Wolf History, Conservation, Ecology and Behavior
Gray Wolf Recovery Status Reports, March 2003
From: Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Helena, MT

Wildlife Services in Utah called on the 4th and reported a rancher on the WY/UT border reported seeing 2 uncollared black wolves and that several sheep were attacked in a fenced pasture on private property. The area was west of Highway 30 between Cokeville and Sage, WY. Investigation showed that 2 wolves attacked and wounded 2 sheep that had to be euthanized. This is an area with intensive agriculture and sheep operations and little natural prey. Options considered including radio-collaring and releasing the wolves on site, capture and relocation, and lethal removal. The potential for additional problems in that area where almost certain and there are no relocation sites for depredating wolves, so the 2 yearling male wolves were killed that afternoon. The sheep depredations and control occurred solely in Wyoming. Agency cooperation and communication was excellent between the Service, UT and WY WS, UT DNR and WY G&F, and Yellowstone NP.

Yellowstone National Parkís late winter 30-day wolf predation study began on March 1.

Information and education and law enforcement
Tom Meier et al. finished the 2002 annual interagency wolf report. The report will be distributed both in the mail [when printed in a month] and online [next week]. Nice job Tom! Special thanks to all our cooperators for writing their sections and helping to get the report out in a timely manner.....The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on the last of the litigation against the wolf recovery program on 02/25/03. The case involved the Diamond G Ranch, Inc, a Wyoming Corporation. Gale Norton, Sec. Interior and USFWS. The case was an appeal of a U.S. District Court for Wyoming ruling that the wolf recovery program did not violate the Fifth Amendments takings provision or the regulations promulgated under the Endangered Species Act. The Appeals Court affirmed the District Court ruling which dismissed the Diamond Gís takings claims and the ESA claims. This is another big legal win for the DOJ, FWS, and wolf recovery program.
The CENTRAL ROCKIES WOLF PROJECT is pleased to announce that registration has begun for the WORLD WOLF CONGRESS 2003 - BRIDGING SCIENCE AND COMMUNITY, to be held at the Banff Centre (Banff, Canada) from September 25-28, 2003. Please visit www.worldwolfcongress.ca for complete information. Abstracts are due by March 15, 2003.
The 2003 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, is April 8 - 10, and will be held at Chico Hot Springs, Pray, MT. The theme this year is wolf/ungulate relationships. The registration website is https://keysecure.com/forwolves.org/confer2003.html

MARCH 7-28, 2003

Monitoring flights are still being conducted throughout the recovery areas as weather allows. Most wolves and wolf packs appear to be in their usual places as denning time approaches.....An uncollared black male wolf was road-killed near Bull Lake on March 10. Tom Meier received several reports of 3-4 wolves in the Bull River area near the Montana border with N. Idaho.....The Freezeout pack headed west out of their normal territory and into the former Gravelly pack territory. Reports from two livestock producers indicated that the pack visited a calving and a lambing area on the 24th and 25th respectively. The rancher ran the wolves out his calving pasture. There havenít been any depredations and the pack is being monitored by WS and a rancher. Some packs take a walk-about just prior to the alpha female going into the den and this may be just that.

The suspected last 3 remaining members of the Castle Rock pack were killed on the 11th and 12th. No further control will be conducted unless further depredations are confirmed. Local ranchers reported 4 more wolves in the area. One fed on a cow carcass that died from natural causes. WS is trapping to radio-collar and release any wolves that are captured to establish contact with this group. We suspect they could be members of the Great Divide pack that moved into the Avon area once the Castle Rock pack was gone, or possibly surviving members of the Halfway pack.....There have been several reports of 2-3 wolves just east of Florence, MT in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula. On the 19th we received a call about 3 wolves chasing bison east of Florence. The owner of the bison reported that his neighbor watched the wolves chase the bison when suddenly a bull turned and pinned one of them to the ground and tried to gore it. The wolf was able to escape an ran off but it fell down twice while doing the hundred yard dash to get away from the bison. A few days later WS saw tracks of only 2 wolves a few miles away.....WS investigated and confirmed the killing of a ewe by the Ninemile pack on the 7th and another on the 14th. It appears that two black wolves and a cream colored wolf have been traveling in the lower Ninemile Valley and causing problems. They have visited a llama owner on several occasions, killed two ewes and were seen chasing the Forest Service horses and mules. Recent telemetry locations indicate that the two other wolves, which are radio collared, are occasionally traveling with the other members of the pack. Control is ongoing to trap near the problem areas and lethally remove one of the wolves. In addition to being able to shoot wolves seen attacking livestock, guarding and herding animals and dogs on private property, local landowners will be given training and less-than-lethal munitions as soon as the reclassification rule is published on April 1.....During the week of the 17th, Therease Hartman and several other volunteers from the University of Montana erected a temporary electric night pen for a llama owner in the Ninemile Valley (see above). The fencing materials were provided by Defenders of Wildlife. Shortly after the pen was erected 3 members of the Ninemile pack returned to where the llamas are penned. Although the llamas kept the owners awake by alarm calling there were no depredations. A big thanks to Therease and the volunteers for putting up the pen. Fontaine talked to the landowner and they voiced their appreciation as well.....WS investigated a possible wolf depredation west of Phillipsburg, Montana on the 21st. Apparently the calf died from natural causes and was just being fed on by coyotes.....On the 19th, WS investigated an incident near Thompson Falls involving wolves chasing bison through a fence. According to the landowner 2 wolves ran 11 head of non-reproductive cow bison through a fence. Three of the bison were found but could not be brought back to the pen. Two were shot by hunters for a fee but the rancher had to shoot the last one himself. WS found wolf tracks outside of the fence but no tracks inside of the pasture. No control will be undertaken at this time.....A shoot-on-sight permit was issued on the 15th to a producer in the Mill Creek pack territory to provide extra protection to his cattle while they are calving. The permit expires on April 4th.....A livestock producer near Ruby Reservoir saw a wolf [once less than 20m] near/in his cattle several times. He ran it off and will be given rubber bullet training, munitions, and permit in case it continues to frequent the area.

