Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, October 2003
OCTOBER 3-10, 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.
Fontaine and Asher attempted to trap and put more radios in the Taylor Peak, Sentinel, and Freezeout packs in the Madison Valley in SW MT. Freezeout and Sentinel moved out of trapping range and the only Taylor Peak radioed wolf [a yearling male] apparently dispersed south. Cold weather and snow hit early on the 10th and traps were pulled before wolves were captured.
NPT biologist Jason Husseman verified the presence of a pack northeast of Kamiah, ID. We have received reports of wolves in this area for awhile, but until now had been unable to document that a pack was established. Jason heard at least 2 pups howling, so this group, the Eldorado pack, will qualify as a breeding pair. Despite a concerted trapping effort he was unable to radio-collar any wolves.
NPT biologist Adam Gall conducted a trapping effort on the Magruder pack in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness with the aid of an outfitter that was generous enough to pack in his gear. Wolves were seen in the area and did use a trail where Adam had some sets, but none were captured. The Recovery Project would like to thank the outfitter- he has helped us in another area, too, over the years.
WS Wolf Specialist Rick Williamson radio-collared an adult male wolf in the Little Smoky drainage north of Fairfield, ID on 10/3/03. This wolf, captured by a coyote trapper working the area [Thanks! for so quickly reporting the capture], may potentially be a member of the Soldier Mountain pack or a lone wolf dispersing through the area. Additional monitoring will be conducted to determine the affiliation of this animal.
We are doing the last minute push for trapping and radio-collaring for our wolf monitoring program in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming before the weather turns too cold to trap and/or big game hunting season begins and the woods fill with people. Please report all observations of wolves or their sign to us as soon as possible. Thanks! we need and appreciate your help
On October 8, Rick Williamson (WS), Jeff Ashmead (WS) and Niemeyer finished removing approximately 3-4 miles of fladry from fences on a private ranch within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) south of Stanley, Idaho. The fladry was installed in early September by Defenders of Wildlife guardian volunteers and local ranch hands to protect about 50 cow/calf pairs in two large pastures. The ranch has historically experienced depredations on calves by wolves and they decided to try fladry as a preventative measure to deter possible wolf depredation this fall. A local wolf pack resides nearby, but has caused no problems this summer. Great effort!
Niemeyer did a short interview with the Capitol Press, an agricultural news publication for mostly rural readers. The subject was the recent wolf depredation on over 117 sheep with 40-60 more missing north of McCall, ID area during August and September.
WS field agent Justin Mann lethally controlled a second wolf north of McCall, ID on 9/22/03. This is where numerous domestic sheep have been killed by wolves. It appears that a new pack, the Cook pack, has usurped this area from B45 and her companion. The control effort was terminated by WS after unknown members of the public interfered with control activities. Justin also captured, radio-collared, and released an adult male during another control action on 10/1/03. This wolf was caught near the depredation site, which is within the Hazard Lake pack's territory, but it is not known at this time whether it is associated with that pack. A subadult male was lethally controlled in this area earlier this year. Further monitoring will be conducted to determine the relationships of wolves in these areas.
Mack and Holyan removed fladry at a private residence on the 8th. The ranch had about 40 sheep attacked by the B105 Hazard Lake pack near Riggins, ID in May [about 14 killed and some wounded]. He sold all a dozen of the surviving sheep. The wolves were in the general vicinity all summer but it is unknown if they ever came back to that farm. They have not been nearby lately.
A calf was killed by the Willow pack SW of Drummond, MT [3-4 wolves] on the 9th. WS was flying and located the radioed wolf in with cattle on private land and that afternoon the ranch reported they found a suspected wolf-killed calf, that WS confirmed on the 10th. The pack killed a calf in that same area in August, but efforts to trap them then were unsuccessful because of wildfires and they moved out of the area. WS may trap off the calf’s carcasses to collar and release on site and/or shoot an uncollared pack member.
Information and education and law enforcement
On October 1, 2003, 12 environmental groups, led by Defenders of Wildlife and represented by the MN law firm of Faegre & Benson LLP, filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief with the United States District Court of Oregon. They allege that the reclassification of the gray wolf to threatened status on April 1, 2003 violated the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedures Act. Numerous local and national media interviews and stories developed because of the lawsuit.
