Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Weeks of December 13, 2003 - January 2, 2004
Happy New Year!
NEW WEB ADDRESS - See westerngraywolf.fws.gov/
for maps of wolf pack locations and home ranges, tables of wolf numbers and depredations, litigation and
funding issues, and summaries of scientific studies.
A 2 year-old male wolf [B-144] from the Moyer pack near Salmon, ID [last seen there Oct 22] was incidentally
captured by a coyote trapper in the Paradise Valley south of Livingston, MT on Dec 19th. That is a 180 mile
straight line distance. He was re-radio-collared and released unharmed by WS and Park biologists. He appears
to be associated with the Lone Bear pack in that area. The coyote trapper deserves special recognition and
thanks for quickly reporting its capture quickly so it could be re-radioed and released unharmed. We
appreciate the help.
On January 4, a Kalispell fur trapper caught a wolf in a trap set for coyotes in the Thompson River valley.
He reported the catch to state biologists, who contacted USFWS biologist Meier. The wolf, an 8-month-old
female from the Fishtrap Pack, was radio-collared and released in good condition. A special thanks to the
coyote trapper for quickly reporting the incidental capture.
Jimenez and Hawkins & Powers helicopters netgunned 3 females from the Sunlight pack on the 19th of Dec.
The net often only slows the wolves down and sometimes they must be darted also - normally a CO2 dart pistol
is used. One had moderate mange and 2 others light mange, they were given a dose of 'Invermectin' to reduce
mange damage. Another 2-3 year-old female was netted and then darted but the impact [fired from a dart
rifle with low charges] broke her femur and she was euthanized. She was in poor condition and had severe
mange that likely contributed to the injury. The Sunlight pack now has 7 members. A collared wolf from the
Sunlight pack joined the Beartooth pack which has 6-7 members. A hunter in the area called and was very
upset that his elk hunt was disputed by the helicopter activity. While the capture was cleared for the
private land, it was near the Forest boundary. We apologized and typically avoid capture operations in
areas with active public hunting. Female wolf #41 [an original reintroduced wolf] was seen with the
Sunlight pack but she appeared to be limping and in poor condition.
Livestock Depredations & Management (control)
On PM the 24th, Jimenez confirmed that 2 calves were killed and a couple of others had their tails clipped
by wolves on private land near Pinedale, WY. The ranch has state elk feed grounds at each end and the pack
of 4 wolves [one radioed Teton disperser] moves back and forth between the feed grounds and through
abundant cattle. On the 1st another calf was killed there. The rancher was given a shoot on site permit
for 2 wolves and WS may initiate lethal control.
On the 2nd, WS confirmed that wolves killed 3-4 calves on private land about 20 miles north of Baggs, WY
[just north of the CO border]. The area is a checkerboard of BLM leases, where numerous cow/calf pairs
will be wintered, starting this month. It appears 1 maybe 2 wolves were involved. WS was authorized to
remove up to 2 wolves.
Three wolves were shot out of Sheep Mountain pack [9 present and 1 of the 4 radioed ones wasn't in the
group] on Dec. 21st, completing the agency control action on that pack, just north of Gardiner, MT. The
pack now numbers +6 wolves. A black yearling male and gray adult female were recovered, one was in an
avalanche chute and was not recovered. No sign of mange was found.
Yellowstone National Park completed their early winter study [Nov 15- Dec 15] to determine wolf predation
rates. There was low snow cover and as would be expected wolf predation rates appeared typical for early
winter. Kills were mainly calves and very old females, however the percentage of bulls being killed
continues to be a little higher than historic levels. The Park has recovered all 4 GPS collars they put
out last winter and are beginning to analyzed those data. They plan to put out 6 move GPS collars this
Toni Ruth, Doug Smith, et. al. published "Large-carnivore response to recreational hunting along the
Yellowstone National Park and Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness boundary" Wildlife Society Bulletin 2003,
Vol. 31(4). The study generally found that when rifle hunting seasons start elk move into the Park to
escape hunters. Grizzly bears move outside the Park to feed on gut piles, mountain lions move in the Park
to hunt live elk, and wolves didn't change their movements as they fed both on gut piles and live elk.
Another publication worth looking at is: Citation is: Musiani, M., Mamo, C., Boitani, L., Callaghan, C.,
Gates, C.C., Mattei, L., Visalberghi, E., Breck, S., and Volpi, G. (2003) Wolf depredation trends and the
use of fladry as barriers to protect livestock in western North America. Conservation Biology 17: 1538-1547.
The study took place in Alberta and Idaho and indicated fladry barriers restricted wolf movements for up
to 60 days.
Information, Education & Law Enforcement
The annual interagency wolf management meeting was held in Missoula, MT on the 17th PM and 18th AM. USFWS,
Wildlife Services, States, Tribes, Forest Service, and Univ. attended. The agenda covered: monitoring,
capture, reclassification, litigation, delisting, control & management, research, LE and I&E.
Preparation of the 2003 Interagency Annual Wolf Report has begun. Field work in 2004 will be pretty much
the same as previous years, however transition to greater state participation in field activities has
begun, with the idea of a shrinking Service presence, regardless of delisting or litigation.
On the 16th, the core FWS wolf team met in Helena, MT. In the morning of the we dealt with administrative
issues. In the afternoon we discussed program status and our future as we transition to state and tribal
management, and possibly delisting.
2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference Call for Papers
Papers are now being accepted for the 2004 North American Interagency Wolf Conference, April 6 - 8, 2004
at Chico Hot Springs, in Pray, Montana, northwest of Yellowstone National Park. Please submit a single
spaced abstract, up to 500 words, and include your full contact information, affiliations, and authors,
by email to: Joe Fontaine.
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a web page that has various links to state wolf management
plans, information about wolf reclassification and delisting. It can be accessed at
The weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at
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 or Internet - ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV
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