Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Week July 23 - Aug 6, 1999
Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana areas are in their normal home ranges and
continue to be localized but are starting to move a little more with their pups.
Soda Butte is generally in the area along the south boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The Teton
pack female was accidentally captured in a grizzly bear snare near Grand Teton National Park. She was
fitted with a new collar and released unharmed. Because she was only 70 lbs, had entered a bear cubby
(indicting hunger was overriding her natural wariness), had bad teeth (only one fully functioning
canine-old damage), and raising 5 pups on her own, the decision was made to try to supplementally
feed her and her 5 pups. GTNP will provide supplemental food until the elk reduction program starts
in October and there are abundant viscera piles and unretrieved elk to feed on. Attempts to capture
and radiocollar a member of the "Washakie II pack" (there may be 2 black and 2 gray wolves that travel
though that area) is ongoing but so far have been unsuccessful.
The Sheep Mountain pack, north of Yellowstone National Park, has moved even farther from livestock
than before. A forest fire started near the rendezvous site and the aircraft/human activity may be
the reason the pack moved out of the old rendezvous site.
Boyd-Heger trapped a pup and a 52 pound yearling female from the Graves Creek pack. The female was
radio-collared and the pup just marked.
A calf was killed on the Diamond G Ranch last week, very probably by wolves. Unfortunately, the state
bear biologist was the first person called and he is not allowed to discuss suspected wolf kills. WS
was not immediately available, and by the time Jimenez was contacted at 6 PM Friday and got there
Saturday AM on the 31st, the evidence was destroyed. The ranch manager moved the calf carcass from
the field, kept it in a backhoe bucket in the sun, and then his ranch hands irrigated the depredation
site. The manager was again informed that unless he and his workers follow the established rules
and procedures it makes it very difficult for us to help them. Please remember to tell producers
to immediately call WS and the Service on suspected wolf kills, cover the livestock carcass, and
leave it in place. Protect any predator tracks or sign from disturbance including by other livestock,
and do not allow humans to disturb the site. Having a livestock carcass in the field gives us
something to conduct control operations near and makes identifying and resolving a conflict much
more likely. Compensation is also dependent upon evidence that implicates wolves.
WS specialists investigated a reported kill on sheep near Pinedale, WY. A large light colored male
coyote was involved rather than a wolf.
A wolf kill was found by a rancher west of Salmon, ID in the livestock study area. Because the
carcass was located through normal procedures and confirmed as a wolf kill, control is being
implemented. Members of the depredating pack will be killed or moved until the problem is resolved.
Two other cattle were suspected as killed by wolves but WS investigation did not indicate wolf
The cattle/wolf study near Salmon, Idaho continues with 2 of the radio-tagged calves being confirmed
killed by wolves and others probably killed by wolves. One wolf-killed unmarked calf was discovered
by other means than radio-signals. This study is providing just the type of information it was
designed to produce. As the grazing season progresses, losses will become more obvious because
bigger calf carcasses attract more birds and take longer to disappear. The study is designed to
last 2 grazing seasons and should give some insight into how effective control is- given that this
pack attacked livestock last year and has apparently included cattle as part of their prey image.
A similar study on grizzly bear predation on cattle showed that for every calf confirmed killed by
grizzly bears another was killed but not located.
Bangs visited Dr. John Shivik at the Wildlife Services Research Center in Fort Collins, CO on the 27th
to discuss methods to prevent or reduce wolf/livestock conflict. Shock collars, scare devices, and
taste aversion baits were discussed. A very interesting aversive conditioning study was just published
in the Wildlife Society Bulletin. WS researchers shocked captive coyotes that tried to attack lambs.
The short term conditioning prevented further attacks for at least 4 months.
It appears that taste aversive conditioning is not as viable an option to reduce predator damage as
some would have hoped. Extensive testing on coyotes did not prove it to be effective. Another
substantial problem, even if it did appear to work, is EPA regulations require extensive and time
consuming testing and licensing on any new use of chemicals that are to be released into the environment.
Since placing chemicals in the environment that make animals sick, when the chemicals are not registered
for that use, is likely not to be looked upon with favor. At this time it appears that widespread field
use of such chemicals, especially since initial testing did not indicate them to be that effective, is
unlikely. The opportunity for penned studies is a possibility.
I & E
Oral arguments before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO on July 29 appeared to go well.
The Justice Department lawyer did an outstanding job of presenting the federal government's position
that the reintroduction was clearly within the authority that Congress delegated to the Secretary of
the Interior under the experimental population provision (10j) of the Endangered Species Act. After
court the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Federation held a press conference. A live
captive wolf from Mission Wolf and nearly 200,000 petitions asking the Secretary of the Interior to
keep the wolves in Yellowstone were displayed. The Appeals Court is expected to issue a decision
within the next year.
Wolf project personnel from Idaho met with livestock producers in Salmon to discuss the ongoing cattle
mortality study. Producers were concerned that no control had been implemented because 2-3 wolf killed
calves had been discovered using telemetry and none had been discovered by normal procedures. Producers
reasoned that if 1/3 of the calves were marked and 2-3 marked ones had been lost then actual losses
could be an additional 4-6 calves for which they would not receive compensation. The actual loss rate
is yet to be determined but the longer the study the more accurate the information will become. It is
hoped that the study can proceed for the 2 years it was designed for.
Jimenez gave a talk to about 50 people at the Sink Canyon Visitor Center in Lander on the 3rd.
National Geographic wrapped up its final filming for a TV special on &quto;Yellowstone Wolves" which
should air this winter. The footage from Bob Landis is said to be the best ever taken of wild wolves.
Bangs prepared another declaration for the Diamond G Ranch litigation. Since a calf was suspected
killed by wolves and others are reported as missing, the Diamond G attorneys filed other legal papers
asking the court for immediate relief. Attorneys will provide the Wyoming District Court Judge an
update of the status of wolves and livestock depredations in that area next week.
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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