Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, July 2004
JULY 2-9, 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.
Val Asher and Mike Ross MT FWP caught and radioed a grey yearling male from the Lone Bear pack, southeast of Bozeman, MT on the 4th. Nick Smith NM F&G biologist with the SW DPS gray wolf project was visiting and assisted. They also caught and PIT tagged a 35 lb. male grey pup. They pulled their traps on the 4th. They observed the den, with 3 holes, but the pack had already moved to a nearby rendezvous site. Great job Val, Mike, and Nick.
Ross and Asher found the Moccasin lake den. Fresh pup sign was observed but no pups were seen. Both collared females were in the vicinity and there were fresh parts of a deer fawn on site. They tried howling but no response.
In Idaho, Idaho F&G and Nez Perce field teams documented the following pack information: Red River- no evidence of pups; Big Hole- unknown but B163 has denned and started new pack [Coolwater] minimum 3 pups all grey; Golden Creek- 4-6 adults 1-2 grey pups; Hazard Lake- 3-6 pups; Packer lake- minimum of 2 pups maybe 5; Selway-no evidence of pups; and Magruder- unknown, no evidence of pups yet; Warm Springs- B109 & B190 plus 3 grey pups; Calderwood- B141, 2 adults plus 3 grey pups; Landmark- historic den not used; Morgan Creek- B197, B198, 1 black yr/adult, minimum of 2 pups; Moyer Basin- B140, B145 plus 3 probably 4 grey pups; Soldier Mountain- B150, B149, B191 plus 3 black and 2 grey pups. Also, Jim Holyan documented a new pack - the first west of Hwy 95 - northwest of Riggins between the Salmon and Snake Rivers. This new pack is called the Cold Springs pack. Thanks to Joanne Bonn with the Salmon River District of the Nez Perce National Forest for passing on the hot wolf sighting tip. Adam Gall was able to reconnect with the Hemlock Ridge pack, which had eluded him so far this summer. He was able to confirm reproduction and place a radio collar on a grey female yearling wolf. The Tribe was able to relocate the Magruder pack during the last monitor flight. This pack has been missing since late last winter and their reproductive status is currently unknown. Tribal biologist Isaac Babcock will attempt to ground track this pack to assess their reproductive status and radio-collar pack members. Tribal biologist Anthony Novack is trying to assess the Red River pack's breeding status one last time. Curt Mack coordinated monitoring flights this week. Wolf packs are now leaving denning areas, establishing rendezvous sites, and pack members are more dispersed within their territories. Wolf movements were shared with cooperators, land management agencies, and potentially affected producers and outfitters.
A band of sheep was being grazed between Deer Lodge and Anaconda, MT earlier this week. They got into some Death Camas and a dozen or so lambs died. WS confirmed the losses were caused by poison. The producer piled their carcasses in a ravine but the next night adult wolves were seen packing some of them off. Boyd and Fontaine searched the area for pups. The producer had more sheep die later this week, again from poisoning so he is moving his sheep from that area.
NOTE: Poisonous plants have been more of a problem this year than usual in both sheep and cattle. The early summer rains have been a welcome relief for most areas of the state but can probably take credit for the increased poisonous plant problem. In sheep, Death camus has been particularly troublesome. Death camus is a slender, perennial herb, growing from an onion-like bulb and reaching a height of 8 to 24 inches. Flowers are whitish to yellow, growing along the main stem and leaves are 8 to 26 inches long, with a width of up to one-half inch. Sometimes confused with the nonpoisonous wild onion, it does not have the characteristic onion odor and, while looking fairly benevolent, can be very detrimental to livestock. Sheep deaths as a result of death camus usually occur shortly after a rain when bulbs can easily be pulled out of the ground and eaten, or when sheep are trailed through an area and they graze while passing through, rather than selectively grazing.
Rodney Kott
Extension Sheep Specialist
Thanks Rodney!
The Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Services, and the producer are still working together to prevent additional sheep depredations north of McCall. The Cook pack is suspected of killing 46 and injuring 19 sheep last week. Some of the injured sheep have since died and the total killed is now close to 70. Wildlife Services placed traps around the depredation site, however, no wolves returned to the site and no captures were made. Traps were pulled earlier this week. Tribal biologist Kent Lauden continues to monitor the movements and activities of the Cook pack and coordinate his findings with the producer, cooperators, and herders. Herders were also provided radio-receivers by the Tribe to help detect when wolves are in close proximity to the sheep bands. This week, the Cook pack moved 6-8 miles north of the band. No further depredations have occurred. WS will conduct RAG box training for the herders. Also Defenders of Wildlife has cost shared multiple guard dogs with sheep producers this summer, including this producer. Additionally, DOW is assisting the Tribe to conduct weekly aerial telemetry flights to alert the herders to the location of wolves so they can move the bands away from direct encounters.
The Defenders of Wildlife reported that with the assistance of the Wolf Recovery Foundation and private supporters, they just finished a project near Clayton, ID where they paid for cattle to be grazed away from the active den of the Buffalo Ridge pack. The pack successfully raised their new pups and have now moved farther into the national forest land. The rancher is moving his cows and calves to the grazing pasture adjacent to the den site. For the second year no livestock were killed by these wolves.
A calf was reportedly killed by the Sheep Mountain pack on the 3rd. So far this year a calf and an adult cow have been killed. An extra rider was hired by the Predator Conservation Alliance to help detour chronic livestock depredations in this area. The Sheep Mountain pack was right in that area. WS was requested to remove 1/3 [2] of the adults in the pack of 6 adults/yrlngs plus pups. This pack’s rendezvous site is on private land where cattle are being intensively grazed and we will attempt to harass them out of the area and to another more remote rendezvous site.
A calf was killed on an allotment in the Green River Grazing Association on the 7th. WS confirmed the loss and found radioed black female #237 [formerly a Gros Ventre wolf] with an uncollared black [suspected] male near the depredation. She may have just picked him up as she was near the Teton pack earlier this month but had been seen alone until this latest flight. They are both whitening/graying because of suspected advanced age and she does not have pups. She has been involved with numerous cattle depredations for at least the past two years and all 3 of the males she has associated within the past were killed because of chronic livestock depredations. The male was shot and killed from aircraft on the 8th, but she was not killed at that time. WS was only asked to remove any uncollared wolves found at the latest depredation site so they did not shoot her until they confirmed we wanted her removed. When we found out she was involved in more depredations we requested WS remove her too as soon as practical. This area has widespread dispersed cattle grazing so further non-lethal methods are unlikely to be successful, and this female has been a chronic depredating wolf.
A fourth calf was killed by the Washakie pack, just north of Dubois, WY on the 3rd. The first three were killed on private land in June. The most recent one was on a Forest Service allotment. Lethal control is ongoing. On the 8th, 2 more calves were killed on allotment. Two pack members have already been killed and on the 9th a black radioed yearling wolf was shot from a fix-winged aircraft. There are 2 radioed wolves, 3 uncollared yrl/adults, and 7 pups remaining. We asked WS to remove the 3 unradioed wolves, if possible. Cattle are widespread in very remote terrain which is also occupied by several grizzly bears. Catch and release, increased monitoring, and other non-lethal deterrents have been unsuccessful at preventing this chronic pattern of depredation from continuing.
The Absaroka pack killed a calf on private land in the Sunlight Basin [west of Cody,WY], on the 3rd. WS was unavailable and Jimenez investigated the report. This pack has a history of livestock depredation in the area but this appears to be the first kill this year. There are no radios in the pack and WS is trapping to radio and release a wolf on-site initially and then the need for any additional control will be evaluated. It is unknown if this pack still has pups or a severe mange problem it has had for the past 2 years.
A newly establish pair [Carter Mountain pack] with 4 pups west of Meeteetse, WY killed 4 adult cows on private land on the 6th. They appeared to die about the time. Both adult wolves are radioed. This was a very unusual depredation since calves were also in the same area but only the cows were killed. An experienced WS specialist conducted a particularly thorough investigation. He skinned the carcasses and found numerous hemorrhages and wounds and wolf tracks. The cow’s gut cavities had been opened up, but they were not extensively fed on. He also checked the surrounding area looking for poison weeds or some unusual contributing factor, but nothing was evident. Because livestock are abundant in this area and native prey are not, and multiple adult cattle were killed, WS was authorized to remove the radioed alpha male. A lone female is unlikely to continue to kill cattle, especially adults. If depredations continue, all the remaining pack members will be removed. On the 7th, a helicopter was used to remove the adult male. Control has ended unless there are further depredations.
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
Correction- It was the U.S. Attorney’s Office from Colorado, not the U.S. Attorney from Wyoming that represented Mike Jimenez/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when the state of Wyoming pressed charges of trespass and littering. The Colorado Attorney’s office did a very professional, thorough, vigorous, and successful defense. We apologize for stating they were from Wyoming, and thank them for their hard work. We hope this unfortunate incident is behind us and we strongly reaffirmed that the Service would never knowingly go onto private land without the landowners permission.
Jobs: Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Wolf Field Specialist positions; Position # 45803 (Kalispell), #45804 (Dillon), and #45805 (Big Timber/Columbus) Wildlife Management Spelialists [Wolf], new positions, closing date July 23, 2004. Call MT FW&P at 406-444-5653 or see- http://www.discoveringmontana.com for application and details.
Bangs participated on the interview/selection panel for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for their state wolf coordinator position on the 7th. The process was impressively professional and thorough. There were several highly qualified candidates. Like Idaho, which already has its core wolf management team in place, Montana will do a great job of leading wolf conservation and management efforts in their state.
Niemeyer and Williamson (WS) conducted an informational presentation on wolf recovery, control, and management for approximately 30 teachers attending a summer session with the Livestock Resource Commission in McCall, Idaho on July 8. The session included a trip to see range sheep on trail and a discussion of how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Services, Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Department of Fish and Game cooperate with livestock producers in minimizing livestock damage by wolves. Several non-lethal management techniques and other equipment were demonstrated and lethal measures explained. A lengthy question and answer period followed the presentation.
Bangs and Asher met a correspondent with "Voice of America" radio in the Paradise Valley on the 5th. They toured some of the projects the Service has initiated to mitigate the impacts of wolves on local residents. Earlier that day she visited with several local Paradise Valley ranchers. On the 6th Yellowstone Park rangers helped her see wolves and wolf ‘tourists’ in the Lamar Valley. On the 7th, Asher, Ross [MT FWP], and Fontaine toured with the reporter in the Madison Valley looking at wolf-related projects. The program is looking at the Endangered Species Act using the Florida Panther, salmon, and wolf recovery programs to illustrate the successes and challenges of recovering imperiled species.
MEXICAN WOLVES CAN STAY IN ARIZONA AND NEW MEXICO: U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo ruled in favor of the Mexican wolf reintroduction program over the objections of counties and ranchers, reported the Associated Press on 7/8. A group calling itself the Coalition of Arizona-New Mexico Counties for Stable Economic Growth, along with eight other groups, filed a motion for an injunction against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s reintroduction program last October saying that wolves have attacked cattle and could breed with dogs to create a hybrid species. Judge Armijo ruled that, "the animals' survival is more important than minor economic losses."
JULY 9-23, 2004
The Yellowstone Park wolf team has confirmed that a carcass and a radio collar, thought to be that of wolf 21M, the long time alpha male of the Druid Pack, has been found. He was perhaps the most viewed wolf in the world. Park biologists picked up his carcass on the 23rd and he is suspected to have died of natural causes [other wolves]. His mate was killed by other wolves this winter.
A Park visitor reported seeing a member of the Chief Joe pack with hair loss on its tail and sides. This probably means that mange has been discovered on a wolf in the Park for the first time. However, Chief Joe spends most of its time outside Yellowstone Park and mange has been discovered in several packs north, east, and west of the Park as well in numerous coyotes outside the Park. So it was really only a question of when and how it might spread?
So far this summer 30 groups of wolves have been surveyed by the Nez Perce tribe and Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game. Twenty-one litters were documented (Buffalo Ridge, Calderwood, Cold Springs, Coolwater, Eagle Mountain, Florence, Galena, Gold Fork, Golden Creek, Gospel Hump, Hazard Lake, Hemlock Ridge, Magruder, Morgan Creek, Moyer Basin, Orphan, Packer John, Partridge, Scott Mountain, Steel Mountain, Twin Peaks, and Warm Springs); 66-75 pups counted; 6 new packs documented (Calderwood, Cold Springs, Coolwater, Golden Creek, Packer John, and Warm Springs). They still have 11 known wolf groups to cover and then start in on areas of suspected pack activity.
Steve Nadeau [ID F&G] verified an uncollared pack with pups over the weekend while horseback riding in Bear Valley in central Idaho. He then spent a couple days with Jason Husseman (IDFG) trapping the new pack by horseback. The alpha male and an adult female of the pack were captured and collared. This pack is using an area the old Landmark pack used to use, however, it may be a new Landmark pack. ID F&G also verified pups in the Steel Mtn., Galena, and Twin Peaks pack.
Most wolf packs in northwest Montana seem to have moved to rendezvous sites and many wolves were seen near creeks and rivers trying to escape the heat. As before, the Bob Marshall packs (Red Shale and Great Bear) could not be found despite significant search effort. Tracking flights this week in SW Montana saw both Mill Creek and Freezeout packs, and each had 7 gray pups.
WS trapped an adult black male from the Absaroka pack on the 10th. It was radioed and released on site. It was in good shape and did not have any visible signs of mange. It has since been seen with an uncollared grey wolf on the ranch where the most recent cattle depredations occurred. It will continue to be monitored and if other depredations are documented additional control actions may be taken. Another calf was killed on an allotment by the pack around the 18th, totaling 2 confirmed and 3-4 probable wolf depredations this summer. The chronic nature of the depredations, rough terrain, and widely dispersed livestock negate the chances for successful non-lethal control. WS was asked to remove 2 wolves from the pack of 5. On the 22nd, WS used a helicopter to shoot 2 grey wolves [1 male and 1 female]. Neither had mange, which is good news but may indicate the old Absaroka pack has been replaced by a new Absaroka pack or a splinter group from the adjacent Beartooth pack. Control has ended unless further depredations are confirmed.
WS confirmed that 2 bull calves were killed on private land by a wolf in Johnson County [Kaycee, WY] around the 17th. This is about 15 miles from where a wolf was killed earlier this summer by an M-44 coyote device. Nearby, 4 sheep [at least 2 lambs] on private land were suspected to have been killed by a wolf around the 20th. Observations by local residents indicate a lone grey wolf has occasionally been seen in the general area. On the 22nd , another lamb was reported killed and WS is continuing to investigate. WS verified there was 1 confirmed and 4 probable wolf kills, 2 unknowns and 2 other ‘missing’ sheep. WS was asked to remove the suspected lone wolf if possible. They are trapping near the calf and sheep carcasses since they were not extensively fed on and the responsible wolf may return to them.
WS trapped and euthanized an uncollared male wolf from the Washakie pack. This pack has now been confirmed to have killed 6-7 calves and 3 collared and 1 uncollared wolves have been removed.
WS confirmed a calf had been killed by wolves on a Forest Service allotment in the Gros Ventre on the 19th. There are no radioed packs in the area but WS saw 3 wolves from a possibly uncollared group. Teton pack has visited this area in the past. No control is planned at this time and we’ll monitor the situation closely to see if it escalates.
There were more sheep depredations by the Cook pack in central Idaho earlier this week and more than 100 sheep have been killed. The operator had already been issued cracker shells, rubber bullets, and RAG boxes. The Tribe monitored and hazed the wolves and with WS, issued equipment and training to the herders and attempted to trap wolves but unfortunately these efforts did not stop additional depredations from occurring. The Cook pack continued to use areas in the vicinity of two sheep bands north of McCall, ID. The situation was monitored on a daily basis, hazing wolves from sheep bands, coordinating with cooperators, producers, and herders, and providing herders with radio-receivers to help them know when wolves are close to sheep. Losses continued and a control action on the 20th removed all 9 pack members by helicopter gunning. The control action was widely reported in the Idaho media. Since 1987, the Service has had to remove about 15 entire wolf packs due to chronic livestock depredations.
A sheep producer that was moving a band of sheep on private land east of McCall, Idaho experienced a depredation from the Partridge pack [adjacent to the Cook pack]. A wolf apparently killed a ewe from that band around 10:00 AM on the 17th. When the foreman first saw the dead ewe, an uncollared wolf was standing over it. He was within about 15 feet of the wolf, but didn't have his rifle with him. He ran back to camp to get the herder and a rifle, but of course the wolf was gone when they returned to the dead ewe. They picked up the signal from #855 of the Partridge pack. On the 21st a plane was sent to locate the 2 collared members of the Partridge Pack and remove up to 2 uncollared adults. Only the collared adult wolves were seen so no wolves were removed. Control has ended unless there are additional depredations. Steve Nadeau (IDFG) spoke with local reporters and TV stations regarding the Cook pack control action on July 22.
Defenders of Wildlife donated additional funding ($3,500) for flight time to help monitor wolves north of McCall, including the Cook, Partridge, and Hazard Lake packs. There are 8 bands of sheep and three different wolf packs left in this area. More frequent monitoring will allow cooperators and producers to better address this problem area. There was also a report on the 20th, of a wolf depredation on other sheep near this general vicinity, reportedly in a remote area of the Hazard Pack's territory. WS will investigate but the Hazard pack was implicated in chronic depredations in this same area last summer, and problems were anticipated as soon as the sheep entered this area.
On the 20th, WS confirmed that members of the Lone Bear pack south of Livingston, Montana attacked and severely bit a calf. A week prior to this the livestock producer saw another calf with its tail chewed off which wolves sometimes do. The producer was unable to find that calf again. The pack’s den and rendezvous site are on the producer’s private land. A shoot on sight permit to kill one wolf was issued to the producer and two of his neighbors. The rendezvous site is in as good an area as can be expected in this area of intensive livestock production and the landowner indicated we might as well leave them there rather than push them into a worse situation on his neighbor’s ranches, so no attempts were made by agency biologists to bump the pack into another area. No agency control is being conducted at this time other than issuing the landowners permits to shoot a wolf near their livestock.
A lethal control action on Sheep Mtn. was attempted by WS on July 15 but was unsuccessful. Agency control to remove a pack member will continue for another week or so because of several cattle depredations in the area earlier this summer and suspect depredations last year.
A ranch manager in the Mill creek area called in a collared wolf and a pup that killed a fawn in his back yard. Asher and Ross investigated and Sheep Mtn. wolf #334m was in the area. Less-than-lethal munitions training was given to the manager on July 20.
On July 23 Asher and Ross retrieved a RAG box from Cinnabar basin as there has been no wolf activity in the basin for some time. Wolves from the Swan Lake pack had been chasing domestic bison calves in the area this spring.
On the 22nd, WS, confirmed that dispersing Lone Bear female #284 killed 3 buck sheep and injured 3 others that will probably die near Blacktail Wildlife Management area southwest of Dillon, Montana. She was seen jumping a fence and leaving the depredation area. This is the same area that the Gravelly pack occupied about 2 years ago but was removed because of chronic sheep depredations. WS lethally removed #284 on the 23rd at the request of the Service. Sheep are already protected as best they can be by dogs and herders but are widely dispersed throughout this area so further non-lethal measures were likely to not be effective.
Asher, Ross and Fontaine met with seasonal Defenders of Wildlife biologist Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston in Bozeman on the 22nd to discuss the building of an electric fence on a sheep producer’s land in Paradise Valley. There was also a discussion about nonlethal methods that have been tried in Paradise and Madison Valley and if additional producers were requesting that type of information or needed guarding dogs. A request was made of Defenders to provide about a mile of additional fladry for larger calving and lambing areas.
WS in NW MT reported that they and MT FWP volunteer biologist Hartman collared and released two 2-3 year-old wolves (male and female that had weaned pups, both gray) on the 15th near Lost Trail, MT. On the 14th, a calf on a private lease had been confirmed injured by wolves in that area. WS looked at 3 other calves and 1 cow that were considered probable wolf kills. MT FWP volunteer Therease Hartman flew on the 16th and found the two collared animals about 5 and 10 miles away to the northwest. On 21st, she located the animals from the ground. The male was near where the female was located on the 16th, about 10 miles from the depredation site. She visited with the hired hand and the wolves have not been back and no other losses were reported. The injured calf is still alive and seems to be doing better. Sime spoke with the livestock owner on the 21st. They were advised of the federal regulations and the hired hands were encouraged to harass any wolves seen near livestock. Hartman will continue to monitor this pair from the ground every few days for the next couple of weeks. No other control is ongoing at this time.
On the 21st, Sime received a phone call about a possible wolf sighting just outside of Marion near Bitterroot Lake near a domestic dog on private property. The dog had barked the previous two nights and the large canid was seen the next afternoon. The owner was advised about the regulations [they can legally shoot a wolf attacking a dog on private property in the NW MT threatened area], strongly encouraged to secure the dog and just harass the wolf whenever it presented itself.
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
On July 16th the DOI and Service announced a proposal to delist the Eastern Distinct Population Segment of the gray wolf. The wolf population in the DPS is estimated at more than 3,200 wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and the numerical recovery goals have been met for the DPS. All three of those states have state laws and state wolf management plans that will assure the wolf population remains recovered should the Endangered Species Act's protections be removed. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on 7/21. All outreach documents, including a pre-publication version of the proposed rule on file at the OFR, are now on our web site at: http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/edps/eastern-dps.htm
Curt Mack [Nez Perce Tribe] made a presentation at Project Wild in McCall on the 14th. Isaac Babcock led a wolf howling field trip for Project Wild on the 15th. Jim Holyan made a fireside wolf presentation at Ponderosa State Park around the 16th.
On the 22nd, Smith gave an evening Amphitheater presentation in Yellowstone National Park, about 200 people attended.
Carter Niemeyer, Mike Bodenchuck (WS state director in Utah) and Suzanne Stone (Defenders of Wildlife in Idaho) participated on a wolf panel presentation/question and answer session for the Utah Farm Bureau Conference being held in Park City, Utah on July 10-11. Each panelist presented a 12 minute program on wolf depredation management/lethal and non-lethal management techniques and wolf compensation before the audience of 100+ Farm Bureau members asked a series of questions of the panelists. The Farm Bureau leaders and members were cordial hosts and expressed their appreciation to us for participating.
Niemeyer is detailed to the Mexican wolf recovery program in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Alpine, Arizona from July 11-31 to assist in day-to-day administrative and field duties during the current absence of a Project leader.
As requested, Bangs, Nadeau [ID F&G] and Sime {MT FWP] talked with the CO wolf advisory group in Denver, CO on the 14th. Bangs continued south and along with Niemeyer participated on the Gray Wolf Southwestern Distinct Population Segment Recovery Team in Albuquerque, NM the 15-17th.
JULY 23-AUGUST 6, 2004
Idaho- Nez Perce and ID F&G biologists surveyed the Marble Creek area for the uncollared Marble Creek pack. Wolves are still in the area and a suspected rendezvous site was found. At this point, it appears the Marble Mountain pack is still intact, but their reproductive status is unknown. Biologists also surveyed areas along the north side of the St. Joe between St. Maries and Avery. They observed one wolf and additional sign. Another wolf group is probably in this area. Thanks to Dave Spicer and Chuck Stock for helping out. Following recent reports of wolf activity in the lower Johnson Creek drainage, tribal biologists surveyed for the Thunder Mountain pack but after surveying the traditional rendevous sites, they observed only scattered wolf sign and were not able to verify pack activity. They were able to capture and collar two wolves in the Five Lakes Butte pack [in the Panhandle area of North Idaho], but were not able to verify reproduction. Thanks to Mark Rhodes for his help. The uncollared Kelly Creek pack was at their traditional rendezvous site and they had pups. Unfortunately, trapping to collar wolves was unsuccessful. Jason Husseman (IDFG) located the recently radio collared wolves in Bear Valley and identified 5 pups, 4 yearlings, and 2 adults. This is likely not the old Landmark pack as there were no wolves seen with any old non-functioning radio collars.
Jack Bucklin, Service seasonal biologist, appears to have located the Sapphire pack with pups near Skalkano Pass, west of Hamilton, MT and will begin trapping on the 6th to place a radio collar in that pack.
Mike Ross [MT FWP] started trapping to radio collar a member of the Kaycee pack just north of Jardine, MT on the 3rd and caught 3 pups on the 4th. Two of the pups were too small to radio collar so they were PIT tagged and released. The third pup was fitted with a radio collar and released on sight.
Trapping from radio-collaring and monitoring was suspended in the Sunlight and Beartooth areas in NW WY because of numerous campers, hikers, dogs, etc. using the same trails and roads where we were setting traps. Trapping efforts will resume in September when there is less recreational use and pups are large enough to trap.
Efforts to locate and radio collar wolves from the Daniel Pack, near Green River, WY began this week. All four collared wolves died last winter. Biologists had not located the 4th collared wolf since early last winter but it was found in the same area as the other 3 on the 5th and seems to have died about the same time as the others- and poisoning is suspected. Its carcass was sent into the Service’s National Forensics Lab for LE investigation and area will be searched for other carcasses. There are thousands of sheep in the home range of the Daniel Pack, but no problems have been reported. We suspect the pack that had over a dozen wolves last winter may be gone.
The Partridge pack continued to test sheep in the Little French Creek drainage. Nez Perce biologists worked with herders to haze wolves from the sheep band. No additional sheep losses have been confirmed. They also worked suspected lone wolves B147, B127, and B157. No evidence of pack activity or reproduction associated with these wolves.
Both the Partridge pack and the Hazard Lake pack continue to be in close proximity to bands of sheep. Nez Perce biologists are monitoring these packs closely from the air and ground and working closely with the producer to address this situation. Herders have been issued radio receivers and rubber bullets and are doing a good job of monitoring and hazing wolves. The herders are also bedding the sheep at camp so they can keep a close eye on things. Sheep bands are protected by 4-5 guard dogs/band. The producer and staff are working overtime to keep wolves out of their bands. We appreciate everything they are doing to try to keep wolves away from the sheep and mitigate losses but suspected and verified depredations on sheep are continuing in the McCall area. After unsuccessful attempts at non-lethal, the Service requested WS to kill 2 radio-collared wolves from the Hazard Pack that have been implicated in the depredations.
Two bands of sheep, on a state allotment, are now in close proximity to the newly documented Packer John pack. Nez Perce biologists are working with the producer to help address any potential problems in this area. The producer has been provided a receiver and rubber bullets and we are monitoring this pack closely.
On July 26th, WS set raps in Johnson County, WY in response to confirmed depredations of several sheep and 2 calves on July 16th. It was suspected that a lone wolf was responsible for these depredations. WS was asked to remove the offending wolf. Traps were set for a week, but pulled on August 1st after no further wolf activity. No other depredations have been reported and we will monitor the situation.
In response to depredations in Sunlight Basin, WY- WS trapped and radio collared a male wolf on the 11th in an area that was previously the home range of the Absaroka Pack. The Absaroka Pack has had chronic mange problems over the last several years and it has been unclear whether the pack has produced pups or even still persisted as a pack. This latest wolf showed no signs of mange and was seen traveling with 4 other wolves. This may be remnants of the Absaroka Pack or an off-shoot of one of the other packs in the Sunlight areas. Over the last several years, the livestock producer in this allotment has lost cattle to wolves. On July 20th, wolves killed 2 more calves and 2 wolves were removed on the 22nd.
WS is still attempting to kill the Green River female who has been involved in chronic cattle depredations for the past almost three years. Her past three mates were killed for chronic depredations shortly after that began associating with her. Unfortunately, a new uncollared [assumed] male has recently joined the ‘Black Widow’, and his days are probably numbered too if she is not removed quickly. He is not known to have depredated and if trapped will be collared and released on site. If they depredate, both will be removed.
On August 1, WS confirmed a calf killed on private land by wolves near Dubois, WY. in a valley adjacent to the Dunoir Valley. The Washakie Pack uses this area, but we routinely get reports of other wolf (wolves) in the drainage. The producer lost other calves to wolves last year. He was issued a shoot-on-site permit to kill one wolf on private property to protect his livestock because of the wise-spread nature of grazing in this area and the history of chronic depredations.
On May 20, 2004, a horse from a dude ranch situated along the Gros Ventre River was treated by a Jackson Hole veterinarian. The horse had gone lame from a wound along the tendon on its right hind leg. When the hind leg was x-rayed, there appeared to be several bone fragments. The horse treated with anti-biotics, but never recovered and was later euthanized. The vet probed into the hind leg and discovered that the fragments seen in the X-ray were in fact 3 pieces of a large canine tooth embedded in the tendon sheath of the leg. WYG&F was contacted, who then contacted the Service. Everyone started thinking: large canine tooth, attacking a large animal in the hindquarters, and "wolves" became the most likely suspect. After speaking with the vet and the owner of the horse, the USFWS requested that the tooth fragments be sent to the USFWS Forensic Lab in Ashland, Oregon. Based on structural characteristics, the lab determined that it was a cougar tooth. Cougars are common in this section of the Gros Ventre and the people at the ranch have seen cougars in the immediate area in the past but no problems were suspected.
Four wolves were recently seen in the Roscoe area and included a gray and a black. This may be the pair of uncollared wolves that has sporadically, but repeatedly, killed cattle and sheep around Fishtail, MT and killed 5 buck sheep on private land the 9th of July. One of this group of four wolves, was killed on the 27th. Shoot on sight permits that had been issued due to the continued depredation by wolves in the area. Asher went there on the 2nd to begin trapping to place a radio collar in the group to determine if this is the pack that was preying on livestock. Prior to this only an adult black and gray wolf were seen.
On the 1st, WS investigated the death of a cow and calf near Dome Mtn. in Sheep Mtn. territory. There were numerous wolf and bear tracks in the area but the cause of death could not be determined. WS was also contacted about a dead cow near Trail Creek in the territory of the Lone Bear pack but there was not enough remaining of the cow to determine the cause of death. The producer said there were a number of bears feeding on the carcass.
WS looked at a dead sheep just north of Avon Montana in the Halfway pack territory on the 29th. It appeared to be a wolf kill but the evidence was minimal. Traps were set and an adult uncollared female wolf was caught, radio collared, and released. An adult female was caught in the same area last year by a coyote trapper and was radio-collared. She was probably the last of the Halfway pack and remained in the territory since late last fall. Toward the end of July she was joined by a dispersing 2 year old male #78 from Pincher Creek Canada wearing a GPS radio collar. He moved south right along the East Front foothills. It appears there are now 3 adult wolves in this pack. We will monitor the situation to see if there are any additional depredations.
Service biologists in WY are attempting to trap and place GPS collars on adult wolves to assist research in Grand Teton National Park. The Park is closely monitoring wolf movements as part of a study looking at wolf/coyotes interactions and relationship to prey movements and abundance. They are also looking at any relationships between the livestock grazing program in the Park and the Park’s only ‘resident’ wolf pack, the Teton Pack..
Information and education and law enforcement
Carolyn Sime was recently selected as the wolf coordinator for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks. Congratulations Carolyn! Selection for Montana’s three wolf specialist positions should be made in a few weeks; about 70 applications were received.
A Lewiston, Idaho, man pleaded guilty in Federal Court on July 29, 2004, to the killing of a gray wolf. He plead guilty and was ordered to serve one year of probation with nationwide revocation of hunting privileges, and to pay $21,252 in civil restitution to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. The man admitted in court that he had shot and killed the wolf during a 2003 elk hunt near Elk River, Idaho, and that he had taken the tail of the wolf to his Lewiston residence. The wolf, an adult female, was not radio-collared. Congratulations to FWS and IDFG partnership in bringing this one to a successful closure of this law enforcement case.
On July 16th the DOI and Service announced a proposal to delist the Eastern Distinct Population Segment of the gray wolf. The wolf population in the DPS is estimated at more than 3,200 wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and the numerical recovery goals have been met for the DPS. All three of those states have state laws and state wolf management plans that will assure the wolf population remains recovered should the Endangered Species Act's protections be removed. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on 7/21. All outreach documents, including a pre-publication version of the proposed rule on file at the OFR, are now on our web site at: http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf/edps/eastern-dps.htm.
Doug Smith gave a presentation to the Utah Wolf Advisory Committee in Salt Lake City on the 7th. About 14 Committee members and 10 members of the public attended. On the 14th he will give a presentation to the high Desert Museum in Bend, OR as well as helping with the Oregon Department of Wildlife state wolf management plan.
Wolves in Wisconsin killed 17 dogs in 2001, 10 in 2002 and 6 in 2003. So far this year they have killed only 2 dogs and neither were in hunting/ training situations. The Wisconsin DNR and the National Wildlife Federation prepared a handout about how to reduce conflict between wolves and hunting dogs. It can be viewed at the following website:
Fontaine gave a presentation for MT FWP for their Spring Meadow wildlife lecture series in Helena, MT on the 3rd. About 50 kids and adults attended.
Fontaine met cooperators of the Ranger Rider program in Ennis on the 6th to discuss how well the program is working and where it is headed in the future. There was also a discussion about data collection and the collaring of the Red Rocks and Freezeout packs.
Steve Nadeau (IDFG) flew to Taylor Ranch in the Idaho wilderness on Aug. 3 to visit Jim and Holly Akenson and their interns, discuss their research, and review the work Troy Hicks is conducting on wolf/elk predation in Big Creek. Steve gave an evening presentation to the dozen or so interns, visiting biologists, and staff on wolf and grizzly bear management in Idaho.
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