Idaho Wolf Update
September 15 1999
Gray wolves identified in these updates are referenced as B-XX-Y. The B identifies the wolf as a central Idaho animal, numbers identify individuals, and the Y indicates male (M) or female (F).
Reproduction has now been confirmed for 12 wolf packs in the Central Idaho Experimental Population Area. These packs include Bass Creek, Big Hole, Chamberlain Basin, Jureano Mountain, Kelly Creek, Landmark, Moyer Basin, Selway, Stanley Basin, Thunder Mountain, Twin Peaks, and White Cloud. All available evidence indicates the Snow Peak pack may not have reproduced pups this year. These 12 packs produced a minimum of 68-72 pups for an average litter size of 5.7-6.0 pups per pack. It is important to note that the number of breeding pairs will not be determined until 1 January 2000. A breeding pair is defined as "an adult male and an adult female wolf that have produced at least 2 pups that survived until December 31 of the year of their birth...". The Bass Creek and Jureano Mountain packs currently do not qualify for breeding pair status. The Bass Creek pack, currently in captivity, will not be counted as a breeding pair until released back to the wild and the pack acquires a new alpha male wolf. The Jureano Mountain pack is currently without an alpha pair (See Management and Control). To date, there are 10 packs that qualify for breeding pair status. Barring further mortalities, we are still hopeful that Idaho will continue to make progress toward recovery by maintaining 10 breeding pairs for the second year in a row.
So far, capturing and collaring efforts have resulted in 22 captures, 16 wolves fitted with new radio- collars, and one wolf re-collared. The five Bass Creek pups will be fitted with radio collars when released into the wild. Efforts will continue through October, depending on weather, to capture and collar additional wolves.
North of the Salmon River
Panhandle, Clearwater, and Lolo National Forests
The Snow Peak pack including alpha pair B-20-F and B-31-M continues to move within the upper St. Joe and North Fork of the Clearwater drainages. Most recently, the Snow Peak pack was located within the Long Creek drainage; headwater tributary to the North Fork Clearwater River. This pack has moved extensively throughout their home range complicating efforts to document reproduction. Spring aerial breeding pair surveys showed no indication of denning activity for this pack. In addition, aerial locations throughout the spring and summer months showed no evidence of localization around rendezvous sites. Ground crews finally got a chance look at the Snow Peak pack in August. Although members of this pack were observed over a two day period, no pups were sighted. Although we can not confirm lack of reproduction, all available information indicates that this pack may not have produced pups this year. Alpha male wolf B31 has had a malfunctioning collar for the past two years; causing his transmitter to use up battery power faster than normal. We anticipated premature battery failure for this collar. His signal was lost and he has not been located since before last breeding season in mid September of last year. Although it was assumed that his collar's battery had failed and he was still with the pack, his status as of last September is unknown. Curiously, R132, a two year old black male wolf that dispersed from the Washakie pack in Wyoming to Idaho last winter has joined the Snow Peak pack. R132 was originally located in Idaho last April after he was involved in sheep depredations around Leadore, Idaho. He was darted from a helicopter and relocated along the Selway River within the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness. After his relocation, he traveled north and joined the Snow Peak pack around mid to late July. The lack of evidence for reproduction and the acceptance of R132 by the Snow Peak pack continue to raise questions about the status of B31. We will continue to monitor this pack closely.
The Kelly Creek pack including alpha wolves B-15-F and 9013-M continues to travel within the Kelly Creek drainage. This pack has been somewhat scattered throughout their home range. For the past few weeks, this pack has traveled throughout the Kelley Creek drainage upstream from Cayuse Creek. Most recently, The alpha pair and subadult wolf B42 were located together in the Toboggan Ridge and Hanson Meadows areas. Subadult wolf B48 has not been located during the months of August and September and we suspect this wolf has dispersed. The Kelly Creek pack has produced an estimated 7 pups this year.
The Big Hole pack including alpha wolves B-11-F and B-07-M continue to frequent usual areas within their home range. They have most recently been located around the Packer Meadows area, along the Idaho Montana border just east of Lolo Pass. The Big Hole pack has produced an estimated 3 pups this year.
Lone wolf B-64-M continues to use habitats along the Idaho side of the Bitterroot Mountains. He was last located in the White Sand Creek drainage, northeast of Elk Summit.
Lone wolf B-65-F, relocated from the White Cloud pack during a control action this spring, was last located in the Elk Summit Area during June. She has not been located during the months of July or August. A weak radio signal transmitted by her radio collar is hampering efforts to track this wolf.
