Idaho Wolf Update
Weeks June 1 - June 17, 2002

Monitoring

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. 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.

Tribal crews are now in the field documenting the reproductive status of wolf packs across Idaho. Determining the denning status of wolves from aerial surveys has been more difficult than in past years. Numerous packs continue to travel widely, increasing the difficulty in identifying denning areas. Currently, of 21 documented wolf groups, 6 packs are denning, 4 packs are suspected to be denning, the status of 9 groups is unknown, and 2 groups are suspected not denning. Denning and pup production has been documented for Big Hole, Gospel Hump, Jureano Mountain, landmark, Selway, and B93/95 which has been named the Buffalo Ridge pack. Packs suspected of denning include Gold Fork, Kelly Creek, Marble Mountain, and B105. Packs and groups of unknown reproductive status include Chamberlain Basin, Moyer Basin, Orphan, Scott Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Twin Peaks, Wolf Fang, B67, and B100. The Wildhorse pack and B45 are believed not to be denning.

Project personnel attempted to capture and collar wolves in the Big Smokey drainage north of Fairfield. Although wolves had moved through a few days before trapping efforts were initiated, the wolves did not return during capture efforts. A recent survey by Wildlife Services personnel indicated that wolves had not returned to the area. The program will continue to work to capture and collar wolves in this area.

Field crews have gathered evidence suggesting the Landmark pack has produced two litters this year. Tribal biologists counted 11 pups, the largest wolf litter documented since the wolves were reintroduced into Idaho, and observed the alpha female and a subordinate female nursing pups.

Missing Thunder Mountain wolf B58 has been located again near Meeteetse, Wyoming. B58 is a four-year-old grey male wolf born into the Thunder Mountain pack in 1998. He dispersed from his natal pack as a 2-year-old in early spring of 2000. He was sporadically located within Idaho through that summer and fall. He was last located in the Copper Basin area near Arco, Idaho during the fall of 2000 and has been missing until last week. On the 9th of June trappers, working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Wolf Recovery Program, captured B58 while attempting to collar wolves in the Greybull River pack in Wyoming. The Greybull River pack was first documented last summer in 2001. The pack is thought to consist of 5 adult wolves and pups are suspected this year. The status of B58 in the Greybull pack is not confirmed, but he may be the alpha male. It is also not clear how long B58 has been with this pack, although it is possible that he was with the pack when the pack was first discovered last summer. Further collaring and monitoring efforts will determine more about the status of B58 and the Greybull River pack. B58 traveled a total straight-line distance of over 330 miles from his natal pack's territory in Idaho to Copper Basin and on to Wyoming. This is the first documented Idaho wolf to have dispersed into Wyoming and the Yellowstone Experimental Population Area.

B133, the wolf newly collared in response to confirmed depredations on sheep north of Hill City is still in the general area. Tribal crews continue to monitor the movements and status of this wolf. So far, he is still traveling alone. We will continue to monitor this wolf to help determine the status of wolves in the area.

Moyer Basin pack dispersing wolf B107 has been located most recently in the Sawtooth Valley. We suspect this wolf is still alone, although we have received recent reports of other uncollared wolves in the vicinity. We will continue to monitor this wolf closely to determine if he "settles" in the Sawtooth Valley and/or joins other wolves.

Outreach, Information, Education, & Coordination

Outreach priorities during this time of year focus on informing rural communities, agencies, and potentially affected landowners of known wolf activity in new areas 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.

Wildlife Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), and Nez Perce Tribal recovery program staff presented at the annual Idaho Wildlife Services Conference in Ketchum, Idaho. Rick Williamson with Wildlife Services discussed wolf control protocols and proactive management tools. Carter Niemeyer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discussed the Service's northern Rocky Mountain wolf recovery and delisting process and the National Wolf Reclassification and Delisting Proposal. Mr. Niemeyer also discussed the Service's current approach and future trends in wolf management.

Research

Wildlife Services' National Wildlife Research Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, is initiating a research project on a private ranch near Salmon, Idaho. The project is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of fladry, strips of flagging hung from a cord or wire to form a "fence" or wolf barrier to deter wolves from livestock. The project is a cooperative effort between the Idaho Wolf Recovery Program, the U.S. Forest Service, Defenders of Wildlife, and private landowners. Rick Williamson with Idaho Wildlife Services and Stewart Breck with Wildlife Services' Research Center are the principle investigators. The Defenders of Wildlife and the landowner will be assisting Wildlife Services in using track surveys, electronic monitoring devices, and radio telemetry to monitor the movements of wolves in the area and assess the effectiveness of the fladry "fence".

Management & Control

Recovery Program personnel continue to work with area livestock producers to minimize wolf depredations on livestock.

Program personnel met with the U.S. Forest Service and livestock producers from the Muldoon Creek area east of Hailey, Idaho to discuss concerns about ongoing and future wolf-livestock conflicts in that area. The Wildhorse pack has been frequenting an area that is grazed by numerous bands of sheep operated by multiple producers. This pack has been implicated in two depredations in this area. Wolf control protocols were explained, management options were discussed, and contact information was exchanged. All parties agreed to work together to mitigate livestock losses and to be as proactive as possible to discourage wolves from interacting with the sheep bands. Producers were trained in the use of rubber bullets and were provided receivers to help monitor and discourage wolves around sheep bands. On 16 June, the Wildhorse pack left the Muldoon Creek area and was located the Lost River drainage approximately 20 miles to the north.

Volunteer Opportunity

The Nez Perce Tribe is seeking volunteers to assist on the Idaho Gray Wolf Recovery Program for the 2002 field season. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable field experience while working in the rugged and beautiful backcountry of Idaho. Volunteers will work with Tribal wolf biologists to document the reproductive status of known wolf packs across the state, survey for new wolf pack activity, capture and radio-collar wolves, and work with cooperating agencies to manage wolves.

Term and Compensation: Field season runs from May 15 through 30 September. Work schedule is based on 10 days on and 4 days off. Volunteers willing to commit for the entire summer will be given preference. Transportation will be provided as well as a daily per diem of $15.00 while on duty. Some housing may be available.

For more information please contact the Nez Perce Tribe Gray Wolf recovery Project by phone at (208) 634-1061 or by e-mail at cherir@nezperce.org. Please submit a current resume by 30 April 2002 to:

Cheri Ramos
Nez Perce Tribe
Wolf Recovery Project
PO Box 1922
McCall, Idaho 83638



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