October 19-25 is National Wolf Awareness Week. mailto:twa@northlan.edu The National Wolf Awareness 2003 wolf poster is available from the Timber Wolf Alliance www.northland.edu/soei/timber_wolf.html or twa@northland.edu . It is a stunning painting of an adult wolf in forest shadows called "The Glance" by Jim Turgeon. On the back is a map of wolves in the U.S. and current accurate information on gray and red wolves in the U.S. Limited copies [please- for educators or classrooms only!- others can buy them from the above website for $6-postage included] can be obtained from any of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf field offices or cooperators in Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming. This is an outstanding educational poster.
Many elk hunters in central Idaho and just north of Yellowstone National Park in SW MT are reporting very low hunter success and telling the Game and Fish agencies that they are seeing very few elk. While this could be do to a wide variety of factors, including warm temperatures during the hunting season, the ongoing drought, recent or ongoing fires, changes in elk behavior, and predation- including that by wolves- so far rumor is widespread that it is mainly due to wolves killing all the elk- which may or may not be true. While there is no doubt that elk populations in several areas are lower than they were during historic highs in the early 1990's, at least so far count data and various research projects have not picked up the drastic changes in elk populations that hunters are reporting this year. Good state elk survey and harvest data and the results of ongoing University and multi-cooperator research projects that are specifically looking at elk/wolf relationships should help provide a factual basis for future discussions about what if anything should or could be done.
OCTOBER 10-17, 2003
The Ashland, OR Wildlife Forensics Lab determined that the cuts on the collar from a Red Shale pack member were made by teeth and that the collar apparently just slipped off the wolf’s neck this spring. LE investigations are concluded. Only one collar remains in that pack.
The frequency of wolf flights has increased in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming during and just before the firearm hunting season. Flights will be conducted at higher elevation than normal to avoid disturbing hunters. Jason Husseman was able to confirm a minimum of two pups in the new Morgan Creek pack in Idaho. This brings the total to 25 breeding pairs in Idaho. Curt Mack investigated a report of a dead wolf near Meadows, ID which turned out to be a domestic dog. The Moccasin Lake pack, collared as a result of a cattle depredation this summer, was found near McLeod, MT. A wolf captured and radio-collared southwest of Bozeman, MT this spring that immediately dispersed into Paradise Valley was located back southwest of Bozeman. It has not been seen with other wolves.
We are doing the last minute trapping and radio-collaring for our wolf monitoring program. The Tribe has let their field crews go and the rest of us are winding down as the cold weather and start of the big game firearms hunting season brings our trapping efforts to a close. Please report all observations of wolves or their sign to us as soon as possible. Thanks! we need and appreciate your help.
An adult wolf from the Willow pack was shot off a wolf-killed calf carcass by WS as authorized by the Service on the 10th. WS continued to trap at the calf’s carcasses to collar another pack member and release it on site.
On the 11th, the Sentinel pack was seen near/feeding on another cow carcass in the Madison Valley. The cow had apparently been dead about a week before being discovered. WS examined the carcass as soon as they were notified and determined that the cow did not die from predation. Local landowners were still upset and suspicious since the pack had scavenged on another cow carcass on the same ranch about a week earlier. Traps were set at the carcass to try and radio-collar another pack member.
On the 15th, 3 ewe sheep were killed on private property near Nye, MT. This is the same area where sheep were killed by a suspected lone wolf earlier this summer. The landowner’s shoot on site permit for one wolf was re-activated. A neighboring landowner had photos of a black and a gray wolf in the area in mid-summer. WS set traps near the sheep carcasses.
