Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, April 2004
APRIL 2-9, 2004
NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2003 annual wolf report was posted this week. It can be accessed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ and has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
WS confirmed that wolves killed a calf near Roscoe, MT on the 9th. The producer is the neighbor to a producer that lost a calf to wolves about two weeks ago. By the description it appears to be the same wolves that have also been killing sheep about 10 miles away. A recent wolf sighting near the Red Lodge ski area indicated that there was a wolf in the area with a radio collar. WS is searching for missing radio collared wolves as well.
WS investigated a possible wolf attack on a calf near Phillipsburg Montana on the 12th. The calf had a large area of flesh bitten from it’s back leg. The investigation indicated that the calf had been attacked by coyotes not wolves. A pair of coyotes were found near by and one was killed.
The March Yellowstone National Park annual late winter predation study continues. Wolves on the northern range are followed from the ground and air as frequently as possible during March to locate kills and determine prey selection. Preliminary results:
Druid Pack: 12 wolves, 9 pups 3 adult, 14 kills in 30 days: 7 bulls, 2 cows, 2 calves, 2 mule deer, 1 bison
Geode pack 6 wolves 1 pup 5 adult, 11 kills in 30 days: no breakdown available yet but prob 50% bulls
Leopold 17 wolves, 7 pups 10 adults, 11 kills in 30 days, 7 bulls, 4 cows
In general marrow was in bad shape. We documented winter kill first time since 1997, possible effect of the drought?
Information and education and law enforcement
Bangs talked to about 30 students in Missoula on the evening of the 6th at the UM student chapter of The Wildlife Society.
The 16h Annual Interagency Wolf Meeting at Chico Hot Springs was done on the 8th. This was the largest crowd since the beginning with 160 people pre-registered. There were a number of really great presentations and new attendees from other states said they learned a great deal and it was very helpful.
10j Amendment-Public Comment Period
On April 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. "Wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have both crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states," Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register.
Montana Senator Conrad Burns has scheduled two informational meetings in Montana about the 10j amendment. The meetings will be Thursday, April 15th in Livingston at the Community Room, City-County Complex, 414 E. Callendar and Friday, April 16 in Butte at the Montana Tech Auditorium. Both meetings begin at 7 pm.
Comments will be accepted for 60 days beginning March 9th. The first public hearing will take place in Helena on the 19th from 6-9 at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Dr., and Boise on the 20th from 1-3 pm and 6-8 pm at the Grove Hotel, Evergreen Room, 245 S. Capital Blvd. Written comments should be directed to the following address: USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601 or they can be left with hearing officers at the meeting.(see westerngraywolf@fws.gov for details).
Regional Wildlife Biologist (Wolf)
Temporary Position
Two positions, 1 Boise/Nampa, 1 Salmon
$16.59 an hour plus benefits;
Dates Needed
Begins May 2004, year-long, positions dependent upon federal funding
ResponsibilitiesREGIONAL WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST needed to implement Idaho’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Positions will be responsible for conducting wolf monitoring, management, information and education, outreach, assist in monitoring impacts of wolves on ungulate populations and livestock operations, writing annual reports, helping to develop management strategies, analyzing data, and other wolf management duties including some supervision. Incumbents will be responsible for implementing wolf management activities statewide and extensive traveling will be required. Close coordination with Fish and Game and other agency personnel, interaction with sportsmen and livestock interests, and working with the public will be required. Although these are primarily wolf management positions, incumbents will be responsible for a variety of other duties, including conducting aerial big game surveys.
Qualifications/Skills Need
B.S. degree in wildlife management related field minimum; M.S. degree preferred. Knowledge and experience with a variety of computer software and statistical packages, including GIS Arcview, and Microsoft Office products, preferred. Interested applicants should be familiar with wolf and other big game biology and management, and predator-prey relationships. Knowledge and experience with a variety of big game species, and trapping and handling wolves is preferred. All applicants must be willing to travel statewide for extended periods, (car-) camp, hike 1-10 miles/day with a 50 lb pack, and have excellent vision, hearing, and a valid diver's license. Horse riding and packing, and/or using a variety of motorized travel including 4-wheelers, flying in a helicopter or fixed-wing in remote locations will be required. Incumbent needs to have excellent people skills, ability to communicate well in written and oral fashion, and desire to work with the public. Housing will be available at some locations (IDFG cabins) and a vehicle and other equipment will be provided.
