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Wolves
Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
[www.wolfology.com]
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, February 2003
From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT

FEBRUARY 1-7, 2003

Monitoring
On the 3rd, MT FW&P collared a gray pup #299, from the Taylor Peak pack while capturing elk for the cooperative MSU study on elk/wolf relationships. There were 6 gray wolves in the pack. Good job! The MT FW&P biologists were primarily collaring elk as part of their cooperative wolf/elk relationships study. Chief Joe pack was seen the next day but couldn’t be darted.....On the 5th, an uncollared wolf pup [now 10 months old] was killed by a vehicle on Highway 12 near Avon. It was likely a member of Castle Rock or Halfway packs.
WS reported a pair of wolf tracks near Clark Canyon Reservoir SE of Dillon, MT. They pulled M-44's in the immediate area. This is the same area where wolves killed a calf last fall.

Control
On the 3rd, Wildlife Services killed 3 members [2 gray and a black subadult] of the Halfway pack. Two other wolves were seen and they will be removed as weather permits. The Castle Rock pack moved south of the highway and were not in a suitable location for removal. On the morning of the 6th, 3 uncollared members, including the suspected alpha male, of the Castle Rock pack were shot. That afternoon WS killed dispersing Castle Rock- but now Halfway pack- wolf #979 and #342. Control is finished, unless more depredations are confirmed. The Halfway pack is gone and 3-4 wolves remain in the Castle Rock pack.

Research
Dr. Dennis Murray, University of Idaho, was in Yellowstone National Park this week working with Doug Smith on analysis of radio-telemetry survival and mortality data from 403 wolves that were radio-collared and monitored in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming since the early 1980's. The multi-co-author paper will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

Information and education and law enforcement
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.
Call for papers: Papers are now being accepted for the 2003 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 8 - 10, 2003 at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, MT. The theme this year is wolf/ungulate relationships. Please submit a one page single spaced abstract which includes your full contact information, affiliations, and authors, by email to Joseph Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov Please submit a digital picture related to your research or topic to include in the agenda and on the website. We can also scan images sent by mail. Registration for the conference will begin November 1, 2002 and you may contact Suzanne Laverty at SLaverty@defenders.org for details. The registration website is http://keysecure.com/forwolves.org/confer2003.html

FEBRUARY 7-21,2003

Monitoring
The Red Shale Pack (14 wolves) has been sighted on the east front of the Rockies west of Choteau. This pack spends most of its time in the North Fork of the Sun River, but apparently travels across the front ranges to the east side. There hasn’t a pack of wolves on the east front that wasn't eventually eliminated because of chronic cattle depredations, so we hope these wolves remain in the wilderness.....The Nez Perce Tribe hired Isaac Babcock and Jon Trapp to conduct winter searches for suspected uncollared packs. Four areas are being searched. An unradioed pack of 10-11 wolves was found in the Morgan Creek area north of Challis, ID, An unradioed pack of 3-4 wolves was found in upper Lolo Creek near Kamiah. The Slate Creek area north of Riggins and the upper reaches of the Boise River are still being surveyed.....Issac Babcock is in the Big Creek area now, helping with the Univ. Idaho wolf/lion/ungulate research program and Jim and Holly Akinson. Radio contact with the Chamberlain Basin pack was lost a year ago and Issac is attempting to trap and radio a pack member. .....On the 7th, the Nez Perce pack couldn’t be located anywhere near the Jackson, WY area. Over the weekend graduate students with the MSU elk/wolf study in the middle of Yellowstone National Park and the pack’s normal territory reported "they're back...".....Yellowstone National Park biologists caught 8 wolves in 4 packs on Feb. 12 & 13. Geode (2 caught including alpha female and beta male), a Druid sub-group (2 young males),Cougar Creek (2 males including alpha male), and Nez Perce (2 pups, one male one female). Good job.

Control
Wildlife Service’s investigated a report of a possible wolf-killed calf on the 10th several miles north of Red Lodge, MT. A wolf might have been there but there was not enough evidence to know what happened. On about the 18th a rancher closer to Red Lodge who had depredations last year reported a suspected wolf kill but not enough evidence was left to confirm anything. The rancher reported seeing two gray wolves harassing a mare/foal about the same time frame and fired shots over their heads and scared them away. On the 19th he reported another probable calf kill and preserved the evidence. Wildlife Service confirmed it was a wolf kill on the 20th. Three wolves are believed to be in the Red Lodge pack but up to 5 were seen last summer when a cow and other calves were killed by that pack. Lethal control for up to 5 wolves was authorized.....In Meeteetse, WY a calf was confirmed killed by 2 wolves. The radio from the Grey Bull river pack was located in a distant location. WS was authorized to kill up to two wolves in the immediate area of the depredation.....A rancher in the Paradise Valley legally shot two uncollared wolves [out of 3] [2-yr-old male and female pup] in his cattle/calving pasture on the 12th. He had a shoot-on-sight permit for up to 2 wolves that were on private land and near his livestock. LE investigated and confirmed that all the permit conditions had been met. Control on the Mill Creek pack [now down to 2-4 wolves] has ended unless other depredations are confirmed. Asher met with a neighboring rancher and fencing contractor to investigate building a more secure night pen for his sheep.....The Taylor Peak wolves [2 adult and 2 pups- 2 radioed] harassed a mule in the Madison Valley on the 17th. Asher and WS investigated on the 18th and wolf tracks were abundant. The mule had a deep cut on its leg, a wire cut, that it probably received while dogging the wolves. The rancher was provided cracker shells and a receiver in case the wolves came back. The pack then went further down the valley and got into a fight with several dogs through a kennel fence but none of the dogs were injured.....The rancher who has lost several llamas to wolves in the Ninemile Valley reported that a pair of wolves have been seen hanging around the area on several occasions recently. The llamas reacted to the presence of the wolves, and she is concerned there will be trouble. Attempts may be made to haze the wolves, or to trap and collar them. They appear to be a splinter group off the Ninemile Pack. The collared Ninemile wolves seem to be staying higher up in the valley. Volunteers from the Univ. Montana will receive rubber bullet training and might respond if the problem persists.....WS confirmed that a calf was killed by 2 wolves on private property north of Mackay, ID on the 15th. Another calf carcasses found 3 days previously was classified as probable and one from 10 days ago was mainly consumed but a possible wolf kill. No radioed wolves were found and snares were set in an attempt to collar a wolf. On the morning of the 18th a 2-3 yr-old male gray wolf was seen in that vicinity and it was shot by WS that afternoon. It had calf hair in its stomach. A second wolf had been reported but aerial searches on the 18th and 19th did not locate it. Control is terminated unless other depredations are confirmed.

Information and education and law enforcement
Meier checked out a report of a possible road-killed wolf near Olney MT but it turned out to be a large dog.....On February 12 Niemeyer met with representatives of Defenders of Wildlife, the ranching community, the medical profession, the insurance profession, a state senator and others in Tuscon, Arizona, to discuss and develop an insurance model that could resolve rancher/wolf conflicts and possibly provide potential solutions to rural West ranching community and environmental problems. An abstract of the concept will be presented at the April Intra agency Wolf Conference at Chico. The first meeting was very productive and all participants identified problems to be resolved that will help in the modeling process.....On February 19 Niemeyer and Mack met with 40 ranchers, BLM and Forest Service representatives in Grangeville, Idaho. During the 4-hour presentation, the group was informed about the wolf recovery program, the Final Rule, reclassification and delisting. Niemeyer presented two slide series on recognizing wolf depredations, protecting kill sites and applying non-lethal tools to ranchers. Mack gave an update on wolf biology, pack activities and wolf population dynamics in Idaho Three Wildlife Services personnel were in attendance and ranchers were encouraged to communicate wolf sightings and depredations to the management agencies. Attendees were cordial, appreciative and felt that the program was very informative. BLM set up this outreach opportunity.
FEBRUARY 21-28, 2003

Monitoring
The SW MT crew attempted to dart the Chief Joe pack and others on the 28th. Chief Joe were in the open near an elk kill but the winds were too high to attempt capture. Rats! Additional attempts will be made, radio contact with this pack was lost last spring.....The Nez Perce Tribe hired Isaac Babcock and Jon Trapp to conduct winter searches for suspected uncollared packs. Jon searched the upper reaches of the middle fork of the Boise River and found 2-4 wolves are using the area but it is unsure if they were a breeding pair this past year or not.....Issac Babcock trapped in the Big Creek with help from Jim and Holly Akenson. Radio contact with the Chamberlain Basin pack was lost a year ago but nothing has been captured yet.

Control
Wildlife Service’s removed all 4 members of the Red Lodge pack near Red Lodge, MT on the 24th. Three of the 4 had mange but mainly just on their tails. The pack had been involved in numerous cattle depredations since last spring. ....Wolves in the Ninemile were thought to have killed 7 kid goats on private land on the 24th. Wildlife Service’s investigated but there was no sign, (blood, hair, bone, or a struggle), to indicate there was even a depredation. No action will be taken

Research
Yellowstone National Park’s late winter wolf predation study training for volunteers was conducted on the 28th. The 30-day intensive study of wolf predation begins on March 1.....A wolf was reportedly killed near Weston, ID, a few miles north of the Utah border. LE is investigating.

Information and education and law enforcement
The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the last of the litigation against the wolf recovery program on 02/25/03. The case involved the Diamond G Ranch, Inc, a Wyoming Corporation v. Gale Norton, Sec. Interior and USFWS. The case was an appeal of a U.S. District Court for Wyoming ruling that the wolf recovery program did not violate the Fifth Amendments takings provisions or the regulations promulgated under the Endangered Species Act. The Appeals Court affirmed the District Court ruling which dismissed the Diamond G’s takings claims and the ESA claims. This is another big legal win for the DOJ, FWS, and wolf recovery program.....The Wyoming legislature passed a state wolf management bill on the 27th. The bill classifies wolves as both predators and trophy game depending upon the number of wolf packs in Wyoming. The Service will work closely with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission and Department to finalize the state’s wolf management plan to address some lingering Service concerns.


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