Lone wolf B-52-M has not been located since last fall.
Nez Perce National Forest
The Selway pack, including alpha wolves B-05-M and B10-F, was last located in the Bargamin Creek drainage. The Selway pack has produced an minimum of 2 pups this year.
Bitterroot National Forest
B-68-M was relocated from the Stanley Basin pack, in response to livestock depredation earlier this summer, to the Selway River drainage. He was last located southwest of Darby Montana, but has not been located for the past few weeks.
South of the Salmon River
Payette National Forest
Members of the Bass Creek pack (alpha female and 5 pups) were vaccinated after an outbreak of parvovirus killed 3 pups. The vaccination procedure went well thanks to the outstanding help of the many volunteers that donated their time and effort. The vaccination effort should insure the health of the wolves until they are released back to the wild this winter.
The Chamberlain Basin pack including alpha wolves B-09-M and B-16-F continues to move extensively throughout their home range. This pack has most recently been located in the Hand, Haypress, and Moose Meadows, South Fork of Whimstick Creek, and North of the Chamberlain airstrip areas. The Chamberlain Basin pack produced their fourth litter of an estimated 5 pups this year.
B-38-F, a dispersing female subadult wolf from the Stanley Basin pack, continues to concentrate her movements in the upper Big Creek area, adjacent to the southwestern edge of Chamberlain Basin. She was most recently located in the Profile Gap and Elk Summit area including nearby headwater tributaries of Big Creek.
The Thunder Mountain pack including alpha female wolf B-22-F and her mate of unknown origin have spent much of the last part of August and first part of September between the Riordan and Monumental Creek drainages. The Thunder Mountain pack produced an estimated 7 pups this year.
B-45-F continues to concentrate her movements in the upper Secesh/Payette River drainages east of Secesh Summit. She was last located in Victor Creek.
Boise National Forest
Lone wolf B-28-M, missing for much of June and July, was relocated in late August. He spent most of late August and early September in the Bear Valley area. He was most recently located in the Deadwood Reservoir area.
Salmon-Challis National Forest
The Landmark pack has most recently been located within the sulphur Creek drainage, just north of Bear Valley. Reproduction has been confirmed for this pack, although pack size is still undetermined. The Landmark pack has produced an estimated 2-6 pups this year. We suspect B33 is the new alpha male for this pack.
The Jureano Mountain pack continues to use area within the Napias and Moose Creek drainages just west of Salmon, ID. The pack was last located close to Pony Lake in the Napias Creek drainage. The Jureano Mountain pack produced an estimated 9 pups this year, however, has suffered several mortalities this summer affecting the integrity of the pack. Three of the pups were found dead earlier this summer. The carcasses were collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Branch of Law Enforcement, and the cause of death is currently under investigation. The wolf carcasses have been sent to the National Forensics Lab for necropsy. Subsequent monitoring of the pack through the summer indicates that as few as 2 pups may be surviving to date. Subadult wolf B-44-F was lethally controlled during a control action in response to a confirmed livestock depredation in mid August, alpha female wolf B25 was illegally taken during the end of August, and alpha male wolf B32 was lethally controlled in response to a confirmed livestock depredation in mid September (See Management and Control). We estimate the Jureano pack now consists of one subadult male wolf and 2 pups of the year. All 3 pack members are collared with radio transmitters. Although the future of this pack is uncertain, the recent mortalities should not deter progress towards overall wolf recovery in Idaho.
Jureano Mountain subadult wolf B-46-F has been loosely associated with the pack since this winter and may be in the process of dispersing. She has been frequently located south of the Jureano pack's territory and was last located in the North Fork of Iron Creek drainage, a tributary to the Salmon River between Challis and Salmon, ID.
The Moyer Basin pack including alpha female B-37-F and wolf B-49-M, continues to concentrate their movements in the Moyer Basin and upper Silver Creek areas. The Moyer Basin pack produced an estimated 7 pups this year. Dispersing subadult male wolves B40 and B47 continue to travel together. They were last located in the Knapp Creek drainage in the western end of the Sawtooth Valley, northwest of Stanley, ID.
The Twin Peaks pack including alpha wolves B-35-F and B-18-M continue to concentrated their movements for the past few weeks in the upper Yankee Fork Salmon River area. The Twin Peaks pack produced an estimated 4 pups this year.
