Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Week of September 1 - September 6, 2002

Monitoring

NEW WEB ADDRESS - See http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of pack locations and home ranges.

Fontaine flew on the 3rd and found a new pack just north of Avon, MT. The Halfway pack had 8 members - none of them are radioed. They appeared to be on a kill and near cattle, so Wildlife Services investigated and found that the pack had killed a calf. We suspect that the alpha female of that pack may be a relocated female [moved in 2000 from the Boulder/Castle Rock pack to Lake Koocanusa with 4 siblings (Parsnip wolves) (see wolf killed on highway 9/3 below) who's shed radio-collar was recovered north of Avon in 2001. A special thanks to the local sportsman and taxidermist who let Joe know about where to look. The Ninemile pack was observed, at least 2 pups were among the 5 wolves seen and another radioed pack member was nearby - making the pack at least 6 strong. Nine wolves were seen in the Castle Rock pack and 2 were harassing a cow/calf pair. The producers were notified. The Fish Creek pack was seen with at least 3 black pups. The Big Hole pack was also located and it was near the Lolo Pass visitor center.

Another pack was tragically discovered just east and outside of Dillon, MT, when 2 pups were killed after pulling M-44 coyote getters that had been set on private land by Wildlife Services. Wildlife Service had conferred with the Service before placing these devices and they were in an area where no wolves were suspected to be. LE visited the site with WS and is following up to make sure everything is in compliance with the experimental population regulations, which allow for such accidental take.

The carcass of a radio collared gray wolf was recovered from highway 12 on McDonald Pass [just about highway maintenance building] just west of Helena on the 3rd. She ran into the side of a car on the highway. She [#284] was one of the Parsnip wolves that was captured from the Boulder pack and relocated along the West side of Lake Koocanusa in December 2000. She had lactated and we suspect she was the alpha female of the Great Divide pack. We will search for the pups to see if another wolf is tending them. They will likely die if orphaned but reported observations of a black adult wolf were made in the same area after the female was killed by several people.

Seasonal biologist Paul Frame returned to assist with radio-collaring efforts Sept 1-10. Paul had some time between his field work on Arctic wolves and graduate school in Canada. Issac Babcock starts as a seasonal for the Service on Sept 8. He will also be involved in radio-collaring wolves, primarily in Montana. We are fortunate to have such a skilled and flexible trapping crew. On the 5th, Paul caught and radio-collared a 90lb. black adult male from the Fishtrap pack.

Nez Perce Tribal biologists collared a pup in the Gospel Hump pack this week reconnecting telemetry contact with the pack.

Please report wolf sightings in MONTANA, IDAHO, OR WYOMING!!

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

Three calves were eventually confirmed killed on a Forest Service grazing allotment by the Sunlight pack [GYA area] on the 31st through the 4th. Wildlife Services trapped at the carcasses. A pup was captured radioed and released on site the 2nd. On the 4th, the alpha female was re-radioed and released on site and an adult uncollared female was killed. Control has ended unless more livestock are killed. The pack now consists of +6 pups and about 9 adults.

On the 5th a lone wolf [suspected to be the same one that has repeatedly been hanging out in that area] got through the electric fence (the power switch on the fence failed) and llamas were scattered widely for miles but none were killed. However, wolves in the Ninemile Valley killed 3 more sheep, 1 missing, on a farm near the llamas [sheep have been repeatedly killed there] on the 6th. The next day all pack members were nearby. WS will attempt to lethally remove radioed wolf #389 that was previously trapped and released on site and another uncollared adult. Wolf #389 was repeatedly located and seen near the llama pen on a number of occasions.

The newly discovered, 2 adults and 6 pups, Halfway pack killed a calf just north of Avon, MT {NW MT endangered area). No control is planned at this time but a radio will be put in the pack at first opportunity. If more depredations are confirmed the alpha male will be killed.

Wildlife Services investigated a pile up involving around 80 sheep on a Forest Service allotment in the Gravelly Range. Cause of the pile up could not be determined because all evidence was removed by the remainder of the sheep herd.

Research

Nothing new to report.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

On Tuesday September 3rd, Peter Jennings and ABC news program aired "In Search Of America." The show examined how the basic principles of our Founding Fathers are holding up in today's America. The hour long show used the wolf recovery effort in Idaho to examine state and federal relationships and authorities. Issac Babcock's wolf footage from central Idaho was outstanding. An abbreviated text of the program is attached.

Bangs and Chase Hibbard the chairman of former MT Governor Marc Racicot State Wolf Advisory Group participated in interviews with the radio show for the NPR Home Ground Radio program.

The weekly wolf report can be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at westerngraywolf.fws.gov.

Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 or Internet - ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV


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