Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Week of September 7 - September 13, 2002

Monitoring

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

Smith reported that pups are beginning to travel with their packs in the Yellowstone area. Smith also reported that he saw 12 grizzlies his last flight and 4 were interacting with wolves at kill sites. One elk carcass had 10 wolves and 4 grizzly bears on it. He suspects the almost total failure of the White-bark Pine crop this year has made grizzly bears more reliant in alternative foods such as elk carcasses. NPS biologists Smith, Stahler, Wayne Brewster recovered the collar from former Druid wolf #254. He was at the base of a cliff and apparently died from natural causes. Wayne Brewster was the biologist who led the original 1980 and 1987 wolf recovery planning, the Wolves for Yellowstone Technical Committee, and the Park's efforts on the reintroduction EIS. Wayne was just awarded the National Park Service's prestigious Professional Career Achievement Award for 2002. Congratulations!! Wayne - You certainly earned that honor!

Jimenez reports that the former Gros Ventre female that denned near Pinedale has been seen with just her mate on the last couple of flights. While she denned and at least one pup had been seen earlier this summer, he now suspects that no pups survived. This type of loss is typical of paraviro- virus that can kill young pups but we have no evidence to confirm that in this case.

On the 9th, Wildlife Services [THANKS!] and Fontaine darted a 50-60lb. male pup in the Castle Rock pack and released it on site. The Half Creek and Divide packs would have also been collared but could not be found. Neither of those packs of 8 and 6 wolves respectively, have radio-collared members. The suspected mate and at least one pup in the Great Divide pack have been seen near McDonald Pass [near Helena, MT] where the alpha female was killed on the highway last week.

Seasonal biologist Paul Frame returned to assist with radio-collaring efforts until Sept 10. Paul had some time between his field work on Arctic wolves and graduate school in Canada. He returned to his studies on the 11th. Thanks Paul!! Issac Babcock started as a seasonal for the Service on Sept 9. He is radio-collaring wolves, primarily in northwestern Montana where we now suspect that up to 14 groups produced pups this spring.

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

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

On the 6th, Wildlife Services killed 2 more wolves from the Ninemile pack. Wolf #389 and an uncollared gray male subadult. Three to four wolves are left in the Ninemile pack. The owner of sheep that have been repeatedly attacked was quoted in the media as saying he would not take any preventative measures to avoid conflicts and wanted all wolves in the valley and Montana removed. Defenders of Wildlife offered the sheep owner twice the value of his eight sheep if he would agree not to keep livestock for the next two years. In contrast the owner of the llamas has bent over backward to cooperate and proactively work to avoid problems and we appreciate her efforts. Apparently when the llamas were spooked by the wolf last week they had been temporarily moved out of the electric fence into another pasture. The electric fence is still working fine and wolves seem to be avoiding it.

On September 7th, the shoot on site permit for one wolf was reauthorized for a Dillon sheep producer. It is highly likely that the death of at least 12 sheep was caused by wolves since 2 previously unknown wolf pups pulled Wildlife Services M-44 devices that had been placed in that area because of sheep depredations [originally suspected to be caused by coyotes] that occurred about August 21. Tentative totals were 32 missing, rancher found 12 dead, 9 confirmed dead by WS and while pulling M-44's after pups were discovered WS found 3 more dead ewes near where wolves died. WS pulled all M-44's in the area and is searching to see if these previously unknown wolves may still be in the area.

The entire Jureano pack traveled through the fladry barrier and killed a calf in the middle of a private pasture near Salmon, ID. The fladry has been in place several months and initially the wolves seemed to avoid it. However, this pack has been involved in several previous depredations. The producer was given a shoot on site permit for one wolf. Because of this pack's history of depredation, Wildlife Services has been instructed to kill both alphas and let other adult pack members raise the pups.

Wolf B107 killed a calf on private land near within the border of the Sawtooth Natural Resource Area. The Service had immediately requested the Judge reconsider his order and asked the Department of Justice to appeal his decision. In the meantime, the Judge extended his order. On 9/10 Justice asked the Judge to clarify his order regarding wolf control in situations where depredations occur on private land within the SNRA. Control is on hold pending his clarification.

An apparent lone wolf reportedly killed 4 sheep in the Wyoming range which is west of Pinedale, WY. If Wildlife Services confirms it as a wolf depredation and it is apparently a lone wolf it will be killed.

Another calf was suspected killed by the Sunlight pack on the 13th. WS is investigating and lethal control will likely be re-authorized if it is a confirmed wolf depredation.

A calf in the Gravely Range was suspected as being killed by wolves September 3. However the range rider did not report it until the 11th because it had been ill prior to him finding it dead. WS examined it on the 11th and found wolf tracks and scat and saw an uncollared wolf 100 yards from the carcass. Examination indicated there were bite marks with hemorrhaging and WS concluded the calf was killed by wolves. WS was asked to remove the uncollared gray wolf that was reportedly seen by the carcass by both WS and the rider. On the 12th, an uncollared yearling gray male was trapped at the carcass and was killed. The control action is finished. The carcass was in the Freezeout pack territory but it is unknown if the depredating wolf was associated with that pack.

Members of the Teton were located in the Gros Ventre Valley for the first time and were chasing cattle. The plane buzzed them and they dispersed. The livestock producer and Wildlife Services were notified, no depredations were documented. Later the pack was seen all together (21-23) and pups are now traveling with adults.

Research

The cooperative research project lead by Wildlife Service Research project to test if fladry will act as a barrier to wolf movement and for how long is ongoing. On the 8th, the Jureano pack returned to the test ranch near Salmon, ID and the entire pack went right through the fladry. They then killed a calf. Initial tests in the Ninemile, Paradise Valley, and here indicate that fladry is effective at directing wolf movements only in the short term.

Fontaine and Asher helped UM graduate students and Professors prepare their wolf trapping equipment. We will be increasing our cooperative efforts to place more radio collars in wolf packs in the Madison and Gallatin Valleys in SW MT. Two M.S. thesis projects in those areas are studying the relationships between wolves and heavily hunted elk herds.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

A wolf was found dead along the highway near Helmville, MT area [NW MT]. Another wolf was found dead along the North Fork of the Flathead Road along Glacier National Park. Their deaths are being investigated by Service Law Enforcement Agents.

A man who illegally killed 2 wolves in the Big Hole area in SW Montana received a $4,000 fine, $2,000 in restitution to the MT FW&P Wildlife Lab, 3 years probation during which LE can conduct searches if any other wildlife violations are suspected, and he forfeited his rifle. Congratulations on LE making this case.

The International Wolf Center Announces a New Wolves and Humans Informational Series July 5, 2002. The International Wolf Center has produced an exciting new Wolves and Human informational series to help foster wolf/human coexistence. http://www.wolf.org/wolf/learn/mgt/basics/wolves_humans.asp

The informative series currently contains two pdf documents which are available on-line. (Adobe acrobat required). One contains tips for wolf and coyote identification: www.wolf.org/wolf/learn/mgt/basics/W&H_was_that_a_wolf.pdf and the other contains tips for avoiding conflicts with wolves. www.wolf.org/wolf/learn/mgt/basics/W&H_avoiding%20_conflict.pdf

The International Wolf Center encourages the reproduction of these informational sheets for your personal use, or for distribution to any audience.

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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