Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, June 2004
MAY 28-JUNE 4, 2004

NEW WEB ADDRESS- The 2003 annual wolf report is at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ . It has maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
Nez Perce Tribal biologist Isaac Babcock observed 2-3 pups near the Buffalo Ridge den site. The alpha male, B93, has an injured front foot and was being dominated by an uncollared pack member. It is not known if B93 is still the alpha or if his injury has temporarily made him vulnerable and a change in status could result in his displacement. Isaac also saw a minimum of 3 pups with the Galena pack. B167, a yearling with this pack, also has a severely injured front paw. It has been localized near the den, despite the fact that the other wolves, including pups, have moved to a rendezvous site. A monitoring flight on the 1st indicated that this wolf had moved several miles from where it had been seen, so it may be able to recover. Isaac also investigated the den area which the Landmark pack has used for the past few years; he found wolf sign in the area, but not as much as in the past, and determined that the pack, if denning, is using a new area this year.
The NPT is coordinating with the U.S. Forest Service and livestock producers in areas of known wolf range. Communication between agencies and individuals enables all parties to keep abreast of potential wolf-livestock conflicts and help implement strategies to lessen the potential for depredations.
Pups are being seen at the mouths of several dens and pup counts are beginning to come in. There are some indications that a few packs might have moved to nearby rendezvous sites already.
A pair of uncollared wolves that has sporadically but repeatedly killed cattle and sheep around Fishtail, MT reportedly killed more sheep on private land the 28th. They killed 3 bucks, 2 ewes, and 2 lambs on the 21st but the WS wasn’t able to confirm wolves, as black bears were a possibility. On the 28th, 4 ewes and 8 more lambs were killed in the same manner and wolf depredation was deemed responsible. On the 2nd, another ewe and 2 lambs were killed. All these sheep are considered confirmed wolf depredations, unless other evidence is uncovered that indicates otherwise. The producers is also having loses caused by coyotes and black bear. A kill order to WS was already authorized, as well as several shoot-on-sight permits to the affected landowners. The livestock producer with the latest depredations had his kill permit for his private property re-authorized immediately by phone. On the 4th, WS investigated a report of a possible den on some adjacent property and while only old [coyote?] dens were located, some wolf sign was seen. But at this time it does not appear that these wolves are tending an active den but search and control efforts are ongoing.
On the 30st, a 6 year-old cow was reportedly killed by wolves near Dome Mountain, just north of Gardiner, MT. WS investigated that day and confirmed it as a wolf depredation. Traps were set in an attempt to get a radio in the group responsible but nothing was captured. The Sheep Mountain pack appears to have split and may have 2 dens, so sorting out the ‘responsible’ party may be more difficult than usual. We may attempt to ‘bump’ one of the packs out of a den that is very near [if not on] private property where many cow/calf pairs will soon graze.
WS investigated a suspect wolf depredation in the Moccasin Lake pack territory along the West Boulder River on the 30th, but evidence indicated coyotes were responsible.
Another calf was killed by the Washakie pack on private property, north of Dubois, WY on the 1st. WS couldn’t respond right away so the Service investigated and confirmed the depredation. We will coordinate initiating lethal control with WS. WS and/or FWS will attempt to remove 3 wolves by trapping, or ground or aerial shooting.
A livestock producer near Helmville, MT contacted WS on the 31st about a wolf killing and packing off a newborn calf. The producer was checking the cattle on horseback and found a newborn calf that had been partially consumed. The calf was healthy when it was born. The rancher looked up and saw a black male wolf. He left the area and returned with a video camera. He video taped the wolf urinating and then approaching the calf carcass. The producer then came closer to the calf on horseback and the wolf retreated a short distance and then returned to the calf, picked it up, and left the area. According to WS western district supervisor Kraig Glazier, the footage was very good. Traps were set to try to radio collar the wolf. This is close to the area a couple of years ago where a coyote researcher incidentally caught a wolf and was attempting to jab stick it when it pulled out of the trap. Seasonal biologists Boyd and Bucklin searched for additional wolf sign on the 4th.
Asher and Ross met with Bob and Eby Kunesh, the riders for Predator Conservation Alliance’s range rider program in cooperation with Madison Valley Ranchlands, on the 1st, to familiarize them with wolf sign and wolf behavior. They hiked up near the Chief Joseph den area to see fresh wolf tracks and scat and to get a pup count of which 2 were seen. Training on less than lethal munitions will be conducted in the near future. The Range Rider program involves conservation groups paying for extra riders to more closely monitor cattle on federal allotments. The riders also camp near the cattle herd and have telemetry equipment so they can harass any radioed wolves that appear to be too close. They will also monitor wolf sign in and around where the cattle are being grazed. This is a test program being tried in the Madison and Paradise Valleys.
Summer predation study using GPS collars in Yellowstone National Park is still going well. Six carcasses [last one a calf] were discovered for the study pack in May.
Information and education and law enforcement
The Nez Perce Tribe's 2003 Annual Report is now available on the Tribe's website: www.nezperce.org. Click on Departments and then navigate to the Natural Resources section, followed by Wildlife Program.
MT FW&P has signed on Therese Hartman as a volunteer to assist with public outreach efforts. On May 29th, she gave a wolf program in Seely Lake at the Artisan Festival. Topics covered were wolf ecology, update on wolf recovery efforts in Montana, and status of the local area packs. Approximately 30 people attended and it was well received. She fielded several requests for
additional programs at area campgrounds later this summer and will coordinate through MT FW&P in Kalispell.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hired 4 seasonal biologists for this field season. Dr. Diane Boyd and Jack Bucklin are stationed out of Missoula, MT. Liz Bradley and Jon Trapp are stationed out of Lander, WY. They began work to help monitor wolf populations [locate, trap, radio, monitor] on June 1. For the first few days they were in safety and protocol training.
Bangs and Fontaine reviewed agency, organization, and public comments made on the Service’s proposal to change the nonessential experimental population [10j] rules that regulate wolf management in much of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. About 23,00 comments were received before the public comment period closed on May 10th.
Yellowstone National Park reports that people continue to flood into the Lamar Valley in hopes of seeing wolves. It seems like every summer the amount of interest in viewing wolves increases.
Doug Smith gave a presentation to about 30 representatives from 6 different tribes at a Tribal Council Coordination meeting in Yellowstone National Park on the 3rd.
JUNE 4-16, 2004
Gary Skiba with CO DNR reported they picked up a dead radioed wolf about 30 miles west of Denver, CO on the 7th [just west of Idaho Springs]. It had been dead a few days but was relatively fresh [reports indicate in was 1st seen dead on the 5th]. It was been shipped to the Service’s National Fish and Wildlife Forensics lab for a detailed necropsy. It was a 2-year-old grey yearling female originating from the Swan Lake pack in the NW corner Yellowstone National Park. A rough map measurement indicted the distance is about 420 miles straight line [within potential wolf dispersal distance]. It was radioed [darted] as a pup Jan 8, 2003 in YNP. The last location was near Mammoth [in its home range] on Jan 15, 2004. It was on our missing list but was never located alive again. It was found dead on Interstate 70 and reportedly had broken legs and appeared to have been hit by a vehicle. However, there is always the chance it was killed somewhere else and hauled there. As expected there was no evidence of having pups or being with other wolves, since either event would be highly unlikely. If it got there on its own-which appears to be the case at this point in time, it was just a lone long-range disperser that suffered the fate common to many dispersers. There was extensive news coverage in CO of this event.
On June 3, Niemeyer set out 3 trap lines in the vicinity of Pike Fork Creek north of Idaho City, ID. He checked traps for three nights and captured a wolf that pulled the trap about 30 feet before pulling its foot out and escaping. At least two wolves howled and barked at Carter while he searched for the trapped wolf. Last year he collared a wolf in this vicinity that was illegally killed last fall and ear-tagged a pup that was too small to collar. He also searched an extensive area to the east, north and south of Idaho City during those three days, but found no other evidence of wolves. He also checked out wolf sighting near Clear Creek and Grimes Creek south and west of Idaho City. The observer saw two dark canines run across the road and reported "could they be wolves". The area is very residential and did not appear to be likely wolf habitat. During the week of the 7th he trapped near Riggins, ID where maybe over 100 sheep were killed by the unradioed Florence pack last year. Lightening can strike twice and on the 17th, he captured a pack member but it pulled out of the trap. Both pullouts were in Rancher #7 with studs. His luck changed and on the 18th he and a Nez Perce biologist radio-collared a member of the Florence pack. They will continue to trap through the weekend to try and get another radio in the pack.
Pup counts are coming in as Nez Perce and ID F&G crews continue their field work. There are a minimum of 7-8 grey pups in the Florence Pack, at least 3 grey pups with B141, a new pack. Three pups were seen with B109, also a new pack. Four 4 pups [3 gray- the other’s color unknown] were seen in the Moyer Basin pack. Four 4 black pups were with the O'Hara Point pack, but crews were not able to determine denning status of the Red River pack. Four pups were counted in the Gospel Hump pack.. Three pups were verified in a new pack called Warm Springs. To date the Tribe and Idaho F&G have documented 10 litters including a minimum of 40-43 pups in Idaho. Good work team!
MT FW&P Volunteer Hartman flew the northwest Montana packs on June 3 and June 5. She could not locate Great Bear or Red Shale in the Bob Marshall wilderness. Other packs were in their usual home ranges at or near dens. A couple packs may already have moved to a rendezvous site. Service biologist Paul Frame confirmed 4-5 pups in the Kootenai pack (this primarily Canadian pack denned about 5 miles inside the U.S. this year). We also suspect denning by the Whitefish, Murphy Lake, Hog Heaven, Candy Mountain,, Lazy Creek, Fishtrap. Denning status is unknown for Red Shale, Great Bear, Ninemile, and Fish Creek packs.
MT Service biologists Boyd and Bucklin caught the lactating female from the Whitefish pack and a 104 pound 2-year-old male. They have moved the trapping operation to the north end of Glacier National Park to try and radio collar a Kintla pack member and will be trapping for another week or until one other wolf is caught. A pair of biologists collecting grizzly bear hair samples accidently walked in on the Kintla pack den and reported seeing 5 pups.
Frame is trapping the Kootenai pack and accidently caught one of the pups which was released unharmed. The female is now somewhat wary of his trapline but he is determined to catch the alpha female and change out her collar. Great effort by all the trappers considering all the rain and wet ground conditions.
On June 5, Hartman observed 2 Murphy Lake wolves near the U.S./Canadian border in Kasanka Creek in the old Grave Creek pack territory. (That pack disappeared and no consistent wolf sign has been reported within its territory.) Foraging strategy for that pack lately includes scavenging white-tailed deer road kills on Highway 93 between Trego and Eureka. A single pair appears to have puppies and easy carrion may be luring these animals toward the highway. On Saturday June 6, the Lincoln Co. Sheriff's Office in Eureka and local MT FW&P warden Jim Roberts received numerous calls about seeing a wolf "struggling" on the side of the road. It was thought that the animal had been struck by a car. On Monday, MT FW&P biologist Tim Thier relocated the animal and it appeared to be mobile based on the changing signals. Service biologist Frame actually observed the animal later that same day. She was moving back to the den site. Frame reported that the animal was walking in the borrow pit along Highway 93 and was not discouraged by his presence until he harassed it by yelling, running towards it, and throwing rocks on several different occasions within an hour. He did not use cracker shells or rubber bullets.
Asher and Ross caught and re-radioed the lactating alpha female in the Freezeout pack. Her collar was about 4 years ago and on its last legs. When they examined her they found a stick wedged between her carnassials across her palate. The stick had been there some time because her teeth were rotting and several holes had opened into her sinuses, otherwise she appeared in great shape. A wedged stick is often seen when a wolf is trapped and that is why we always closely check the mouth when we trap wolves. She had never been trapped to the best of our knowledge. The stick was removed, she was given a dose of penicillin, and was released on-site. They located the Lone Bear female 284F on the SE end of the Snowcrest Ranch on the 13th and 15th. She had been missing from Paradise Valley since April 22 of this year. It is unknown if she is with other wolves. They pulled all the traps on the 16th because of weather-caused poor trapping conditions.
A sheep herder SW of Ruby reservoir reported seeing 3 wolves close to where WS had set some M-44 coyote getters. The M-44's were immediately removed by WS but it was raining so hard and they couldn’t find any wolf sign. If those were really wolves, they weren’t with the Freezeout pack and might be a new pack. Searches will continue and if no wolf sign can be located, M-44's may be deployed again.
The Delta pack wolves chewed off another radio-collar. Yellowstone crews boated across Yellowstone Lake and found a chewed-off collar but thankfully no dead wolves. This pack has a history of chewing off radio-collars. Two radio-collars from the Beckler pack are on morality and in a remote location so they may have also been chewed off. Both collars will be aerially located once more to see if any dead wolves are involved, before field crews are dispatched to the area.
Fontaine gave a presentation at the Wall Creek Game Range to members of the Elkhorn Working Group, a Washington Game and Fish biologist and several ranchers from Washington and Idaho. There were approximately 15 people. The tour was sponsored by Fred King MT FW&P, to discuss cattle grazing and elk. The group was interested in how to co-exist with the wolves and some management options they could employ. One of the concerns was about displacement of elk of the state winter range onto private land.
Conservation Officers Dave Cadwallader and Pat Hylton investigated a report of a wolf depredation on a calf in Ruebens area while WS staff were at a WS conference. The rancher shot a mongrel dog near the area on the same day. A report and photographs were sent to WS and FWS. Carter indicated based on the evidence he did not think the depredation was wolf, and wounds were more consistent with dog.
A pair of uncollared wolves that has sporadically, but repeatedly, killed cattle and sheep around Fishtail, MT reportedly killed more 5 buck sheep on private land the 9th . WS is continuing to investigate and pursue control. A kill order for WS for both wolves was already authorized. Over a half dozen shoot-on-sight permits have been issued to the affected landowners. WS flew on the 16th but could not find the wolves. Roaming uncollared and non-denning wolves can be very difficult to locate.
WS was contacted on the 16th by a neighbor of the sheep producer near Hall, MT that reportedly lost 9 lambs. The neighbor saw a wolf packing off what she thought was a lamb. The producer counted the flock and was indeed another lamb short. All tracking and sighting information about this wolf indicate that it is probably just a lone animal. WS has been asked to lethally remove this wolf if the opportunity presents itself.
A livestock producer near Helmville, MT contacted WS on the 31st about a wolf killing and packing off a newborn calf [he videoed the event]. Traps were set to try and radio-collar the wolf. On the 13th WS was checking the line and saw the wolf in the trap. When they approached it the wolf lunged away and pulled out of the trap. WS flew the area on the 14th since they were in the area hunting coyotes but were unsuccessful in seeing a wolf. It too was caught in a Rancher #7 with rounded off studs. A colleague in B.C. Canada just [6/18] reported that he too had just had a wolf [the only one caught in 2 weeks of trapping] and a bear pull-out of a rubber-jawed #7. He reported conditions were very wet and he believe the springs were older and perhaps a little weak. The Rancher #7 are usually very reliable traps but that just happens sometimes when trapping. Although 4 pullouts [2 in ID, 1 in MT & 1 in BC] in the past month seems to be some sort of bad-luck record.
John and Mary Theberge at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada have a book out called The Wolves of Algonquin Park: A 12 Year Ecological Study. You can order it [$23.50 Canadian or $20 US] from Kate Evans, Univ. of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: email: bkevans@fes.uwaterloo.ca phone: 519 885 1211 Ext 3278, fax: 519 746 0658.
The Yellowstone summer wolf predation study using GPS collar technology continues to go well. The have found elk calf kills, something they thought would not happen, but GPS units have registered location clusters for dead elk calves. The separate study of elk calf mortality is ongoing and biologists caught and radio-tagged nearly 50 newborn elk calves again this spring [this is the second year of that three year project] in Yellowstone National Park to determine the primary causes of calf mortality.
Information and education and law enforcement
Idaho Department of Fish and Game hired 2 biologists that are heading to the field June 7. Jason Husseman will be stationed in Salmon and will be covering Salmon and Upper Snake Regions. Michael Lucid will be stationed in Nampa, and covering Southwest and Magic Valley Regions. Both will coordinate with Steve Nadeau the state’s large predator coordinator to assist in the rest of the State. Steve will supervise both of the field biologists and coordinate statewide wolf monitoring and management activities with assistance from the Regions and coordination with the Service, WS, and Nez Perce Tribe. During the winter, Jason and Michael will be assisting regional staff with increased monitoring of elk.
Steve Nadeau (IDFG) attended the Wildlife Services Idaho State Conference on June 8 and gave a presentation on coordination and State management, and introduced the 2 new wolf biologists Jason Husseman and Michael Lucid. Carter Niemeyer also attended. Nadeau gave a presentation to the 40 or so WS staff on coordination and State activities. Jason and Michael have finished training and gearing up and will be heading to the field next week. Jason visited the Moyer Basin pack, and located the den. The alpha female followed him and barked at him at a distance of 80-90 yards. The behavior is consistent with a protective female at a den site.
The Nez Perce Tribe will be monitoring mostly within the Clearwater Region and McCall Subregion. During the summer transition of management from federal to state authority under the proposed Sec.1 0(j) rules amendment, the Tribe, FWS, and Wildlife Services have agreed to continue to provide ID F&G with assistance when and where needed. Within the Clearwater and McCall areas, ID F&G staff will also closely coordinate monitoring with the Tribe. An MOA is still under development between the State and the Tribe.
The Nez Perce Tribe's 2003 Annual Report is now available on the Tribe's website: www.nezperce.org. Click on Departments and then navigate to the Natural Resources section, followed by Wildlife Program.
MT FW&P biologist Carolyn Sime attended a public breakfast meeting in Stanford, Montana hosted by the local NRCS office and the agricultural extension agent for Judith Basin County. About 45 ranchers and landowners attended. She spoke about the current status of the federal program and rules, Montana's plan, what to do if a person experiences a livestock injury or loss.
Sime also participated in the USDA Forest Service Large Carnivore Conservation class in Yellowstone National Park during the week of the 7th. Sime also did a TV interview for Montana Secrets, which airs on a popular outdoors cable channel.
Fontaine, Boyd, and Bucklin attended a meeting of MT FW&P biologists in Missoula, MT on the 7th. They met at the Regional MT FW&P office and discussed the wolf management program and upcoming transition to an increased state role.
Bangs was interviewed on a Twin Falls, ID one half hour morning radio show on the 18th.
Everyone in the world wants wolf talks from Dr. Doug Smith and he can barely meet the demand. In the past two weeks he has given 5 talks. He spoke to: the USDA Forest Service Large Carnivore Conservation class in the Lamar Valley, the National Park Service Professional curators, this summer’s Yellowstone Park Youth Conservation Corps. enrollees, Gallatin National Forest Seasonal employee orientation (2 talks by both Doug and Dan), and an interview with German reporter about a book project. Smith also met with researcher Mark Lung from Western Michigan University who is studying elk in the Park. In his spare time Smith also reportedly broke in 2 new horses for the Park’s summer field work.
JUNE 18-25, 2004
The Yellowstone #293 female wolf for the Swan Lake pack that was found dead along I-70 west of Denver, apparently walked there. The preliminary necropsy report from the Service’s Clark Bavin National Fish and Wildlife Forensics lab indicated the 2-year-old grey yearling female had deer in her stomach, and her injuries were consistent with a vehicle collision as causing her death. There were no signs of shooting or poisoning. She dispersed about 420 miles straight line distance from her last location. A final necropsy report is pending so the investigation is still open but all indications are she dispersed there on her own and was hit by a vehicle.
Field crews saw the Washakie pack’s pup’s at their usual den. There are 5 pups, 3 black and 2 gray and 6 or so adults left in the pack.
Val Asher and Mike Ross [MT FWP] retrieved Sentinel wolf 324F on mortality since last fall’s big game hunting season. Cause of death uncertain/under investigation but illegal killing is likely given the date of her death.
Paul Frame caught an adult 98-pound male in the Kootenai pack on the 22nd. The wolf had previously broken its front left leg. It had completely healed with only a lump in the bone to indicate it had been broken. Paul said it was the toughest wolf on the planet to catch and that even Niemeyer would have had a difficult time catching it. Paul is now trapping to place a collar in the Murphy Lake pack. Way to go Paul.
Jack Bucklin and Diane Boyd were trapping for the Kintla pack with no success. Apparently the pack was in the vicinity but traveling on the trails not the road. Traps were removed on Monday the 21st. Jack is now searching for the Fish Creek pack to locate and try to place another collar in that pack. Diane is headed to the Big Hole on the 28th to try and place a radio collar in the Battlefield pack. Contact with the Battlefield pack was lost last year when the alpha female’s radio collar was retrieved from the Big Hole River. Graham McDougal, WS, reported that a friend of his saw 6 pups and heard an adult close to where they were a few years ago at this time of the year. Sightings are extremely helpful as demonstrated here. So PLEASE, pass on any wolf sightings as quickly as possible.
Jeff Darrah, MT FWP Warden, received a call from the 911 dispatcher at 1:00 a.m. the 24th about a wolf that had been struck by a vehicle just west of the Bearmouth interchange on I-90 [MM 137]. He retrieved the carcass of a gray 80 pound uncollared yearling male. There was nothing to salvage from the carcass but a DNA sample that will be sent to the Ashland Forensic’s Lab. Great Job!
Agent Branzell investigated a possible road killed wolf near August on the 22nd. It turned out to be a dog. A number of these road killed sightings turn out to be dogs but we try to look just in case. Rick has checked a number of these. Thanks Rick.
Niemeyer and volunteer Doug Noel with the Nez Perce Tribe captured and radio-collared three wolves in the Florence wolf pack east of Riggins, Idaho, June 25-27. Two of the wolves were subadult males and the third was a yearling male.
On the 21st, WS trapped an uncollared yearling male wolf from the Washakie pack on private land near where the last calf depredation occurred. The trapped wolf wasn’t found until the next day and it had died in the trap. On the 24rd WS called in and shot the Washakie alpha male from the ground. They will attempt to lethally remove 2 more pack members by gunning from fixed winged aircraft or trapping in the next 2 weeks. The Service had requested WS to remove 4-5 pack members because of chronic cattle depredations in that area.
WS investigated reported possible wolf-caused damage in the Riverton, WY area. Two calves and a cow had died. The investigation showed one had been struck by a vehicle and the other 2 had died of Larkspur poisoning.
John and Mary Theberge at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada have a book out called
The Wolves of Algonquin Park: A 12 Year Ecological Study. You can order it [$23.50 Canadian or $20 US] from Kate Evans, Univ. of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: email: bkevans@fes.uwaterloo.ca phone: 519 885 1211 Ext 3278, fax: 519 746 0658
Information and education and law enforcement
JOBS!! Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Wolf Position Openings- Position #45803(Kalispell) #45804 (Dillon) #45805 (Big Timber/Columbus)-Open Recruitment - Wildlife Management Specialists [Wolf] (3 positions)/Wildlife Division/Professional Pay Band / $27,666 (entry) $34,583 (market)/ year/CLOSING DATE: July 23, 2004. New positions. The position announcement and the Montana application can be found on the Internet at www.discoveringmontana.com or http://www.discoveringmontana.com (working & living here - employment opportunities) or contact the Human Resources Bureau in Helena at 444-5653.
MORE JOBS!!- Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the Southwestern Distinct Population Segment. The following position is now open through the USA Jobs website, please click on the link below to view/print the full vacancy announcement:
http://jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/getjob.asp?JobID=22721629&AVSDM=2004%2D06%2D23+00%3A01%3A00&Logo=0&col=dltc&cy=&brd=3876&lid=316&fn=&q= Wildlife Biologist (Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator) GS-0486-12/13, ESFO, Albuquerque, NM, Permenent Full Time. Opens: 6/23/04 Closes: 07/08/04
On the 23rd, Ross and Asher attended a Predator Conservation Alliance Range Rider meeting with Madison Valley Ranchlands group. FS and other FWP personnel also attended.
Bangs conducted an interview with a TV environmental news and documentary program [NBC/Independent] on the 22nd. The subject was about the status of wolf recovery, delisting, and the FWS rejection of Wyoming’s state wolf management plan.
Doug Smith gave a talk to the general public at Madison Junction in Yellowstone National Park, about 50 people attended the Amphitheater talk, June 22. On June 23 he gave a talk to about 15 guests at the Silver Tip Ranch.
The Nez Perce Tribe's 2003 Annual Report is now available on the Tribe's website: www.nezperce.org. Click on Departments and then navigate to the Natural Resources section, followed by Wildlife Program.
Bart O’Gara Memorial- The University of Montana established this fund to support graduate student research on big game. Dr. O’Gara was the Unit Leader for the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. He was the team leader for the recovery team that developed the Service’s 1987 wolf recovery plan and as such laid the ground work for successful wolf restoration and the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park as experimental populations. Bart contributed in many ways, including donating deer he had to shoot as part of a research project, to feed the famous orphaned Ninemile wolf pups in 1990. To learn more about his well lived life see- ‘A Phenomenal Run’ in Wildlife Society Bulletin, 2003, Vol 31:916-919. For further information or to contribute contact, Bart O’Gara, UM Foundation, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807-7159 or contact Dr. Dan Pletscher at pletsch@forestry.umt.edu or call
COURSE ANNOUNCEMENT: Wildlife handling and chemical immobilization for wildlife professionals and researchers (includes hands-on wolf lab). November 9, 10 & 11, 2004. Led by Mark Johnson, DVM of Global Wildlife Resources, Inc. Hosted by Wolf Haven International
Location: 3111 Offut Lake Road, Tenino, Washington 98589 For additional information and registration, please contact Julie Palmquist, Wolf Haven International Communications Director at julie@wolfhaven.org or (360) 264-4695.
JUNE 25-July 2, 2004
The WS State Director for Utah reported that the same sheep herder who lost sheep to wolves two years ago east of Ogden, UT reported that he heard 2 wolves howling near his camp on June 20th. He hasn’t reported any suspect wolf-depredations and WS is calling and shooting coyotes but has no equipment set in the area. WS will continue to monitor the situation.
Ground observations indicate the Washakie pack, north of Dubois, WY, has 7 pups. Two adults have been removed from the pack so far this summer [one by trapping and one ground calling and shooting] and 2 more adults will be removed when conditions allow.
Wolves in Yellowstone National Park are still around dens. Some pup mortality may be occurring because some pup counts seem lower, but other estimates of litter size are increasing with better counts. Famous wolf #21 has been missing for 3 weeks and appears gone for good. He was 9 years old and had been alpha male of the Druid Peak pack since Dec 1997. He may have been the most viewed wolf in the world. His absence created an interesting social shift in the Druid pack. Two males, 1 from the pack and another outsider #302, are vying for alpha position. They don’t spend time together, and the resident male seems to dislike #302. However, #302 was accepted by other pack members and he was observed double scent marking with the alpha female. Wolf #302 was collared 1.5 yrs ago but his Telonics collar has malfunctioned.
On the 1st, Service biologist Diane Boyd caught, radioed and successfully released a non-lactating adult-sized female in the Big Hole, MT pack. A friend of the local WS specialist reported seeing wolf pups and hearing wolves howl on the 20th in that same vicinity. Great job Diane and a special thanks for the report of wolf activity that allow us to zero in on this pack so quickly.
Ross and Asher were searching for places to trap members of the Lone Bear pack on the 30th and located their den site. They will begin limited trapping operations on July 1st on private land until after the holiday weekend and interviews with the Voice of America reporter on the 5th.
Frame didn’t catch a member of the Murphy Lake pack and removed his traps on the 30th. He did hear two pups howl. Paul will be on leave for the next 3 weeks.
MT FWP volunteer Hartman flew the Northwest Montana packs on 28th and 30th. All packs were in their usual home ranges. Five pups were seen in the Fishtrap pack. An extensive, high elevation search of the Bob Marshall wilderness from north to south (Highway 2 to the Blackfoot River) did not locate the Red Shale or Great Bear packs. Forest Service personnel recently reported wolves in the vicinity of Gates Park. Collar malfunction is suspected for these wilderness packs, although the radio collars in both packs were put out less than 2 years ago. The Hog Heaven pack appears to be traveling widely and may not have denned this year. Glacier National Park Wildlife Technician Amy Edmonds has been monitoring the Whitefish and Kintla packs from the ground regularly and reports that they have been spending most of their time in the park.
MT FWP and Frame received reports of 6 adult wolves near 10 Mile Creek on the east shore of Koocanusa Reservoir in NW MT.
Dailey GPS collar locations from a wolf radio-collared in SW Alberta indicate it is still dispersing south along the East Front foothills, on the 7th it was just outside Helena, MT near the Great Divide Ski resort. We thank Canadian biologists for forwarding the location data.
The former alpha female of the Whitefish pack has been traveling alone, but is near the pack's territory. She has been seen by private citizens in the Coal Creek drainage. On June 27, a MT FWP fisheries technician doing routine field work in the area reported that she saw it digging for ground squirrels and that it didn't leave immediately when she yelled at it but that it eventually did. The technician was concerned and reported the incident. Upon investigation, it was learned that a loose dog was also at the scene. The wolf's behavior was entirely consistent with the fact that wolves perceive dogs as trespassers/threats and focus attention on them, often ignoring people. The technician was advised to harass the wolf and to leave the dog in the vehicle. The wolf reportedly appeared skinny and, given her age and the fact that she's traveling alone, getting enough food may be challenging for her.
MT FWP Sime and the Kalispell-based MT FWP Wildlife Program Manager Jim Williams investigated a report of a wolf being killed on Highway 35 near Kalispell on July 2. No animal was found.
MT FWP Sime received a report of a "wolf" just west of Kalispell on June 30. The report also indicated that the animal was wearing a colored collar with tags and had ribbons hanging from it. Sime notified Flathead County Animal Control, who had also received the report. County officials were attempting to live capture the animal, but it had apparently left the area.
Jack Bucklin was to begin trapping the Fish Creek pack, but the pack moved to a very remote rendezvous site. Jack is now checking out a sighting of wolf pups in the Ninemile Valley. If they are located he will begin trapping after the holiday weekend.
MT FWP said a warden captain in Miles City had a rancher stop in to report seeing 3 wolves about 30 miles south of Miles City, in Custer Co. He reported seeing them at relatively close range, 2 were gray/light gray and 1 was black, and with no radio-collars. WS was notified and the situation will be monitored but there have been no conflicts reported.
On the 23rd, Service biologists in Wyoming- Bradley and Trapp- caught a radioed yearling male from the Teton pack. He was released in good shape on site. Like all our other areas, trapping on public land for routine monitoring has been suspended for the 4th holiday weekend. Too many people [and dogs] out and about to continue trapping.
From June 22-26 John Stephenson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bend, Oregon, accompanied Niemeyer to the Red River and Gospel Hump area near Elk City, Idaho, to possibly attempt to radio-collar wolves in that area. During the trip Niemeyer and Stephenson set traps, howled up wolf pups ( and observed them from 10 feet away), examined a rendezvous site, and located wolf tracks and droppings. Trapping proved unnecessary after it was determined that only two wolves (one was radio-collared) were in the territory with a litter of pups. John will use this information and experience to begin surveying for wolf activity in Oregon if and when needed.
Idaho Fish and Game field crews verified more denning wolf packs this week. Jason Husseman verified pups in the Morgan Creek pack. He also located the uncollared Landmark pack and will try to trap the area next week. Michael Lucid verified pups in both the Soldier Mountain and Scott Mountain packs.
Nez Perce field crews just wrapped up their latest hitch. Based on a tip from Jim and Holly Akenson, at the Taylor Ranch, Isaac and Ana surveyed for wolves in the Golden Creek area north and east of Taylor Ranch. Jim packed the crews up to an area where he had observed wolves just a few days before. Although the wolves had left the area, Isaac and Ana were able to relocate the wolves and determine that this was a reproductive pack. In addition to documenting the presence of pups, the crew also captured and collared two members of this pack. We thank Jim and Holly Akenson for all of their help in coordinating their observation of wolf activity with us in a timely fashion, rearranging their busy schedule to pack crews to and from the site, sharing their knowledge of wolves in the area with us, and hosting crews at Taylor Ranch. Although we are not sure if this wolf pack is the Chamberlain pack or a different pack at this point, our best guess is that these wolves represent a different pack. Monitoring the newly collared pack members will help us to determine if the pack is a new one.
Nez Perce biologists Jim and Doug were able to count 3 grey pups with the Hazard Lake pack. They were not able to access the Partridge pack's den area. After surveying the Red River pack, evidence indicates that this pack may not have reproduced this year. Adam was not able to determine the reproductive status of the Big Hole pack. This is the second time they have worked this pack. B151, the only radio-collared wolf in this pack is moving extensively, over a large area, making it difficult to locate a den or rendezvous site. Adam did document a new pack during his field work. Dispersing O'Hara Point female B163 has apparently formed a new pack and is raising her first litter of pups of at least 3 pups between the Selway and Lochsa. B163's new pack was officially named the Coolwater pack. Anthony and Mecia surveyed for uncollared wolves in upper Big Creek and Monumental Creek drainages. No sign of wolves was observed in the upper Big Cr. drainage. The crew observed scattered wolf sign in the Monumental Cr drainage, but capture efforts were unsuccessful. We would greatly appreciate receiving any reports of wolf activity in these two drainages, as this would greatly help us to determine the status of wolves in this area.
Nez Perce biologists Kent and Jonathan spent a tedious 10 day hitch assessing the reproductive status of the Selway pack. We suspect now that after producing litters for the past 8 consecutive years in the same den, this pack may not have reproduced this year. Reports of wolf activity within this packs territory - Upper Running Cr., Lynx Cr., Bargamin Cr, upper Meadow Cr., Upper Red River, Upper Big Mallard Cr. - would be greatly appreciated to help determine the status of this wolf pack.
Based on a report from WS's Doug Hunsaker, Jim and Kent were able to document the presence of a new pack around Smith's Ferry, south of Cascade, ID. Doug had observed one adult wolf and Jim and Kent observed two pups in the same area. Jim and Kent are now trapping to capture and radio-collar members of this newly discovered pack. Thanks to Wildlife Services for passing on this information in a timely fashion.
In Idaho, a catch-up of ongoing events- Dispersing Scott Mountain wolf B141's new pack is officially named the Calderwood pack. B141 did not disperse very far from her natal pack. She simply moved south across the S. Fork of the Payette River, settled down with a new mate and had some pups. This new pack is concentrating their movements in the Grimes Pass area, just southeast of Garden Valley, ID. Dispersing Wolf Fang female B109's new pack is officially named the Hot Springs pack. Aalpha female B109 and alpha male 190 have established their territory along the South Fork of the Payetter between Lowman and Gran Jean.
Correction- the cow and 2 calves that were investigated by WS as possible wolf kills, but had died of Larkspur poisoning and a vehicle strike-were in the Sunlight Basin near where the Absaroka pack hangs out- not near Riverton as mistakenly reported in the June 25th weekly.
WS confirmed the Owl Creek threesome [who appeared to be denned in the Owl Creek area] killed a calf on private south of Meeteeste, WY on the 27th. WS was authorized to remove one adult wolf- preferably not the alpha male because he is the only radio-collared pack member. On July 1, an uncollared black adult-sized male wolf was shot by ground calling and shooting. The pelt and skull will be donated for use at the local Meeteetse Museum for educational purposes. Control has ended unless there are more depredations.
A sheep producer near McCall, Idaho, experienced severe depredations on a band of sheep NE of McCall, Idaho, on the evening of June 29 on state land [treated as private land under the experimental regulations]. Wildlife Services confirmed that at least 46 sheep were killed, 19 injured and several head missing after the attack by wolves, probably the Cook pack. The Nez Perce Tribe will attempt to fly the area to determine the location of any radio-collared wolves in proximity of the attack. The Service authorized WS to remove wolves from that vicinity. These and other sheep bands are being trailed to higher elevation summer public land grazing allotments- many of which have newly established wolf packs. The producer will be issued a shoot-on-sight permit for the state grazing lease and a shoot-in-the act-of depredating permit for the federal allotment.
Livestock are arriving on Forest Service public allotments. Curt Mack form the Nez Perce Tribe worked with producers and Forest Service personnel on the Nez Perce and Payette National Forests to coordinate information regarding overlapping wolf range and livestock grazing areas and to discuss and implement potential conflict resolution measures including non-lethal deterrents, increased wolf monitoring, animal husbandry practices, grazing routes, and wolf control options.
The summer wolf predation project using GPS collars has ended prematurely in Yellowstone National Park. Only one of the 5 GPS collars [Televilt] that had been deployed is still working. The second to the last functioning collar quit last week after it indicted a low battery signal and stopped giving location data. At least 60 days of good location data were retrieved from it but further field work and enhanced equipment reliability will be needed for this type of an effort to be proven successful.
Information and education and law enforcement
Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader Mike Jimenez and RO Service representatives attended a federal court hearing in Cheyenne, WY on the 30th. Travel problems caused Bangs to miss the proceedings. The case involved Wyoming state charges of criminal trespass and littering against the Service. This past winter Jimenez helped capture and radio-collar 5 members of the Washakie pack when they traveled to Meeteetse, WY far outside their normal home range. The state [via the Park County, WY] alleged that the wolves were inadvertently captured and immobilized on private land [and left there to recover, hence the littering charge] and that violated state law. After hearing legal arguments from both sides, the Federal Court rejected the state’s claim that the case should be tried in state court in Cody, Wyoming, and dropped all charges against the Service and the employee of the helicopter company that assisted in the wolf radio-collaring effort. Thanks to the Wyoming Federal Attorney’s office for a great job.
An Idaho Valley County Commissioner/rancher and his hired hand have been fined $750 each in the shooting death of a radioed wolf from the Orphan pack in Idaho. The wolf, protected under the Endangered Species Act, was found dead by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officers May 25 on the 6,000-acre ranch north of Cascade after Nez Perce tribal biologists detected a mortality signal from its radio-collar. A ranch hand, told officers he shot the wolf May 24th while it was running away from a herd of cattle north of the Warm Springs Highway but did not report the shooting until contacted by LE agents. No depredations were involved in the case.
Litigation whether the Service violated the law by not accepting Wyoming’s state wolf plan is ongoing. The Wyoming District court granted a Service/DOJ motion to extend the Service’s answer to Wyoming’s Complaint deadline to July 21, and the State of Wyoming filed its Amended Complaint last week. On June 29, a coalition of groups [Wyoming- Wool Growers, Stockgrowers, Farm Bureau, Conservation Districts, County Commissioners, Wyoming Predatory Boards, Sportsmen groups and others] filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue over the Service’s rejection of Wyoming’s wolf management plan. On the 22nd Park County, WY filed a separate 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue’ the Service over the same issue. The Jackson Hole Outfitters and guides Association had already filed a 60-day notice on March 12. There are many potential interveners on both sides of this litigation and it could go on for many years.
The litigation over the nation-wide reclassification of wolves is ongoing. Last week a Portland, OR federal district court refused a Service request to consolidate the legal proceedings that were initiated in Oregon by the Defenders of Wildlife and about 20 other groups, with the similar litigation filed in a Vermont federal district court by the National Wildlife Federation and other groups. Litigation on the Distinct Population Segments and wolf reclassification rule will be going on simultaneously in two federal courts, one in Oregon and one in Vermont.
Seasonal biologists Liz Bradley and John Trapp gave a wolf talk along with Mike Jimenez in Teton National Park the evening of July 1. It was part of a Univ. of Wyoming summer lecture series and about 25 people attended.
Dr. Doug Smith had led a field trip for Greater Yellowstone Coalition on 6/11, into Cougar Meadows in the Park. There were about 16 people.
On June 24, FWP volunteer Hartman gave an evening program on wolf ecology, the recovery program, and the local packs at a campground near Glacier National Park. About 75 people attended. On June 26, Hartman and Sime gave a program to about 12 people at Lone Pine State Park just outside of Kalispell. On June 28, Sime gave a presentation to about 10 people at a recent Wolf Ecology class at the Glacier Institute.
Steve Nadeau [ID F&G] gave a presentation on "Wolves and Ungulates in Idaho" to the Utah Wolf Working Group on June 29 in Salt Lake City, UT. UT is attempting to write a wolf management plan for their state.
On June 20thth, a Johnson County-hired coyote trapper/control agent reportedly incidentally took a wolf with M-44s set for coyotes on private land in the Dull Knife Reservoir area, south of Ten Sleep, WY. He immediately contacted WS and they got him in touch with Service law enforcement agents in WY. The investigation is continuing. It appears that 11 sheep were killed by what at the time was thought to be a dog in the same area a few days earlier. After the wolf was found dead, the WS specialist went to the area, examined evidence and confirmed- from a wounded sheep that had recently died from its injuries- the depredations were likely caused by wolf attack.
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