Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, February 2005
IDFG personnel have located several wolf packs including the Jureano, Moyer, and Morgan creek packs from the air while conducting elk counts over the last week. No uncollared packs have been seen yet this winter. The Morgan Creek pack was seen on consecutive days during aerial elk surveys. Biologists observed 9 blacks and a gray SW of Challis, and the following day saw them 13.5 miles north in the Morgan Creek drainage feeding on a kill.
On the 31st, another mangey subadult was shot by a private landowner under a shoot-on-sight permit in the Mill Creek pack. This makes the third and last subadult killed under that SOS permit. Control on that pack has ended unless there are additional depredations. A local landowner reported wolf tracks were seen near his cattle which are now calving. If the pack depredates again we will attempt to remove them all.
On the 31st, Smith et al captured and radio-collared 3 members of the Yellowstone Delta pack. A total of 33 wolves have been radioed in the Park this winter.
Information and education and law enforcement
NEW 10J EXPERIMENTAL POPULATION RULE EFFECTIVE FEBRUARY 7- On January 3rd, the Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton announced that a new 10j rule would become effective Feb 7, 2005. Once effective the new rule will immediately allow increased mgt. flexibility in the experimental population areas of states with Service-approved wolf management plans. The rule will also allow the States and Tribes to lead nearly all wolf mgt. activities if they wish to develop cooperative agreements and Memorandum of Understandings with the Service or DOI. The rule is at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ or at the Federal Register. We sent out a news release on the 3rd. IDFG and MTFWP staff also prepared a press release, website updates, and brochures for public information in regards to the new 10j rule.
The International Wolf Center in Ely, MN is pleased to announce their fourth international wolf conference - Frontiers of Wolf Recovery: Southwestern U.S. and the World. The conference will be held October 1-4, 2005 in beautiful Colorado Springs, CO in the shadow of Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods. Proposals for papers are due March 15, 2005. Contact http://www.wolf.org/wolves/wolfconference/presentationcall.asp or info@wolf.org for more information.
The oral argument for State of Wyoming et al. vs United States Department of the Interior, et al. Civil No. 04CV0123J took place in Cheyenne, WY on Friday Feb 4th. The case involves the Service not approving Wyoming’s state wolf law and subsequent wolf management plan as adequate to conserve Wyoming’s portion of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population. A decision is pending.
On the 31st the United States District Court for the District of Oregon issued its ruling on the Defenders of Wildlife et al. vs Secretary of the Interior et al. Civil No. 03-1348- JO. The District Court judge ruled against the Service’s position regarding the April 2003 nation-wide wolf reclassification and the establishment of three gray wolf Distinct Population Segments. At this time the only thing we know for sure is that this ruling does not affect the nonessential experimental population areas. Dept. of Justice attorneys are reviewing the ruling to see what it does mean to wolves and wolf mgt in the lower 48 states and what the Service’s response maybe. Numerous media interviews were conducted.
Information and education and law enforcement
A MTFWP wardens took a call from a trapper on the 31st, who just snared a wolf on Lemhi Pass, MT. The trapper brought the wolf carcass to the MTFWP office in Dillon, MT. Service LE was notified and it is under investigation. The coyote trapper reportedly incidentally snared a 90 lb. 2 year-old nonbreeding female wolf in Horse Prairie, SW MT. The trapper reportedly used proper breakaway snares that should have released the wolf. It was believed to be a member of the unradioed Black Canyon pack.
On the 28th, Bradley (MTFWP) met with FS personnel, forest permittees, and members of Backcountry Horsemen of Montana in Wise River.
Trapp (MTFWP) spoke to a group of 40 educators at a teacher's workshop in Great Falls, MT, on Jan 28. He spoke to a group of 20 hunter education instructors in Red Lodge, MT, on 3 Feb.
On the 4th Niemeyer met in Boise, ID with Matt Miller, a writer doing a story for Bugle magazine (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation publication) on wolf management and relationship of wolves to ungulates and ungulate management. The story comes out in the July issue of Bugle.
FEBRUARY 6-11, 2005
On the 9th a coyote trapper north of Helena, MT accidentally caught a wolf that escaped with the trap on its foot. We thank him for quickly reporting the incident. The wolf is probably a member of the Halfway pack. MTFWP located the pack with telemetry on the 11th, but the only radioed
pack member was 5 miles away and in timber and could not be seen. We will continue to locate the pack to see if the trapped wolf might be one of them and if possible remove the trap- if it hasn’t already come off on its own. We recommend that anyone who is trapping coyotes in wolf range be sure to: Not make coyote sets around known wolf-killed ungulates or in areas of recent high wolf track activity; Use equipment that is unlikely to hold a wolf such as standard #3 soft-catch, leghold traps smaller than #3, or breakaway neck-snares; Anchor neck snares to solid objects to increase the likelihood that the breakaway mechanism works properly; Use stout trap-drags with a little extra chain- even with staked traps- so a wolf will be less likely to pull the stakes loose and then escape with the trap; and Be sure trap stakes are long enough, or use crossed double stakes, particularly if using shorter chains on traps.
On the 11th, Jimenez responded to a call from a coyote trapper near Dubois, WY who reported he accidently captured a wolf in a #2 coyote trap. Jimenez examined the black yearling female [probably from the Washakie pack] and radio-collared and safely released her that morning. She had only been caught by a toe and was in great shape. We thank the trapper for quickly reporting the incident.
IDFG and NPT completed some flights on February 10 found the following: Y239 + mate: Observed two black wolves bedded on ridge West of Middle Fork Salmon River near Flying B ranch. Jureano Mountain: 4-5 wolves observed in bottom of Trail Creek (trib of panther) walking up through burnt area. Moyer Basin: 9 gray wolves walking rim of upper Moyer Basin (this is highest count thus far…most likely the whole pack). Morgan Creek: Observed 4-5 black wolves on ridge above Camas Creek; appeared they had been working a herd of approx. 80 elk based on behavior of the elk (very tightly bunched at the end of the ridge; saw wolves after looking in direction the elk were staring. The wolves had apparently given up as they were trotting up the ridge in opposite direction). Galena: Observed 7 gray wolves bedded on a open hillside East of Redfish Lake on East side of HWY 75 (highest count to date). Buffalo Ridge: Saw 4-5 gray wolves bedded under a tree in the Sullivan Creek drainage. B196: Picked up signal of Morgan Creek disperser in exact location as where Buffalo Ridge wolves were located (possibly attempting to join with B-ridge pack?). B228: Possible disperser from Morgan Creek pack—was observed by himself on a ridge North of Morgan Creek (still-noticeable limp in back leg that was missing toes; I picked up signals of this wolf by himself previous week as well). Copper Basin: Picked up both signals of this pack in a small gulch/canyon west of HWY 93 and Northwest of Mackay Reservoir. Five Lakes Butte was found on north side of N. Fk Clearwater and Larson ck. Eagle Mt. pack was located south of Lone Knob. Kelly ck pack was located south of Bighorn Point. Big Hole was between Savage Ridge and Colt Killed ck. Hemlock Ridge was in the Crane Ck and Lolo ck area. Chesimia was west of Elk Ck Falls. Marble Mt was near Fish Hook Point. Coolwater Pack was near Glover Saddle. Wolves from the Buffalo Ridge pack have been killing elk near the town of Clayton, Idaho causing some local residents concern.
On the 7th, Idaho WS reported that a rancher near Mckay, ID had a dead calf that appeared to be a wolf kill and wolf tracks on some fresh snow around the calf carcass. WS confirmed the kill that day and that two wolves may be involved. WS was authorized to remove them both as the area is intensively used for livestock production. The wolves appeared to be staying near the calving pasture in some cottonwood stands. Trapping and call shooting was implemented that morning. Another calf was confirmed killed by wolves on the 8th on nearby ranch. Thousands of cattle will soon be calving in the area precluding any non-lethal methods to protect livestock. WS howled one wolf out of a cattle herd on Feb 9 and shot it. The wolf consumed another calf that morning. A second wolf was briefly held in a foot-hold trap on Feb 10 but escaped. The wolf that was shot was a dispersing gray, male wolf (B-193) from the Buffalo Ridge pack near Clayton, Idaho. The radio-collar was non-functional. B-193 was still with its pack on January 11, 2005 and the collar had been working at that time.
On the 9th, WS killed the 2 remaining members of the Lone Bear pack. Alpha male #334 [formerly a Sheep Mtn wolf] and a adult female that had pups last year were shot from a helicopter. The male had mange on his belly but not severe. The female looked fine. The control action on Lone Bear has been completed. Control of the Phantom pack near Roscoe, MT is the only control action currently active in Montana.
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
On January 31, 2005, the U.S. District Court in Portland, OR [Civil No. 03-1348-JO] issued a decision that the Service understands to reverse the Service’s April 2003 reclassification of the gray wolf to threatened status. Under the agency’s reading of the Court’s order, wolves outside the experimental population areas are now considered endangered. The Service also understands the Court’s order eliminated the special 4(d) rule that allowed landowners outside the experimental areas to legally kill or harass wolves that were seen physically biting or wounding their livestock or dogs on their private property. As a result of the Court’s order, the agency believes that at this time all wolf management outside the experimental areas can only be conducted by the Service and not by private individuals. The Service strongly advises private citizens not to harm or kill wolves outside of the experimental areas. Any wolf control within the experimental population area must comply with the 10j experimental population rules. The Service is consulting with Dept. of Justice attorneys to determine the effects of the Court’s order and to assess its legal options. The OR court order can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ .
On the 7th, Smith talked to 40 people from National geographic today Mammoth, WY in Yellowstone NP.
The MFWP Director, Chief of Staff and Sime briefed the Montana Governor on Feb. 4. They presented a "state of the state" summary of the history, status of the tri-state and Montana populations, recent developments, and potential future direction. On Feb. 7, MFWP Sime, Area Wildlife Manager Kurt Alt, and Ross gave a presentation to the Park County Commissioners. Approximately 50 people attended. On Feb. 9, Sime, Ross and Asher had a meeting with FWP staff in the Helena, MT area to bring them up to speed. Approximately 20 people attended.
On February 7 representatives of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Services, the Nez Perce Tribe and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met at the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office in Boise to discuss and evaluate the 2004 wolf population estimate figures for the Central Idaho Experimental Population Area.
NPT biologist Babcock spoke with a resident of Round Valley, near Smith's Ferry, ID, concerning harassment of dogs by wolves at a semi-isolated home. Coordination with FWS and WS was undertaken.
Niemeyer and Jeff Foss of the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office in Boise were guests of the Nez Perce Tribe at an evening Legislative Reception held in Boise on the evening of February 7.
Niemeyer and Susan Stone of Defenders of Wildlife attended an ID Office of Species Conservation county commissioner wolf compensation meeting in Boise the evening of February 7. The commissioners met to evaluate and award compensation for missing and unconfirmed wolf depredation losses.
Niemeyer gave Less-than-Lethal Munitions training to a private landowner from Round Valley near Cascade, Idaho, on February 11. The landowner experienced six wolves in a pasture, three of which were approaching her dogs earlier this week. She fired rifle shots near the wolves, but the wolves paid little attention as they walked into nearby timber. The landowner was reminded of the new 10(j) Rule implications but requested non-lethal munitions as the first choice. She reported that a horse was frightened by the wolves over a year ago, fell and broke a shoulder and was euthanized by a veterinarian. There have been occasional wolf sightings on her private land and adjacent properties during the last three years.
Niemeyer provided helicopter capture protocol for wolves to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in the event that helicopter crews capturing deer and elk locate wolf packs without radio-collars this winter.
On February 8 a meeting between Soulen Livestock Company, Defenders of Wildlife, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Office of Species Conservation, Wildlife Services and the Service was held at the Snake River Fish and Wildlife Office in Boise to discuss livestock depredations losses in 2004 by wolves and methods that the state of Idaho, the federal wolf management agencies, Defenders, and local ranchers can work together to manage wolf depredations in the most efficient manner. Lethal and non-lethal techniques were reviewed and protocols discussed to assure the best communications possible during the next grazing season.
The new IDFG wolf webpage has the latest information regarding the new 10(j) rule with regard to hunting with dogs, livestock operations, and other pertinent changes. The webpage is found at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov./wildlife/wolves/ .

FEBRUARY 11-18, 2005
Wolf breeding season normally peaks around Valentine’s Day and this year appears to have been no different than usual. As typically occurs, many dispersal events and unusual pack movements were/are being documented. These typically occur because of the social tension created within packs just prior and during the courtship and wolf breeding season.
On Feb. 16, Ross [MTFWP] and Asher darted and collared two gray adult male wolves on the Sun Ranch in the Madison valley. One is now wearing a GPS collar to help with an ongoing elk study by MTFWP and MSU in that area. The two males have been together with a dispersed female from the Leopold pack wolf 290F. A pack name has yet to be decided. A gray and a black wolf [both uncollared] were seen SW of the Gallatin Gateway area. We suspect the new pair will probably end up using the same area as the old Ennis Lake pack.
NPT and IDFG conducted monitoring flights on 2/10, 2/15, and 2/16. Many wolves seemed to be outside of their usual areas- possibly related to the onset of breeding season. Gray female B218 was observed with another gray wolf, so this potential pair may found a pack in the upcoming spring. Other aerial sightings; 2-3 gray wolves of the Bear Valley pack (est. pack size of 10); 2 gray wolves with Gold Fork (est. pack size 5), and 3 (2 black and 1 gray) of Cold Springs (est. pack size 6). Visuals included; 5 gray with Scott Mt. (est. pack size 8), 5 gray with Calderwood (est. pack size 5), 5 black and 5 gray with Steel Mt. (est. pack size 13), 4 gray and 3 black with Soldier Mt. (est. pack size 10-11), 7 grays (most observed to date) with Galena (est. pack size 9), 4-5 grays with Buffalo Ridge (est. pack size 7)[disperser B196 was with this pack the day of the flight], 9 gray (most observed to date) with Moyer Basin (est. pack size 9), 4-5 wolves with Jureano Mt. (est. pack size 9), and Y239 with his potential mate (2 black wolves total). A mortality signal was received on Timberline wolf B154, which is being investigated by USFWS Law Enforcement and IDFG.
Famous Druid wolf #253, who traveled to Utah a couple of years ago & was relocated back into Grand Teton National Park, WY- and then dispersed back to rejoin the Druid pack in Yellowstone, has left the Park again. He has settled on a remote corner of the National Elk Refuge and now is traveling with 2 other wolves.
The Carter Mountain Pack’s alpha male was removed this summer because of livestock depredations in WY. The lone alpha female raised their litter of 4-5 pups by herself. They have recently been seen with 2 other wolves. The pack now contains 7-8 members.
FWP Laudon received a report on Feb.12th from a ranch manager implicating the Fishtrap pack (west of Kalispell) in harassing horses. The manager called with two reports of three different instances between Feb. 6 and the 12th. In one, horses ran through a wire fence and in another incident the horses ran into a wooden fence. Minor injuries were reported and wolf tracks were observed. Laudon visited with the ranch manager, WS, and other program cooperators including FWS law enforcement to discuss options and possible ways of discouraging wolves in light of the new reclassification to endangered. LE concluded that endangered wolves can be harassed if the harassment has no chance of injuring the wolves- so loud noises like banging on pots or yelling is OK. Shooting near them or chasing them with a vehicle is not OK.
A calf depredation near Clayton, ID, was confirmed by WS on 2/15/05. This private property also experienced confirmed depredations in January. It appears that a single wolf is involved and a control action is underway.
IDFG officers Haag and Rhodes investigated reports of wolves around cattle near the Orofino area on the 18th. The livestock operator believed 3 calves had been killed by wolves, including having seen a wolf packing one of the calves away. Wolf sign was verified in the area. The operator correctly did not shoot the wolf, as it could have been just feeding on the calf and was not seen killing or attacking it. WS is investigating.
The Battlefield pack was located on the 18th near Wisdom, MT airport and four wolves were observed. Two, including the collared female pup, had rope tails and appear to have mange. The pack was located not far from a dead horse which was being scavenged by coyotes. WS is investigating.
On the 18th, WS shot a grey uncollared wolf that was a member of the Phantom pack, near Roscoe, MT. Control to remove all pack members is ongoing.
On the 18th, Smith provided less-than-lethal munitions training to Park personnel that take care of the Park’s facility and their horses and mules at Stevens Creek on the Park’s northern border. The Swan Lake pack wolves have been hanging around the livestock and are unconcerned about human presence. The wolves have been coming within 50m of people and livestock and appear unafraid of the people.
Michael Lucid worked with IDFG big game biologists in capturing and collaring elk and deer in the statewide ungulate ecology study. The research is looking at the performance of big game populations across the state and the influence that wolves and other carnivores are having on them. If uncollared wolf packs are seen in the study areas, they will be darted and collared.
Information and education and law enforcement
FWP Laudon attended the N. Fork Flathead Interlocal meeting and gave a brief update of Northwest Montana wolf program. Fifty people attended.
Smith and Bangs and others were interviewed this week for an upcoming ‘10-year anniversary of wolves in Yellowstone’ segment for NBC Nightly News that should air in March. Smith also was interviewed by a MSU film graduate student who is pursuing a career in wildlife film-making.
Bangs was part of a panel about wolves in Colorado at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on the 16th. About 150 people attended.
Bangs and Sime met with USFS, and WS to discuss wolf-livestock interactions and conflict resolution between wolves and livestock on federal lands on the 18th. They also discussed the new 10j wolf rule and what types of helpful information might be given to permittees.
On the 15th, Bradley (FWP) gave a talk to a group of 25 retired federal employees in Missoula, MT.
Wolves continue to kill elk near people's homes near the town of Clayton, ID. Some of the residents are concerned about the elk population, livestock, dogs, and safety. Jason Husseman and Rick Williamson are working with locals trying to resolve those concerns.
Oregon Public Broadcasting recently aired a 30-minute TV segment on their show Oregon Field Guide, about wolves. It was partially filmed during helicopter capture efforts in Idaho in 2003. It also showed in WA. Niemeyer and Mack were interviewed in it.
On February 14th, Niemeyer met with Idaho WS personnel and a representative of Boise National Forest in Boise to discuss the application of the new 10(j) Rule to national forest lands and review wolf pack activities on Boise National Forest.
Holyan [NPT] conducted outreach over the telephone with a homeowner/hobby rancher (10 cows) near Potlatch, ID, that reported seeing as many as 3 wolves on their property beginning in early February. One of these sightings involved a black male breeding with a gray female. An additional gray wolf has also been observed. NPT shared this information with WS.
Mack conducted in-person outreach with residents in the Round Valley area (south of Smith's Ferry, ID), where several reports of wolves near residences were received in the last week. Less-than-lethal training and equipment were provided. The nearest known pack, Packer John, was aerially located on 2/15/05 many miles from Round Valley; 2 black and 5 gray wolves were seen on the flight.
A local news reporter filming an elk herd nearby Boise filmed what he thought may have been wolves chasing elk. He brought the video into IDFG and Nadeau identified the animals as domestic dogs. It turned into a story on dogs chasing elk and deer.
The new IDFG wolf webpage is now online. New information on 10j and how dog owners and livestock operators may alleviate some of the conflicts is included along with other pertinent links and information. http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/wildlife/wolves/
Jimenez gave a presentation to about 15 NPS and FWS employees at interagency coordination meeting that was held Grand Teton National Park, WY on the 16th. That morning he gave a talk to about 50 people for the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance.
FEBRUARY 18-25, 2005
On the 22nd an uncollared gray wolf was struck by a vehicle and killed just outside of Lower Stanley, ID. IDFG Conservation Officer G. Gadwa confirmed cause of death and collected the carcass. This is the territory of the Galena pack, although it is not known if this wolf was a member of that group.
On the 23rd & 24th, telemetry flights by MTFWP in NW MT revealed- Candy Mnt- S. Fork Yaak River, 5-6 gray. Fish Trap- Davis Creek, 4 gray 5 black, 9 total. Kintal- Kishenehn Creek, 4 gray, 2 black. Lazy Creek- Lazy Creek, 4 gray. Ninemile- in Ninemile, 2 gray, 1 black on deer kill [4-5 were seen the next day by a Ninemile resident]. Whitefish- Winona Ridge, 1 gray plus 5 black but total up to 8- chasing but not catching 2 different deer. Hog Heaven, Kootenai, Murphy Lake, and Wolf Prairie searched for but not located.
The Battlefield pack was located on the 18th. Four wolves were observed near the Wisdom. MT airport. Two, including the collared female pup, had rope tails and appeared to have mange,. The pack was located running from a dead horse which was also being scavenged by coyotes. WS investigated on the 19th and confirmed that the older horse had been run downhill by wolves where it slipped on ice and was then killed and fed on by the wolves. The manager/care-taker reported that the wolves had run the horses a couple of times before but had not injured them. The pack killed several calves in 2004 and several pack members had been removed. WS conducted fixed-wing aerial control on the 24th and shot 2 uncollared wolves, both very mangy. This control action is completed unless further depredations are confirmed.
Lethal control for the Phantom Lake Pack (near Roscoe, MT) is ongoing. On Friday (Feb 18) Wildlife Services shot an adult gray male from the pack by aerial gunning. On Feb 21, WS trapped and killed an adult black female. Control actions will continue until the remaining animals [believed to be 2 subadults] are removed, or March 20th. The March 20th date would be extended if the pack is involved with further depredations.
An uncollared wolf was shot near Clayton, ID by WS Wolf Specialist Williamson on 2/22/05. A single wolf was suspected of killing a couple of calves on private property (where there have been numerous depredations over the years). This is the home range of the Buffalo Ridge pack, although it is not known if this wolf was a member of that group. The control action ended with the removal of this wolf.
Nothing new to report.
Information and education and law enforcement
On the 16th, Bangs gave a talk to about 20 FWS employees at the Service’s Regional Office in Denver, CO.
During the week of the 14th, Smith gave a presentation to about 50 people who were visiting the Park as part of a National Geographic Society tour.
The new IDFG wolf webpage is now online. New information on 10j and how dog owners and livestock operators may alleviate some of the conflicts is included along with other pertinent links and information. http://fishandgame.idaho.gov./wildlife/wolves/
On the 22nd, Trapp (MTFWP) talked to 35 3rd graders in Red Lodge, MT.
Sime, Laudon, and Bradley [MTFWP] gave presentations in Missoula to the MFWP Citizens Advisory Committee on Feb. 23. Topics included state management, transition issues, and federal regulations. About 25 people attended.
The Service's weekly wolf report can be viewed 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