Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Week of September 14 - September 20, 2002
NEW WEB ADDRESS - See
http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/ for maps of pack locations and home ranges.
Nez Perce biologists radio-collared 2 female pups in the Gospel Hump pack, renewing telemetry contact with
that pack. Denning has been confirmed in 9 radioed packs in Idaho and one unradioed pack. Investigations
of another 7 packs are ongoing.
On the 15th, Wildlife Services [THANKS!] trapped and re-collared wolf #281, who along with 4 other siblings
were relocated in early 2001 to Lake Koocanusa in NW MT. Her shed collar was found in this area in spring
2001 and at that time she was suspected of making it back to the Boulder pack territory. She is now the
presumed alpha female of the Halfway pack north of Avon, MT. When she was being tagged, a black wolf was
seen nearby - which is somewhat surprising since the aerial observation of the Halfway pack indicated 2
adults gray and 6 gray pups. Four of the five wolves from the Castle Rock/Boulder pack that were preemptively
relocated in winter 2000/2001 have bred. Two (#281 and the recently killed by a car - Great Divide, alpha
females) traveled 220 miles to get back to the Avon, MT area. That one relocation effort led to four new
packs in NW MT, now that was a successful relocation effort!
Jimenez caught and radio-collared a black 62lb. pup from the Teton pack on the 15th when the pack traveled
south of the Park into an accessible area of Forest Service land. The pack moved back into Teton National
Park immediately after the pup was captured and released. On the 17th, a WS trapper catching coyotes for
a Grand Teton National Park research project caught a yearling black wolf from the Teton pack. The yearling
female had been darted last winter but had her collar chewed off. She was caught is a #3 soft-catch with
a tranquilizer tab. She was collared and released in excellent condition and Jimenez reportedly didn't
even have to immobilize her due to the tabs effect. She walked off after being collared.
A relocated wolf from the Gravelly pack was legally shot by a hunter in Canada. Male wolf #234 was chasing
an elk an hour's drive north of Bonner's Ferry, ID when the Canadian hunter shot him. The hunter reported
harvesting the wolf and took the collar into B.C. wildlife officials. We thanked the hunter for returning
the collar and providing us with the information. Some people have been saying that hunting will never
control wolf population in the western U.S. I strongly disagree with their opinion. Having worked on a
wolf harvest program in Alaska, I strongly believe wolves in most of the western U.S. will be very
vulnerable to hunting/shooting because of the open terrain and amount of public access in the west
compared to wolf-country in Canada and Alaska. Many areas of open prairie will remain nearly wolf-free
solely from shooting. Many of the wolves that have been tagged in the U.S. but traveled to parts of Canada
that is more forested and less open than most of Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming were still quickly harvested
by hunters or landowners.
Please report wolf sightings in MONTANA, IDAHO, OR WYOMING!!
Livestock Depredations & Management (control)
Wildlife Services confirmed that several sheep were killed in the Gravelly Range by either a mountain lion
or wolves but since the sheep bands were being moved off of their Forest Service allotment around the 15th,
no control or further investigation was pursued.
A calf was killed by wolves on the Diamond G Ranch near Dubois, WY on the 14th. However, the radioed
members of the Washakie pack were not in that area. Traps will be set in that area next week to
radio-collar wolves, and depending on what wolves maybe involved appropriate control will be implemented.
In response to a calf being killed in the Sunlight pack (the 4th so far this summer and 7 last summer)
Wildlife Services caught the alpha male #52. He was radio-collared and released on site on the 17th. The
next day a black uncollared yearling male was trapped and euthanized. Control has been terminated unless
there are further depredations.
Goldfork pack continues to be implicated in livestock depredations. The pack has frequented areas with
both sheep and cattle throughout most of the summer. Sheep herders and their guardian dogs have run
members of the Goldfork pack off on numerous occasions. Although no depredations were confirmed, a cattle
producer found and WS has investigated several dead calves which were determined to be "probable" wolf
kills. No control action has been initiated this summer. One additional calf carcass was discovered this
week, investigated by WS, and determined to be a "probable" wolf kill. In all cases, the carcasses
were too decomposed, or there was not enough of them left to determine cause of death. Cattle are scattered
across a large timbered allotment, making it difficult to find carcasses.
On the 12th, WS made an attempt to shoot the alpha male of the Jureano pack because of repeated livestock
depredations. The attempt was unsuccessful because he stayed in heavy timber. This week another calf was
killed on the Diamond Moose allotment by the Jureano pack, control is continuing.
Various legal motions were filed in the ongoing Sawtooth National Recreational Area litigation and agency
wolf control - other than preventive - is still on hold. Wolf B107 returned to the area where it had
earlier killed a calf. Fladry was put up by Defenders volunteers and Niemeyer, to deter the wolf from
re-entering the private property where the first depredation occurred.
On the 19th, Wildlife Services checked traps set in the Halfway pack territory [Ovando, NW MT) and found
an adult male, almost certainly the pack's alpha male dead in the trap. It appears he was likely caught
shortly after the traps were checked the day before and died from exposure. Plans were to remove the alpha
male in response to calf depredation on the 3rd and subsequent sheep depredations. The adult female was
captured on the 15th, collared, and released on-site. The remaining traps have been pulled and control
Graduate student John Oakleaf [as of September 23, the Service's field project leader for the Mexican wolf
recovery program] will defend his M.S. thesis at the University of Idaho on Oct 3rd. John did an
outstanding project that looked at wolf habitat suitability throughout Montana, Idaho and Wyoming using
wolf location data and GIS analysis. John also conducted the research on causes of cattle death on a remote
grazing allotment in central Idaho. Both of those efforts will/have been submitted for peer review
publication. Congratulations John - you did outstanding work and welcome to the Service!
A hybrid Mexican wolf litter was suspected born this spring and the pair and their pups were brought into
captivity. Subsequent analysis showed the once captive but now free-roaming Mexican wolf was bred by a dog.
Her mate was apparently injured during the breeding season and somehow she bred with a dog. The pups were
euthanized after DNA confirmation of dog hybridization. The female is in captivity. This is the first time
gray wolf hybrids have been confirmed born in the wild in North America. This has happened in Europe a few
times and historical records in N. America suggest it may have happened in the past. Despite decades of
intensive wolf research and almost unlimited potential for hybridization to occur in N. America, it is
apparently an extremely rare and isolated event. Hybridization between wild wolves and dogs is, somewhat
surprisingly, virtually unknown in the wild and apparently has no impact on wolf population viability or
genetics in North America.
Service seasonal biologists Jaffe and Babcock traveled to Bozeman, MT on the 19th, to help set up trapping
and radio-collaring efforts for the cooperative MSU, MT FW&P, Service, Park Service, and landowner study of
the potential effect of wolf predation on heavily hunted elk populations. Radioed elk and wolf packs are
being followed to determine any relationships between movements and mortality. See
www.montana.edu/ecology/staff/garrott/index.htm for more information.
Information, Education & Law Enforcement
Doug Smith did interviews for NBC News and a Japanese film crew. Early in the week Bangs was interviewed
several times about a WY G&F Commission question whether the Service thought delisting could proceed
if wolves remained listed as state "predators" [no legal protection] throughout all WY except
National Parks and Wilderness areas. The Service's Director will provide WY a reply ASAP.
Nez Perce Tribe Wildlife Program Director Keith Lawrence, met with Idaho F&G representatives and the
Idaho Governor's Office of Species Conservation on the 12th to explore the Tribe's role in wolf management
Wildlife Services concluded searches for wolves on private property near Dillon, MT where 2 wolf pups were
killed after they pulled WS M-44 devices that had been set for coyotes several weeks ago. We now suspect
the sheep depredations were actually caused by a previously unknown wolf pack with pups that moved into
the area - probably remnants of the old Gravelly pack. The WS specialist searched for wolves and their
sign on the 10th from aircraft while doing coyote control. He howled and searched for tracks pm 10th to
am 11th, and howled and search for tracks again on pm the 16th to am 17th. No sign of any wolf activity
was discovered. Based upon those five searches WS was informed that the Service did not consider that area
to be occupied by wolves and they could re-set M-44 devices for coyote control beginning September 18th. If
any fresh wolf activity is discovered, they will immediately pull M-44 devices and confer with the Service,
regarding further control efforts.
Cheri Ramos, the Nez Perce Tribe's Office Assistant, has taken another job with the Nez Perce Tribe's
Fisheries Program. Cheri was a valuable team member and did a great job for the project over the past two
years. She will be missed and we wish her the best in her new job.
The IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group announces the launch of CANID NEWS, an online journal on the biology
and conservation of the Canidae. Canid News is a new electronic, peer-reviewed, scientific journal devoted
to the rapid dissemination of current research on all members of the family Canidae (wolves, dogs, jackals
and foxes). The journal can be accessed at
canids.org/canidnews/ and will be mirrored on two additional servers:
Canid News seeks papers that are novel and written in a way that is accessible to an audience that includes
an array of disciplines (conservation biologists, ecologists, wildlife managers, government officers,
canid enthusiasts, etc.) concerned with an array of issues (e.g. biology, conservation, livestock losses,
animal welfare, methodology). We encourage papers that make use of the unique opportunities of an e-journal:
color illustrations, photographs, links to video clips, downloadables, and other novel inventions that may
encourage reader interaction.
The International Wolf Center has produced an exciting new Wolves and Humans informational series to help
foster wolf/human coexistence.
One contains tips for wolf and coyote identification:
and the other contains tips for avoiding conflicts with wolves.
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
Contact: Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 or Internet - ED_BANGS@FWS.GOV
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