Gray wolves throughout the eastern and western United States were
downlisted from endangered to threatened status effective April
1, 2003. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it
established three Distinct Population Segments (DPS) for the gray
wolf. Wolves in the Western DPS and Eastern DPS were listed as
threatened but in the Southwestern DPS wolves remain listed as
endangered. The experimental population areas in central Idaho,
Yellowstone, and the southwest remain unaffected by this listing
action. The new threatened status in N. Montana and N. Idaho,
Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the northern portions
of Colorado and Utah [N. Of I-70] is accompanied by a special
4d rule that allows wolf management very similar but slightly
more flexible than that already allowed in the experimental population
Wolves - J. Zumbo
to a controversial but very successful reintroduction program, wolves
are now back in Yellowstone after an absence of almost 70 years. Several
dozen wolves were captured in Canada and turned loose in Yellowstone
In March 1995. Those animals have done remarkably well, reproducing
at a rapid rate. Packs are now located in various parts of the park.
Wolves prey on a variety of species, notably elk in the Yellowstone
area, but will also pursue moose, deer, sheep and other animals.
wolf packs have wandered outside Yellowstone, the best place to see
them Is in the Lamar Valley between Mammoth and Cooke City. Get there
very early in the morning when it's still dark, park your RV In a pullout
and listen very quietly. Chances are good you'll hear them howl, and
you may see them in this vast open sagebrush area as they hunt for breakfast.
At this time, it will be tough to see them outside the park, although
there are often consistent sightings around Nye and Fishtail, Montana.
Inquire locally for updated information.
Conservation Groups Challenge Bush
Administration Wolf Killing Plan
"It's going to be open season on wolves," says Natural Resources
LIVINGSTON, Mont. (January 24, 2008)
Conservation groups say they will file a lawsuit in federal court
immediately to block a rule announced today by the Bush administration
that will allow the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to kill most
of the threatened wolves in the Northern Rockies. The new 10(j)
rule widens a loophole in the Endangered Species Act that permits the
killing of hundreds of wolves even though the animals are considered
at risk of extinction.
The Bush administration is giving a blank check to the states
to slaughter wolves for doing what they need to do to make a living
which is eating deer and elk, said the NRDCs Louisa
Willcox. The government spent millions of dollars to reintroduce
wolves to the wild in the Northern Rockies, and now it wants to spend
millions more to kill them. Thats crazy.
The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service announced today it will publish the
rule in the Federal Register on January 28. The rule allows states to
kill wolves that they believe are adversely affecting on elk. But elk
numbers in the region are at an all-time high. Despite this fact, the
states of Wyoming and Idaho have made it clear that they intend to manage
wolves at the minimum allowable level, leaving alive as few as 600 of
the 1,500 wolves now living in the region. According to the rule, aerial
gunning and shooting from the ground will be used to kill wolves.
The rule precedes an expected decision to remove wolves from the endangered
species list next month. After that happens, wolf numbers could be reduced
to as few as 300.
Im prepared to bid for the first ticket to shoot a wolf
myself, said Idaho Gov. Butch Otter at a press conference at the
state Capitol in Boise on January 11, 2007.
Wyoming officials say they ultimately aim to kill two-thirds of the
approximately 300 wolves on state land according to an article published
in the Billings Gazette on June 11, 2007, leaving about 100 animals
alive the minimum number allowed by federal law.
The reintroduction of wolves by the federal government 12 years ago
has been widely hailed as a major success story. It has measurably improved
the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited bird, antelope
and elk populations, according to NRDC. Many thousands of visitors flock
to Yellowstone National Park each year to see and hear wolves in the
wild, contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year,
the group said.
Wolves are one of the main attractions for visitors at Yellowstone
National Park. People are amazed and awed when they see them,
said Willcox. Their recovery after more than a century of extermination
is nothing short of miraculous. Turning back the clock would be a huge
Conservation groups oppose the revised 10(j) wolf killing rule and the
decision to delist wolves because the wolves numbers, genetic
diversity and geographic spread have not increased enough to ensure
their long-term survival. But the loophole announced today allows the
slaughter to begin even before the wolves are formally delisted. It
also will allow the state and federal governments to continue killing
wolves if conservation groups are successful in slowing or stopping
delisting through litigation.
In revising the 10(j) rule, the Fish and Wildlife Service says it needs
to make killing wolves easier to protect big game from wolf predation.
However, current rules already allow wolves to be killed if the states
can show that they are the primary cause of elk, moose and
deer depletion. The new rule allows wolves to be killed anywhere big
game herds are considered below desired management levels, even though
studies show that elk populations are particularly high and not in jeopardy.
Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered
and eliminated in most of the West by the 1930s. The gray wolf
was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Reintroduction
efforts placed 66 wolves in Yellowstone National Park and part of Idaho
in 1995-96. As many as 1,500 wolves now live in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
The federal government is giving the states a license to kill
under almost any circumstance, said Willcox. Its going
to be open season on wolves.
(Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky Mountain states (Idaho, Montana
and Wyoming) continue to increase in distribution and numbers (Figures
1, 5). Estimates of wolf numbers at the end of 2002 were 284 wolves
in the Central Idaho Recovery Area, 271 in the Greater Yellowstone Recovery
Area, and 108 in the Northwest Montana Recovery Area for a total of
663 (Figure 1, Table 4a). By state boundaries, there were an estimated
263 wolves in the state of Idaho, 217 in Wyoming and 183 in Montana
(Table 4b). Of approximately 80 groups of two or more wolves, 43 met
the definition of breeding pair, an adult male and female
raising two or more pups until December 31. This made 2002 the third
year in which 30 or more breeding pairs were documented within the three-state
area. Recovery criteria have been met for removing these wolves from
the Endangered Species List (Table 4a). It is expected that the process
of delisting could begin in 2003 if state management plans are in place.
Wolves in the area subsist mainly on elk (Cervus elaphus), white-tailed
deer (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), moose
(Alces alces), and bison (Bison bison). Livestock depredations in 2002
included 52 cattle (Bos taurus), 99 sheep (Ovis aries), nine dogs (Canis
familiaris) and five llamas (Lama glama) confirmed lost to wolves (Table
5a, 5b). Approximately 23 of 80 known wolf packs were involved in livestock
depredations. In response, 46 wolves were killed within the 3-state
area. No wolves were translocated in 2002. As new packs are formed between
the original core recovery/release areas, the three populations increasingly
resemble and function as a single, large population (Figure 1). Approximately
12 research projects are underway, examining wolf population dynamics,
predator-prey interactions and livestock depredation.
wolf populations were extirpated from the western U.S. by the 1930s.
Subsequently, wolves from Canada occasionally dispersed south into Montana
and Idaho but failed to survive long enough to reproduce. Public attitudes
toward predators changed and wolves received legal protection with the
passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973. Wolves began to
successfully recolonize northwest Montana in the early 1980s. By 1995,
there were six wolf packs in northwestern Montana. In 1995 and 1996,
66 wolves from southwestern Canada were reintroduced to Yellowstone
National Park (YNP) (31 wolves) and central Idaho (35 wolves).
Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) wolf population contains three recovery
areas: The Northwest Montana recovery area (NWMT, Figs.1, 2 ) includes
northwest Montana and the northern Idaho panhandle. The Greater Yellowstone
recovery area (GYA, figs. 1, 3 ) includes Wyoming and adjacent parts
of Idaho and Montana. The Central Idaho recovery area (CID, Figs. 1,
4 ) includes central Idaho and adjacent parts of southwest Montana.
Wolves in the three recovery areas are managed under different guidelines,
depending upon their designated status under the ESA. NWMT wolves are
classified as endangered, the most protected classification under the
ESA. GYA and CID wolves are classified as nonessential experimental
populations and managed with more flexible options than the endangered
population. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), responsible
for administering the ESA, believes that 30 breeding pairs of wolves,
with an equitable distribution among the three states for three successive
years, would constitute a viable and recovered wolf population. That
criterion was met at the end of 2002. If other provisions required for
delisting are met, primarily adequate regulatory mechanisms in the form
of state wolf management plans that would reasonably assure that the
gray wolf would not become threatened or endangered again, the USFWS
would propose delisting in 2003.
NORTHWEST MONTANA WOLF RECOVERY AREA
in Montana (including the NWMT recovery area and parts of the GYA and
CID recovery areas) were monitored in 2002 by USFWS biologists Joe Fontaine
in Helena and Tom Meier in Kalispell, and Turner Endangered Species
Fund (TESF) biologist Val Asher in Bozeman. They were assisted by seasonal
USFWS employees Paul Frame, Rose Jaffe and Isaac Babcock, and work/study
employee Therese Hartman. Other USFWS personnel in Montana included
wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs (Helena), and law enforcement agents
Roger Parker (Billings), Rick Branzell (Missoula), Doug Goessman (Bozeman)
and Kim Speckman (Great Falls). In the parts of Montana that lie within
the GYA and CID recovery areas, wolves were monitored cooperatively
with the National Park Service (NPS) and Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) respectively.
Many other individuals, organizations and agencies contribute toward
wolf monitoring and management (see Acknowledgments).
control activities in all recovery areas were carried out by USDA/APHIS/Wildlife
Services (WS). WS personnel involved in wolf management in Montana in
2002 included state director Larry Handegard, eastern district supervisor
Paul J. Hoover, western district supervisor Kraig Glazier, wildlife
specialists John Bouchard, Steve Demers, Michael Hoggan, Chad Hoover,
R.R. Martin, Graeme McDougal, Theodore North, James Rost, Bart Smith,
and James Stevens, and pilots Tim Graff and Eric Waldorf. The Montana
WS operation covers parts of the NWMT, GYA, and CID wolf recovery areas.
wolves were captured and radio-collared in NWMT in 2002. Seven of those
were collared by WS in depredation control actions. The other 10 were
captured by USFWS personnel for population monitoring. One wolf was
darted from a helicopter, and the others were captured in foothold traps.
At the end of 2002, 26 radio-collared wolves (23% of the population)
from 15 different packs or pairs were being monitored in NWMT. These
packs, together with uncollared packs that have been documented, totaled
about 108 wolves (Figs 1, 2; Tables 1a, 4). Radio-collared wolves were
located from aircraft approximately twice per month. Collared wolves
in and around Glacier National Park (GNP) were located more frequently
from the ground by GNP and USFWS staff and volunteers.
included in NWMT as of December 2002 were Kintla, Murphy Lake, Ninemile,
Castle Rock, Whitefish, Grave Creek, Spotted Bear, Fishtrap, Red Shale
(formerly Gates Park), Fish Creek, Lupine, Yaak, Lonepine (formerly
Little Thompson), Lazy Creek, Hog Heaven, Green Mountain, Great Divide,
Halfway, Blanchard Creek, Potomac, and Chief Mountain. The Yaak pair
consists of a female translocated to the Yaak as a pup in December 2001,
and a male of unknown origin. A yearling male translocated at the same
time remains in the Yaak as a lone wolf. The Apgar and Danaher Packs,
discussed in previous reports, are no longer thought to be present.
A possible pack on the east side of Lake Koocanusa (Ural Pack) has yet
to be collared and documented. Packs of wolves in the Yaak, Kootenai,
Wigwam, Spruce Creek and Belly River drainages of Canada may stray into
Montana, but den and spend most of their time in Canada and are not
counted in the NWMT population. The Grave Creek and Kintla Packs spend
a significant part of their time in British Columbia, but are considered
part of the NWMT population. Along the border between the NWMT and CID
recovery areas, the Fish Creek and Lupine Packs are counted in the NWMT
population, while the Bighole Pack (near Lolo Pass) is counted in the
was confirmed in the Kintla, Murphy Lake, Ninemile, Castle Rock, Whitefish,
Grave Creek, Spotted Bear, Fishtrap, Red Shale, Fish Creek, Lazy Creek,
Hog Heaven, Green Mountain, Great Divide, Halfway, and Blanchard Creek
Packs. In order to count as a breeding pair toward recovery goals, an
adult male and female and at least two pups must be present in the pack
at years end. The Grave Creek and Lazy Creek Packs had only one
pup each by the end of 2002, the Halfway Pack had only one adult, and
pups from the Blanchard Creek Pack were orphaned in May and certainly
died. Eleven packs met the criteria of breeding pair, counting toward
least 27 wolves from the NWMT population died in 2002. This count does
not include animals that disappeared whose fates were unknown, including
22 pups that disappeared. A female from the Kintla Pack was apparently
killed by an elk. The other documented deaths were human-caused. Depredation
control resulted in the deaths of nine wolves. Eight wolves were road-killed,
and five were known to be illegally killed or their deaths are still
under investigation as illegal kills. Three of the yearling wolves translocated
into the Yaak in December 2001 were legally shot in British Columbia.
