To learn more about the range of wolf movements, distances traveled on successive days, and opportunistically finding kills for analysis, we have altered the flight schedule. We will be using a systematic sampling scheme with replacement. The experimental area will be divided into three sampling areas from north to south. Within each area we will randomly choose and locate single wolves, wolf pairs and packs (three or more wolves) for three consecutive days. This will be coupled with our monitoring flights and sample period. The effort to collect information about kills and document the number of wolves traveling together will be tiered to a non-biased sampling procedure from the aerial flights. The basis for systematic and long term monitoring is to provide as much information with minimal cost. This type of intensive monitoring will continue through the winter. The method that will be used to collect information about the prey being killed by wolves is consistent with the method being used in Yellowstone National Park.
Female wolf B 15, with another wolf most of the summer, was between Cache and Fish Creek, Lolo National Forest, approximately 5 miles north of Lolo Hot Springs. Meanwhile male wolf B 18 traveled 40 miles from Elk City to Kelly Creek, approximately 12 miles from B-15. Male B 33 was near Dixie Summit. B5 and 10 were at the headwaters of Meadow Creek. B 20 and 31 could not be found. Biologist suspect that their radio collars may have malfunctioned. Additional radio collars have erroneously gone on mortality mode. Teleonics explained that they received a bad batch of switches that are probably causingthe problem. The switches erroneously turn on the mortality mode and leak mercury into the system causing a complete failure. It appears that most of the malfunctions are showing up on the Idaho wolves.
The Chamberlin pack was near Mile High in Coxey Creek, which is a winter range. Male wolf B 24 traveled to the South Fork of the Salmon River, possibly with another wolf. Wolf B 22 was near Pinnacles, Big Creek drainage with a black wolf that is either non-radio collared or wearing a non-functioning radio collar.
The Bear Valley pack is near Warm Lake, which is a winter range. The Landmark pack was in Pistol Creek drainage. Wolf pair B 23 and 27 were near Falconberry in Loon Creek drainage. Wolf pairs B 25, 32 and B 29, 27 remain in the Panthar Creek drainage near a winter range. Male wolf B 12 was in Yankee Fork and it appears that his collar is fading. B 35 was in the Warm Springs area near the Triple T Ranch. B 36 was in the Upper Lost River Range.
On January 13, all the Yellowstone wolves were in traditional use areas: Crystal pack in Pelican Valley, Leopold, Rose, and Druid packs in the northern range; pair R 30 and 35 in Thorofare; and the Soda Butte pack near Heart Lake. Wolves R 28 and 39 were not located.
On January, 14, R 27 and one pup were observed to be in a "dartable" location. On the 16th, R 27 was captured but the pup was not with her. Backtracking of R 27 indicated that the pup was not in the area. R 27 is being held in the Pelican Valley acclimation pen. She was returned to the Park because she killed at least 8 sheep during the summer of 1996. Although depredations had ceased by mid-July we believed it would be better to remove her from the area.
Wolf pair R 15 and 26 were about 15 miles northeast of Dubois, Wyoming. Grand Teton biologists are monitoring this pair.
The Thompson River alpha female is still in the Browns Meadow area,with at least 2-4 other wolves. This is approximately 40 airline miles from her territory. Tracks suggest that a pair of wolves are still in the Thompson River territory. The Pleasant Valley pair were observed on Dahl Lake but no pup was with them. The Murphy Lake pack is still in two separate locations suggesting a possible split of that pack. It appears that the Sawtooth pack is approximately 30 miles north of their territory near Antelope Butte. Weather conditions have prevented us from obtaining any locations from fixed-wing flights.
Fontaine did a phone interview to WTBH in Boston about the similarities of the natural recolonizing wolf population in northwestern Montana and southeastern France. Wolves have been gone from France since their eradication in 18???. The wolves are now fully protected by the government and are dispersing into southeastern France from Italy. Local shepherds are upset that they have lost some sheep to the wolves even though they have been compensated for their losses. The interview was broadcast to England and France.
Park biologists have been working with Time photographer Bill Campbell on an up and coming story.