To Apply
Screening process begins immediately. Please submit a resume, IDFG temporary application form, and names and telephone numbers of at least three references to Steve Nadeau, Statewide Large Carnivore Program Coordinator, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise, Idaho 83707 (PH: 208-287-2752; EM: snadeau@idfg.state.id.us ).
Application Deadline: 17 April 2004
Looking for 2 volunteers, starting approximately May 1, 2004 for a 6 month commitment
Application Period: 4/1/04 - 4/15/04
Living Stipend: $15/day, housing provided
Location: Alpine, AZ
Major Duties: The volunteer will perform a variety of tasks in support of the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf to the Apache and Gila National Forests in east-central Arizona and west-central New Mexico. Duties may include monitoring of wolf locations, movements, and activities through radio-telemetry as well as back-country travel by backpacking, horseback riding, and mule packing. Camping for extended periods of time in remote areas to monitor wolves while in acclimation pens and post release may also be involved. Collection, processing, storing, and delivery of road-killed ungulates to the wolves while in acclimation pens and as supplementary food post release. May assist biologists with various wolf management and research activities such as capture and radio collaring of wolves, and monitoring of den and rendezvous site activity. Assists project biologists with distributing current wolf information to campers, hunters, and other persons using the recovery area. Volunteer will also assist project biologists with various office tasks such as data entry and equipment maintenance.
Qualifications: The applicant should be in excellent physical health. He/she must be able to work independently and with a team, often in remote areas under extreme environmental conditions. Applicants with or working towards a Bachelors degree in wildlife biology, experience with back-country map and compass use, remote back-country hiking and camping, radio telemetry, 4WD vehicles, and good communication skills are preferred.
E-mail, FAX, or mail a resume and cover letter with 3 references as soon as possible to:
Volunteer Position
Attn: Dan Stark
Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program
P.O. Box 856
Alpine, AZ 85920
FAX: 928-339-4218
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.
Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV
APRIL 10-23, 2004
Mike Ross MT FW&P conducted a monitoring flight for wolves in SW Montana on the 22nd. All packs have localized at their traditional dens except for Freezeout. That female looked as big as a barn and should pup very soon. Both Mission Mountain and Mocassin Lake packs were seen and that solved the question if those wolves were in two separate packs- Yes! Sheep Mtn. may have fragmented and the new segment might be forming near Jardine. Chief Joe was at their den in YNP. The Bear Creek pack [2 wolves] that was recently collared in the Madison Valley was headed toward the Taylor Fork area.
Seasonal biologist Paul Frame caught 3 wolves from the Hog Heaven pack on the 23rd. One [already radioed male #286] pulled out of the rubber-lined leg-hold trap just as Paul approached to immobilize him. The other two [both females, a 1-yr and 2-yr old] were radio-collared and released on site.
Yellowstone reported that most of the packs have denned at their usual den sites.
Idaho began den survey flights last week. They will be conducted every 10 days to identify denning packs. Wolf B2's mortality was confirmed on 4/15/04. He was found near a raghorn bull elk, but there was no evidence of broken bones, etc., so he may have been killed by elk (and died of internal injuries) or succumbed to old age. His skull was recovered for aging. B187's collar was retrieved; it slipped off soon after its capture during winter helicopter darting operations.
WS confirmed that a single wolf killed a newborn calf on private land near Red Lodge, MT on the 14th. Several weeks prior to this incident a single wolf with a radio collar was observed in the area, probably a disperser. Aerial and ground monitor searches by WS for missing radio collared wolves was unsuccessful. Trapping to radio collar is ongoing.
A member of the Mocassin pack killed a calf on the 18th of April. Traps were set and on the 19th and a lone uncollared male was captured and killed. Control ended. The producer lost two confirmed calves last year and several others that were unconfirmed on his grazing allotment resulting in two wolves radio collared and released on site. On April 23rd, another lone wolf from the Mocassin pack area was seen within 15' of cows and calves that it had bunched up in a corner. The rancher was able to run the wolf off. A shoot-on-sight permit was issued to the landowner to remove the wolf actively hunting livestock.
Trapping is being conducted by ID WS for the Bennett Mountain pack after wolves were sighted near the areas of recently past depredations (where 2 wolves were lethally controlled and another was likely killed but not recovered).
A wolf-like canid was reported near Meeteetse, WY on the 23rd , and on the 24th WS investigated. Reportedly the animal was walking around a subdivision and past homes in the middle of the afternoon. It reportedly entered a barn and a woman yelled at it to run it off. It slowly walked past her at 20' ignoring her and her 2 small dogs and drank from a nearby water trough. The ‘wolf-like canid’ then slowly walked out of the area. This is almost certainly a recently released or escaped captive wolf or wolf hybrid. In any event it did not behave anything like a healthy normal wild wolf should and Wildlife Services was authorized to remove it as soon as possible. The experimental population rules allow for agencies to remove any wolves that may pose a threat to human safety. Such behavior raises the risk of human injury.
A ranch near the Snake River in Wyoming reported that their 2 dogs had been chased by wolves near their ranch house on a couple of occasions during the day. While the dogs were not injured, the people were concerned that their dogs would eventually would be killed if this continued. The dogs are kenneled at night. It is possible one of the packs in the area had denned nearby. The Service is attempting to fly the area to see if any radioed wolves or a den is nearby. The landowners were also given a less-than-lethal munitions permits.
A ranch manager in the Stanley Basin [within the SNRA] of Idaho reported dogs attacked by a single wolf earlier this month. In that instance 2 dogs were injured in two separate instances on the front porch and were only saved when the owner dragged them inside the house as they fought with the wolf. The wolf was only a few feet away at that point. During the last incident the manager fired a cracker shell over the departing wolf’s head and it ran off. ID DF&G and WS responded and were authorized to use less than lethal munitions or kill the wolf if it returned. It is likely a member of Galena pack. Since being scared away with the cracker shell it has not returned. A reminder that during this time of year wolves are likely at the peak of their aggressive behavior toward strange canids within ‘their’ home ranges. Dogs near denning wolves are likely to be attacked. Night kenneling dogs and keeping them close to people or the house will reduce the chances for such encounters.
A pair of wolves [a gray and a black] have been traveling thru the Red Lodge-Roscoe, MT area and occasionally killing a calf or ewe. In late March they killed 3 ewes and returned and killed another ewe. On April 9th WS confirmed they killed a calf, on the 18th they killed 2 calves, the 20th they attacked and injured a calf and 3 others are possible kills, and on the 23rd they killed 4 ewes. The last attack also resulted in 1/4 mile of fence being knocked down. The pair have shown no tendency to localize for denning. Five shoot on sight permits have been issued to affected landowners, the first was provided March 29th and the other four were given on April 19th . All depredations are on private property. WS is authorized to removed both wolves.
The last two known wolves of the Pinedale pack near Pinedale, Wyoming were killed because they continued to chronically prey on livestock in the area. Two wolves were removed from the area earlier this winter because of chronic calf depredations [4-5 were killed in several attacks this winter]. In early April the remaining pair killed a calf and they were removed during the first week of April. Wildlife Services removed female wolf #279 a former Teton wolf, and male #72 a former Nez Perce wolf by fixed-wing aerial gunning in early April.
WS captured and released a 2-year old male wolf in the Madison Valley on the 19th near a calving area. The producer reported missing three 50 pound calves but there is no confirmation that wolves killed them. This pair appeared in the valley after the Sentinel and Ennis (maybe Bear Trap) packs were lethally removed. No additional control is indicated at this time. The new pair will be called Bear Creek. There is no indication they will den this year.
On the 19th WS investigated a possible wolf kill north of Browning, Montana. The producer saw two wolves run from a calf that was partially consumed. There was not enough of the calf carcass to determine if the wolves killed it. Traps were set to try and radio collar one of the wolves. The wolves returned the next evening but were not caught. Additional traps were set but the wolves did not return that night and the traps were removed.
WS confirmed that wolves killed a colt near Nirada, MT near the Hog Heaven pack. The colt was killed the evening of the 17th but WS was not contacted until the 19th. Traps have been set to try and radio collar and release a wolf on site. Service biologist Frame is also trapping north of the area trying to radio collar a member of the pack (twso were radio collared and released, see above). Frame retrieved fladry from the Ninemile area and the Nirada ranchers are putting it up around a pasture where they will be releasing some foals and where the Hog Heaven pack members have been seen on several occasions recently.
Wolves [likely Chief Joe pack members] in Cinnibar Basin continue to harass cattle and a small bison herd. Initially only three wolves were seen but 11-12 were counted on the 11th by one of the producers. A monitoring flight on the 22nd found the pack denned in YNP. If they return to Cinnibar or Tom Miner Basin areas trapping to radio collar and release will be initiated. Fladry has been placed on one pasture and the producers have been trained and provided with less than lethal munitions.
Yellowstone National Park is continuing their den site studies. They are looking at whelping time, pup production, time at the den, visiting wolves and other dynamics at three den site.
YNP is also working with Dr. Robert Wayne, UCLA, on aspects of wolf genetics. Dr. Wayne is an expert in canine genetics.
Information and education and law enforcement
Fontaine gave a presentation to 25 high school juniors and teachers from Helena and Capital High Schools at Spring Meadow Lake This is an elite group of students that must apply to be in this class. Presentations were sponsored by FWP and conducted throughout the day on management and wildlife issues.
Smith talked to about 40 students in Bozeman on the evening of the 14th at the MSU student chapter of The Wildlife Society. Smith also gave a presentation on April 22, Ventura, CA to employees at the Patagonia Headquarters and on the 23rd to employees at the Patagonia Mail Outlet in Reno, NV.
Jimenez gave a presentation at the annual elk mangers meetings in Jackson, WY on the 22nd. Twenty to twenty-five state and federal managers/biologists attended. On the 23rd, Jimenez gave a talk to about 20 students from a Colorado State Univ. biology class visiting Grand Teton National Park.
Wyoming filed criminal trespass and littering charges against Service Project Leader Mike Jimenez and an employee of the WY helicopter capture company on April 16, 2004. Jimenez is being represented by DOJ attorneys.
Curt Mack (Nez Perce Tribe), Carter Niemeyer and Craig Tabor (FWS), Mark Collinge (WS), and Steve Nadeau (IDGF) held a meeting on April 14 to review communications and coordination, as well as discuss summer work plans in Idaho. IDFG is hiring 2 wolf biologists that will be on the ground by mid-May, and the rest of IDFG staff are also taking on more wolf management roles statewide.
Steve Nadeau(IDGF) gave a presentation to 25 Kiwanis club members on April 19th in Boise.
Wyoming filed litigation [State of Wyoming Plaintiff and DOI. Gale Norton, and Steve Williams] in U.S. District Court, District of Wyoming on April 22, 2004. The suit basically alleges the Service should have moved forward with delisting.
10j Amendment-Public Comment Period
On April 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. The wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states, Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register.
A formal hearing on the 10j proposal was held in Helena 6-9PM on the 19th. About 35 people attended the hearing and 8 testified. Bangs was the official listener and public comments were recorded by a court reporter. Generally the comments from livestock, hunting, and conservation groups and the public were supportive of the proposal, but some suggestions & comments were made about how certain parts would be interpreted. NPT, IDFG, MT FW&P, ID OSC, ID DF&G, and FWS in ID & MT attended the 10j hearings.
On the 20th a hearing was held in Boise Idaho from 1-3PM and 6-8PM. About 40 people attended each session. Public comment was a little more polarized than in Helena but generally people thought the proposal had merit and was a step in the right direction. A few suggestions on the need for more clarification on some portions of the rule were made. Written public comment is being accepted until May 10 at Western Gray wolf recovery Coordinator, USFWS, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena, MT 59601 or by email at WesternGrayWolf@fws.gov.
Bangs, Fontaine, and Clint Riley [Special Assistant to the Service Director] attending two 7PM informational meetings hosted by Montana Senator Conrad Burns. The first meeting was held in Livingston, MT on the evening of the 15th and the second in Butte on the 16th. The meetings were held to provide information and answer questions about the Services new proposed experimental population regulations. Both meetings ended up with many questions about other aspects of the wolf recovery program, but several folks commented that the proposal was a step in the right direction. A few people in Livingston became emotional but all questions were answered and Service representatives stayed until there were no more questions from the group. About 75 people attended the Livingston meeting and 15 attended the Butte meeting. We thank everyone for taking time from their schedules to attend the meetings and Senator Burns for hosting them.
APRIL 23-30, 2004
A Canadian citizen reported finding a wolf carcass in Alberta that was investigated by Alberta wildlife law enforcement authorities. Cause of death is still under investigation, although human causes are suspected. The animal was found approximately 7 miles north of Chief Mountain and the US/Canadian border. It was an adult male wolf that had been relocated from the Boulder (Castle Rock) pack near Helena to Lake Koocanusa and was then known as a Parsnip wolf. Alberta wildlife officials suspect it belonged to a pack that appears to be a cross-boundary pack, occupying Waterton/Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation known as the Chief Mountain pack. Adult male 760, a disperser from the Boulder (Castle Rock) pack, was also located several times in or near this group of wolves as is believed to be a pack member.
Therese Hartman has been trapping for the Murphy Lake pack, but without success. The female has localized around the usual den site but the pack appears to consist of the breeding pair. It can be difficult to catch a wolf during denning especially if there is only a breeding pair. She will pull traps on 4-30.
A bottle-fed 3-4 week old calf was killed by the Swan Lake pack on the 29th. The landowner has property adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, near Gardiner, MT. They had the calf on a picket about 100m from their house. They saw 4 wolves on the carcass at 4AM. Swan Lake pack was located about 2 miles away in the Park later that morning. WS investigated and confirmed the depredation. Since it was their only calf, no control will be conducted and they were advised to keep close watch on their pet dog and should investigate fencing of some sort if they try to raise other livestock since the area is frequently visited by both bears and wolves. They reported they had seen wolf tracks on their property frequently this past winter. Swan Lake pack normally dens far inside the Park but this year they are either late or will not den and are still traveling widely.
A calf was killed on private land in the East Fork of the Salmon River this week. WS was authorized to collar and release a wolf on site. Since B-2 died, there are no radioed pack members left and non-lethal techniques such as RAG boxes cannot be utilized.
Information and education and law enforcement
Niemeyer was the invited speaker at a meeting of the Utah state wolf advisory committee on the 27th and 28th in Salt Lake City. He gave a presentation and answered questions about wolves, wolf management, and potential wolf impacts to livestock and big game populations from advisory committee members. He reminded committee members that having an occasional lone dispersing wolf in Utah is an entirely different matter than having wolf packs form in Utah, an event that might not happen for years.
Fontaine and Sime were guests at a radio talk show in Kalispell on the 29th. They answered questions about wolf management and potential delisting. Fontaine also did a TV interview for Big Sky news.
Bangs gave a talk at Utah State Univ. to about 20 people on the 27th. He also met with Dr. John Shivik and staff from the USDA Wildlife Services Research Station in Logan, UT and toured their research facility. Dr. Shivik was instrumental in investigating new non-lethal techniques to reduce potential conflicts between wolves and livestock and is interested in continuing those types of efforts.
10j Amendment-Public Comment Period
On April 3rd, Secretary of the Interior Norton announced a proposal to give Tribes and Idaho and Montana more authority to manage wolf populations in their reservations and states, consistent with the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. The wolf populations now far exceed their recovery goals under the Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Idaho and Montana have crafted responsible wolf management plans for their states, Norton said. "Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate for us to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as we can." The proposed experimental population 10j amendment was published in the Federal Register.