Another of the Yaak yearlings died after getting caught in a coyote
snare. A semi-tame, wolflike canid that killed two llamas and was shot
near Whitefish in July 2002 was not considered to be a wild wolf and
is not included in these figures. Of at least 74 wolf pups known to
have been born, 44 survived until December 31, for a pup survival rate
of 59% to the age of eight months. This is a maximum figure, because
pup counts were not obtained until midsummer for some packs, by which
time some mortality may already have occurred.
selection by recolonizing wolves in the northwestern United States.
John K. Oakleaf, Dennis L. Murray (Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources,
University of Idaho), Edward E. Bangs, Joseph A. Fontaine, Michael D.
Jimenez, Thomas J. Meier, Carter C. Niemeyer (USFWS), Douglas W. Smith
(Yellowstone National Park), Curt M. Mack (NPT) and James R. Oakleaf
(University of Wyoming). M.S. thesis completed and available from University
of Idaho, Moscow.
wolf populations have persisted and expanded in the northern Rocky Mountains
since 1986, while reintroduction efforts in Idaho and Yellowstone have
further bolstered the population. However, rigorous analysis of either
the availability of wolf habitat in the region, or the specific habitat
requirements of local wolves, has yet to be conducted. We examined wolf-habitat
relationships in the western U.S. by relating landscape/habitat features
found within wolf pack home ranges (n = 56) to those found in adjacent
unoccupied areas. Logistic regression of occupied versus unoccupied
areas revealed that a higher degree of forest cover, lower human population
density, higher elk density, and lower sheep density were the primary
factors related to wolf occupation. Further, our analysis indicated
that relatively large tracts of suitable habitat remain unoccupied,
suggesting that wolf populations likely will continue to increase in
the region. Analysis of the habitat linkage among the three main wolf
sub-populations indicates that populations in central Idaho and northwest
Montana have higher connectivity, and thus greater potential for exchange
of individuals, than does either subpopulation to the Greater Yellowstone
Area subpopulation. Thus, for the northern Rocky Mountains to function
as a metapopulation for wolves and other carnivores (e.g., lynx, wolverine,
and grizzly bears), it will be necessary that dispersal corridors to
the Yellowstone ecosystem be established and conserved.
Wolf and Livestock Conflicts in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming: an evaluation
of wolf control and assessment of factors that may predispose cattle
ranches to wolf predation.
Elizabeth H. Bradley and Dr. Daniel Pletscher, Wildlife Biology Program,
School of Forestry, University of Montana.
USFWS, Turner Endangered Species Fund, Yellowstone National Park, Nez
Perce Tribe, Defenders of Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
are investigating several aspects of livestock depredation and management
in the recovery areas of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. First, we are
conducting an analysis of two different management techniques, translocation
and lethal control, to determine how effective they are at reducing
livestock depredations. Data are currently being compiled on all wolves
translocated and lethally controlled since 1987. Effectiveness of translocation
will be determined based on the extent to which wolves survive, reproduce,
and/or depredate post-translocation. Sex, age, and social status of
translocated wolves, distance of translocation, release method (hard/soft),
and post-release movements will all be considered in this context. Effectiveness
of lethal control, as well as translocation will also be determined
based on the extent to which the remaining pack members (if any) continue
to depredate, taking into account the number of individuals remaining
and their sex, age, and social status, if known. Depredation history
of packs post-lethal control or translocation will be compared to packs
that depredated but did not undergo any form of control.
second part of this study involves an analysis of what factors may predispose
cattle ranches and site specific areas on cattle ranches to wolf predation.
Data were collected from ranchers who had experienced confirmed wolf
depredations in confined pastures, to determine what landscape and/or
ranch characteristics may be associated with these depredation events.
Each depredated ranch was paired with up to four nearby non-depredated
ranches for comparison. Communities that have experienced multiple depredation
events have been the primary focus of this research. Data collection
began in June 2002 and concluded in January 2003 and included the following
areas: Paradise Valley, East Front, Marion, Eureka, Deerlodge, Bitterroot,
and Big Hole areas in Montana, and the Salmon, Challis, and Stanley
Basin areas in Idaho. Data are currently being compiled and prepared
overall purpose of this study is to provide information that may help
decrease wolf conflicts with livestock. An analysis of the effectiveness
of translocation and lethal control of wolves under direction of the
USFWS may help future state managers in the northwestern U.S. and elsewhere
improve management decisions. A better understanding of what factors
are involved in wolf depredation on cattle ranches may help build better
preventive methods. This project will be completed in late 2003.
personnel presented informational talks and status reports throughout
the year to various federal and state agencies, public and private institutions,
special interest groups, and rural communities. During 2002, USFWS project
personnel gave approximately 50 public presentations to audiences totaling
more than four thousand people. Additionally, scores of informal presentations
to small groups or individuals were conducted during this time. Numerous
radio and television interviews and news spots featuring project personnel
were broadcast locally and nationally.
Livestock Depredation and Management
the Northwest Montana wolf recovery area, wolves are currently classified
as endangered, and management activities are more restricted than in
the experimental nonessential (Yellowstone and Central Idaho) recovery
areas. The use of nonlethal ammunition and hazing is restricted to agency
personnel, and lethal take permits cannot be issued to livestock owners.
Under the nationwide wolf reclassification proposal expected to take
effect in early 2003, wolves in NWMT would be classified as threatened,
and management would be similar to that in the other two recovery areas.
reports of wolf depredation on livestock are investigated by WS, who
take appropriate control action after consultation with USFWS. Seven
of the 20 known wolf packs in NWMT were involved in livestock or dog
depredations in 2002. Confirmed losses in 2002 included nine cattle,
13 sheep, four dogs and five llamas killed by wolves. Losses classified
as probable wolf depredation included another two cattle and five sheep.
In wooded and/or mountainous country, livestock carcasses may not be
found promptly, if ever. It can be difficult or impossible to confirm
wolf depredation when livestock carcasses are eaten or decomposed. Therefore,
confirmed losses represent only a portion of actual losses. Whether
this is a large or small portion of such losses is the subject of much
controversy and research (see Effects of Wolves on Livestock Calf Survival
and Movements in Central Idaho, CID research section). Depredation control
efforts resulted in the death of nine wolves. Nonlethal control methods
included trapping and hazing of packs to move them away from livestock,
nonlethal ammunition, fladry and Radio Activated Guard (RAG) boxes.
Pack: A series of livestock depredations in the Ninemile Valley that
began in late 2001 continued throughout 2002, in spite of extensive
nonlethal and lethal control actions. Twelve sheep, five llamas and
a dog were confirmed killed by wolves in 2002, with other livestock
injured or suspected to have been killed. The use of a RAG (radio-activated
guard) box, electric fencing and fladry probably helped to decrease
losses, and six wolves were killed in control actions. Two more wolves
were radio-collared and released, and three pups from the Ninemile Pack
were killed by vehicles. Five wolves were thought to remain in the pack
at the end of the year, with depredations continuing into 2003.
Rock Pack: Although five wolves had been removed from the pack in 2001,
the Castle Rock Pack continued to kill cattle in 2002. Four calves were
confirmed to have been killed by the pack, with two others considered
probable wolf depredation. Three wolves were captured, radio-collared
and released. Two adult male wolves were killed in a control action
in August. One producer reported 56 calves missing in fall 2002. Depredations
continued, and the pack was eliminated in February 2003.
Creek Pack: Two lion hounds were attacked by the Grave Creek Pack in
the Deep Creek drainage in March 2002. One dog was killed and eaten,
the other escaped. In July, several cattle were attacked on the Deep
Creek/Grave Creek grazing allotment of the Kootenai National Forest.
One cow and two calves were killed or lethally wounded, another calf
injured. Because the Grave Creek Pack had also killed cattle in 2000
and 2001 with no control action taken, it was decided to remove one
or more members of the pack. But when traps were set, the wolves had
left the area and none were captured. The Grave Creek Pack travels widely
on both sides of the Whitefish Range and into Canada. Discussions are
ongoing between USFWS, the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), local ranchers,
and the National Wildlife Federation, to come up with strategies to
mitigate livestock depredation in this area.
Shale Pack: In early January 2002, the Red Shale (formerly Gates Park)
Pack, in the North Fork of the Sun River, attacked two lion hounds near
Gibson Reservoir. By the time the hunter located his dogs, both had
been killed and one partially consumed.
Divide Pack: A calf was confirmed killed by the newly-formed Great Divide
Pack in December 2002. The calf was a straggler that had escaped roundup.
The Great Divide alpha female, #281, was one of five wolves translocated
from the Castle Rock Pack to the west side of Lake Koocanusa in 2001.
She had returned to within 20 miles of her natal territory and bred
in 2002, but was struck by a vehicle and killed in September 2002. One
Great Divide pup was captured and radio-collared in summer, but its
collar was chewed off by other pack members. There are currently no
radio-collars in the pack, thought to consist of the original male,
four pups and a newly-arrived female.
Pack: A series of incidents of cattle being chased through fences in
the area north of Avon was originally attributed to the Castle Rock
Pack, until the newly-formed Halfway Pack was discovered. Alpha Female
#280, originally from the Castle Rock Pack, had been translocated 200
miles northwest in 2001, but like Great Divide female #281 she returned
to within 20 miles of her natal pack and bred in 2002. She had lost
her collar in August 2001, was recollared in September 2002 but soon
disappeared. The alpha male died in a trap in September. Livestock depredations
continued into early 2003 and the pack was eliminated in February 2003.
Pack: One cow and one calf, from separate ranches, were confirmed killed
by wolves in December 2002, on the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Reservation
between Hot Springs and Polson. Three wolves have been seen by ranchers
in the area. A wolf that may have been associated with them, Female
#276, had been mistaken for a coyote and shot earlier in the month.
Female #276 had been referred to as the Little Thompson
wolf, but the new pack has been named Lonepine to more accurately reflect
their location. Lack of snow hindered attempts to locate and capture
wolves from the pack using aircraft. Efforts will be made to trap and
radio-collar them in 2003.
Wolves: A lone, wolf-like animal was seen repeatedly near Ferndale in
summer 2002. It attacked poultry and behaved as though it had been associated
with people. The animal gradually moved north and west, killing a llama
near Mud Lake in June and another llama near Whitefish in July. Because
of the abnormal behavior of the animal, it was determined that it was
an escaped pet wolf or hybrid, and livestock owners in the area were
told that they could shoot the animal if they had the opportunity. A
rancher shot it on July 19, near the site of the last llama depredation.
Examination of the carcass revealed unusual skull shape, eye color,
and foot size, validating the conclusion that it had been a wolf-dog
January 1999 and December 2001, 23 wolves in four groups were translocated
within Montana to help mitigate livestock depredation. In each case,
wolves were moved from areas with high livestock numbers to areas of
public land with few livestock and abundant natural prey. Six of those
wolves are still known to be alive in 2003. Ten were killed by humans,
one died naturally and six are missing. The average distance wolves
moved from the release site before settling down or being killed was
57 miles. Average survival after release was 14 months, as of January
2003. Seven of the 23 translocated wolves are known to have paired and
bred after they were moved. The Pleasant Valley, Castle Rock and Gravelly
Packs all continued to kill livestock after some of their members were
translocated, and lethal control followed within a year. The Bass Creek
Pack was completely eliminated by the translocation. Although wolf translocation
seems like a humane alternative to lethal control, especially when pups
are involved, few places in the northern Rockies remain as likely release
sites. With increasing numbers of dispersing wolves and new pairs, all
three recovery areas are becoming well occupied by wolves. For this
reason, few if any wolf translocations are expected to be done in the
future. Following are summaries of the four recent wolf translocations:
January 1999, four wolves were captured from the Pleasant Valley Pack
and moved via truck and snowmobile to Spotted Bear (65 air miles from
Pleasant Valley). Adult male #117 remains as the alpha male of the Spotted
Bear Pack. Yearling female #128 traveled to the East Front and was killed
in depredation control. The cut-off radio-collar from male pup #119
was found in the Garnet Mountains in September 1999. Male yearling #115
was last heard in the Bob Marshall wilderness in March 2000.
wolves from the Bass Creek Pack were captured in June 1999 and held
until December 1999 at McCall, Idaho. Four wolves died in captivity.
The adult female and five pups were transported by truck and aircraft
to Spotted Bear (98 air miles from Bass Creek) in December 1999. They
were held overnight in an electrified pen, and released when male #117
was found to be in the area. Female #57 remains with male #117 in the
Spotted Bear Pack. Female #45 (last heard near Ferndale in June 2000)
and male #50 (last heard near Big Salmon Lake in December 2000) are
missing. Female #46 died of unknown causes in the South Fork of the
Flathead River, in December 2000. The carcass of male #49, without its
collar, was found in the Clark Fork River in May 2000. The cut-off collar
from male #48 was found near Ovando in July 2000.
wolves from the Castle Rock (Boulder) Pack were captured in January
2001, held for two months, then transported by truck to Parsnip Creek,
on the west side of Lake Koocanusa, 198 air miles from their home territory.
After their release, they first traveled north to Canada, but soon doubled
back, and all returned at least halfway home, to the area west of Flathead
Lake. Two females, #280 and #284, returned to form new packs adjacent
to their home territory, the Halfway and Great Divide Packs. Great Divide
female #284 was killed by a vehicle in September 2002. Halfway female
#280 disappeared in fall 2002. Little Thompson/Lonepine female #276
was mistaken for a coyote and shot in December 2002. Male #286 and female
#278 remain in the Hog Heaven Pack, southwest of Kalispell.
adult female wolf, a yearling male and six pups were removed from the
Gravelly Pack between April and June 2001. They were held until December
2001, then transported by truck to the upper Yaak River and released,
319 air miles from their home territory. Female #206 soon left the release
area, traveling west through Idaho and Washington, then north into British
Columbia. She was last located in February 2002 near Castlegar, British
Columbia, 95 miles WNW of her release site. Yearling male #204 traveled
into Canada, then southeast past Kalispell. He has not been located
since May 2002. Several of the pups remained in a group and caused concern
among Yaak residents by their seeming lack of fear and their attraction
toward domestic dogs, in winter 2001-2002. Three of them were eventually
shot in British Columbia (male #229, male #233, male #234). Female #231
was found dead in April 2002, with a broken-off coyote snare on her
neck. Male #232 remains in the Yaak/Pipe Creek area as a lone wolf.
Female #230 has paired with a male wolf and remains in the Yaak.
GREATER YELLOWSTONE WOLF RECOVERY AREA
full-time employees worked for the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 2002:
Project Leader Douglas Smith, Biological Science Technician Debra Guernsey
and Biologist Dan Stahler. Rick McIntyre worked as a seasonal employee
on the Druid Peak Pack Road Management Project. Elena West also worked
on the Road Management Project, through the Yellowstone Park Foundation
(YPF). Volunteers (see Acknowledgments) staffed the two early (Nov-Dec)
and late (March) winter study periods.
in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park were monitored by Project
Leader Mike Jimenez (USFWS), seasonal biologists Paul Hanson (USFWS)
and John Stevenson (USFS), and student volunteers from Northwest College
in Powell, Wyoming (see Acknowledgments). USFWS law enforcement agents
in Wyoming were Dominic Domenici (Casper), Tim Eicher (Cody), and Roy
of wolves in the Montana portion of the GYA was conducted by Joe Fontaine
(USFWS) and Val Asher (TESF), along with other TESF, USFWS and NPS personnel
employees of WS who were involved with wolf control or management in
2002 include state director Rod Krischke, district supervisors Sam Crowe
and Merrill Nelson, wildlife specialists Jack Clucas, Arnold DeBock,
Casey Hunter, Michael Peterson, Marshall Robin, Jed Edwards, Tracy Frye,
Stephen Moyles, James Pehringer, and pilot Ted Jensen. Wolf control
in the Montana and Idaho portions of the GYA was carried out by the
WS offices and local specialists in those states.
status: At the end of 2002, at least 148 wolves in 14 packs were present
in Yellowstone National Park (Table 2, Figure 3). Of these 14 packs,
12 were considered breeding pairs according to the USFWS definition.
The Tower pair was attacked by another pack of six wolves in March (Agate
Creek Pack), right after breeding season, and the female likely lost
her pups from wounds suffered during the attack. The Slough Creek Pack,
a group that formed from the splitting of the once record-large Druid
Peak Pack, also did not breed for unknown reasons.
new packs formed in YNP in 2002. Three of them resulted from the splintering
of the Druid Peak Pack: Agate Creek, Geode Creek, and Slough Creek Packs
all formed with at least one Druid Peak disperser and reside on the
Northern Range of YNP. Interestingly, all three of these packs are anchored
by females (#103F, #105F, & #106F) born at the same den in Lamar
Valley in 1997. The alpha male of the Agate Creek Pack is a five-year-old
male from the Chief Joseph Pack. The last newly formed pack is the Bechler
Pack, discovered in August of 2002 after numerous reports of tracks
and sightings in the area. This is the first resident group of wolves
in the Bechler area since wolf reintroduction began in 1995. Prior to
this there was little wolf activity and only occasional reports of tracks.
The group consists of a very large dispersing male from the Rose Creek
Pack and three uncollared wolves, two of which are pups so the pack
will count as a breeding pair. They have ranged as far north as Little
Firehole Meadows and have so far not been located outside YNP.
formation of the three new packs from the splintering of the large Druid
Peak Pack was mostly observed by field staff and was unique, and not
previously recorded in the wolf literature. As the Druid Peak Pack crumbled
during the 2001-2002 winter, groups of wolves formed with little affinity
to area, and individual wolves moved between the different groups. For
example, #218F originally from the Druid Peak Pack, was recorded traveling
with the Agate Creek, Geode Creek, and Slough Creek Packs. Four Nez
Perce wolves (#213F, #214M, #215M, & 252M) from the Madison-Firehole
area joined in the melee of wolves often centered around Tower Junction.
The area where many of the interactions took place was mostly newly
acquired Druid Peak territory (usurped from Rose Creek). On one occasion
near Hellroaring Creek in March 2002 one of the new split-off
Druid packs (Geode Creek) interacted with the old, and much reduced
Druid Peak Pack. Wolf #106F, an old Druid wolf, greeted her former packmates
with her tail up and wagging, but an aggressive interaction ensued between
the two groups. After this encounter the Druid Peak Pack was split and
did not reunite until mid-April. The young pups and yearling Druid wolves
remained near Hellroaring Creek, killing elk on their own, while the
Druid alphas with two yearlings left the area and never returned. The
Hellroaring area now belongs mostly to the new Geode Creek Pack (#106s
size ranged from 2 to 20 and averaged 10.6. As expected, the record-large
Druid Peak Pack did not stay together, so the formation of new packs
did not greatly increase the number of wolves present in YNP from 2001
levels (2001 = 132, 2002 = 148; 12% increase).
At least 67 pups were born to 12 YNP wolf packs in 2002. At least 14
litters were born; the Druid Peak and Agate Creek Packs had two litters
of pups each. The Agate Creek Pack, one of the packs forming from the
crumbling of the Druid Peak Pack, denned at separate locations and it
appeared that they would split into two packs. However, the two groups
joined up in midsummer and have been functioning as one pack since that
time. Interestingly, despite the fact that both of these packs had two
litters, only four pups survived out of eight for the Agate Creek Pack
and three of six in the Druid Peak Pack. Geode Creek had at least eight,
possibly nine, pups at midsummer but only three of those were with the
pack this fall. Overall, the maximum number of pups observed at wolf
dens this summer was 65 or 66, and by September only 56 (85%) of these
pups could be accounted for. It is likely that more pups are missing
because the observability of some packs is low.
At least five adult wolves died in YNP during 2002. This figure does
not include pups that died within the first four months of life. Three
were natural mortalities, one was a vehicle strike on highway 191, and
one was of unknown cause. Two of the natural mortalities were due to
interpack conflict, and one was due to injuries sustained from encountering
prey. Longtime alpha female #7F of the Leopold Pack (founder wolf, first
shipment of wolves from Canada January 12, 1995) was killed by other
wolves in May, probably by the Geode Creek Pack which was denning nearby
(see Yellowstone Science Vol. 10 No. 3). Wolf #2M, lifelong mate of
#7F and alpha male of the Leopold Pack (also a founder wolf from Canada,
1995), was killed on the last day of the year, likely by the same Geode
Creek Pack that killed his mate in May. Wolf #2M had lost his alpha
status in early December and was using the fringe of the Leopold territory
with several other wolves from the main pack when he was killed. Wolf
#254M, who dispersed from the Druid Peak Pack, was found dead at the
base of a cliff near the headwaters of Timothy Creek. Cause of death
was categorized as natural, but cause of death could have been accidental
(base of a cliff), or could have involved other wolves. The carcass
was partly decayed so positive determination was not possible. The other
natural mortality was elk-caused. Most other wolf mortalities in the
GYA were outside YNP and were predominantly human-caused. One Chief
Joseph wolf dispersed to north of Helena, Montana and was shot by WS
after killing sheep.
Movements: The parks wolf population increased by 12% in 2002.
Almost the entire increase was in non-Northern Range packs. Seventy-seven
wolves occupied the Northern Range in 2001 and 78 did in 2002, whereas
the non-Northern Range wolf population increased from 55 to 70. Therefore,
despite the increased number of packs on the Northern Range in 2002
(five in 2001, eight in 2002) there were not significantly more wolves,
due primarily to a realignment of packs. Throughout the rest of YNP
there was only one new pack from 2001 (Bechler Pack, four wolves), so
the increased number of wolves was due to increases in the number of
wolves in existing packs (Nez Perce 18 to 20, Cougar Creek 6 to 10,
Mollies 10 to 12, etc.).
use of YNP was typical of previous years (see territory map) except
for the new Bechler Pack. Few prey live in Bechler in the winter, making
it difficult for wolves to live there throughout the year. During April,
the time of year when pups are born, the alpha male of the Bechler Pack
was located in the northern part of Yellowstone, chasing deer. The Bechler
Pack must have moved to the Bechler area later, or the alpha male made
extremely wide-ranging trips in search of prey for a denning female.
Wyoming outside YNP
continued to disperse out of Yellowstone National Park and recolonized
areas in western Wyoming. In 2002, we documented approximately 67-81
wolves (38-52 adults/yearlings) in eight different packs with an average
pack size of 10.1 wolves (Table 2, Figure 3). We maintained 24 radio-collars
in seven packs (30% of the population). Collared wolves were located,
on average, twice a month by airplane and more often by ground crews.
of these Wyoming packs produced a minimum of 29 pups (average litter
size was 4.8 pups). For the second year in a row, the Teton Pack produced
a double litter of 11 pups and the pack consisted of 23 wolves (Table
2). A total of at least eight collared wolves dispersed from their natal
home ranges and six other wolves were missing at years end. At
least seven wolves died in Wyoming outside of YNP in 2002, including
six wolves killed in depredation control actions. These mortalities
do not include pups that we assumed perished within four months of whelping.
dispersed two-year-old wolf from the Druid Peak Pack, male #253, was
accidentally caught by a coyote trapper southwest of Ogden, Utah in
November 2002. The trapper turned the wolf over to Utah wildlife agents.
USFWS policy is normally to leave such dispersed wolves alone unless
there are depredations or other problems. In this case, with the wolf
already in captivity, it was decided to return the wolf to YNP. This
was done, and the wolf has remained in the park. Subsequent reports
have indicated that more wolves are present in northeast Utah.
