Idaho Wolf Update
Week of April 1 - April 6, 2002

Monitoring

Monitoring priorities during April will focus on tracking the movements and activities of collared wolves, and locating wolf pack den sites in preparation for the summer field season.

As the wolf population continues to expand, an increased number of wolves will be uncollared compounding the difficult task of documenting formation of new packs. The Wolf Recovery Program relies on wolf sighting reports from the public to identify potential areas to survey for new wolf pack activity. Past reports of wolf activity that we have received have led to the documentation of the Wildhorse and Gold Fork packs. We are currently working with residents in areas around Riggings, Fairfield, and Salmon, Idaho, and Alta, Montana to document the status of reported wolf activity. We are also planning to initiate similar efforts in the Horseshoe Bend area. A community meeting has been scheduled for the end of April. We would like to thank all those who have taken the time to report observed wolf activity and are hopeful that continued help from the public will result in confirmation of additional wolf packs. The Recovery Program encourages the public to report all sightings of wolves or their sign. Sightings can be reported to the Recovery Program by mail at Gray Wolf Recovery Program, Nez Perce Tribe, P.O. Box 1922, McCall, ID 83638, or by phone at (208) 634-1061, or by email at cmack@nezperce.org; or Carter Niemeyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1387 S. Vinnell Way, Rm 368, Boise, ID 83709, (208) 378-5347.

The Jureano pack, which has spent much of the late winter on winter range along the north side of the Salmon River, is the first pack observed to have traveled to their traditional den area, marking the beginning of the denning season. Although early April monitoring flights indicated most packs are still localizing on wintering areas, we anticipate that most packs will be searching out den sites in the next few weeks. Monitoring efforts will be intensified to identify den site locations in preparation for the summer field season.

B116, yearling male member of the Goldfork pack, dropped his radio collar recently. The remains of his collar were found lying on top of the snow, apparently chewed off by other members of the pack.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Outreach, Information, Education, & Coordination

Outreach priorities during this time of year focus on keeping local governments informed on wolf and wolf recovery activities through meetings with county commissioners in areas of existing wolf presence; informing rural communities, agencies, and potentially affected landowner of known wolf activity in new area across the state; soliciting the public's assistance to document new un-collared packs across the state; and providing information to the public about wolves and the Wolf Recovery Program through updates and progress reports. All of these efforts are prioritized according to availability of time, staff, and funding.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has responded to numerous inquiries about a recently available lethal take permit for Idaho producers experiencing chronic livestock depredation by wolves on their private lands. Program personnel have explained the protocol for the newly available permit to affected interest groups and idividuals, county commissioners, and media. The permit allows a producer experiencing wolf depredations and adjoining landowners to shoot one wolf on sight on their private land. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "This permit assists in the survival and recovery of the gray wolf. It is only being issued because the wolf population in the experimental area has attained sufficient size and distribution to warrant lethal removal of depredating wolves and in this instance, the Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that options for the relocation of problem wolves or other non-lethal control methods have been exhausted or are not appropriate. Under certain conditions the take of problem wolves by private landowners can assist the Fish and Wildlife Service's continuing need to remove wolves that have learned to attack livestock. Assistance from local affected landowners can help the Service manage wolf-caused conflicts with livestock. Targeted removal or individual wolves in the specific locations where chronic depredations have occurred may reduce the overall level of livestock losses and subsequent lethal control by agencies in response to wolf depredations on livestock."

The Recovery Program will continue to meet with County Commissioners, agencies, and host community meetings across the state during the month of April.

Management & Control

Recovery Program personnel continue to work with area livestock producers to minimize wolf depredations on livestock. Cooperative efforts and dedication through this winter have so far resulted in no confirmed losses to wolves.

On 31 March, Wildlife Services investigated a report of wolf depredation on sheep on private property in the East Fork of the Salmon River. Livestock depredation by the Whitehawk pack was confirmed that day. Lethal control was authorized and two male yearling wolves, B125 and an un-collared wolf, from the Whitehawk pack were removed on 1 April, 2002. Necropsies confirmed sheep wool in their stomachs. Wildlife Services attempted to haze the remaining pack members out of the area using a helicopter.

On 3 April 2002, Wildlife Services reported that a domestic calf was killed and consumed on a private ranch near the East Fork of the Salmon River by members of the Whitehawk wolf pack. Another calf is still missing.

RAG boxes and monitors have been deployed on approximately five East Fork ranches for the last two months. The nine RAG boxes have been triggered by the Whitehawk pack on several occasions and appeared to be discouraging wolves from entering calving pastures. The monitors have been identifying members of the pack (most members are radio collared) that have been visiting the pastures, including specific wolves involved in the depredations. B125, B120, B122, and B124 were identified by the monitors to be present on March 31, when the sheep was killed; on April 1, after Wildlife Service's hazing attempt; and on April 2, the morning that the calf was confirmed killed.

On April 3 Wildlife Service was authorized to kill the other three radio collared yearling wolves identified by the monitors in the calving pastures. Wildlife Services killed B120, B122, and B124 using a helicopter that afternoon. Five pack members, three yearlings and the adult pair remain in the East Fork. Subsequent depredations may equired the removal of the remaining pack members. USFWS, Wildlife Services and the Nez Perce Tribe have exhausted all reasonable efforts to use non-lethal methods to discourage depredations by the Whitehawk pack. RAG boxes will continue to be utilized. Tapes of helicopter sounds and associated machine gun fire are being installed in the RAG boxes today in an attempt to prevent any habituation to the other tapes being used.




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