Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Weeks Mar 6 - Mar 19, 1999
Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas appear to be in their normal home ranges.
The Chief Joseph pack did travel to Hebgen Lake and Druid pack moved to the eastern edge of Yellowstone
Park. Soda Butte returned to the National Elk Refuge and apparently displaced the trio off the Refuge
although they are staying in the Jackson area. Female #16 has actually been in her 1998 den for the
past 2 days but we would be surprised if she was having pups this early. Searches on and near the
Diamond G Ranch near Dubois indicate a couple of wolves are using that area, none of which are currently
radio-collared. Service biologists set live-snares on a draw bait in an attempt to collar one of the
The four relocated radio-collared wolves are still moving around Spotted Bear and Swan Valleys. A wide
ranging search was conducted on 3/17 and several missing wolves may have been found. A black wolf from
one of the GYA pack's in the northern range was picked up in Little Sage Creek east of Dillon, Montana.
The signal from another Yellowstone wolf was picked up by Lemhi Pass. Future flights will attempt to
confirm this information. On March 18 the Whitefish pack was located out of their home range in Glacier
National Park. This is the first time they have been there. They were approximately a mile from the
alpha female of the South Camas pack.
The radio-collared yearling female wolf from the Jureano Mountain pack is still in eastern Oregon. She
continues to move widely and has been staying in remote and heavily wooded terrain where capture is not
A group of wolves of unknown size (suspect 2-4) killed at least 2 calves (one on the 10th and another on
the 15th) and possibly another earlier in the Big Hole Valley in southwestern Montana. Control was
initiated immediately but has been some trouble in locating them because known of them are radio-collared.
When found all will be killed. After several days of unsuccessful searching, control efforts have been
put on hold until there is some of where the wolves are or if fresh snowfall can allow for tracking.
A 2-day old calf was killed and partially consumed in the Sunlight Basin. The radio wolf pair was nearby
and wolf and coyote tracks were at the sight. However, WS and Service investigation concluded that coyote(s)
were most likely responsible. The calf had small bite marks to the trachea and there was minimal trauma
elsewhere on the carcass. The situation will continue to be closely watched.
The remaining 2-3 wolves in the Pleasant Valley pack (4 were moved and then 3 killed because of repeated
depredations earlier this year) pushed some cattle through a fence on the night of the 17th. The rancher
ran the wolves off and is gathering his cattle back up. There were no kills or wounded livestock. All
the remaining wolves will be killed if they kill or wound livestock this summer.
Yellowstone National Park continues its 30-day intensive winter wolf predation study.
The Nez Perce tribe continues to organize and try to find funding for its study of the detection and
rate of cattle losses on U.S. Forest Service grazing allotments west of Salmon, Idaho in and near active
wolf pack territories. The study is scheduled to begin this summer. Funding and/or assistance has been
committed by the Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, Defenders of
Wildlife, and Diamond Moose Grazing Association, University of Idaho, Lemhi Cattle and Horse Growers
Association, and Lemhi County Cooperative Extension Office but other funding is needed. The study
addresses a key question that biologists and livestock producers have wondered about for several years.
A few livestock producers have reported, what they believe, were higher than normal levels of missing
livestock in areas with resident wolf packs. In fact the Service is in court over this very issue in
Wyoming. A similar concern about grizzly bear depredation a few years ago resulted in similar study in
Wyoming. That study led to Wyoming paying up to 1 and 1/2 times the value of livestock confirmed killed
by bears because research indicated for every 2 bear kills found another calf was lost to bears but not
found. This study could provide information that will help identify ways livestock losses can be
prevented, better detected, and what causes result in missing cattle on remote and heavily vegetated
grazing allotments. If wolves do depredate on livestock in that area this spring the study could also
shed light on the effectiveness of wolf control efforts on reducing livestock losses and hopefully
improve management techniques to resolve wolf/livestock conflicts.
A prototype of a radio collar activated light and siren device was placed near a calving operation in
the Bitterroot Valley on March 5. The device came from an idea by a livestock producer that lost a calf
to the Bass Creek pack. John Shivik with Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins developed the device
and installed it near a calving operation near the area where the calf was killed. The device was a
cooperative effort between Wildlife Service, Defenders of Wildlife and the Service. Fontaine, Niemeyer
and Hank Fisher, Defenders of Wildlife, were on hand to assist with the installation. The device will
be further tested in a controlled environment to determine the effect on canine behavior. If successful,
the cost of the device reduced and a manufacturer encouraged to produce it, this could be a very useful
tool especially in small areas such as calving operations.
I & E
Bangs and Boyd-Heger gave presentations at the Northwest Section of The Wildlife Society meeting on 3/11
Fontaine and Niemeyer gave a presentation to bout 40 local residents near Wisdom, MT on the 18th.
Fontaine gave a program to about 20 members of the Libby Rod and Gun Club on the 16th.
The Helena office plans to hire 2 term (up to 4 years) GS-5 biological technicians this spring.
Interested persons must have wolf or at a minimum large carnivore field experience to be competitive.
Interested persons should send their name and address to (Wolf Jobs, USFWS, 100 N. Park, #320, Helena,
MT 59601) Those people will be notified (in about 2 weeks). Please no phone calls. In addition the
Service in Helena will hire at least two seasonal GS-5 biologists for a 6 month appointment.
Doug Smith gave presentations to about 25 people enrolled in a Park wolf watching course and another
25 people in one of Dr. Halfpenny's animal tracking courses.
Nez Perce biologists provided various programs including for the Clearwater Flycasters monthly meeting,
Defenders of Wildlife, National Wildlife Federation, joint Idaho Legislature House and Senate Natural
Resources Committee, and Idaho Wolf Oversight Committee.
The weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at
Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 or Internet-ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV
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