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Wolf B23F, alpha female of the former Stanley Pack shot by Wildlife Services after killing a calf

3-18-2001


The long time alpha female of the Stanley Pack, a pack that seems to have pretty much disintegrated over the fall and winter, was shot on March 16 north of Mackay, Idaho. I assume she was shot near the base of Willow Creek Summit. B23F was a black wolf with an approximate age of 8-9 years.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services issued the following news release:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Authorizes Killing of Wolf A female gray wolf was shot and killed by a federal wildlife specialist today, after USDA Wildlife Services confirmed a calf depredation near Mackay, Idaho. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the shooting, noting that the wolf and other pack members had been involved in livestock depredations near Stanley, Idaho, during the summer and fall of 2000. The wolf, B-23F, was previously an alpha female of the Stanley Basin Pack. 

She was known to have participated in previous livestock depredations in the Mackay-Clayton-Stanley area, and was not a good candidate for relocation. Recent radio collar monitoring revealed that this animal was known to have traveled widely by herself, joining the loosely-knit Stanley Pack at times. 

Federal wildlife specialists confirmed that B-23F committed the depredation alone, and that no other pack members were involved in the incident. "Removal of B-23F is a good example of successful wolf control. This wolf acted alone, was identified through radio-collaring, was not a candidate for relocation, and was selectively removed from the population in a humane manner," said Carter Niemeyer, Wolf Recovery Coordinator. 

Wolves in Idaho are making remarkable progress toward recovery. Since the initial reintroduction of 35 wolves into the nonessential, experimental area in northern Idaho in 1995-1996, the gray wolf population has increased to about 191 individuals. Since the reintroduction of wolves, 18 wolves have been lethally removed in Idaho. Niemeyer noted that, "Removing individuals from the population under these circumstances is necessary, and will help us achieve the long-term recovery goals for the species."

Past wolf and livestock controversy in the area-
It is less than last year, so far-

Wolf and livestock controversy in the Challis, Clayton, and East Fork of the Salmon River areas has not been as intense during late winter this year, compared to last, at least so far. Folks might want to check my year 2000 archives for a chronicle of the controversy last March and April over the White Clouds and Twin Peaks Packs.  Archive of Year 2000 wolf stories. Let's hope it stays that way.

Efforts last summer to save the Stanley Pack were successful in saving the wolves, but the pack disintegrated in late fall-

The factors that led to the disintegration of the Stanley Pack [story on the end of the Stanley Pack] probably began last July as the stories in the archive below chronicle. 

Local conservationists made a valiant effort last summer and fall to save the Stanley Pack by volunteering to help keep livestock and the Stanley Pack apart as cattle and sheep were moved onto the pack's summer range. A road blockade was even staged at one point to prevent the killing of Stanley Pack wolves. Although just one member of this large pack ended up being killed in the various on-and-off "control" actions last summer and early fall, the removal by relocation of the big silvery alpha male to northern Idaho, might well have destabilized the large pack enough so that it dispersed. The mild winter might have also played a role.

In the meantime, the Whitehawk Pack, which had formed early last year in the upper Bear Valley Creek area about 30 miles northwest of Stanley moved SE into the East Fork of the Salmon River area, an area left vacant by the spring 2000 termination of the White Clouds Pack. The White Clouds Pack had been the eastern neighbor to Stanley Pack for three years.

Stanley Pack wolves have dispersed in all directions. Most of them were not radio-collared, but some of them have been located, and relationships between these wolves persist. For example, from 4 to 5 wolves, included Stanley Pack radio-collared B95F and B100, were observed a week ago howling above the Sawtooth National Recreation Headquarters in the mouth of the North Fork of the Big Wood River just north of Ketchum. B23F, the wolf that was just killed, was with them only about a week ago. B95 and B100 had also explored the Willow Creek Summit (near where B23F was shot) this winter. It is about 40 miles NE (and over a high crest of mountains) from the SNRA headquarters area. Given all this movement, the wolves of the former Stanley pack have got to be familiar with the entire country from Ketchum, NE to Challis.

Grazing controversy in the past in the country east of the East Fork of Salmon-

Wolves have seriously inhabited the area between the East Fork of Salmon and the Big Lost River for the first time this winter. 

Much of this country to the east of the East Fork of the Salmon has long been controversial because of high stocking rates of cattle. Much of it is in what was formerly named the San Felipe allotment. Its name was changed in recent years to the "Mountain Springs Allotment," perhaps to try and dodge the onus of years of bad publicity, but many doubt whether the condition of the range has improved with the change of name.
Article from 1993 High Country News on the San Felipe Allotment
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A more recent article (2000) does suggest improvements, but at the end of the drought season of 2000, it was hard to see any improvement.

If wolves remain here during the summer, controversy is likely to continue. Given the drought, however, wolves will probably head for higher terrain and the livestock might be removed early, although given the tone of the new Administration, even the meager grazing rules in place might be waived.

Elk survival in winter of 2000-2001 is high, but herds are scattered-

Contrary to the reports of the Central Idaho Wolf Coalition who want the wolves removed because they "are decimating central Idaho elk herds," survival of elk has been very high during this mild winter, but the elk are scattered into many places where they usually don't winter (due to snow), thus perhaps escaping the counts made by would b windshield and snowmobile biologists.

History of B23F-

The dead wolf was originally part of the Prophet Pack of NE British Columbia. She was captured in early 1996. She weighed only 80 pounds, but was judged to be an adult wolf. She was released that January on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River near Dagger Falls. By August 1996 she seems to have paired with B27M, a large gray 2-year old from B.C.'s Sikanni Pack. They had their first litter of pups in April 1997 and more pups in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Many of their progeny are now in other Idaho wolf packs.

Here is the archive of Stanley Pack stories:

The location of all these wolves might seem confusing. So here is what I have heard most recently for the south central Idaho area:

1. Group of wolves north of Ketchum near the SNRA headquarters (Stanley Pack wolves, plus recruits?). This is a wolf friendly location.

2. Group of wolves near Boundary Creek, SNRA just SE of Stanley (traditional winter range of the Stanley Pack. Remnants of Stanley Pack?). 

3. Group of wolves in the main Salmon River and tributaries near Clayton (new pack, including at least one  disperser from the Thunder Mountain pack which lives far to the northwest.)

4. Whitehawk Pack in the East Fork of the Salmon River has replaced the range of the old White Clouds Pack. On the saga of he White Clouds Pack, here is another link to the great story from the New York Times, "On the Run With Wolf B36."

5. Wildhorse Pack in Copper Basin (this is a high mountain valley in the Pioneer Mountains between Ketchum on the west and Mackey on the east). Its size proved larger than previously thought this winter. Radio-collaring was done and there were 5 wolves instead of just three. It may also be gaining recruits from dispersing wolves. This is a terrible place for wolves in the summer (massive overgrazing), but last summer they moved to the livestock free heights of the Pioneer Mountains.


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