Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Week of Nov 4 - Nov 14, 1997

Monitoring

All Yellowstone wolf packs remain localized within their normal home ranges. Four adults and 1 pup are still in the Nez Perce pen, and the male that escaped is staying close. The plan is to release one wolf at a time over the next few months until all are released by February. The hope is that the pack will stay near the pen and by the time the last wolf is released the pack will have made that area their home and not return to Dillon. If they return to the Dillon area they will probably be killed. The Park is starting the 30-day winter study which measures wolf kills rates by locating packs daily.

Twenty-three of the reintroduced wolves in central Idaho are in 12 pairs or packs. At least 30-32 pups in 6 breeding pairs were documented this year. They are staying in their traditional home ranges. The general big game hunting season is over in Idaho and all the wolves appear to be doing fine.

The Service's field crew is done. They received a Service On-the-Spot Award for their hard work this summer. There are an estimated 6 breeding pairs, or about 65 wolves, in NW Montana. If you can update these estimates please contact Joe Fontaine so the annual report has it right. The breeding pairs and estimated pack numbers are: South Camas: 18, Murphy Lake: 7, Whitefish:13, Ninemile: 6, Pleasant Valley: 7, and Yaak: 6. Some other wolf groups that do not meet the definition of a breeding pair include Sawtooth 2, Thompson Falls 2, and Boulder 3 now, but soon 0. There may be packs south of Libby and near Marias Pass, and possibly in the Garnet Mnts. and by Plains. North of the border in Canada are the Wigwam pack 13, and the North Camas, Belly River, and Spruce Creek packs, all of unknown status. There are fewer packs this year than the past 2 years, in part because of wolf control efforts on the Boulder, Sawtooth, and Brown's Meadow packs, prey declines caused expansion of some pack territories and pushed at least 2 packs entirely into Canada. Next year there will be another concerted effort to locate and collar wolf packs so wolf numbers can be more closely monitored. Please help that effort by looking for and reporting wolf observations. The NW Montana recovery area could hold up the estimated delisting time table if more breeding pairs aren't discovered.

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

There was a mistake in last week's weekly on the number of livestock confirmed to have been killed by wolves this year. The updated and correct (at this time) livestock depredation numbers are: NW Montana 14 cattle and 30 sheep: Idaho 0 cattle and 28 sheep: Yellowstone area 5 cattle confirmed and 3 possible, and 67 sheep.

In NW Montana 7 wolves were moved and 11 were killed. In Idaho two wolves were moved (not including one that escaped its pen and was recaptured) and one (a disperser from the Yellowstone area) was legally killed by a rancher as it attacked his sheep. In the Yellowstone area one wolf was legally shot by a rancher as it attacked his sheep and agencies moved wolves 9 times (not including 6 wolves that were recaptured after they escaped the pen) and killed 4 wolves.

Research

Dr. Sam Wasser has been discussing the use of scat sniffing dogs and genetic testing of scats as a method to estimate wild animal density. The intensive study of winter wolf predation rates has begun in Yellowstone.

Dr. Diane Boyd successfully defended her Phd. dissertation in October and is now making the final touches on her dissertation. Congratulations Diane!!! Her contribution to wolf recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains has been immeasurable. Another famous wolf person and one of the oldest living graduate students at UM, Mike Jimenez, is recovering in a Missoula hospital from problems associated with his appendix operation last summer. Mike is in the middle of his comp. examines and we wish him well.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

Dr. Smith attended a Wolfstock fund raiser in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bangs gave a program at REI in Seattle for the Seattle Zoo lecture series on the7th. The talk was sold out and over 280 attended. Earlier that day Bangs gave a brown bag presentation at the zoo to about 50 employees. Bangs met with about 20 ranchers at the Big Timber courthouse on the evening of the11th. They were concerned about confusion over wolf/dog hybrids and wild wolves and how to identify wolves. The talk was arranged by Marc King, Ag. Extension Agent for Sweetgrass County and he did a great job. Thanks Marc! CNN ran a program on wolves and depredations with interviews of Smith and Bangs on about the 11th, the message was "With recovery comes the responsibility to manage them and minimize their impact on local ranchers." The Service has received hundreds of messages criticizing the Boulder wolf control effort from concerned citizens after the Friends of Animals ran their interpretation of the issue.

The Nez Perce tribe met with hunters throughout the big game season. Idaho hunters reportedly were in favor of having wolves back by about a 3 to 1 margin.

Senator Conrad Burns R-MT is hosting a wolf summit in Helena, MT on Friday November 21st from 9-11 AM to have agencies involved with wolf management to meet with interested parties to discuss wolf management in Montana. The Senator will moderate the session.

The weekly wolf report can now be viewed at the Service's Region 6 web site at www.r6.fws.gov/wolf.

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






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