On the 15th, 9 suspected members of the Sheep Mountain pack were reportedly feeding on a fresh 650lb. calf carcass near Daly Lake on private property, in Paradise Valley. Radio location data both from the ground and the air indicated the Sheep Mountain pack was in that area. WS confirmed the depredation and set traps at the carcass. On the 16th, 3 [full stomach] grey wolves, a 95lb ad male and two 70 & 75lb female yearlings or pups (since they were near both pup canine length and weight), were captured, radio-collared and released on site. Sign indicated another calf may have been attacked but WS could not find a carcass. The producer will continue to search for missing calves and has been riding both his ranch and the allotment intensively for the past several weeks based on suspicions of wolf-caused damage. Cattle are being removed from the Forest Service allotments and this producer and another that had no losses last year reported being 6-7 short this fall. A nearby rancher reported no losses but his calves were 100lbs lighter than normal. There is evidence that these wolves have been chasing/attacking cattle this summer. Earlier this summer a producer found part of a calf’s leg in the trail used by wolves and a bow hunter reportedly photographed wolves at a fresh cattle calf carcass. Efforts to locate the archer have been unsuccessful to date. Due to the apparent chronic nature of this pack’s pattern of cattle depredation, WS will be authorized to lethally remove 3-4 adult-sized wolves after we locate and monitor the pack a few times. The pack’s home range includes ranches with wintering cattle that have had depredations by this pack in previous years.
Information and education and law enforcement
National Wildlife Federation Online www.nwf.org has a great series of e-articles on wolves, and a photographic test to distinguish wolves from coyotes as part of their celebration for National Wolf Awareness Week Oct. 19-26.mailto:NationalWildlifeFederation@eNature.com

OCTOBER 17-23, 2003
On the 18th, Frame collared a young (2-3 year-old non-breeding) female wolf (70 lb, # 351) in the Spread Creek area between the Yaak River and the Idaho border. She was 8 miles south of the Canadian border, on her first location she was near Yaak, MT. If it turns out to be a member of a pack, they will be called the Candy Mountain Pack. Frame returned to school in Canada to resume his MS thesis work.
Chad Hoover (Wildlife Services) was conducting some aerial activities in the Madison Valley on the 20th, and located part of the Sentinel pack near the cattle, but they were unable to dart and radio-collar any. However, he did dart and radio-collar a yearling gray male in the neighboring pack, Taylor peak. The male looked to have a touch of the mange on its belly. Thanks WS!
A male gray wolf collared as a yearling [#260] last May 13 at Apgar, MT was shot NE of Banff, Alberta Canada this past week we appreciate the hunter notifying Canadian wildlife officials and returning the radio-collar.
Two pups [33 and 40lbs] were trapped by Asher and Ross [MT FW&P] from the Taylor Peak pack in the Madison Valley. Both had severe mange, were in extremely poor condition, and were euthanized for humane reasons. Their carcasses were sent to the MT FW&P wildlife lab for a detailed examination.
Over the weekend of the 18th, a coyote trapper in the Big Hole Basin of MT, called WS to report he had a wolf in his coyote trap. WS specialist Graham McDougal responded, collared the young male wolf and safely released it on-site. Thanks to the trapper and WS. It will be monitored to determine if it just lone disperser, as suspected, or if an unknown pack maybe established in that area.
On the 22nd, a coyote trapper reported accidentally catching a yearling wolf in the Great Divide pack’s territory near Helena, MT. The trapper helped Fontaine collar and release the uninjured wolf on site [caught by only a toe]. Radio contact had been lost with the pack last winter and we greatly appreciate the trapper’s assistance and quick reporting of the accidental capture. The trapper thought there could be as many as 6-8 in the pack based upon the sign he had seen earlier this year. Thanks, we appreciate his help.
Trapping efforts in northwest Montana have ended due to cold weather and the upcoming hunting season. We hope to receive reports of wolf sightings from hunters, particularly from hunter check stations. These have been very valuable in identifying areas of new wolf activity. Thanks for reporting all observations of wolves or their sign to us as soon as possible. We need and appreciate your continued help.
Last week, because of subsequent livestock depredations even after the removal of the Teton dispersing male that joined the Green River female, WS removed the 3rd uncollared male that joined up with the Green River female and her 2-4 surviving pups. It seems that as soon as another male joins up with her they again started killing cattle. Cattle are mainly off allotment now and hopefully this pack’s pattern of depredations will end, at least for this year.
A calf was killed between Cody and Powell, WY last week, by members of the Absaroka pack. Last month a horse was reportedly chased by wolves in that area but it was apparently unharmed. The calf was killed on private property. WS is trapping in the area and will kill any wolves caught at the carcass. If wolves are caught outside that area they may be collared and released.
Jim Hoover [WS] investigated a horse carcass discovered near Red Lodge, MT where cattle had been killed by the Red Lodge pack last year. It did not appear the horse died from predation, although the carcass wasn’t fresh and exact cause of death could not be pinpointed.
This was National Wolf Awareness Week. mailto:twa@northlan.edu The National Wolf Awareness 2003 wolf poster is available from the Timber Wolf Alliance www.northland.edu/soei/timber_wolf.html or twa@northland.edu . On the back is a map of wolves in the U.S. and current accurate information on gray and red wolves in the U.S. Limited copies [please- for educators or classrooms only!- others can buy them from the above website for $6-postage included] can be obtained from any of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf field offices or cooperators in Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming.

OCTOBER 24-31,2003
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.
Two wolf carcasses were recently recovered in the GYA. Wolf #207 from the Rose Creek pack was recovered on Nov. 23rd. On Oct. 20, Park employees recovered wolf #220 from the Leopold pack. Both apparently died from natural causes.
On the 29th, WS trapped, and Asher helped collar and released a female and a male [60 and 55 lbs] grey pups from the Sentinel pack in the Madison Valley. The pack now has 3 radio collared pack members. The pups were caught near an area where 2 cows were found dead a month ago under mysterious circumstances. Traps were pulled. Congratulations and thanks to Chad Hoover [WS].
Wolf 260, a yearling male that was collared in May 2003 in Glacier National Park (Whitefish Pack), was legally shot on October 18 near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He was with 2 other wolves when he was shot, 250 miles from his home pack territory. Some of the reintroduced wolves in 1995 came from this general area. We thank the hunter for returning the collar.
The Kootenai Pack, a pack with one collared wolf that spends most of its time in British Columbia, was found 6 miles inside Montana in the upper Yaak drainage on October 27. Newly collared Candy Mountain wolf 351 was 11 miles farther west, so there may be two packs of wolves present in the Yaak drainage, neither of which is descended from the 8 wolves released there in December 2001. All of those 8 relocated wolves (originally from the Gravelly Pack in south-central Montana) have died or dispersed out of northwest Montana.
The Nez Perce pack can’t be found again, but we suspect they are somewhere in NW WY. Any reports of this pack of up to 20 members would be appreciated. The radioed members were scattered on their last location so they may be tough to find. Many "Park" packs leave at times.
A livestock producer north of Gardiner, MT reported that his fall calves, that normally weigh about 620 lbs, only weighed 500lbs on average this year. He grazes on private land and adjacent Forest Service allotments close to the Sheep Mountain wolf pack rendezvous site. He only is missing one [fate unknown- no others appeared wounded] of 68 calves but the lack of weigh gain was a surprise. His neighbors did not report such low calf weights. He said he suspects but can’t confirm, that his cattle might have been hesitant to feed in the timbered areas because of wolves and as a consequence may have not been able to utilize abundant forage in those timbered areas.
Drs. Bill Ripple and Bob Beschta just published a paper "Wolf reintroduction, predation risk, and cottonwood recovery in Yellowstone National Park" in Vol 184 Forest Ecology and Management. The paper suggests that the resurgence of willow and aspen may be due to wolf-induced changes in elk foraging behavior. It suggests that changes in elk behavior rather than elk numbers are responsible. The concept is being tested by the Park, who are comparing wolf/elk encounter location data to see if elk really do avoid areas where there is a high chance of wolf attack/encounter. Several national and local news articles covered the willow/elk/wolf theory. You can review the article on Greenwire.
