Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Weeks May 29 - June 18, 1999
Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges
and continue to be localized near their dens or nearby rendezvous sites. The pup counts are
continuing and so far they show 6 in Druid, 4 in Leopold, and 6 in Chief Joe. One of the 3 litters
in Rose Creek apparently went from 7 pups to 4. The pups that were lost disappeared when the
pack moved its den site a couple of times. Soda Butte pack was located just south of
Yellowstone Lake on the 15th. Four pups were seen at the Sunlight Basin pair's rendezvous site
on the 16th.
Service biologists Jimenez, Boyd-Heger, and Meier trapped wolves in the Ninemile Valley in
NW Montana. Two yearling males were captured and radio-collared during the week of the 14th.
Traps were pulled on the 17th. A relocated male (December 1998) from the Pleasant Valley
pack was located just northwest of Helena, MT on the 14th. A couple of local ranchers near
McDonald pass were notified. Three pups were seen at the Boulder pack's den. On the last flight
only one of the 4 newly collared Glacier National Park wolves could be located.
Bad weather during most of May hampered efforts to radio-track wolves in Idaho. Reproduction
has been confirmed in the Stanley Basin, Jureano, Bass creek, Moyer, and White Cloud packs.
Additional field work is continuing. In Idaho, B20 the alpha female of the Snow Peak pack has
not localized as would be suspected if she had denned. Trapping crews placed a new radio on a
yearling member of the Big Hole pack. Wolf 132 (Washakie, WY male) has not been located
since late April. B-45 the former Oregon wolf has settled in just north of McCall, ID.
Livestock are beginning to be turned out on remote grazing allotments on both public and private
land this month, including several areas with active wolf dens. The potential for wolf livestock
interaction will increase sharply, and the number of depredations and subsequent control actions
may increase as a result.
A calf was killed on a private ranch about 7 miles from the Sunlight Basin pair's rendezvous site
west of Cody, WY on the 15th. The rancher saw a black wolf near the calf carcass and it was
suspected to be one of the Sunlight adults. The Service is attempting to use intensive
monitoring, aversive conditioning in the form of harassment, and lithium baits to reduce the
chances for further depredations. In addition, livestock were being moved a short distance away.
If another depredation occurs harassment at the den or other techniques will be used to try to
further separate the wolves from cattle. If those efforts fail, the adult believed most responsible
will be removed. If the remaining adult preys on livestock again it and the pups (depending on
their age) will be removed.
A rancher in the Bitterroot Valley reported that 1 calf had been killed and 2 were missing on the
17th. This was confirmed by Wildlife Services. This area is near the den of the Bass Creek pair
that may have 7-9 pups. This pair killed a calf this winter and may have been involved in killing
one calf and wounded another earlier this spring. A wolf-specific radio-signal-activated light and
siren device was placed on site during the winter, and while no other depredations were
documented while it was in use, it is unknown if the device worked. Only one wolf was radio-
collared and wolves were still routinely seen in that area. Unless further depredations occur,
control will attempt to capture both adults and their pups so they can be held in captivity until
they area relocated this winter.
There were reports just north of Kemmerer, WY of a wolf being seen near the area where seven
lambs died. The herder reported seeing a wolf and hearing one howl but the only lamb carcass
(the others were simply blood spots) that was examined indicted it had been killed by an eagle.
No wolf activity has been confirmed but the situation is being monitored.
In NW Montana a colt was reported to have been killed under mysterious circumstances, as a
possible wolf attack, south of Butte, MT. Examination by WS and a veterinarian indicated it had
been bitten and kicked by another horse. The vet said this is common when a colt is near a
stallion with mares. A check with the rancher indicated this had been the situation.
There was an error regarding an earlier weekly report that said that 2 relocated depredating
yearling wolves (#64 and #65) from the White Cloud pack immediately returned to the area near
Challis, ID (and ended up in the middle of the intensive cattle radio-monitoring study, much to
the concern of the local rancher). Apparently all those ear tag transmitters (231 transmitters in
the 164 MHZ range) from all those cattle where giving off harmonic signals mistaken for those 2
wolves (218 MHz). The radio signal "drift" was discovered after ground tracking located an
invisible "wolf" beside a cow/calf pair in a wide-open field. In fact, those wolves were not in
that area, #64 hasn't been found since his release and female #65 was last located SW of Darby,
MT. That is one we have never heard of before but other researchers should be aware of that
In late May there were reports of possible calf and horse depredations south of Billings, MT.
