Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Weeks of Feb 25 - Mar 10, 1997

Monitoring

Yellowstone is beginning to conduct telemetry flights every 10-14 days. All wolves remain localized within their normal home ranges; none were located outside expected areas. Sightings by local residents indicate that one wolf, undoubtedly #27's pup is still in the Nye area (see control).

It appears that some of the 13 wolves being held in the Nez Perce pen escaped around the 7th. One wolf was located about 1/2 mile away resting near an elk kill and up to 6 others are suspected to be outside but very near the pen. Speculation is that several might have climbed over a 10' panel that did not have an overhang attached to it. The plan is still to keep 3-4 wolves in the pen until late spring and then release them in the southern part of the Park.

The Service plans to hire 4 seasonal field biologists this summer for 6 months beginning in April. Interested persons should immediately send their name and address to USFWS, 100 N. Park, Suite 320, Helena, MT or FAX (406) 449-5339. The job announcement opened on the 10th and applications must be postmarked by March 17th.

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

In November a wolf-like canid showed up near a ranch just north of Dubois, Wyoming. From photographs it appeared to be the same animal that was repeatedly seen near a ranch north of Dubois, WY beginning in November 1996 (the rancher, state biologists, and Service biologists believed it was the same animal in both locations). When a radio-collared pair of wolves began using the same Dubois area, that first animal disappeared. Within a short time (February 7) a wolf-like canid showed up about 30 miles to the north at aranch in the south fork of the Shoshone River SW of Cody, WY. The rancher first saw the animal when it was struggling with his dog (male black lab). He shot and scared it away but it continued to hang around the house. The animal spent nearly all of its time within 1/2 mile of the house, usually on a ridge overlooking the house. The rancher kept his cattle confined and his dog tied up. The rancher could put his dog on a 50' rope and the canid would run to his truck and follow less than 100 yards from the truck and dog. The animal scavenged on deer carcasses but was also believed to have killed several deer. The rancher did not lose any livestock but reported his female husky pup was attacked/threatened by the animal and that he lost a cat after the wolf-like canid showed up. On February 28, it bred with the ranchers dog. Based upon the observed behavior of this animal since late November 1996 (including an earlier visit by the Service LE officer that observed the wolf and its behavior), discussions with other wolf biologists, and that it bred with a domestic dog, Bangs, a state warden and a Service LE officer visited the ranch to observe the animal and visit with the rancher. There was no doubt that the animal's behavior indicated it was of captive origin. The decision was made to remove the animal from the wild. Discussions were held about darting or trapping it, then euthanizing. There was deliberately no attempt to try and place it in captivity because the issue was considered a responsible pet ownership and if the animal would have been turned over to the Humane Society it would have been euthanized as standard operating procedure. Years ago a wolf/dog hybrid was brought back into Wyoming where it attacked a young girl, so the state was also concerned with liability issues. Rather than subject the animal to the trauma of capture, transportation, and then euthanization,we decided to euthanize it. It was lured to within 100 yards of the truck by the dog and then was shot by a Service employee.

The 75 lb. gray female canid had no obvious tattoos or other markings. While it did "seem" a little short-legged and its feet seemed a little smaller than normal, it looked very wolf-like. It is very likely that if will remain unknown if it has any domestic dog in its background. The animal was estimated to be about 2 years old. Two canines were slightly chipped and one of its ears was split at the tip. Its skull and tissue samples will be analyzed by the Ashland Lab. It is suspected that it is related to the wolf-like canid that was roped by a rancher after it killed 8 sheep near Big Sandy,WY last month. It was also a young female in estrus. That animal is being held in Yellowstone National Park for observation and the results of the genetic and disease tests. The pen attendants report that it approaches them closer (30m) than any wild wolf did during feedings. A law enforcement investigation is being conducted to see if the source of these suspected captive-released animals can be determined.

On the 9th, #27's only wolf pup left in the Nye area, killed two sheep at the same ranch where depredations occurred last summer. Attempts will be made to catch and return it to the Park.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

On the 9th, a retirement party was given for Norm Bishop. As a naturalist at Yellowstone National Park for nearly 20 years, Norm gave hundreds of wolf programs and provided information about wolves to tens of thousands of people. Norm worked hard to make wolf recovery a reality. Congratulations and THANKS Norm!!

The Annual Wolf Working Group Meeting is being held at Chico Hot Springs, MT April 9-10. The program looks great. Wolf experts from throughout the U.S.and Canada will be giving presentations. Contact Joe Fontaine (406) 449-5225 or Suzanne Laverty (Wolf Education and Research Center) (208) 343-2248 for further information.

The weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at www.r6.fws.gov/wolf.

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






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