As a continuing effort to better understand elk population dynamics, Shannon Barber [PhD graduate student], P.J. White and L.D. Mech released the first year progress report on their study of elk calf mortality in Yellowstone’s northern elk range. Abstract: During May 2003 the Yellowstone Center for resources, U.S. Geological Survey, and Univ. of Minnesota initiated a 3-year study of mortality in northern Yellowstone elk calves. The primary objectives were to: 1) estimate the relative causes and timing of calf deaths; 2) estimate calf survival rates; and 3) evaluate factors that may predispose calves to death. During May/June 2003, 51 calves less than six days old were captured, fit with ear-tag transmitters, and monitored daily. During May-through Sept. 2003, 34 instrumented calves died (31 predation and 3 other causes) and one transmitter failed. Preliminary determinations of causes of death were 19 killed by grizzly and black bears, 5 killed by wolves, 3 killed by coyotes, 2 killed by either bears or wolves, 1 killed by a mountain lion, 1 killed by a wolverine, and 3 non-predator deaths due to unknown causes. Monitoring of radioed calves will continue through winter 2004 and new captures are scheduled for May/June 2004 and 2005. The investigators caution that these data are preliminary. The radioed calves were only a small sample of the overall 2003 calf crop. The data to date represent only one part of a calf’s first year of life, and shouldn’t be widely extrapolated to yearly survival, other elk herds, other years, or seasons.
Information and education and law enforcement
2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference Call for Papers
Papers are now being accepted for the 2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 6 - 8, 2004 at Chico Hot Springs, in Pray, Montana, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. This year’s theme is "Working Collaboratively Toward Long-Term Wolf Conservation." Past speakers include L. David Mech, Paul Paquet, Rolf Peterson, Doug Smith, and other leading wolf experts, forensics and law enforcement specialists, livestock conflict managers, and field researchers . The conference is sponsored by Yellowstone National Park, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nez Perce Tribe and Defenders of Wildlife. Please submit a single spaced abstract, up to 500 words, and include your full contact information, affiliations, and authors, by email to: Joseph Fontaine at Joseph_Fontaine@fws.gov . Conference registration will begin November 15, 2003 and you may contact Suzanne Stone, Rocky Mountain Field Representative, Defenders of Wildlife at Sstone@defenders.org or (208) 424-9385 for details. Lodging registration is open now. Please contact Chico Hot Springs Lodge, Pray, Montana, 1-800-468-9232 or (406) 333-4933 and request a "wolf conference" room reservation to receive our group rate. The room rate is $45/bed/day (or $35/bed/day for Montana state agency representatives with ID).
Father and son trappers, Jim and Rusty Krammer from Fairfield, ID were given certificates of appreciation and a new catch pole by the Service and Wildlife Services. On Oct 3 they reported a large male wolf in their trap. Rick Williamson [WS] met them and safely radio-collared and released it on site. We have had several wolves accidently caught by coyote trappers. Their prompt reporting has allowed us to radio-collar and safely release the animals uninjured.
This week Bangs responded to 2 separate captive wolf and wolf hybrid issues. Apparently some captive wolf/hybrids were released into the wild in S. CO, near a wolf ‘rescue’ facility. Reportedly some people brought some captive wolves there and were told there was no room for them. Then 4 wolf-like canids were reportedly seen nearby. CO DOW may remove the animals from the wild as they see fit. In other reported instance, a lady from Las Vegas who had dozens of captive wolves and wolf hybrids got divorced and gave them away. The Humane Society was preparing to euthanize some and a person at a wolf ‘rescue’ center asked if the Service could use or help to save them. We replied that "These type of canids are not protected by the ESA. If found in the wild we recommend they be removed and euthanized. This is a responsible pet owner issue, and we recommend people should not own wolf/dog hybrids. Certainly they should never be released to the wild for humane reasons. We recommended the canids in question be humanely euthanized as planned.
On the 23rd, Smith rode in with Forest Service biologists to retrieve a dead wolf #207 from the Rose Creek pack. It apparently died from natural causes. He also visited with a couple of outfitters who hunt areas north of Yellowstone National Park. They were concerned about elk numbers and hunter success, moose populations, and wolf predation. Earlier on Oct. 20 Leopold wolf [#220] was recovered and it had also apparently died of natural causes. Both the wolves had been largely consumed [just the head remained at one site] by the time they were examined.
Carter Niemeyer will be traveling to Krygyzstan, a central Asian republic in the old Soviet Union on November 2 and returning on November 21. An international corporation asked him to work with herdsmen and shepherds in that country to reduce livestock damage by wolves and jackals. He’ll be looking at husbandry practices and seeing if some low cost non-lethal measures to reduce depredations can be applied, especially in sheep flocks.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a web page that has various links to state wolf management plans and information about wolf reclassification and delisting. It can be accessed at