Wildlife Services investigated and no sign of wolves or wolf-caused damage was located. A
ranch near Whitehall, MT lost a yearling cow and reportedly saw 7 wolves in the area several
days later. WS did not locate any wolf sign but did briefly trap the area for coyotes. Local
ranchers were asked to report any wolf sign and both these situations are being monitored.
John Oakleaf, University of Idaho graduate student under Dr. Dennis Murray) is monitoring 321
livestock calves with radio transmitters. The multi-agency and organization study is looking at
cause of death among livestock on remote Forest Service grazing allotments.
I & E
Senator Burns (MT) held a "Wolf Summit" in Helena, June 2. Participants included primarily
agricultural groups interested in wolf management. Bangs represented the Service. Specific
concerns included more wolf management flexibility on private lands, missing livestock in areas
with wolves, adequate funding for control and monitoring, and the delisting process. The
meeting went well and several livestock producers, while not favorable to wolf recovery,
complimented the job that Wildlife Services and the Service have been doing to reduce problems
and provide information.
Bangs, Niemeyer, Curt Mack, and Roy Heberger attended a meeting in Portland about wolves in
Oregon. The meeting was held by the National Wildlife Federation. About 80 people attended
and it was well covered by local media. The clear message from the Service was that the Service
is concentrating its wolf recovery activities in the NW US on wolves in Montana, Idaho, and
Wyoming. The Service has no interest in reintroducing wolves to or pursuing active wolf
recovery in Oregon. The Service would consider offering technical assistance on wolf
management issues if the state or tribes requested it. It is unlikely that enough wolves will
disperse into Oregon before delisting (estimated to occur in 2002) to cause any significant
impact. Any livestock depredations would be immediately dealt with by the Service and Wildlife
Services. The soon to be proposed National reclassification of wolves in the 48 states could
address several concerns heard at the meeting about lone wolves. The legal status and future of a
potential wolf population in Oregon will most likely be decided solely by the state of Oregon and
its residents. On the 4th, Bangs gave a "brown bag" talk to about 30 people at the R-1 Regional
office in Portland, OR.
Fontaine gave 3 presentations to about 75, 8th graders at CR Anderson middle school in Helena
on the 2nd. He traveled to Lake Tahoe, CA on the 10th and gave a presentation to about 25
biologists and resource managers from the western U.S. and Canada at a "New Concepts in
Ecosystem Management" course. The course was held by the U.S. Forest Service.
Dr. Doug Smith traveled to Maryland on the 17th to present a paper on wolf restoration at the
annual meeting of the Conservation Biology Society. Doug gave a presentation at the annual
meeting of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition during the week of the 7th. Yellowstone biologist
Kerry Murphy gave a presentation to about 50 Forest Service seasonal biologists during their
orientation near Nye, MT on the 15th.
Service biologist Brian Cox (from Lander, WY) gave a presentation to about 75 students at the
Montana Boys State in Dillon, MT on the 11th. The Boys and Girls (held in Helena this year)
State is a meeting of the top students from each High School in Montana.
The Tenth Circuit Court received information from all the involved attorneys on June 4th. It is in
the process of rescheduling the oral arguments but has yet to issue a new date for those
arguments. An "update" declaration regarding the status of wolves and Service management
plans was filed with the Wyoming District Court regarding the ongoing litigation with the
Diamond G Ranch.
If you have scientific information on wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains that you
want to appear in the weekly please contact me and we'll try to fit it in.
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
Trips & Events |
Site Map |
Site owned by ©1998-2002 Wolf Recovery Foundation.
Site Design and Graphics by ©1997-2002 Wolff Den Design All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site or any material within this site may be
used without the expressed written permission from the author.