2 or more livestock depredations; 6. People who accidentally kill a wolf will not be prosecuted if they were involved in otherwise legal activities and they took reasonable steps to not kill a wolf [Note- hunters are always responsible for identifying their target and "accidentally" shooting a wolf may be prosecuted]; 7. The States and Tribes, or-if 10 or more breeding pairs are established the Service, may relocate wolves that are causing excessive predation on native ungulate herds; 8. No land-use restrictions are envisioned unless the federal activity may kill wolves. There are no land-use restrictions on private land. 9. The Service and other Service-authorized agencies may take wolves under a permit for a variety of other reasons, including research or wolves that look or behave strangely. 10. Of course, as already allowed by the ESA, anyone may kill any wolf that is posing a direct and immediate threat to human life.....The Defenders of Wildlife served the Service with a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue over wolf reclassification on April 1, the same day the rule was published. The issue was widely covered by the media.....On the 4th Doug Smith met with Jeff Corwin and staff of the Animal Planet, who did interviews and filmed in the Park for a future segment on wolf recovery in Yellowstone Park.....Carter met with representatives of the Wolf Education and Research Center on the 29th & 30th to update them on wolf management strategies in the Idaho recovery area and talk about reclassification and delisting of the gray wolf.

Litigation- Western Watershed vs Sawtooth National Forest, Service. On April 2 the Judge for the Federal District Court of Idaho issued an order that denied a request that livestock grazing within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area be prohibited until Forest Service NEPA analysis is completed. He did however grant a renewal of last year’s injunction that prohibits the Service from lethally controlling wolves in the SNRA. In response to the Service’s request for clarification, he said the injunction also applied to private land within the SNRA, but he also suggested further briefings would be considered. The Service/DOI requested DOJ to file an appeal of the court’s rulings.
The 2003 North American Interagency Wolf Conference will be held April 8 - 10 at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, MT. The theme is wolf/ungulate relationships. The registration website is https://keysecure.com/forwolves.org/confer2003.html The agenda is attached.
The CENTRAL ROCKIES WOLF PROJECT is pleased to announce that registration has begun for the WORLD WOLF CONGRESS 2003 - BRIDGING SCIENCE AND COMMUNITY, to be held at the Banff Centre (Banff, Canada) from September 25-28, 2003. Please visit www.worldwolfcongress.ca for complete information, early registration ended April 1. All proposals/abstract had to be received by March 15. Those talks selected to be given at the Conf. will be notified after the peer review process is completed. In addition a select group of papers will be compiled into a book, that represents significant aspects of the Conf.
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.
APRIL 4-11, 2003

Monitoring
Seasonal biologist Paul Frame was accompanied by Dean Cluff, a wolf expert from the NW Territories looking for wolf activity and to begin trapping and radio-collaring.

Control
Another sheep [third this year] was killed in the Ninemile Valley on the night/morning of the 5th/6th. Wildlife Services was instructed to kill up to 2 wolves, preferably by shooting at the sheep pasture. Male wolf #501, who had been involved in previous depredations was shot on the sheep carcass the night of the 6th. Control has ended unless further depredations are confirmed. On the 9th, a lady riding with her dog in that area saw 2 gray wolves, that her dog then chased. The dog returned later and was uninjured. Additional rubber bullet training in the area will be conducted.

Information and education and law enforcement
On the 5th Bangs and Asher were accompanied to the Paradise Valley by a reporter and photographer who are doing a story for L.A. Times Magazine. First Bangs and Asher examined the old den site of the Chief Joe pack, to fill it in if it looked active, but it wasn’t. That afternoon, they and the reporters visited with a local rancher who had depredations in the past. Defenders of Wildlife representative Susan Stone and the T.V. crew from Animal Planet, Jeff Corwin Show looked at the new fencing, RAG box, and fladry that rancher was using. Then they visited another rancher as part of their piece on living in large carnivore country.

Litigation- Western Watershed vs Sawtooth National Forest, Service. On April 2 the Judge for the Federal District Court of Idaho issued an order that denied a request that livestock grazing within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area be prohibited until Forest Service NEPA analysis is completed. He did however grant a renewal of last year’s injunction that prohibits the Service from lethally controlling wolves in the SNRA. In response to the Service’s request for clarification, he said the injunction also applied to private land within the SNRA, but he also suggested further briefings would be considered. The Service/DOI requested DOJ to file an appeal of the court’s rulings.
APRIL 11-18, 2003

Monitoring
Paul Frame (with Dean Cluff, Canadian wolf biologist) checked out some MT areas in the Big Hole and Clearwater Junction areas, but spring conditions and lack of wolf sign weren't conducive to trapping. Paul then went to the Noxon area, where he has begun trapping for the Green Mountain Pack. He will also be looking at other areas in the Bull River and Clark Fork drainages.....Meier saw the Hog Heaven female wolf traveling with the pack on April 17, and she appeared very pregnant. Other packs seem to have begun localizing at den sites.....USFWS, NPS and NPT biologists began coordinating efforts to search for missing radio collars in the three (or more) state area. About 40 wolves, collared in the last 5 years, are currently missing. Searches will concentrate on likely wolf habitat where no wolves are known to be radio-collared.....Tom Meier [and National Bison Range staff] visited with a lion hunter who reported finding a wolf-killed mountain lion in the Pleasant Valley area around Feb. 5th. A pair of wolf tracks are still being seen in the area.

Control
A calf was killed by the Greybull River pack near Meeteetse, WY on the 10th. The pack had killed a cow earlier this year. Wildlife Services was authorized to trap, radio-collar and release, or depending on which class of wolves were captured, lethally removal a couple of wolves. The dens’ traditional den is usually not in these area and it is hope they aren’t trying to localize in these area of intensive livestock production.....On about March 4th, Wildlife Services confirmed that a lone wolf killed 9 goats near Farson, WY [between Pinedale and Rock Springs]. Wildlife Services was authorized to take a wolf if one was found in the vicinity of where the goats were killed. These were the first goats known to be killed by wolves out West. This is more a reflection on the low numbers of goats rather than wolves choosing not to kill them.

Information and education and law enforcement
On the 16th, Idaho’s Governor signed an Idaho law that will increase Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s ability to help become more activity involved in every phase of the wolf recovery program. The U.S. Assist Sec. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Judge Craig Mason attended the signing. The wolf recovery program will benefit from the addition of Idaho’s direct involvement in wolf conservation along with the continuing efforts of the Nez Perce Tribe and Service. The Secretary of the Interior added her support to Governor Kempthrone’s suggestion for modification of the nonessential experimental population regulations to enhance their effectiveness and provide opportunities for increased state/federal partnerships.

APRIL 18-25, 2003
Monitoring
Seasonal biologist Paul Frame is in the Noxon area, where he is trapping for the Green Mountain Pack. He is also looking for sign in the Bull River and Clark Fork drainages. On the 20th, a trap was missing and it was assumed a dog had been caught. On Monday a person returned the trap and wasn’t upset although she couldn’t get the trap off until she got home. The area had been properly signed and Paul was using rubber-jawed traps. All the proper trapping protocols were followed and in this instance, it wasn’t a big issue. Seasonal biologist Paul Hansen came on board the 25th and will be assisting in this summer’s wolf collaring efforts in Montana. A recent telemetry flight saw a member of the Red Shale pack [14 wolves in NW MT normally along the East Front] in a meadow in the normal pack territory, dragging its hind quarters. It appeared severely wounded and the area will be searched for its carcass once conditions allow. About half of the remaining pack members were east of Hungry Horse Reservoir and the other half was nearly 30 miles away on the east side of the Flathead Valley- both groups were far outside the pack’s normal home range.....The collar from Idaho wolf B128 was on mortality mode in Copper Basin. It is a very rugged area and it may be inaccessible even after the snow is gone in a couple of months. Also, another Wildhorse wolf’s collar frequency was detected on mortality in the town of McCall. This maybe a stray signal of some sort but is being investigated.....A litter of 5 pups, less than a week old, was seen by an Idaho rancher on the 23rd. This is the first confirmed 2003 wolf litter in Idaho, although other females have localized. He accidentally found them on public land adjacent to his ranch and immediately left the area to not disturb them. Wolf B-107's pups still had their eyes closed. The "den" was just an above ground depression under a spruce tree.....The former alpha male wolf from the Beartooth pack that had mange in early 2002, died this past winter/spring. It was confirmed that poor condition associated with mange was the cause of his death. Visual sightings of the adjacent Absaroka pack indicate that at least one of those pack members has mange. Mange is common in coyotes especially at lower elevations east of the continental divide.

Control
A call was received the afternoon of the 20th. A sheep rancher near Dillon, MT had heard a report that wolves had been in his sheep and "it was quite a mess". Based on that information, previous depredations in that area, and the fact the Freezeout pack female was located near there on Thursday, the rancher was given permission to shoot 2 wolves on site if he found them on his private land. The investigation by WS confirmed wolves were responsible for killing 16 ewe sheep and another 16-18 wounded that will probably die. Right now ewe sheep are at their highest value- they have a year’s wool on them and average 1½ near-term lambs in them. Three of 4 guard dogs that were protecting the sheep are still missing but are probably still alive. On the 21st, 2 wolves from the Freezeout pack were killed and 2 [a yearling female and 2-yr old radioed male] more were killed on the 23rd. The Freezeout alpha female has apparently moved west and is denned in an area with intensive livestock production and in summer, few native ungulates. This situation typifies the "sink effect" that can be caused when an entire pack is removed. The Gravelly pack got into trouble and was removed. The Freezeout pack then moved into that vacant territory and now they are in trouble. They may eventually all be removed too.....WS investigated a report of two dead calves near Clayton, ID on the 20th, where previous depredations have occurred in past years. The Buffalo Ridge pack of about 8 wolves is denned near there and could be involved. Telemetry monitors have been set up in the area to determine which wolves maybe responsible [Buffalo Ridge or a new group].....Wildlife Services determined that a calf was consumed by the Lone Bear pack, south of Livingston, MT on the 20th but it apparently died of natural causes. However, on the 23rd WS confirmed that a calf in a pasture with about 300 other cattle, was killed by the pack on the same private land. WS lethally removed one wolf on the 24th and will remove up to two more when weather permits. One of the pack’s 2 radioed wolves had a "rope tail" [mange] and will be one of the animals removed..... Fontaine provided less-than-lethal munitions training to a rancher in the Avon area on the 21st.

Information and education and law enforcement
WS investigated a possible depredation at the Deer Lodge Prison on the 21st. The calf died from natural and was being fed on by coyotes.....On the 16th Fontaine and MDFWP personnel looked at two calf elk that were dead in a small holding reservoir SW of Anaconda. The ranch manager saw a large black canine leaving the area and there were multiple canine tracks around the site. The different size of tracks and necropsy of the calves indicated that local dogs had killed them. Both calves were retrieved from the reservoir where they had taken refuge to get away from the dogs.....Fontaine traveled to the Ninemile Valley on the 24th to provide less than lethal munitions training to a local resident. Their dog disappeared for a couple of hours after it chased 2 wolves but the dog came back unharmed. Joe also met with a ranch caretaker about the wolves in the valley. The caretaker was concerned that the wolves would be eliminated from the valley.....A resident of McCall/Donnelly reported finding his dog killed by wolves on the west slope of Jughandle Mt. (just S of McCall). He is a wolf advocate and didn't relay any ill will toward wolves. It was never confirmed, but the Gold Fork pack radioed wolves were located far away on a flight that occurred within a couple of days of the report.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV