Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, February 2004
FEBRUARY 1-13, 2004
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. The 2003 annual interagency report is in final preparation and should be completed and distributed in March.
The NPS and FWS in Wyoming are wrapping up their routine winter wolf capture efforts. On the 12th, 4 members of the Geode pack were collared. On the morning of the 13th, 2 Cougar Creek wolves [including the alpha female which was recollared] were collared. Two GPS collars were deployed in the Park. Attempts are still being made to capture wolves in Wyoming outside the Park. Capture efforts in SW Montana to the west of Yellowstone National Park will begin next week.
Two members of the Sunlight Basin pack killed a newborn calf on private land on the 6th. Female wolf #41- the last? of the original reintroduced wolves and the pack’s former alpha female was responsible. She is no longer alpha, has manage, and is limping, and is no longer closely associated with the pack. She was accompanied by another uncollared wolf with mange and only 2 sets of tracks were documented coming and going from the kill site. She and the other wolf are hanging out in the area where the calf was killed and she was actually located from the air on the fresh calf carcass. The rancher temporarily confined his 25 cow/calf pair to reduce the potential for continued problems but that can only be very short term solution. WS was authorized to kill both of them ASAP, as she was involved in several other cattle depredations over the past couple of years. Her chronic pattern of depredation, the wolves’ poor condition, and the dispersed nature of livestock throughout this area negate the potential for long-term success of any non-lethal tools. On the 12th, she was shot from the ground by WS. She had a lame front foot and severe mange. Further control is on hold unless there are further depredations.
The cooperative research program investigating the relationship between wolves on WY winter elk feed grounds continues. Cow/ratios appear up again this year and herd sizes remain similar to past years in NW WY. Wolves [Teton pack] are killing elk on and between the Gros Ventre feed grounds but elk use on the feed grounds appears similar to past years. A bison in very poor condition was ‘finished off’ by wolves near one feed ground, one of the very few bison killed by these wolves. The 2003 progress report is being completed and should be available by March 2004.
The final manuscript "Restoration and conflict management of the gray wolf in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming" by Bangs et al. was completed and sent in for publication in the Transactions of the 69th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference that will be held March 17-20, 2004 in Spokane, WA.
Information and education and law enforcement
The FWS Director Steve Williams met with the WY Governor and members of the WY Legislature during the week of the 9th. They discussed what changes are necessary in WY state law and state wolf plan for the Service to be able to proceed with a delisting proposal.
Tom Meier, the FWS lead wolf biologist for NW MT, in Kalispell, MT was selected for the wildlife biologist supervisory position in Denali National Park in Alaska. Congratulations to Tom but woe to us and the NRM wolf recovery program. He will report sometime in March. Tom has done an excellent job and will be sorely missed. Good luck in Alaska Tom!
A National Wildlife Federation wolf course is now up and running. It can be accessed at NWF's Wildlife University webpage (www.nwf.org/wildlifeuniversity), as part of the Endangered
Species Series. It includes audio lecture on wolf biology by Dr. L. David Mech, video clips, a ‘debate’ on wolf reclassification and potential delisting by Pat Parenteau, Vermont School of Law and Wolf Recovery Coordinator Bangs, and lots of good basic wolf information. It’s a very well done website and worth a look to learn about wolves and wolf issues.
The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Project for the 2004 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho.
Work Environment: Work is conducted throughout the state of Idaho and SW Montana, including front-country (road accessible) and backcountry (remote and Wilderness) areas. This is a physically demanding position; extreme climate and terrain will be encountered. Volunteers may be required to carry up to 80 lbs. for varying distances over trail and cross-country conditions. Accommodations vary from cabins to backcountry houses to tent camping depending upon the locations of wolves and logistics. Travel is mostly by 4-wheel drive, ATV, fixed-wing aircraft, and foot.
Work Schedule: Typically 10 days on/4 days off, though work may extend beyond the 10 days depending upon conditions, Project needs, and logistics.
Duration: Expected approximately late May through September, but may be shorter depending upon access, workload, volunteer availability, and Project funding. Preference will be given to qualified applicants able to commit for extended periods of time.
Compensation: Includes transportation and $15.00/day while on duty. Some housing (travel trailers, USFS accommodations, and bunkhouse-style quarters) is available for non-duty days. Volunteers are covered under the Tribal Workmen's Compensation program.
Primary Duties: 1) assist in locating, via ground and aerial telemetry, potential breeding packs/pairs of wolves to determine reproductive status, 2) assist in obtaining accurate counts of wolf pups at home sites, 3) assist in documenting locations of wolf home sites, 4) assist in collecting scientific data on the ecology of wolves in Idaho, 5) assist in capturing, processing/handling, and radio-collaring wolves, and 6) other duties as assigned.