Sawtooth National Forest
The Stanley Basin pack including wolf pair B-23-F and B-27-M continues to use areas of the southeastern end of the Sawtooth Valley. Most recently, collared members of this pack have been located in the Champion Creek, Pole Creek, fourth of July, and Alturus Creek areas. This pack has continued to depredate on livestock through most of the summer (see Management and Control). The Stanley Basin pack produced an estimated 7 pups this year. B-61-F missing for much of July and August, has been concentrating her movements in the Sawtooth Valley just west of Stanley, ID. Most recently, however, she was located in the upper Yankee Fork drainage.
The White Cloud pack including alpha female wolf B-36-F has concentrated their activities around the headwaters of the North Fork of the Big Lost River for much of the late August and early September. They were most recently located back in Germania Creek, a tributary to the East Fork of the Salmon River. The White Cloud pack produced and estimated 7 pups this year.
John Oackleaf and the University of Idaho have provided the following summary figures regarding the Diamond Moose Calf Mortality Study. As of the end of August, John has documented 9 calf mortalities including 3 wolf kills, one coyote kill, and 5 from non predation causes. Wolf monitoring crews and permittees working together have found 5 calf carcasses including 2 wolf kills, 2 probable wolf kills, and one of non predation causes. Of the 14 total calf mortalities documented, 7 (50 %) were wolf or probable wolf kills. Of the 6 calved that died from non predation causes, many are suspected to have died from dust pneumonia stemming from the unusually dry summer. John will continue to collect field data until the end of the grazing season and summarize results of the this year by early winter.
Nothing new to report
The Jureano Mountain pack has been involved in 4 confirmed livestock depredation incidences throughout the summer involving a documented loss of 5 confirmed and 2 probable calves. This pack was implicated in 3 confirmed and 2 probable wolf killed calves earlier this July. More recently, subadult female wolf B44 was lethally controlled during a control action in early Auguust, and alpha male wolf B-32 was lethally controlled during a control action in mid September.
Lethal control was authorized for a confirmed livestock depredation on the Diamond Moose Forest Service Allotment on 5 August. The Diamond Moose Allotment is within the northern portion of the Jureano Mountain pack's territory. Wildlife Services confirmed that wolves were responsible for the death of one calf. Control actions were terminated after B44, a gray female subadult member of the Jureano Mountain pack was lethally controlled by Wildlife Services on 13 August. This is the second wolf to be lethally controlled in Idaho (B55, a subadult male wolf from the Stanley Basin pack, was lethally controlled earlier this year in July).
On 15 September, the Jureano Mountain pack was again involved in a confirmed livestock depredation involving one calf on private property within the southern portion of their territory. Two pups was collared and released. Alpha male wolf B32 was captured and lethally removed on 18 September. B32 is the third wolf to be lethally controlled in Idaho.
The Stanley Basin pack has depredated on both cattle and sheep within the Sawtooth Valley this summer. This pack has been involved in 6 confirmed livestock depredations involving the loss of 3 confirmed calves, 13 confirmed sheep, and 6 probable sheep. A control action was initiated after confirmed wolf depredations on one calf near Stanley, Idaho on 8 August. Trapping efforts by Wildlife Services and the Nez Perce Tribe resulted in the capture and collaring of one pup of the year form the Stanley Basin pack. The pup was released on site. The control effort was discontinued around 17 August when wolves moved out of the area. No wolves were relocated or lethally removed during this control action.
This pack was again implicated in livestock depredations for the sixth time this summer on 10 September. Members of the Stanley Basin pack were responsible for the death of up to 9 sheep (3 confirmed and 6 probable) on a public forest service grazing allotment on the southern end of the Sawtooth Valley. Lethal control has been authorized, a 45-day lethal take permit has been issued, and control actions are ongoing.
The Final Rule stipulates that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may issue 45-day lethal take permits once 6 or more breeding pairs of wolves are established in Idaho. A 45-day lethal take permit allows livestock producers to legally take a wolf caught in the act of depredating livestock on public grazing allotments. To date, 3 such permits have been issued and 2 additional permits have been offered but declined by livestock producers in Idaho. For more information regarding 45-day take permits, contact Roy Heberger with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (208) 378-5347.
A control action was initiated near McCall Idaho on 9 August after Wildlife Services confirmed wolves were responsible for killing 39 sheep on a forest service grazing allotment. There are no known established wolf packs in this area. The depredation occurred just southwest of the area used by B45. Aerial radio-locations for B45 at the time of the depredation indicated that she was not involved in killing the sheep. Evidence at the depredation site indicated the presence of at least 2 wolves. The identity of these wolves is unknown and they are assumed to be un-collared. Control actions were discontinued after capture efforts were unsuccessful. A 45-day lethal take permit was issued to the livestock producer by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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