Gray Wolf Recovery
Weekly Progress Report

Weeks of Nov 4 - Nov 25, 1996

Monitoring

The Nez Perce Tribe and Service continue to monitor wolves in central Idaho. No mortalities appear to have occurred during the general hunting season. The majority hunters that were contacted in the field seemed to have a positive attitude about wolves particularly if wolves were managed so that big-game hunting opportunity did not suffer. A lone female was located near Smiley Creek near Galena Summit, which represents the farthest south any wolf released in Idaho has travelled. Some wolves, particularly loners, remain at higher elevations, while it appears that wolves travelling in pairs or packs have begun to move to lower elevations, near ungulate wintering areas.

The Rose Creek, Leopold, Druid, and Crystal Bench packs remain in the northern part of the Park. Female #27 and her pups remain south of Fishtail, MT andthe plan is still to return them to the Park in early December. Female wolf #39, loosely associated with the Druid pack, made a long trip north almost reaching Two Dot, Montana near Highway 12. A week later she was back on the Gallatin Forest north of the Park. The only other lone wolf #28 (#39's former mate) was 10 miles outside the NW corner of the Park, south of Big Sky, MT. Pair #30 and #35 are staying in the Thoroughfare area, along the SE corner of the Park. Pair #15 and 26 travelled south of the Park toward Togwotee Pass, their farthest movement south. The former Soda Butte pack, that was released from the Trail Creek pen this fall, is still remaining within 15 miles of the pen, so the plan to relocate them seems to have succeeded. The cause of death of their female pup in the pen this summer could not be determined by necropsy.

Livestock Depredations & Management (control)

The pair near Wisdom, MT are being monitored by a Forest Service biologist. They have not been in a area where their capture was likely. When they move into an open area they will be relocated. A report of 2 wounded cattle was investigated and it appears that at least one of the cattle could have been attacked by a wolf.

Research

The Service, Park, ADC, and Tribe presented papers at the Nov. 14-16 Albany, NY, Defenders of Wildlife, Wild Wolf Conference. The 306 page Proceedings are available for $15 from the Defenders of Wildlife, 1101 14th St. NW, Suite 1400, Washington, D.C. 20005 (202) 682-9400. Over 500 people attended the successful meeting.

An outreach effort to universities interested in conducting research on various aspects of predator-prey ecology involving wolves has been initiated in Idaho. Letters of interest to academicians emphasized 3 primary elements-wolf/ungulate and, wolf/livestock relationships and the sociologic and socio-economic aspects of wolf recovery.

The Wildlife Society published an article "Reintroducing the gray wolf to central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park" Wildl. Soc. Bull. 24(3) 402-413 that Bangs and Fritts were requested to prepare. Reprints were sent to YNP, Nez Perce Tribe, FWS-Boise, USFS-Missoula, and ADC and are also available from Bangs by request.

Information, Education & Law Enforcement

Bangs (USFWS) and Niemeyer and Handegard (ADC) visited with landowners and stockgrowers (about 50) in Wisdom, MT at a meeting hosted by the Montana Stockgrowers on Oct 30. Local stock growers wanted the wolves that depredatedon cattle removed and the rules changed to allow local livestock producers to shoot any wolves harassing livestock. A copy of the latest red wolf rule that allows such removal of red wolves on private land was obtained.

Several people at the Albany, NY wolf meeting mentioned, and several calls also have been received, about the Service's plan to begin a process to finalize a national strategy/policy for recovering gray wolf populations in the U.S. An internal draft of a national strategy was prepared by the Service in 1994 but due to other priorities it did not progress beyond that stage. On October 21 and 22, 1996 Service representatives from each Region met in Denver, CO to discuss future Service-led recovery efforts. The group recommended that within the next year the Service should better define and coordinate its plans and policies for gray wolf recovery. Region 6 is currently leading that effort. This process will include extensive scientific, professional, and public review, but at this time the Service is simply investigating the most productive way to involve scientists, the public, and other state and federal agencies in the process of developing that strategy.

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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