Qualifications: 1) documented experience backpacking and camping for extended periods of time in remote settings, 2) proficiency with orienteering (use of map and compass for navigating) required, 3) good physical condition, 4) must hold valid driver's license and be insurable under the Tribe's insurance policy, 5) must be willing to comply with the Tribe's drug and alcohol policy, 6) possess the ability to get along with others in backcountry settings for 10-day + time periods, 7) possess the ability to communicate verbally with interested and affected publics, 8) completion of, or enrollment in college/university Wildlife, or related, curriculum preferred, 9) radio-telemetry experience preferred, 10) capture, immobilizing, and handling/processing experience with wild animals preferred, and 11) experience flying in fixed-wing and helicopters preferred.
Application Period: Applications will be accepted from March 1, 2004 until March 31, 2004. Applications must be received at Gray Wolf Recovery Project office no later March 31, 2004. Applications received before March 1, 2004 and after March 31, 2004 will not be considered- no exceptions.
How to Apply: Submit a cover letter expressing interest in the Project, and resume detailing educational and employment backgrounds, along with the name and contact information of 3 work-related references. Send application materials to:
Nez Perce Tribe Gray Wolf Recovery Project
Attn: Volunteer Program
P.O. Box 1922
McCall, ID 83638
Telephone: (208) 634-1061
Fax: (208) 634-3231
FEBRUARY 14-20, 2004
The NPS and FWS in Wyoming are wrapping up their routine winter wolf capture efforts in Wyoming. On the afternoon of the 13th, the Yellowstone Delta pack was located on a bison carcass in the southern part of Yellowstone National Park. One was netted and 5 darted. Hawkins & Powers and Jimenez did their usual great job and now hold the unofficial ‘record’ for fewest darts used per capture, 5 darts for 6 wolves. On the 14th, Washakie pack was located toward Thermopolis, WY far outside their traditional home range and 5 of the 7 pack members were radio-collared. On the 16th, the Greybull River pack which had no radioed members was seen during a WY G&F ungulate survey and a capture effort was successfully pulled together resulting in 3 of 7 packs members being collared.
Attempts are still being made to radio-collar wolves and capture efforts in SW Montana continued this week. MT FW&P are tagging elk for the predator prey relationship studies in the Madison Valley and Asher and Fontaine tapped into this studies to cooperate in wolf capture efforts. On the 16th, 2 grey males, a yearling and suspected 2-3 year, from the Chief Joe pack were radio-collared. One of them had fairly extensive mange and he was found on mortality mode the next day and capture & mange related hypothermia is suspected. An attempt to try for Sentinel pack was postponed after the landowner preferred that we not collar wolves on their property. We always respect landowner wishes regarding access.
Sheep Mountain wolf #333 was located on mortality mode near Dome Mtn. on the 15th.
WS western district supervisor Glazier provided less-than-lethal munitions training and munitions [cracker shells and rubber bullets] to a remote landowner near Ringling, MT on the 20th. The landowner had a radioed wolf [likely a disperser from Yellowstone] walk through his front yard/pasture a couple of days before and he took some video of it before running it off. Asher provide some less-than-lethal munitions training to a landowner in the Boulder River area [SE of Livingston, MT] who had some wolves chase a few of his cattle before he ran the wolves off. She also provided a radio receiver and wolf frequencies to a rancher who lost sheep in the Paradise Valley earlier this winter.
Information and education and law enforcement
The FWS Director Steve Williams met with the WY Governor and members of the WY Legislature again this week. They discussed what changes are necessary in WY state law and state wolf plan for the Service to be able to proceed with a delisting proposal this year. The Wyoming legislature did not move the modified wolf legislation that Service indicated was necessary to proceed with delisting forward this week. The WY house did move legislation out of committee that would make WY state law consistent with its state wolf plan. At this time it appears unlikely that any delisting proposal for the gray wolf Western Distinct Population Segment could move forward this year.
More proof comes in that Bangs is losing his mind. He completely forgot about flying to Boise, ID early AM on Monday for a Regional wolf coordination meeting on the afternoon of the 17th. Opps! Fortunately they were able to patch him in via conf. call with the FWS field office and R-1 representatives who did remember to travel to Boise for the meeting.
Wolves made several national news stories this week. NPR Radio Morning Edition had wolves featured in news stories Thursday and Friday morning. ABC Nightly news had a 2 minute piece on wolves Tuesday night. Both stories featured Dr. Douglas ‘Hollywood’ Smith and the amazing ecological changes that are being documented in Yellowstone National Park as well as the unique wolf viewing opportunities in the Lamar Valley. As usual, great job Doug.
Bangs and Smith conducted TV and U.S. and Canadian radio and print interviews on the 17th regarding the death of wolf #41. She was the former alpha female of the Sunlight Basin pack who was shot on Feb 12th because of chronic livestock depredations. She was the last of the original wolves that were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park. She was brought down as a pup in 1996, left the Druid pack in 1999 and formed the Sunlight Basin pack. She was alpha until the past year or so. There are still a couple of wolves in Idaho from the reintroduction B-2 [just discovered on mortality mode] and B-7 and B-11 relocated from the Big Hole Valley several years ago- its surprising that the only two remaining reintroduced wolves are an ‘old married couple’. They have been the alpha pair of the new pack near Lolo on the MT/ID border for many years.
Tom Meier, the FWS lead wolf biologist for NW MT, in Kalispell, MT was selected for the wildlife biologist supervisory position in Denali National Park in Alaska. Congratulations to Tom but woe to us and the NRM wolf recovery program. He will report to Alaska in March. Tom has done an excellent job and will be sorely missed.
FEBRUARY 21-27, 2004
The NPS and FWS in Wyoming wrapped up their routine winter wolf capture efforts in Wyoming. On the afternoon of the 20th, the Beckler pack [6-7 wolves] in the SW corner of Yellowstone was located just inside the Park and in the open by Jimenez. Hawkins & Powers and Jimenez put together a quick capture operation and did their usual great job. The adult male’s dead collar was replaced and 3 pups [2 male and a female] were collared and released
FWS and WS made an attempt to capture members of the Freezeout pack out the 23rd. The pack got into scattered timber and none were captured. On the 24th, a Sentential pack yearling had 2 darts skip of it and the alpha was darted but did not go down- unknown why. On the 26th, another attempt was made but no wolves were in the open. We thank WS for such a determined effort under very tough circumstances.
An Idaho wolf was killed near mile post 87 on Highway 21, east of Lowman, ID. The IDFG warden, Matt Ericksen, retrieved the wolf from the highway after the Department of Transportation hit the dead wolf with the snowplow and then reported the carcass. When the wolf was picked up, other wolves were howling in the area. It was an estimated 90 pound, uncollared, female wolf was 3-5 years old and was in full breeding condition (most likely the alpha female. She was showing some graying in her pelage and was neither gray nor black in color (more of a blueish tone). The hide and skull were salvaged for ID F&G educational purposes. A piece of the tongue was saved for its DNA and the uterus was saved to see how many pups she may have had. Matt Ericksen was a big help, thanks.
We euthanized male wolf #335 from the Taylor Peak pack on the 25th. He had severe mange and had been hanging around people and sleeping in haystacks near houses earlier this winter. We were going to euthanize him about a month ago but then he suddenly moved to a more remote area to feed on remains of hunter killed elk. At that time we decided to give him another chance in hopes it was just the January cold spell that forced him to be bold and seek out any spot he could find to avoid freezing to death. However, on the 25th [daytime temperatures in the 40's] he was again reported back near residences and haystacks and we removed him. He had severe mange.
Wildlife Services in Idaho reporting a confirmed wolf depredation incident on a ranch near Hammett, Idaho on the 26th. A domestic cow and calf (unrelated to each other) were killed on private land by one to three wolves (tracks in the mud) according to the WS Specialist. WS was authorized to set traps and capture and collar one wolf for release on site. If depredations continue to occur wolves may be removed.
On the 27th, WS confirmed a calf was killed near Cameron, MT. This is likely the Sentinel pack which has no radio collared members. The last radioed wolf in the pack was illegally killed several months ago. WS will attempt to capture and radiocollar a pack member and any potential subsequent control will be determined at that point.
On the 27th, a livestock producer near Lone Pine in NW MT reported that a lone black wolf with a front-leg limp was in among his cows, which are calving now. No depredations were reported. He was informed he can run it off, shoot it if it is attacking livestock, and if it hangs around he can obtain a permit to use less-than-lethal munitions. The situation will be watched closely.
A livestock producer along the Salmon River in Idaho had a long history of coyote depredation problems before wolves were ever reintroduced and for the last several years he has had wolf as well as coyote depredations. M-44s were historically used every winter by Wildlife Services on this producer's property, but the presence of wolves has precluded this as an option much of the time in recent years. In response to recent complaints of coyote predation on this producer's sheep, Wildlife Services deployed breakaway neck snares in conjunction with carcass draw stations in lieu of placing M-44s on the producer's property. During the week of
February 23-27, sign in the snow confirmed that an elk and 2 wolves were captured in breakaway neck snares at one site on this property, and that the breakaway snares functioned as intended, with all 3 nontargets breaking cleanly free and escaping unharmed.
The Predator Conservation Alliance published the first volume [Vol. 1 No. 1:1-16.] of their newsletter "Wild Guardian: A field journal for coexisting with wildlife." Articles included: Training a guardian dog, What’s behind grizzly bear conflicts on Rocky Mountain Front ranches, International wolf livestock summit, trademark for predator friendly, kennel protects pets form wolves, and Living with predator resource guide series available. For further information about this newsletter or to submit articles please contact editor Janelle Holden at janelle@predaotrconservation.org or 406-587-3389.
Training for the late winter Yellowstone National Park winter predation study began this week. Wolves on the northern range are followed from the ground and air as frequently as possible during March to determine locate kills and prey selection.
Information and education and law enforcement
Tom Meier, the FWS lead wolf biologist for NW MT, who was co-located with MT FW&P in Kalispell, MT was selected for the wildlife biologist supervisory position in Denali National Park in Alaska. Tom’s last day was the 27th, the day he completed the 2004 annual wolf report. Congratulations Tom, thank you for all your hard work and good luck in AK.
Jimenez gave a presentation on wolves and their use of WY state elk feed grounds at a meeting in Buffalo, WY on the 17th. The meeting was held by the state veterinarian to discuss the state’s brucellosis issues. About 100 people attended.
Just over a week ago a bobcat trapper near Orofinio/Weippe, ID incidentally caught a wolf that broke the trap chain and escaped with a trap on its foot. The trapper notified us and Nez Perce Tribal biologists tried to capture it to remove the trap [ground darting, bating and neck snares with stops] but were unsuccessful. On the 27th, Niemeyer and Trapp were giving it another try.
Smith gave a talk at the Mammoth School on the night of the 23rd. Members of the Swan Lake pack have been seen in Mammoth at night and have killed four elk. Some people were concerned about human safety. Doug did a good job of summing things up "The risk to human safety from wolves is about zero, but it isn’t zero. Treat them with respect just as you would other wildlife animals."
Bangs and Smith gave presentations at the MT Chapter of The Wildlife Society on the 25th, in Bozeman. About 200 biologists attended.
On the 28th, Bangs participated in wolf watching weekend for the Nature Conservancy near Gandiner, MT.
Niemeyer talked at a meeting in Crouch, Idaho, on the 15th. He met with about a dozen residents to discuss allegations of a wolf walking up on the deck of a house near the door. He checked the tracks and they were from a domestic dog. Other concerns were that horses wouldn't eat their hay, wolf tracks were in calving pastures and residents were concerned for their children's safety. Four lion hunters expressed their concern that wolves may kill their dogs. The Scott Mountain wolf pack is known to frequent an area east of Crouch.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game issued a news release this week warning people near Waggonhammer Springs, north of Salmon, ID- that poison laced meatballs had been found in the area. The poison baits were discovered after a young boy was walking his dog and it became ill and disoriented. Fortunately a local veterinarian quickly recognized the problem and saved the dog’s life. LE agents found other baits in the area and the chemical used is highly toxic to pets, wildlife, and people. This incident is under LE investigation.
A landowner near Meeteesee, WY apparently is claiming that the FWS trespassed on his land during the routine helicopter capture and radio-collaring on the Washakie pack on Valentines Day. False rumors quickly spread that wolves were being ‘reintroduced’ onto private land. This incident is being is being looked into and if trespass truly did occur it was completely unintentional, the Service is deeply sorry and offers its apologies, and we will accept full responsibility. We do not knowingly go onto private property without permission.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seasonal wolf biologist positions will be advertised this spring- The FWS intends to advertise for 4 GS-7 seasonal wolf biologist positions [Cody and Jackson, WY and Kalispell and Missoula, MT] for this summer’s field season. These will be our typical field biologist jobs that include locating wolves and wolf dens, wolf capture and radio-tracking, assisting Wildlife Services as requested, and interacting with the public and other agencies. Lots of travel and remote back-country work may be required. Successful competition for these types of positions is usually very difficult without previous large carnivore field experience. Information about these seasonal positions- that normally run from April/May through September/October- will be accessible through USA Jobs in about a month. Please do not call this office about any additional information about these jobs until we announce that they are being advertised and where and how to apply. Thank you.