Yellowstone National Parkís late winter 30-day wolf predation study will end on March 31st. Weather has been horrible for flying and that has resulted in ground crews doing most of the telemetry monitoring. Fortunately, they have been doing a great job and have managed to closely follow most packs. Spring kill rates seem similar to previous years [elk kill/pack every 3 days with more bulls that are in poorer condition than elk kills in fall]. ....The seventh issue of Wolf Notes, a newsletter of wolf research in the central Arctic, NWT, Canada was just posted on the web at http://www.nwtwildlife.rwed.gov.nt.ca/ The newsletter contains information about Service seasonal biologist Paul Frameís Masterís project.....Doug Smith and Wayne Brewster [Yellowstone NP] skied into the Pelican Valley and camped with the field crew, March 24-26. The annual month-long research program looks at wolf/grizzly bear utilization and competition for bison carcasses. The study is in its 5th year. Two weeks ago the field staff watched Mollieís pack [8 wolves] attack a bull bison. One wolf was killed, and two were injured- one gored and tossed and another kicked over 20 yards. But after 12 hours the remaining pack members finally killed the bull. Doug and Wayne saw the pack kill a bull elk and that was then taken over by a grizzly bear within 2 hours. Amazing sights and these observations underscore how dangerous and difficult it is for wolves to kill bison.

Information and education and law enforcement
Gray wolves throughout the eastern and western United States will be downlisted from endangered to threatened status beginning April 1, 2003. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it established three Distinct Population Segments (DPS) for the gray wolf. Wolves in the Western DPS and Eastern DPS were listed as threatened but in the Southwestern DPS wolves remain listed as endangered. The experimental population areas in central Idaho, Yellowstone, and the southwest remain unaffected by this listing action. The new threatened status in N. Montana and N. Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the northern portions of Colorado and Utah [N. Of I-70] is accompanied by a special 4d rule that allows wolf management very similar but slightly more flexible than that already allowed in the experimental population areas.....Fontaine traveled to Washington D.C. the 16-18th to help brief FWS, DOI Officials, Congress, and conduct media interviews about the reclassification proposal.
In the western DPS [outside the experimental areas which remained just as they were] the 4d rules allow: 1. Anyone to harass any wolf at any time as long as the wolf is not injured; 2. Landowners may shoot any wolf that is physically attacking [biting, grasping] livestock [defined as- cattle, sheep., horses, or mules, and guarding and herding animals- such as llamas and certain breeds of dogs] and domestic dogs on private property [it must be reported within 24hrs]: 3. Federal grazing permittees that have a confirmed wolf depredation may receive a permit from the Service to shoot wolves seen attacking livestock on their federal grazing allotments. 4. The Service may issue permits to injuriously harass [rubber bullets, etc.] wolves; 5. The Service may issue permits to private landowners to shoot wolves on-sight after 2 or more livestock depredations; 6. People who accidentally kill a wolf will not be prosecuted if they were involved in otherwise legal activities and they took reasonable steps to not kill a wolf [Note- hunters are always responsible for identifying their target and "accidentally" shooting a wolf may be prosecuted]; 7. The States and Tribes, or-if 10 or more breeding pairs are established- the Service, may relocate wolves that are causing excessive predation on native ungulate herds; 8. No land-use restrictions are envisioned unless the federal activity may kill wolves. There are no land-use restrictions on private land. 9. The Service and other Service-authorized agencies may take wolves under permit for a variety of other reasons, including research or wolves that look or behave strangely. 10. Of course, as already allowed by the ESA, anyone may kill any wolf that is posing a direct and immediate threat to human life.
On the 17-19th Bangs, talked to about 300 biologists and others at "Vargsymosiet 2003" a large carnivore conference in Ostersund, Sweden. Talks on the Big 5 Carnivores- humans, wolves, lynx, wolverine, and brown bears discussed ecology, livestock and hunting conflicts, public attitudes, and conservation in Scandinavia/N. Europe. The other invited foreign speakers were Christoph Pomberger and Barbara Promberger-Fuerpass who work on large carnivore issues in Romania.....The Nez Perce Tribe conducted a public outreach meeting in Grangeville, Idaho on March 20 to discuss wolf management, status and where wolf recovery is going in light of the recent reclassification. About 10 people attended the meeting. The Tribe will be hosting additional meetings in other areas of the state where reports of new wolf activity have been received, such as Benewah, Latah, and Oneida counties.....Skip Stonesifer (USFWS, Partners for Wildlife, in the Central WA Field Office) gave a talk to the Clearwater Outfitters and the Clearwater National Forest on the wolf delisting/downlisting process. There were about 40 Outfitters present as well as 3 congressional aids and about 15-20 Forest Service folks at the meeting. The primary focus of this meting was for Outfitters and Forest personnel to go over outfitter permit requirements and changes etc. Idaho Fish and Game gave a talk on the Clearwater elk herd, that has been declining for many years. There was a lot of concern over perceptions of accurate communication about hunter/elk/wolf relationships.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV