Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Week of Apr 6 - Apr 12, 2002

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's email and web sites are back. Thanks for your patience. Please forward copies of the 2001 annual report and weekly reports to others.

Monitoring

See http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualreports.htm/ for maps of pack locations and home ranges. The interagency 2001 annual report is available and we should begin mail distribution around April 20th 2002. This year's annual report is excellent, great job Tom Meier!!, and thanks to all those who contributed their data.

About 1/2 of the packs in the Yellowstone system have denned and the earliest yet denned on April 1. So far [April 11] Druid (main group), Leopold, and probably Rose Creek, 103 group, Nez Perce, and Chief Joe. Not denned were Mollies, 105 group, 106 group, Tower, and Swan Lake. Don't know about Delta, Cougar Creek or Sheep Mountain.

A group of 2 black and 3 gray wolves was seen by a MT FW&P biologist near Red Lodge, MT this week. No radioed wolves are believed to be present. A pack member will be collared if the opportunity presents itself.

One of the radioed collared relocated "pups" now a yearling was found dead near Vinal Lake in the Yaak, MT drainage. Its death is under investigation by LE.

Wolves should be searching out den sites now and are denning. Monitoring flights will be conducted to determine the number of locations of denning wolves.

Please report wolf sightings in MONTANA, IDAHO, OR WYOMING!! If outdoors enthusiasts or AGENCY BIOLOGISTS report evidence of wolves to you please pass that information along to the Service. This appears to be a record year for wolf dispersal and evidence is mounting that there are several packs and pairs that have formed that do not contain radio-collared members. We find them primarily through public and agency reports- so please help!!

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

On the 5th, another calf was confirmed killed by Whitehawk pack. The remaining 5 pack members (adult pair and 3 yearlings), were killed on the 7th. In the past entire wolf packs have been eliminated because of chronic depredation problems on 4 other occasions. Many pro-wolf individuals were very upset by this and the previous control action in Paradise Valley and have written numerous emails about this issue. A news story appeared about all the emails protesting the lethal control of wolves and the Service response to those concerns. On the 10th a flood of other calls and emails were received thanking the Service either for its personal response to the citizen concerns or for conducting the control actions as promised. Others were still very upset. The Service's written response to the public's concern about the recent level of lethal control of problem wolves is posted on our R6 web site www.r6.fws.gov/wolf.

On the 10th a large gray uncollared adult male was killed in the Ninemile drainage. This area has been the site of three separate attacks that killed 5 llamas. Three blacks and 4 grays were on an elk kill. Control is over unless more livestock are attacked.

On the 8th, a sheep rancher northeast of Helena, MT [but in the Yellowstone experimental area] had several sheep killed by what was suspected to be a mountain lion. He removed the carcasses and talked to Wildlife Services. On the morning of the 9th a lone black wolf was standing just outside the 1/4 mile fenced area where the sheep herd is kept. Two Wildlife Service specialists examined the sheep carcasses and they were confirmed wolf kills. Nine lambs were killed outright, 3 others died later, and 3 more were wounded and probably will die. In addition a ewe was killed. The lone black male wolf was shot by WS while it was bedded on a hillside above the sheep on the 9th. The wolf was a disperser (#203M) from the Chief Joseph pack (just north of Yellowstone Park). This is the first natural dispersal out of the Yellowstone area into what is basically the northwestern Montana area. He was last located January 6 in the Madison Valley, a distance of about 130 miles from where he was killed.

Research

The Yellowstone National Park winter predation study began on March 1 and ended on March 30. The 30-day study follows wolf packs every day on the ground and by aircraft [weather depending] to measure the predation rate and prey selection of wolves. This work has been conducted Nov.15 - Dec.15 and March 1-30 for the past 5 years. This has been the worst winter weather on record for flying but ground crews are doing their best to keep up. A summary is Leopold (9 wolves): 6 elk [4 bulls, 1 calf, 1 unknown and also scavenged bison that was not predation. Rose Creek (8 wolves): 3 elk kills [2 bulls, 1 cow]. Druid: 30 wolves but in 4 separate groups and each are becoming territorial. Together they made 23 kills, more old cows and bulls than normal plus scavenged 2 winter kill. One bison was killed.

Asher conducted more rubber bullet training in the Paradise Valley on the 1st and put newer batteries in the RAG box in use there. She also hiked into the area where the Sheep Mountain pack had localized searching for a potential den but none was found and the wolves started moving around again. She did the same for the Chief Joe pack which has been hanging out in Cinibar and Tom Miner Basin. If the packs were cleaning out dens in "bad" locations we would fill the dens with moths balls and disturb the sites to hopefully get the wolves to den in better locations. Last year we successfully caused the Chief Joe pack to den in Yellowstone National Park rather than Cinibar Basin again. Fontaine visited the area again on the 9th and the dens had not been re-excavated. Fontaine, seasonal biologist, Paul Frame and Val Asher will visit it again on 4/16.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

On the 6th, Doug Smith gave a presentation to the Sig Olsen memorial in Ashland, WI. The meeting was hosted by the Timber Wolf Alliance and was attended by 100 people.

On April 7 Nez Perce, Service, and Wildlife Services staff met with Custer County Livestock producers in Challis, ID.

On the 8th, the same agency representatives, Niemeyer, Mack and Williamson, met with Custer County Commissioners in challis. That afternoon they met with Lemhi County Commissioners, and Lehmi County Livestock producers in Salmon, ID.

On the 10th, Bangs met with a coalition of representatives from conservation groups who were discussing ways to facilitate large carnivore conservation in the Rocky Mountains. About 15 people participated in the meeting in Dillon, MT.

On the 11th, Bangs and Niemeyer gave a morning wolf presentation to the Service's Regional Office in Portland, OR that was attended by about 30 people. In the afternoon they and Curt Mack and others met with the Oregon Fish and Game Commission to discuss wolf management issues in OR. About 70 people attended that afternoon session.

On the 12th, Mack participated on the Threatened Species Protection panel during the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Conference in Lewiston, ID

On the 12th, Bangs gave a presentation on wolves at the annual meeting of the Idaho Academy of Sciences in Rexberg, ID. About 80 people attended.

On the 16th of January, Montana released its draft state wolf management plan for public review and comment. The draft "Planning Document for Wolf Conservation and Management in Montana" and the Wolf Advisory Council's "Report to the Governor" are available via MT FW&P's website at: www.fwp.state.mt.us. To request copies call 406-444-2612.

The Annual Wolf Conference will be held in Boise, ID instead of Chico, MT this year. The Conference is scheduled for April 23rd and 24th at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel 800-233-4611. Contact Joe Fontaine (406)449-5225 x 206.

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 This email address will not work until DOI email is restored.


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