Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report
Week October 14 - October 20, 2000
Packs in the Yellowstone, central Idaho, and NW Montana are moving throughout their homes ranges. See the
1999 annual report
http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/wolf/annualrpt99/ for a map of those pack locations and home ranges.
Breeding Pair update - the latest potential numbers of packs with pups indicate that there still maybe
more than 30 breeding pairs in the northern Rocky Mountains (estimated max of 435-505 wolves). It is still
possible that 2000 could be the first year of the 3-year count down toward delisting but unlikely because
the "official" count is made on December 31 and some loss of adults and pups is expected due to illegal
mortality, agency control actions, and natural causes.
The tentative counts are as follows: NW Montana (estimated max. 80-100 wolves) - 6 yes and 4 maybe/likely -
included in yes - Camas, Whitefish, Murphy Lake, Ninemile, Spotted Bear, Boulder, and maybe/likely - Graves
Creek, Little Wolf, Danaher, and Alice Creek. Little Wolf, Danaher, Boulder, and Alice Creek are uncollared
packs which we will try and get radios in this fall/winter. Meier and volunteers caught, radioed, and
released 2 young of the year females (56lb. And 58 lb.) in the Murphy Lake area. All traps have been
pulled because of the start of the general big game rifle hunting season which starts this weekend.
In the Yellowstone Experimental Area (estimated max. of 165-185 wolves) - 11 yes, 2 maybe/likely, and 3
no. Yes are - Druid, Rose, Leopold, Chief Joe, Nez Perce, Soda Butte, Gros Ventre, Sunlight Basin, Absorka
(#153), #152 group, and Taylor Peaks ( #115 Group). Maybe/likely is Beartooth (#9) and Wall Creek
(uncollared). Packs that didn't breed are Crystal, Sheep Mtn. (3 males in captivity), and Teton.
In the central Idaho Experimental Area (estimated max. of 190-220 wolves) - 16 yes (but several now have
only 1 pup confirmed), 1 maybe/likely. Yes - Selway, Kelly, Chamberlin, Thunder Mtn., Landmark, Jureano,
Moyer, Stanley, Orphan, Wildhorse, Big Smokey, White Cloud, Marble Mtn., Chamberlin #2 (female from the
Chamberlin pack with pups but separate from the pack), Whitehawk, and B36 (relocated White Cloud female)
which has traveled into the Big Hole in southwestern Montana. 1 maybe/likely - The Mt. Hagggin pair
(relocated Twin Peaks wolves) are believed to have pups but a ground search was unsuccessful at counting
Please report wolf sightings!! Signs have been posted at several trailheads asking hunters to report wolf
observations. We have copies of these signs for any agency folks willing to post them at trailheads,
information centers, offices, or hunter check stations, etc. Thanks to those who have been forwarding us
reports it has helped located several potential new packs. When we are this close to 30 breeding pair,
each wolf pack becomes very important.
Livestock Depredations & Management (control)
A very rough summary of control actions for year 200 are as follows: In NW Montana, 3 calves and 2 sheep
were confirmed killed by wolves. In response to continued cattle depredations by the Little Wolf pack, 4
wolves were killed. In response to the sheep killed near Lincoln, MT and another calf that was killed by
the Graves Creek pack- no control, other than to try and place additional collars in the packs, was
conducted. In central Idaho wolves were confirmed to have killed 15 calves, 55 sheep, and 1 guard dog.
Another 47 sheep, 2 calves, and 2 guard dogs were probable/possible depredations. In response to 55
complaints, 24 were confirmed by WS. In response about 16 wolves were moved or killed. In the greater
Yellowstone area, wolves killed at least 3 cattle, 15 sheep, and 5 dogs. Another 16 sheep, 3 horses were
probably/possibly killed and 3 dogs were wounded. In response 2 wolves were killed and another was
collared and released on-site. The Service and its cooperators continue to try to update and standardize
record-keeping to make depredation data more accurate and available.
Jimenez investigated a report of another adult horse being killed in the Dubois, WY area. Just days before
this last incident, 2 colts were possibly/probably killed by wolves about 2 days apart. The adult horse’s
carcass was found in the middle of a 20 acre pasture and there were no obvious signs of struggle. By the
time it was examined it was mostly consumed but there appeared to be bite marks on the very lower hind
legs. There was abundant wolf sign and within 2 days of being seen alive the host of ravens, eagles,
coyotes and wolves reduce the carcass to a bare skeleton. A group of wolves, which may include a dispersing
radioed wolf (#114) uses this area. The rancher reported seeing 4 wolves feeding on the carcass. The
depredations were classified as 2 possible and one probable. No control is planned at this time other than
trying to continue to capture, radio-collar, and release a member of the group. If more horses are killed
the entire group will likely be removed.
In Northwest Montana a yearling female wolf (76) has started hanging around the stock corrals of the
Spotted Bear Ranger Station and chewed up 10-12 mule halters. The District Ranger approached within 30
feet of the wolf and it would not leave until she started to yell and her dog started barking. The same
wolf is also frequenting a nearby lodge and was chased off the porch with a broom. It also chewed on a
saddle near the back door of the lodge. Fontaine with the help of the Wind River Bear Institute, that was
in the area to condition a grizzly bear, were able to shoot cracker shells at the wolf on 3 separate
occasions in the vicinity of the corrals and on the main road. On the 3rd attempt the wolf was starting to
display some flight behavior from the vehicle. Light and siren devices were also placed in strategic areas
of the corrals and lodge to scare her away. There have been no additional incidents. Thanks again for the
help from the Wind River Bear Institute.
The "training" of wolves to avoid cattle as prey will begin the final round of testing this month. The
program is a cooperative one between USDA Wildlife Services (Dr. John Shivik leads the research), the
Service (who coordinates overall program), Turner Endangered Species Fund (cares for the wolves, provides
logistic support, will assist with post release monitoring), National Park Service (provided the pen and
will help with post-release monitoring), Defenders of Wildlife (supports aversive conditioning), and
University of Montana (study design and expertise).
Both radio and training collars were put on the wolves on the 17th. A test was conducted on the 18th when
a 400lb calf, wearing the triggering transmitter, was put in the pen. After 2 hours the boldest wolf
(same one that tested the bison calf and calf hide) approached the rear of the calf as it was lying down.
The calf jumped up and the wolf immediately grabbed it by its lower hind leg. In accordance with the
animal care protocol, the field crew then stood up and yelled (from the observation ridge about 400 m
away) and the wolf ran away from the calf. The calf was not injured but it appeared that the wolf’s collar
did not work and the result, if the incident had not been interrupted, remains uncertain. We were surprised
by what appeared to be the first physical test of a calf by these wolves, even though the calf is now
several times larger than during other tests, when the calf was left in the pen over night. We speculate
that the training collar was not making contact through the thick winter fur and we will remove the
radio-collar and reposition the training collars before conducting the next tests. A media tour (LA
Times, Alberquerque, NM TV, Helena Independent Record, CNN, freelance radio and print reporters) was
conducted on the 19th but a calf was not introduced to the pen because of the previous day’s events. The
3 wolves from the Sheep Mountain pack will be exposed to cattle (calves) again to test the system. During
twice weekly wolf feedings, members of the press will be allowed to accompany the TESF biologist. The
wolves will be released around December 1, after the big game hunting season ends, if subsequent testing
shows they learn to avoid livestock. If they can not learn to avoid making physical contact with livestock
they will be euthanized.
Information, Education & Law Enforcement
The week of October 15th was National Wolf Awareness Week. We have 100's of the posters (drawing of
Mexican wolf on front and national distribution map and information on back) to display if anyone (agency
or educators only please) wants them. We also have 200 copies of a children’s informational newsletter
with some wolf stickers. They are both great to hand out to classrooms, etc., if you are doing that type
of thing. Call 406-449-5225 x204.
Carter, Mark Collinge (USDA Wildlife Services), and Suzanne Laverty (Defenders) gave presentations to
about 15 people at the Boise, ID Library for Wolf Awareness Week on the 19th.
Jimenez gave a presentation to about 45 members of the Cheyenne, WY Audubon Society on the 17th. Jimenez
gave a presentation to a Wolf Awareness Week public meeting in Olympia, WA on the 21st.
Fontaine gave a presentation to about 25 Capital High advanced biology students in Helena prior to their
travel to Yellowstone National Park.
National Wolf Reclassification Proposed
The proposal can be accessed at http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf.
The 120-day public comment period ends NOVEMBER 13th. Anyone wanting to be placed on the Service's mailing
list should write to US Fish and Wildlife Service, Gray Wolf Review, 1 Federal Dr., Fort Snelling, MN
55111-4056, use the firstname.lastname@example.org address, or phone
612-713-7337. A final decision is likely in July 2001. All comments on the proposal should be sent to
email@example.com or by mail to: Content Analysis Team, Wolf
Comments, 200 East Broadway, P.O. Box 7669, Room 301, Missoula, MT 59807.
National Reclassification Meetings
A hearing was held in Helena, MT on Oct. 18th at Cavanaugh’s Colonial Inn-Best Western. About 50 people
attended and 29 gave testimony. A hearing was held in Spokane, WA on the 17th. Thirteen people gave
testimony. A hearing was held in Everett, WA on the 19th. All the hearings have been well covered by TV
and print media. Nearly all comments have opposed the Service’s proposal. Comments are promoting more
federal protection under the ESA, and more wolves in more places. There is also strong mistrust of the
ability of the western state’s Wildlife Management agencies ability to conserve wolves in the face of the
anti-wolf sentiments coming out of the state and local political governments.
The hearing in Denver (Lakewood), CO will be held on October 26th at the Holiday Inn at Hampden.
Other hearings will also be held in Portland, OR on Oct. 24th; LaGrande, OR on Oct. 26; Boise, ID on Oct.
31 (Halloween); and Idaho Falls, ID on November 2.
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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