Montana portion of GYA
packs of wolves that live partly or entirely within the Montana portion
of the GYA have been formed in recent years by wolves moving out of
Yellowstone National Park. These include the Sheep Mountain, Mill Creek,
Lone Bear, Taylor Peaks, Sentinel, Freezeout, Gravelly, Beartrap, Mission
Creek and Red Lodge Packs (Table 1b, Figure 3). The Chief Joseph Pack,
though classified as a Yellowstone National Park pack, also spends considerable
time outside of the park. Of an estimated 55 wolves (not including the
Chief Joseph Pack), 16 wore radio-collars during 2002 and five new collars
were put out between March and December 2002. Two radio-collared Druid
dispersers (wolf #224 and wolf #252) were tracked outside of the park
during the reporting period and were associated with non-collared wolves
at some point. Packs were monitored throughout the year by TESF, NPS,
MSU, WS and USFWS personnel by radio telemetry, visual observation and
snow tracking. Five packs were confirmed as breeding pairs. Although
other packs produced pups, their status at the end of the year could
not be determined. Nineteen wolves died of human-caused mortalities,
including 13 in control actions, four legally shot by landowners, one
hit by a car and one still under investigation.
in Yellowstone National Park
relationships: Wolfprey relationships were documented by observing
wolf predation directly and by recording the characteristics of wolf
prey at kill sites. Wolf packs were monitored during two winter-study
sessions, 30-day periods in March and NovemberDecember during
which wolves were intensively radio-tracked. The Leopold, Rose Creek
II, Geode Creek, and Druid Peak Packs were monitored by two-person teams
from the ground and from aircraft; the Swan Lake, Agate Creek, Tower,
Slough Creek, Mollies, Nez Perce, Cougar Creek, Bechler, Yellowstone
Delta, Chief Joseph, and Sheep Mountain Packs were monitored from aircraft
only. YNP staff recorded, and entered into a database, behavioral interactions
between wolves and prey, predation rates, the total time wolves fed
on their kills, percent consumption of kills by wolves and scavengers,
characteristics of wolf prey (e.g., nutritional condition), and characteristics
of kill sites. In addition, similar data were collected opportunistically
throughout the year during weekly monitoring flights and ground observations.
The abundance and sex-age composition of elk within wolf pack territories
were also estimated from the ground and from fixed-wing aircraft.
of Wolf Kills: Project staff detected 132 definite, 206 probable, and
8 possible kills made by wolves in 2002, including 291 elk (84% of total),
21 bison, (6%), 4 deer (1%), 4 coyotes (1%), 4 wolves (1%), 1 badger
(<0.5%), 1 Canada goose (<0.5%), and 22 unknown prey (6%). The
composition of elk kills was 34% calves (012 months), 31% cows,
22% bulls, 5% adult elk of unknown sex, and 8% elk of unknown sex and
age. Bison kills included 10 calves (unknown sex), 3 yearlings (2 female,
1 male), and 8 adults (3 female, 3 male, 2 unknown sex). Of the bison
kills, 1 was killed during December, 1 in January, 5 in February, 6
in March, 7 in April, and 1 in late May. The Nez Perce Pack made 13
of the bison kills and Mollies Pack and Druid Peak Pack each killed
2. During winter, wolves residing on the Northern Range killed an average
of 1.8 elk per wolf per 30-day study period.
Studies: During the 2002 March winter study (30 days), wolves were observed
for 243 hours from the ground. The number of days wolf packs were located
from the air ranged from 1 (Yellowstone Delta) to 15 (Leopold, Rose
Creek II, Tower, and Sheep Mountain). Seventy-two definite or probable
wolf kills were detected, including 65 elk, 3 bison, and 4 prey of unknown
species. Among elk, 19 (29%) were calves, 22 (34%) were cows, 18 (28%)
were bulls, 4 (6%) were of unknown sex, and 2 (3%) were of unknown sex
the 2002 November-December winter study (30 days), wolves were observed
for 373 hours from the ground. The number of days wolf packs were located
from the air ranged from 1 (Bechler) to 18 (Leopold, Druid Peak, Geode
Creek, and Agate Creek). Fifty-nine definite or probable wolf kills
were detected, including 57 elk, 3 coyotes, 1 bison, and 1 unknown prey.
Among elk, 22 (39%) of the kills were calves, 15 (26%) were cows, 18
(32%) were bulls, and 2 (3%) kills were adult elk of unknown sex.
Interactions: The reintroduction of wolves into YNP has provided an
opportunity to examine interactions among a full suite of carnivores
and their prey. Preliminary evidence from concurrent field studies focusing
on the parks large carnivores (wolves, cougars, grizzly bears,
and black bears) suggests that these interactions have significant effects
on carnivore community structure, population dynamics, and prey populations.
Collaborations with interdepartmental (Bear Management, Ungulate Project,
Bison Management) and interagency (Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team,
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks) researchers have already been productive
in pursuing science-based questions on multi-carnivore relationships.
The use of new technologies such as GPS telemetry collars will advance
our ability to understand the carnivore community and its interactions,
as well as its impact on prey populations.
fall 2002, a manuscript was submitted to a scientific journal describing
the activities of humans and carnivores on YNPs northern boundary
prior to and during the fall elk hunting season. The study monitored
the movements of grizzly bears, wolves, and cougars in a 2,391-km2 study
area centered on YNP's Northern Range and the Absaroka Wilderness. Grizzly
bears were more likely to be located inside the YNP boundary during
the pre-hunt period and outside of the boundary once hunting began.
Cougars tended to be found outside the park during the pre-hunt period
and moved inside the park when hunting began. Wolves did not significantly
change their movement patterns during the pre-hunt and hunting periods.
Qualitative information on elk indicated that prey moved into the park
once hunting started, suggesting that cougars followed living prey,
bears focused on dead prey (gut piles and crippled elk) and wolves may
have taken advantage of both.
addition, project staff are documenting behavioral interactions between
wolves and grizzly bears, in order to examine the population and community-level
consequences of those interactions. In 34% of bear-wolf interactions,
the two species were simply seen in the same area. Most wolf-bear interactions
(66%) occurred at kill sites. In 19% of interactions, bears were seen
defending kills from wolves (probably wolf kills usurped by bears).
In another 19%, bears were seen actually usurping wolf kills. When a
kill site was contested between bears and wolves, bears were usually
the winners (40% of the time), or the winner could not be determined
(40%), even though wolves outnumbered bears in 76% of the interactions.
Adult bears without cubs were involved in 88% of the encounters.
use of wolf-killed ungulate remains by bears is particularly high in
Pelican Valley, where most elk leave in winter, but some bison remain.
Bison or elk killed by the Mollies Pack in that part of YNP are
routinely lost to grizzlies. In fact, every time project staff aerially
located Mollies Pack on a kill during the spring, summer, and
fall of 2002, at least one grizzly was in the area, or more commonly,
at the kill. During a September backcountry horse trip into upper Pelican
Creek, Doug Smith, Dan Stahler, and Wayne Brewster documented six recently-killed
bull elk carcasses, all of which were probably Mollies Pack kills
and each had evidence of bear visitation. In poor whitebark pine cone
production years, such as 2002, carrion available to bears from wolf
kills may have significant population-level effects. Such routine wolf-grizzly
interactions have important implications both behaviorally and ecologically
for both species. Continued research will allow us to better understand
wolves lost most disputed kills to bears, wolves were quite successful
at defending dens, as highlighted by the following two observations.
On a flight in late July 2002, the Yellowstone Delta Pack was observed
holding a large adult grizzly at bay at the packs Thorofare den.
One of the wolves came up behind the bear and bit it on its hind end,
and eventually two wolves escorted the bear out of the den area, with
two additional wolves following. Two weeks later, the same pack was
aerially located at their Thorofare rendezvous site, with a large grizzly
bear sitting in the middle of six adult wolves and four pups. The wolves
were agitated by the bears presence and maintained pressure on
the bear to keep it away from the pups. Although the outcome of this
second observation is unknown because the animals went out of sight
into thick willows, the wolves appeared to successfully protect their
Research in Wyoming outside Yellowstone National Park
interactions on state-managed feed grounds in Wyoming
Michael Jimenez (USFWS), John Stevenson (USFS).
USFWS, USFS, National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton National Park, and the
Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
monitored wolves during the winters from 1999 through 2002 to determine
the distribution of wolf packs, describe prey selection by wolves, and
document the behavioral response of elk to the presence of wolves on
three state-managed feed grounds (Alkali, Patrol Cabin, and Fish Creek)
along the Gros Ventre River drainage in Wyoming. We used radio telemetry
to locate wolves and estimate home ranges. We backtracked wolves in
snow to locate carcass remains of elk killed or scavenged by wolves.
Elk (identified with radio-collars or tags) were followed to describe
how elk responded to wolves hunting on the feed grounds. Two wolf packs
recolonized in the Gros Ventre drainage and their home ranges overlapped
in two elk feed grounds (Alkali and Patrol Cabin). We located 119 kills
made by wolves in the three feed grounds and adjacent areas within the
national forest. The mean age of adult elk killed was 10 years and the
oldest elk killed was 23 years old. Forty-three percent of the elk killed
were cows, 4% were bulls, and 53% were calves. Mean consumption of elk
carcasses was 83% and surplus killing was documented on six occasions.
Calf/cow ratios dropped in 2002 from a 5-year average of 24 calves/100
cows to17 calves/100 cows. Approximately 800 elk were fed hay in each
of the three feed grounds. Elk frequently left the northern (Fish Creek)
and southern (Alkali) feed grounds but dispersed to the middle feed
ground (Patrol Cabin) when wolves were present. Even though wolves killed
elk on Patrol Cabin feed ground, elk often remained in the area. This
unexpected crowding of elk on one feed ground became very controversial
as the state game managers were forced to adjust winter feeding programs.
Recolonizing wolf research in the Jackson, Wyoming area
Joel Berger, Kim Berger (Wildlife Conservation Society, Utah State University)
Wildlife Conservation Society, Utah State University, USFWS, USDA/APHIS/WS,
Wyoming Game and Fish, Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National
initiated a three-year study to examine indirect effects of wolves on
predator-prey relationships in and around Grand Teton National Park
(GTNP), in the southern portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Of particular focus is the extent to which wolves may modulate relationships
between coyotes and pronghorn. During the first year, 10 coyotes and
38 pronghorn were radio-collared to enable the collection of detailed
information on age, body mass, movement, pregnancy, home range, and
survivorship. Additionally, a pack of 11 to 22 wolves has primarily
inhabited GTNP and an additional pack has a home range outside the park
and contained primarily within the Gros Ventre River Drainage (GVRD)
that encompasses a portion of the longest remaining migration route
for pronghorn in the USA.
results indicate pronghorn fawn mortality is high in both GTNP and GVRD,
averaging ~90% and 80%, respectively. Coyotes were identified as a primary
mortality source in most cases, although disease, drowning, and raptor
predation played minor roles. Pronghorn birth weights and fawn sex were
not apparently associated with mortality profiles.
we assessed whether handling by humans might have contributed to the
high juvenile mortality rate by contrasting fawn:doe ratios in areas
where fawns were not handled. Amongst three areas in GTNP, fawn:doe
ratios did not differ dramatically.
all (80%) of the radio-collared coyotes spent time on the National Elk
Refuge during winter, presumably to take advantage of abundant elk carcasses.
The concentration of carcasses on the Refuge as a consequence of elk
feeding may be sustaining higher coyote densities than would otherwise
be possible in the absence of this supplementary food source, since
winter availability of food limits coyote densities. Coyote densities
appear lower in the GTNP wolf core area, and three cases of wolf predation
on coyotes have been noted.
study plans include: 1) developing home range and density estimates
for wolves and coyotes and analyzing associated spatial relationships;
2) documenting over-winter and migratory patterns of the surviving fawns
and subsequent fidelity to GTNP summer ranges; and 3) increasing the
sample size of radio-collared coyotes.
Research in the Montana portion of the Greater Yellowstone Recovery
affecting wolf-elk interactions in the Greater Yellowstone Area:
Scott Creel, Bob Garrott, Justin Gude, John Winnie, Eric Bergmann, Thain
Cook, Knut Solberg, Montana State University (MSU).
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Yellowstone National Park, USFWS.
wolf population reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park has grown
steadily since 1995, expanding in both numbers and geographic distribution.
With this growth has come recolonization by wolves of areas outside
of Yellowstone National Park. The effect of wolf recolonization on the
numbers, distribution and behavior of elk is a contentious issue in
the statewide management of both wolves and elk. In anticipation of
federal delisting of the wolf (beginning perhaps as early as 2003),
data on wolf-elk interactions in areas outside of YNP will be critical.
This study is collecting data on wolf-elk interactions from five sites
in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (one in YNP in the Madison-Gibbon-Firehole
area, and four outside the park). Data collection includes (1) monitoring
trends in elk population sizes and recruitment, (2) quantifying offtake
by wolves, (3) examining interactions between the distributions and
movements of elk and wolves, and (4) examining behavioral responses
of elk to the risk of predation. In addition, we are using noninvasive
physiological assays of pregnancy rates and stress hormone levels in
elk, to test for sublethal effects on fitness. Analysis will include
comparisons among the five sites, which differ with respect to fundamental
variables expected to affect the rate of predation (e.g., snow depth,
herd size), and comparisons within sites of pre-wolf and post-wolf data
on population size and demography. Pre-wolf data extend as far back
as 75 years, for some sites.
wolf staff gave approximately 50 formal presentations to approximately
1500 people and an untallied number of informal talks both within and
outside YNP. USFWS staff gave numerous presentations and status reports
to federal and state agencies, conservation groups, rural communities,
guide/outfitters organizations, livestock associations, schools, and
various private institutions. These included 13 formal talks to approximately
1700 people. Wolf recovery personnel also participated in television
interviews and newspaper feature stories.
Depredation and Management
portion of GYA
of Wyomings 32 known wolf packs were implicated in livestock depredation
in 2002. Potential livestock depredations in Wyoming are investigated
by WS and USFWS. Depredations are classified as either confirmed, probable,
or other, based on specific criteria agreed upon by the USFWS and WS.
If wolf depredation is confirmed, nonlethal or lethal control, or a
combination thereof, is implemented under the direction of USFWS.
2002, we recorded 23 confirmed and four probable livestock losses to
wolves (25 calves, one heifer, and one cow). Three additional calves
were attacked but survived and one dog and two horses were injured by
wolves. Control actions in response to livestock depredations included:
trapping and radio-collaring wolves, intensive monitoring, increased
riders on grazing allotments, harassing wolves with rubber bullets,
cracker shells, and lights, moving livestock to different pastures,
issuing three shoot-on-site permits to ranchers, and lethally removing
six wolves. Defenders of Wildlife paid compensation for all confirmed
and probable livestock losses. Livestock losses occurred in the following
Pack: One calf was killed in Teton National Park and one heifer and
one cow were killed on private land. In addition, one calf and one heifer
survived wolf attacks in Teton National Park. The Teton Pack was suspected
in other livestock depredations in the Gros Ventre River drainage. Please
refer to the section titled: Other wolves (including collared
and uncollared) for further details.
Ventre Pack: The Gros Ventre Pack was suspected in livestock depredation
in the Gros Ventre River drainage. Please refer to the section titled:
Other wolves (including collared and uncollared) for further
River Pack: The Green River Pack was suspected in livestock depredation
in the Gros Ventre River drainage and Union Pass area. Please refer
to the section titled: Other wolves (including collared and uncollared)
for further details.
Pack: Over the last several years, the Washakie Pack has repeatedly
killed livestock on public and private land. In 2002, at least five
calves were killed by wolves on private land. Three wolves were killed
in control actions, and one adult male wolf was captured, radio- collared,
and released on site.
Pack: No depredations reported.
Pack: No depredations reported.
Pack: Wolves from the Sunlight Pack killed and attacked numerous livestock
in 2001. In 2002, at least four calves were killed on public land by
Sunlight wolves. Three wolves were killed in control actions, and the
alpha male and female wolves were trapped, fitted with new radio-collars,
and released on site.
River Pack: No depredations reported.
wolves (including collared and uncollared): In 2002, at least 27 cattle
were killed by wolves (reported as confirmed and probable). Twelve of
these 27 cattle were killed by wolves from the Teton, Washakie, and
Sunlight Packs. Ten additional cattle were killed in the Gros Ventre
River drainage where the home ranges of the Teton, Green River, and
Gros Ventre Packs overlap. Five cattle were killed (one confirmed, four
probable) by wolves in the Union Pass area where home ranges of the
Green River, Washakie, and Gros Ventre Packs overlap. Depredations were
reported and promptly investigated. Despite intensive monitoring and
trapping efforts by WS and the USFWS, we were not able to determine
which wolves were responsible for these specific depredations because
wolves repeatedly left the kill sites. Regardless of which wolf pack
caused the depredation, ranchers were compensated for all confirmed
and probable livestock losses reported. Livestock producers in the Gros
Ventre and Union Pass area claimed their losses increased substantially
this year, but neither the ranchers, USFWS, WS, nor the Wyoming Game
and Fish Department were able to determine whether some cattle died
of depredation (wolf or grizzly bear) or other unknown causes.
Depredation and Management: Montana portion of GYA
the Montana portion of the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Area (Figure 1),
seven of 10 known wolf packs were involved in livestock depredation
in 2002. Cattle and sheep depredations continue to be a significant
problem in this area. A variety of nonlethal techniques have been used
to help reduce depredation, in addition to the lethal removal of 17
wolves in 2002. Confirmed losses in 2002 included 10 cattle and 71 sheep
killed by wolves, and an additional 25 sheep injured. Four cattle and
34 sheep were classified as probable wolf depredation.
Peaks Pack: A ranch managers herding dog was killed in his yard
by the Taylor Peaks Pack on March 21. He and neighboring landowners
were trained and given permits to use less-than-lethal munitions to
haze wolves. A RAG box was set up around the house and a telemetry receiver
and antenna were issued to monitor the wolves. In August the wolves
were reported hanging around the ranch house again. On August 10, project
personnel walked in on the female wolf and hazed her out of a daybed
near the ranch house. A neighboring ranch reported wolves feeding on
a calf carcass in late August, but it could not be verified as wolf
predation. A male pup was captured and radio-collared on September 23.
A calf was confirmed killed by wolves in September, but control actions
were not taken by request of the landowner. Two more calf carcasses
were found on the property in early November but they were determined
to have died of pneumonia.
Pack: This new pack has formed in the Taylor Fork drainage. The male
is a collared gray wolf from the Taylor Peaks Pack, wolf #234. No depredations
were reported in this area in 2002.
Pack: A wolf-killed calf was investigated in April and traps were set,
but no wolves were captured. On July 20, two ewes and probably two lambs
were killed by wolves on a USFS allotment in the Gravelly range. One
non-collared gray yearling female was shot by WS on July 25. The other
members of the Freezeout Pack were harassed by helicopter in hopes of
driving the wolves out of the area, where six bands of sheep were stationed.
The bands are monitored by herders and guard dogs. In September, WS
investigated a pileup of 80 dead sheep crushed against a fence. The
cause could not be determined. On September 11, WS confirmed a calf
killed by a wolf in the Freezeout Pack territory. One non-collared gray
male wolf was killed nearby on September 12, but it was unknown whether
this wolf was associated with the pack.
Pack: Twenty-one sheep were killed and 13 others wounded by wolves on
February 24. Tracks indicated at least two wolves were responsible.
This area is fifteen miles from where the Gravelly Pack killed sheep
last year. Two non-collared wolves were left from last years control
action, after eight wolves were relocated and one killed. Tracks and
sightings of three black wolves had been observed in the area over the
winter. Lethal control was authorized, and on February 27, WS shot two
of the wolves, with the third escaping into the timber. One of the wolves
shot was #202, a Chief Joseph disperser whose collar had failed, and
the other was a non-collared female. On March 3, seven ewes and one
ram were killed by wolves, and another 11 wounded. WS continued to look
for the third wolf to lethally remove it, and lethal-take permits were
issued to qualifying ranches in the area. No wolves were killed under
the 45-day shoot-on-sight permit, which expired in early July.
early July, a 45-day permit to shoot two wolves seen in the act of attacking
livestock was issued to producers who graze sheep on USFS allotments
in the Gravelly range. These producers had losses earlier in the spring
on private property. In late August-early September, sheep were killed
by predators in the Dillon/Gravelly area. WS set M-44 cyanide devices
as part of a coyote control action. Two wolf pups pulled M-44s
and were killed. During the week of September 7, a shoot-on-sight permit
for one wolf was issued to a sheep producer. The producers tentative
totals were 32 sheep missing, 12 found dead by the rancher, eight confirmed
as wolf kills by WS and three more ewes found dead near the dead wolf
the week of September 13, several sheep were reportedly killed by either
a mountain lion or wolves. No control was taken as the bands of sheep
were due to move off grazing allotments around September 15. On October
7, a sheep producer shot a gray wolf on private land using his lethal
control permit. The wolf was YNP Druid disperser #252, who had been
traveling with two black wolves in the area for most of the summer.
This was the first wolf killed under these permits. On Oct. 8 WS darted
and collared an adult black female wolf and released her on-site. She
was found to be traveling with a black animal, presumed to be a pup.
Three ewes were killed by wolves on private land in the Dillon/Gravelly
area on October 22. The radio-collared female was in the area and sightings
of two wolves were reported. Lethal control and shoot-on-sight permits
were reauthorized. On October 24, the radio-collared female and her
pup were lethally removed by WS. The landowners lethal take permit
ended on December 6.
Creek Pack: A landowner killed a male Mill Creek Pack wolf in May 2002
when it killed and fed on his calf. A lactating female (wolf # 271)
was caught and radio-collared in the area by WS ten days later. In October,
the Mill Creek Pack killed 15 sheep and ran off a llama. A ram was killed
on the next day. Fladry (flagging) was hung around the sheep pasture
on October 31 and a RAG box was set up in the pasture. Carcasses were
removed and buried on the property. A kill permit to remove two wolves
was issued to the landowner and adjacent neighbors. Two gray female
pups were legally removed using this take permit in November. The owner
of the sheep was issued a permit to remove one wolf and a second RAG
box was put in the pasture when the wolves continued to frequent the
property. Adjacent landowners in the area were issued permits to use
less-than-lethal munitions to haze wolves. One ewe was confirmed killed
on December 12, when two wolves jumped over the flagging to kill and
feed on her. The flagging seemed to be effective for about forty-two
days. WS began a trapping and collaring effort. One wolf jumped the
flagging and killed a pregnant ewe on December 26. Efforts are still
being made to collar more members in this pack. Flagging has been removed.
Mountain Pack: Six wolves were reported harassing a cow and her calf
in March, near Emigrant in Paradise Valley. The landowner was issued
a less-than-lethal munitions permit and given a telemetry receiver to
monitor the wolves. The wolves were seen in a neighboring calving pasture
the same night and were hazed by a landowner using a pick-up truck.
On March 13 the wolves ate a calf that had died of natural causes. The
wolves killed a calf on March 18. Intensive night monitoring of the
wolves was conducted. The wolves were found feeding on a cow carcass.
She may have been run through a fence by the wolves and eventually died.
Carcasses were removed from both properties. A RAG (Radio Activated
Guard) box was set up on March 21. Four wolves were lethally controlled
on March 26, including Druid disperser #224, and one wolf infected with
mange. By the end of April, the pack seemed to localize at their natal
den site. In September, the Sheep Mountain Pack occupied a rendezvous
site in the middle of a cow/calf operation. The landowner was diligent
in hazing the wolves over a month-long period using trucks, ATVs,
horses and gunfire. A RAG box was also set up in the pasture. No depredations
occurred during this time.
Lodge Pack: WS confirmed a wolf-killed calf in the Red Lodge area on
the night of May 25. Efforts to radio-collar members of the pack, suspected
to be four to five wolves, were attempted throughout the summer, but
searches did not reveal a concentration of wolf sign and trapping was
not conducted. On September 23, WS confirmed another calf killed by
wolves. Efforts to trap, collar and release on-site were made until
nighttime temperatures became too cold for safe wolf trapping. A cow
was confirmed to have been killed by the pack in December. The Red Lodge
Pack was finally radio-collared, and later eliminated, in February 2003.
Bear Pack: WS investigated a wolf-killed calf in the Wineglass area
south of Livingston the week of September 20. Efforts to trap, collar
and release on-site were made. No wolves were caught. This new group
was reported feeding on a calf carcass early in November, but no depredations
were confirmed. Landowners in the area were issued permits for less-than-lethal
munitions. Two pups and one yearling had been caught incidentally and
reported by a coyote trapper near Paradise Valley in late November and
early December. The wolves were radio-collared and released on-site
by WS and wolf project personnel.
Creek Pack: Three wolves have been sighted repeatedly in this area,
and WS heard howling during a depredation investigation. Wolf #241,
a Sheep Mountain disperser, has been located in the area, but it is
not known whether she is associated with the pack.
Pack: A group of four gray wolves was repeatedly sighted on and near
the Flying D ranch, south of Gallatin Gateway, in November and December.
At least one of the wolves is thought to be a pup. Efforts will be made
to radio-collar these wolves.
Joseph Pack: A livestock producer reported that several members of the
Chief Joseph Pack were coming into a Paradise Valley calving pasture
and killing deer. The cows were starting to calve, so fladry (flagging)
was hung around a 10-15 acre pasture to deter the wolves from entering.
It was determined by snow-tracking that the wolves tested the flagging
until they found a gap in it. They entered the pasture and tried to
exit at the opposite end, testing the flagging in numerous places, but
would not cross it, and eventually circled back and exited the way they
came in. The gap in the flagging was fixed, and no depredations occurred.
The flagging kept the wolves out for about 30 days, before one wolf
jumped over it. Calves were moved out of the pasture when they were
older, and the flagging was removed with the help of Predator Conservation
digging was found in April 2002, at the 2000 den site in Cinnabar Basin.
The new breeding female may have been born in the 2000 den and was trying
to re-dig the den to have pups. As in 2001, the den was again filled
in with mothballs, sticks and rocks in an attempt to persuade the wolves
to den in Yellowstone National Park, as they had in previous years.
This was apparently successful, and they returned to the Park den. Throughout
the year, the Chief Joseph Pack traveled through Cinnabar Basin and
Tom Miner Basin. No conflicts occurred, although they were quite visible
to landowners in both basins. Landowners were issued permits for less-than-lethal
munitions in both areas.
and Lone Wolves: Dispersing male wolf #203, originally from the Chief
Joseph Pack, killed 19 sheep near Wolf Creek on April 8. The wolf was
shot by WS when it returned the next day. A calf was killed near Pipestone
Pass (south of Butte) by a single wolf on April 24. Traps were set around
the carcass, but the wolf, probably a disperser, did not return to the
area. A cocker spaniel near Livingston was severely injured by a large
canid in April. A dispersing wolf was suspected. In late December 2002,
34 sheep were killed by an unknown predator near Harlowton. It was suspected
that a lone wolf was responsible, but it could not be found in two days
of aerial hunting, and no further depredations were reported.
and Management: Idaho portion of GYA
wolf depredations were known to have occurred in the portion of Idaho
that lies in the Greater Yellowstone wolf recovery area (east of Interstate
15) in 2002.
IDAHO WOLF RECOVERY AREA
Nez Perce Tribe Wolf Recovery Program, headed in 2002 by Project Leader
Curt Mack and biologists David Bell, Adam Gall, Jim Holyan, Jason Husseman,
and Kent Laudon, conducted management and monitoring of the Central
Idaho wolf population. Volunteers Isaac Babcock, Eric Burnham, Brady
Couvillion, Jamie Craig, Denise Jantzer, Cherise Miller, Erin Simmons,
and Harvey Zimmer assisted during the field season. Cheri Ramos, office
assistant, left the Project. Her position has yet to be refilled.
USFWS was represented in Idaho by Idaho recovery coordinator Carter
Niemeyer, and in Montana by biologist Joseph Fontaine. Law enforcement
agents in the Boise USFWS field office included Senior Agent Craig Tabor
and Special Agent Scott Bragonier. Special Agents Steve Magone (Idaho
Falls) and Paul Weyland (Boise) transferred out of the Boise office.
personnel involved in wolf control or management in Idaho in 2002 included
State Director Mark Collinge, Assistant State Director George Graves,
District Supervisors Layne Bangerter, Charles Carpenter and Craig Maycock,
wildlife specialists Jeff Ashmead, Lee Czapenski, Jonathan Farr, Douglas
Hunsaker, Gary Looney, Justin Mann, Kelly Parker, Eric Simonson, Dave
Thomas, and Richard Williamson, and pilot Gerald Peterson.
wolves were captured during the 2002 field season; 16 by helicopter
darting and nine by leg-hold trapping. Of that total, 22 new wolves
were collared and three wolves were recollared. At the end of 2002,
38 wolves (13% of the population) were being monitored in 19 groups.
These packs, along with known uncollared packs, accounted for about
284 wolves in the central Idaho recovery area. Approximately 263 of
these live in the state of Idaho (Table 3) and 21 in the state of Montana
(Table 1b). Radio-collared wolves were located approximately twice per
month by airplane. Packs in Idaho as of December 2002 included Big Hole,
Buffalo Ridge, Chamberlain Basin (extant but not monitored due to loss
of radio-collars), Five Lakes Butte (no radio-collars), Gold Fork, Gospel
Hump, Jureano Mountain, Kelly Creek, Landmark, Marble Mountain, Moyer
Basin, Orphan, Scott Mountain, Selway, Thunder Mountain, Wildhorse,
and Wolf Fang (Table 3, Figures 1,4). In addition, five packs are suspected
to live in the Montana portion of the recovery area; in the East Fork
of the Bitterroot River drainage (Sapphire Pack), the West Fork of the
Bitterroot River drainage (Painted Rocks Pack), in the west-central
Bitterroot valley (Como Lake), in the North Fork of the Bighole River
drainage (Battlefield Pack), and in the Flint Creek area (Willow Pack)
was confirmed in 12 packs, producing a minimum of 52 pups. Nine of the
12 reproductive packs met the recovery standards of a breeding pair
(Tables 1b, 3). Two wolves died of natural causes, 19 of human-related
causes (including 14 removed in control actions), and five of unknown
causes. Two collared wolves were known to have dispersed away from their
home territories and another four wolves went missing in 2002 and may
new Idaho wolf packs were documented in 2002: Buffalo Ridge (with alphas
that dispersed from the former Stanley Basin and Moyer Basin Packs,
respectively), Como Lake (on the Montana-Idaho border), Five Lakes Butte
(possibly the former Snow Peak Pack), and Moyer Basin (composed of a
dispersing male from the former Stanley Basin Pack and a female of unknown
status of the Chamberlain Basin Pack was unknown by the end of 2002.
Both radio-collars in the pack expired, so the fates and whereabouts
of the remaining members are unknown. Investigations during the summer
showed that wolves used the traditional den site, and visual observations,
tracks, scats, and howls indicated that wolves still inhabit the territory.
There are no known radio-collared members in the Five Lakes Butte Pack,
so monitoring is problematic. The Whitehawk Pack was eliminated through
lethal control in April.
the five packs known to live in the Montana portion of the CID recovery
area, only one, the Willow Pack, is currently radio-collared. Collared
wolves from the Painted Rocks and Battlefield Packs were illegally killed
in 2002, leaving no radio-collars in those packs. The Como Lake and
Sapphire Packs are known only from reported sightings. In 2003, increased
efforts will be made to radio-collar and monitor these packs.
conflicts between wolves and livestock and potential effects of wolves
on big game populations remain key management issues. The Recovery Program
continues participation in ongoing research to help address these challenges.
Scientific information collected through these efforts will foster a
better understanding of wolf-livestock and wolf-big game relationships,
and more effective wolf conservation and management. Five research projects
have been initiated since 1999. Two address predator-ungulate relationships
and three concern wolf-livestock interactions.
Preliminary Assessment of Radio Activated Guard Units in Deterring Wolf
Predation in the East Fork of the Salmon River of Central Idaho.
Stewart Breck, USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center; Rick
Nez Perce Tribe, USFWS, and private landowners.
January 2001 to April 2002, WS specialists and researchers tested the
effectiveness of Radio Activated Guard (RAG) units for deterring livestock
depredation by the Whitehawk wolf pack. In early February 2001 the Whitehawk
Pack moved into the East Fork of the Salmon River and killed a calf.
A WS specialist in Idaho, in conjunction with researchers at National
Wildlife Research Center, placed RAG boxes and monitors in small pastures
of privately owned property to deter wolves from killing more cattle
and to test the effectiveness of RAG boxes.
of the device, utilizing signals from radio-collars, triggered a strobe
light and loud sound effects from a tape player. By adjusting the gain
and volume, the sensitivity of the receiver was fine-tuned so that it
fired only when individuals entered the area to be protected. The radius
of protection varied from 66 feet (20 meters), which may keep wolves
out of dead animal pits or other small areas, to 984 feet (300 meters),
which could be effective for protecting small pastures. In order to
reduce habituation to the device, 30 different recorded sounds were
used, and each time the box was triggered, a different sound was played.
Within each base station, a small electronic monitor was installed to
record radio-collar frequency, date and time that wolves activated a
RAG box, and the number of pulses received during a predetermined time
interval. Monitors were used to evaluate the performance of the RAG
boxes and detect behavioral responses of wolves to the scare device.
Whitehawk Pack activated the scare devices approximately 10-15 times
from mid-February to mid-April 2001. No calves were killed in pastures
protected by RAG boxes and there was no indication that wolves were
habituating to the boxes. However, on March 19, 2001, a calf was killed
by the pack in a pasture where a RAG box was present but malfunctioned,
i.e., did not activate when the wolves came into the field.
boxes were used again during late winter/spring 2002 with the same pack
in the same area of the East Fork of the Salmon River. Eight to nine
RAG boxes were used from February to early April. Initially it appeared
the RAG boxes were helping keep wolves away from livestock but in late
March 2002 the pack habituated to the devices and began killing livestock
despite the presence of RAG boxes. Data from the monitors clearly indicated
that these wolves had habituated to the devices. Generalizations about
the amount of time it took wolves to habituate to RAG boxes should not
be made until further monitoring has been conducted. However, it does
appear that RAG boxes offer short-term (2-3 months) protection and significant
advantage over other scare devices that fire randomly or at fixed intervals.
Preliminary Assessment of Fladry as a Deterrent to Wolf Depredations
in Central Idaho.
Stewart Breck, USDA/APHIS/WS/National Wildlife Research Center; Rick
Nez Perce Tribe, USFWS, USFS, Defenders of Wildlife, private landowner.
a non-lethal livestock protection technique, was tried for the first
time in Idaho in 2002 at two sites. A technique borrowed from Polish
wolf hunters, fladry involved encircling the wolves with a barrier of
colored flags, evenly spaced, hung from ropes. For unknown reasons,
wolves do not willingly cross this "fence," so it was hoped
that wolves would be unable to gain access to livestock surrounded by
fladry. WS and Defenders of Wildlife, with the cooperation of the owner
of an inholding in the Salmon National Forest, strung approximately
nine miles of fladry entirely around the fenced 1,000-acre (400-hectare)
ranch. Approximately 400 cattle grazed here from late May through mid-October.
After the Jureano Mountain pack, which denned on the privately owned
parcel, moved to a rendezvous site off of the ranch, fladry was installed.
It was also used for approximately one month during September in the
Sawtooth Valley following a depredation there.
goal of this project was to monitor wolf activity on and off the ranch
using two different techniques. The first monitoring technique used
a receiver and a data logger that collected and stored information when
it received a signal from a radio-collared wolf. Data included the radio-collar
frequency, date and time, and duration a signal was received. The second
monitoring method used tracking plots to detect wolf presence. Such
plots have been used successfully with numerous carnivore species to
ascertain activity levels.
was set on the existing barbed wire fence that surrounded the ranch.
The entire perimeter of the ranch was examined every 48 hours to maintain
the flagging barrier. We recorded the number of days wolves were located
within 1.9 miles (3 km) of the ranch, and the number of days fladry
was set before wolves crossed it. Wolves were monitored from the ground
and air in an attempt to obtain one location per day. Of the eight members
of the pack, four were radio-collared when the study began and two more
were collared during the course of work.
of the Jureano Mountain Pack crossed fladry barriers after 61 days.
The effectiveness of fladry for protecting large areas is not well understood,
though results from this study indicated that it may be useful for limited
time periods. During the trial some flags either got wrapped around
the barbed wire or were pulled off by cattle. Thus, fladry required
persistent maintenance along the perimeter. While this pack was excluded
from the ranch they depredated on free-ranging livestock on an adjacent
public grazing allotment.
Winter Predation and Interactions of Wolves and Cougars on Panther Creek
in Central Idaho.
Dennis Murray and Jason Husseman, University of Idaho; Gary Power, Lemhi
County; and Dick Wenger, USFS. MS thesis completed and available from
University of Idaho, Moscow.
Nez Perce Tribe, Salmon-Challis National Forest, USFWS, Bureau of Land
Management, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wolf Education and Research
Center, Hornocker Wildlife Institute, Idaho Department of Fish and Game,
3-year study was initiated to investigate wolf-cougar interactions and
predation on wintering ungulate populations within GMU 28 west of Salmon,
Idaho. Two groups of wolves, the Jureano Mountain and Moyer Basin Packs,
had established territories within the study area. In addition, four
to six cougars were radio-tracked over the course of the study.
documented prey characteristics and kill-site attributes of predator
kills during winters 1999-2001 in Idaho, and located 120 wolf-killed
and 98 cougar-killed ungulates on our study site. Elk was the primary
prey for both predators (wolf = 77%; cougar = 74%), followed by mule
deer (wolf = 23%; cougar = 24%). Both predators preyed disproportionately
on elk calves (wolf = 60%; cougar = 53%) and old individuals. Among
mule deer, wolves appeared to select for fawns (65%), whereas cougars
killed primarily adult deer (76%). Nutritional status of prey, as determined
by percent femur marrow fat, was consistently poorer in wolf-killed
prey, with a greater proportion of wolf-killed prey exhibiting fat levels
indicating severe malnutrition.
found that wolf kills occurred in habitat that was more reflective of
the entire study area than cougar kills, suggesting that the coursing
hunting behavior of wolves likely operated on a larger spatial scale
than did the ambush hunting strategy of cougars. We concluded that the
disparity in prey selection and hunting habitat between predators probably
was a function of predator-specific hunting behavior and capture success,
where the longer prey chases and lower capture success of wolf packs
mandated a stronger selection for disadvantaged prey. For cougars, prey
selection seemed to be limited primarily by prey size, which could be
a function of the solitary hunting behavior of this species and the
risks associated with capturing prime-aged prey.
Winter Predation and Interactions of Cougars and Wolves in the Central
Holly Akenson, James Akenson, Howard Quigley.
University of Idaho, Hornocker Wildlife Institute - Wildlife Conservation
Society, DeVlieg Foundation, Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Department of Fish
winter of 2002 was the fourth field season tracking wolves, primarily
the Chamberlain Basin pack, and cougars in the Idaho wilderness. This
research project was initiated in 1998, following the reintroduction
of wolves to Idaho in 1995. We are evaluating the effects of wolf and
cougar predation on wintering elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and moose
populations and investigating the interspecific interactions and competition
between cougars and wolves.
1999 we have examined 183 large mammal carcasses. Twice as many carcasses
were found of animals killed by cougars as those killed by wolves. An
extensive forest fire burned most of the winter range in 2000 and contributed
to changes in animal numbers and distribution on the Big Creek winter
range. A helicopter elk census in 2001 confirmed that elk numbers have
declined 30% during the last six years, although observations of mule
deer suggest that deer numbers are stable or increasing. Cougar and
wolf winter diets were similar. Neither predator showed a strong diet
preference between elk and mule deer. Being coursing predators, wolves
killed more elk in poor condition than did cougars, which hunt by stalking
and ambushing prey. The large home range of the wolf pack allowed the
wolves to follow the elk when they migrated to a new unburned ungulate
winter range the first winter after the wildfire. The cougar response
to post-fire changes in elk numbers and prey health was to remain in
their smaller home ranges and diversify their diets. Cougars even killed
three moose that were starving after the fire burned up the riparian
shrubs. Moose are usually not vulnerable to cougar predation due to
their large size. Elk calves and deer fawns were more vulnerable to
wolf predation than cougar predation.
cougar population experienced a high rate of replacement for resident
cats due to mortality. The main causes of cougar mortality were hunter
harvest, fighting between males, wildfire, and starvation. Strife among
carnivores was documented on several occasions. Cougars killed three
cougars, three coyotes, and two bobcats, while wolves killed two coyotes.
Cougars appeared to avoid wolves and their kills. Cougar kitten production
has been low. In the two winters since the forest fire, no kitten production
was documented. Track surveys and carcass locations suggest there are
several areas previously used by female cougars that are now unoccupied.
During winter 2001-2002, the Chamberlain Basin wolf pack contained 8-12
wolves. The wolf pack hunted in two ungulate winter ranges. Last winter
was the first in which more kills were found on the Big Creek winter
range made by wolves than cougars.
large carnivores indirectly influence animal and plant populations and
communities at lower trophic levels. For example, cougars and wolves
repeatedly killed coyotes and bobcats during this study. These midsize
carnivores strongly targeted fawns as a food source. If the large carnivores
suppress the midsize carnivore populations, predation pressure could
shift from deer fawns toward elk calves. In contrast, where female cougar
home range areas have been unoccupied following the fire, coyote activity
and predation on fawns have increased.
Effects of Wolves on Livestock Calf Survival and Movements in Central
John K. Oakleaf (University of Idaho), Curt Mack (Nez Perce Tribe),
Dennis L. Murray (University of Idaho). MS thesis completed and available
from University of Idaho, Moscow.
USFWS, Salmon-Challis National Forest, Lemhi County Cattle Association,
Diamond Moose Association, Lemhi County, Defenders of Wildlife, Wolf
Education and Research Center, National Wildlife Federation, Idaho Cattle
examined interactions between wolves and domestic calves within a grazing
allotment in central Idaho to evaluate the role of wolves in calf survival
and movements. During the 1999 and 2000 grazing seasons we radio-marked
231 calves per year, representing 33% of the calf population, on the
Diamond Moose Association (DMA) grazing allotment, and monitored their
survival and movements relative to wolf distribution. Overall, calf
survival was high (95%), with relatively few mortalities (n =13) among
the marked population. Of the 13 calf mortalities, eight were unrelated
to predation (pneumonia, unknown natural causes, and fire), four were
wolf predation, and one was coyote predation. Calves selected by wolves
were younger than the surviving cohort by an average of 24 days (wolf-killed:
March 31 ± 13 days, n = 4 [mean birth date ± SE]; live
population: March 7 ± 1.6 days, n = 207) (P < 0.05). Calf
movement patterns and group size did not vary relative to the level
of spatial overlap with wolves. However, vulnerability to predation
appeared to be correlated with spatial proximity of calves to wolf home
ranges and rendezvous sites. These results suggest that in our study
area wolves did not significantly affect calf survival or behavior.
detection rates were low in our study, suggesting that current compensation
procedures in the western U.S. may require adjustment to fully cover
losses incurred from wolf depredation (i.e., an increased payment for
each confirmed wolf-caused calf mortality). Currently, compensation
payments result from confirmed wolf-killed cattle found by ranchers
on an allotment (Fischer 1989). In the case of the DMA, our detection
rate data suggest that this method of compensation would result in payment
of only one-eighth of the actual losses to wolves. Although this ratio
may be lower (e.g., one-half) in less timbered or rugged country, it
is indicative of a consistent underpayment of ranchers with wolf depredations
occurring on their allotment.
personnel presented informational talks and status reports throughout
the year to various federal and state agencies, public and private institutions,
special interest groups, and rural communities. Additionally, scores
of informal presentations to small groups or individuals were conducted
during this time.
Livestock Depredation and Management
approximately 25 packs of wolves in the Central Idaho recovery area,
four to six packs were involved in livestock depredation in 2002. All
reports of livestock depredation are investigated by WS, who then take
appropriate action in consultation with USFWS. A total of 10 calves,
15 sheep, and four dogs were confirmed killed by wolves in the CID recovery
area in 2002. Another seven calves were classed as probable wolf kills
and wolves probably wounded one calf. Fourteen wolves were killed in
depredation control actions, and none were translocated. Another four
wolves were captured and released on-site in these operations. The number
of investigations and numbers of livestock killed in 2002 was similar
to 2001. The number of wolves killed in 2002 was more than double the
number killed in 2001. The similarity in depredation investigations
and losses may be related to the continued presence of wolf packs, despite
prior wolf control, in areas that overlap livestock grazing allotments.
Mountain Pack: After the Stanley Basin Packs territory was left
vacant through relocations, dispersals, and lethal control, the Whitehawk
Mountain Pack moved into the area. They also used parts of the former
White Cloud Packs territory along the East Fork of the Salmon
River. Two members of this pack were lethally controlled in 2001. The
NPT and WS attempted to deter them from additional depredations through
the use of RAG boxes and nonlethal hazing. In early spring the pack
was implicated in three depredations (one sheep and two calves confirmed
killed and two calves probably killed) on privately-owned land in the
East Fork of the Salmon drainage. Control actions were implemented following
each incident, and ultimately all 10 wolves were killed.
Mountain Pack: Alpha female B46 reclaimed her natal territory to rejuvenate
the Jureano Mountain Pack in 2000. Unfortunately she continued the tradition
of livestock depredations in this area west of Salmon, Idaho. Six calves
were confirmed killed by this pack in summer 2002, and one additional
calf was classified as a probable kill. B46 and a yearling male wolf
were lethally removed, and one adult and two yearlings were captured,
radio-collared, and released on-site.
Pack: The Copper Basin region that this pack inhabits holds several
thousand cattle during the summer grazing season, but this pack ranged
widely this summer following the death of alpha female B66 in January,
and spent less time there than in 2001. In May and June at least some
of the four radio-collared members of this pack were located nearby
when one calf and 18 sheep were classified as possible wolf kills. These
three incidents occurred well outside of the home range used by the
Wildhorse Pack during 2000 and 2001. No control actions were authorized.
Fork Pack: This pack, which committed three confirmed depredations in
2001, was implicated in four depredation incidents in 2002. All were
classified as probable wolf involvement; with three calves killed and
one calf injured. The livestock producer operating in the area discovered
several additional carcasses, but there was not enough evidence present
to determine why the animals had died.
and associates: B133, a subadult male, was captured in May at the site
of a confirmed wolf depredation on sheep. B133, and as many as three
other wolves, were implicated in three additional depredations that
resulted in 11 dead ewes/lambs. Following the fourth depredation WS
lethally removed two uncollared subadult females, leaving B133 and an
uncollared wolf. There were no further depredations after this control
and Dispersing Wolves: Radio-collared male wolf B105 may have been responsible
for two calves killed by an unknown predator in the area south of Riggins,
Idaho. B107, a dispersing female from the Moyer Basin Pack, killed a
domestic calf in the Sawtooth Valley. A lethal control action was authorized,
but was later rescinded when an injunction against lethal control on
lands administered by the Sawtooth National Recreation Area was handed
down. Three sheep were confirmed killed by wolves in the Big Smoky drainage
in late June. Although B133 and wolves associated with him had used
this area, it was not determined that they were present at this time.
A WS trapping effort did not result in the capture of any wolves.
Pack (state of Montana): In late April, WS confirmed that wolves had
killed one calf, and probably killed another, north of Wisdom, Montana.
Wolf B100, a disperser from Idaho, was in the area along with three
other wolves. Traps were set, but no wolves were captured. In May, wolves
harassed cattle at a night calving pen, causing damage to fences but
no mortalities. A mortality signal was received from B100's collar,
in the Big Hole River, in early 2003. Three other wolves are still thought
to be in the area.
AND LEGAL ISSUES
and Delisting of the Gray Wolf
once common throughout North America, are protected under the ESA because
human persecution nearly eliminated them from the contiguous United
States. By 1974, there were none left in the northern Rocky Mountain
states (NRM). The ESA prohibited people from harming wolves and mandated
that all federal actions seek to conserve and not jeopardize wolves.
Ultimately, three distinct wolf recovery programs in the Midwest, NRM,
and Southwest were initiated. In the NRM, 2002 marked the third consecutive
year that 30 or more breeding pairs of wolves were documented. The population
of 663 wolves has achieved biological recovery objectives.
can propose delisting when it determines that the wolf population has
been recovered and it is reasonably assured that wolves would not become
threatened again if the ESA protections were removed. The ESA contains
several checks and balances, and protections to ensure that any decision
to delist a species is scientifically sound and will not result in it
becoming listed again. The ESA requires that all decisions be based
on the best scientific data available. USFWS is mandated to examine
all of the factors that may have caused a species to become threatened
and to determine that they are not likely to cause the species to become
threatened again. Regulating the level of human-caused mortality is
the primary factor that must be resolved before delisting could be proposed.
The ESA requires that USFWS must determine that regulations, other than
the ESA, will prevent unchecked human-caused mortality from once again
driving wolves toward extinction. Wildlife mortality is typically regulated
by state fish and wildlife management agencies. USFWS requested that
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming develop state wolf management plans so that
wolves would be adequately conserved under state management. In addition,
USFWS believed that state wolf plans would help the public to understand
the consequences of delisting and would provide a solid administrative
foundation for the final decision. State laws, as well as state management
plans, are expected to be consistent with long-term conservation of
the wolf population.
the NRM, Idaho has completed a wolf management plan. Montana and Wyoming
should have their wolf plans completed by Summer 2003. As expected,
state wolf planning is an emotional and intensely debated issue within
the states. The states must strike the difficult balance between protection
of livestock, state-managed big-game populations, wolf conservation,
and funding. USFWS will review state laws and wolf management plans
before delisting is proposed, to assure that the states plans,
in combination, will adequately conserve the wolf population, so that
it will not become threatened again. Because the NRM wolf population
will be delisted as a single entity, the three state plans will be evaluated
together. If USFWS review indicates that management by the states would
maintain the recovered wolf population, USFWS would propose delisting.
delisting proposal would include relevant data and a thorough analysis
of USFWSs rationale. It would be published, and extensive public
and professional peer review would be requested. After public comment
and any new information were analyzed, USFWS could withdraw the proposal,
modify it, or finalize it. The NRM wolf population could be delisted
as early as 2004. Upon delisting, each state would be responsible for
the conservation and management of wolves within their respective borders.
Coordination among the three states is expected, and already established
through a memorandum of understanding signed by the respective governors,
and cooperation between state wildlife agencies. After the wolf population
is delisted, the ESA requires a mandatory, minimum 5-year post-delisting
oversight period. That period, during which USFWS reviews the implementation
of state management plans, provides a safety-net to ensure that the
species is able to sustain itself without the protection of the ESA.
If wolves became threatened again, USFWS could re-list them by emergency
people are concerned about what would happen to wolves if ESA protections
were removed, while many other people wonder about the impact to livestock
and big game if wolves arent delisted. The delisting process will
be well publicized, controversial, and will almost certainly result
in litigation. However, USFWS is confident that the extensive safeguards
required by the ESA for any delisting proposal will ensure that a viable
wolf population will be conserved in the NRM into the foreseeable future.
wolf reclassification proposal: A separate proposal for the reclassification
of wolves nationwide is currently in review within USFWS. This proposal
would not change the status of wolves in the experimental nonessential
populations (Central Idaho and Yellowstone) but would change the status
of wolves in the NWMT recovery area from endangered to threatened. This
would allow wolves to be managed under virtually the same rules throughout
the NRM. Activities that are likely to be allowed under threatened status
that are not allowed while wolves are endangered include the use of
nonlethal munitions to haze wolves away from livestock, and the ability
for livestock owners to legally kill a wolf caught in the act of attacking
livestock. The activities of government agencies in managing depredating
wolves would not be significantly different under the changed status
in NWMT. The reclassification proposal is expected to be finalized,
and to take effect, in March 2003. When the new rules become effective,
they will be widely publicized. The reclassification of wolves, a separate
administrative procedure, is not expected to affect the timetable for
complete delisting of wolves in the NRM.
United States District Court for the District of Idaho. Western Watersheds
Project and Idaho Conservation League vs. Sawtooth National Forest,
Bill Levere, Sawtooth National Forest Supervisor, and USFS, Case No.
case was initiated in Summer 2002 and revolves around the establishing
legislation for the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). That legislation
suggests preferential use by wildlife in the SNRA. The SNRA has been
historically used for livestock grazing under federal grazing permits.
Since the USFWSs reintroduction efforts in 1995, the wolf population
in Idaho has expanded, with at least one wolf pack using part of the
SNRA. Because of chronic livestock depredations by wolves on private
land adjacent to the SNRA and within it, agency wolf control ultimately
resulted in the removal of all 10 members of the Whitehawk Pack. Environmental
groups filed suit and the Judges preliminary ruling directed the
USFS to give preference to wildlife but also to balance out wildlife
with permitted livestock grazing. The Court ruled that the USFS needed
to do a more thorough environmental assessment of the conflict between
livestock grazing and predators, primarily wolves, in the SNRA.
Court further issued an injunction on the USFWS that prohibited lethal
control of wolves that depredated on livestock within the SNRA during
2002. The USFWS requested the Judge reconsider that position since the
USFWS was not part of the original litigation and that control of wolves
that attack livestock is a necessary part of wolf restoration in the
northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The FWS/DOI
worked with DOJ and filed an appeal of the courts decision. No
further action has been taken by the court on the USFWSs appeals
at this time. The USFWS stands ready to continue to assist to reduce
livestock depredations in other non-lethal ways in the SNRA, but lethal
control of problem wolves within the SNRA is currently prohibited by
of Diamond G lawsuit: On February 25, 2003, the Tenth Circuit Court
of Appeals issue a ruling which resolved the last of the litigation
over the legality of the wolf recovery program. The case involved the
Diamond G Ranch, Inc, a Wyoming Corporation, vs. Secretary of the Interior
Gale Norton and USFWS. A ruling by the United States District Court
for the district of Wyoming, made in 2001, had found that the wolf recovery
program did not violate the Fifth Amendments takings provisions
or the regulations promulgated under the Endangered Species Act. The
Appeals Court affirmed the District Court ruling which dismissed the
Diamond Gs takings claims and the ESA claims.
of Wolf Recovery
recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains from 1973 through 2002 cost
about $15,200,000 (with no adjustments for inflation). If recovery continues
at the current rate and management costs remain within predictions,
wolf delisting should be completed in 2004 at an additional cost to
taxpayers of $1,400,000 annually for 2003 and 2004. The total cost for
the restoration, management, recovery, and delisting of wolves between
1973 and late 2004 should be about $18,000,000. Costs in 2002 were:
S. Fish and Wildlife Service: $1,111,000 ($500,000 in Region 1 and $611,000
in Region 6). (USFWS Region 1 includes Idaho. Region 6 includes Wyoming
and Montana). This funding is used for overall coordination on local
and national wolf issues, monitoring, research, control, public information,
litigation, biologists in Helena and Kalispell, MT, Lander, WY and Boise,
ID, support to WS for assistance in wolf control ($100,000), and funding
the Nez Perce Tribe for leading wolf management in Idaho ($400,000).
Region 6 also funded Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming to assist in the preparation
of the delisting proposal ($6,500 each), and to assist the states with
their state wolf management planning (Montana $20,000, Wyoming $20,000
plus a federal grant for nearly $80,000).
Wildlife Services: $89,000 (from USDA, for investigating reports of
wolf damage and increased costs of coyote control in areas occupied
by wolves). In addition, WS received an additional $1,300,000 to their
budget in the MT, ID, and WY funding to assist in control of predators,
some of which could be used to support investigation of suspected wolf-caused
livestock losses, and wolf control activities. Senate language in FY
2003 [Oct 2002-Sept 2003] recommends the $1,300,000 increase for WS
in MT, ID, and WY become an annual permanent increase, largely because
of the expanding wolf population and increased potential for wolf-caused
Park Service: $220,000 (NPS funds for monitoring, research, coordination,
and public information).
recovery costs were lower than predicated in the EIS, primarily because
reintroduction objectives were met in two years rather than in the 3-5
years that had been predicted. Wolves remained in Yellowstone National
Park and in wilderness areas of central Idaho to a greater extent than
predicted, and reproduction and survival exceeded expectations. Also,
depredations on livestock were below the levels expected, and private
groups and individuals made substantial contributions to the program.
Currently, the private Turner Endangered Species Fund is funding all
costs for an experienced wolf biologist in Bozeman, Montana who is directly
supervised by the USFWS to monitor wolves and to assist in resolving
conflicts between wolves and private landowners in southwestern Montana.
Defenders of Wildlife provides a compensation program for livestock
killed by wolves, with expenditures of more than $270,000 between 1987
and 2002. Universities in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have provided substantial
funding and support for their graduate students conducting wolf research.
issue of who should or will pay for management of a recovered, delisted
wolf population is still a subject of intense debate. The costs of wolves
as a state-managed animal have been estimated by the various states.
The states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming argue that there must be federal
assistance for wolf management after the population is delisted or their
plans cannot be implemented. Without some sort of federal assistance
they would not support assuming management authority.
following is a synopsis of known wolf mortalities in the state of Montana
during calender year 2002 that were investigated by USFWS special agents.
or about 12/04/01, two wolves were shot and killed in the Big Hole area
of southwestern Montana. On 02/07/02, information was received by the
Office of Law Enforcement and an investigation was initiated. The investigation
revealed that the two wolves, B-63 and another wolf, were shot by a
Stevensville, MT resident. The shooter told agents that he thought the
wolves were coyotes until after he shot them. The results of the investigation
were referred to the U. S. Attorneys office for review. As a result,
charges were filed for violating the Endangered Species Act. The defendant
entered a plea of guilty (with an explanation) that he thought the two
animals were coyotes. His occupation is a taxidermist and tanner. He
has hunted in Montana for many years. As a result of his occupation
and hunting experience the judge felt the defendant knew the animals
were wolves and not coyotes when he shot them. As a result of his guilty
plea he was placed on probation for three years, during which time he
may not hunt; ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the state wildlife
laboratory in Bozeman; forfeit to the government the rifle used to kill
the wolves and pay a fine of $4,025 all but $525 of which was suspended.
The rifle that was forfeited went to the state hunter safety program.
04/05/02, wolf number 267 (a collared male), was found dead in the Fishtrap
Creek drainage in Sanders County, Montana. The wolf carcass was recovered
and the subsequent necropsy revealed that the wolf died as a result
of a puncture wound to the chest, possibly from an antler or sharp stick.
The animal is believed to have died as a result of (other than human-caused)
activity, possibly in a confrontation with an elk or deer. There was
no evidence of illegal activity. (This mortality is thought to have
occurred in late 2001, and was tabulated in the 2001 wolf recovery report).
06/18/02, wolf number 256 (a collared female), was found dead inside
Glacier National Park, near an elk kill site. The wolf carcass was recovered
and the subsequent necropsy revealed the wolf died as a result of a
blow to its head. There was no indication or evidence to suggest illegal
or about 08/06/02, two (2) wolf pups were found dead along side of a
road in the Ninemile Valley of Montana. The two carcasses were recovered
and a subsequent necropsy revealed the pups died as a result of blunt
force trauma, likely from a vehicle. There is no evidence to date that
suggests illegal activity.
or about 09/05/02, two (2) wolf pups were found dead in the vicinity
of Dillon, MT. The wolf carcasses were found near two M-44 coyote
getters set by WS. The wolf carcasses were recovered and necropsies
revealed the wolves died as a result of cyanide poisoning from the M-44's.
A review of WS trapping protocol was conducted and forwarded to the
U. S. Attorneys office for review. The U. S. Attorneys office
declined any prosecution.
09/11/02, a wolf was found dead in the Helmville, MT area. The wolf,
a pup from the Halfway Pack, was determined to have died from a vehicle
10/18/02, a wolf pup was hit and killed by a vehicle in the Dickey Lake
area of Montana. An investigation revealed that the incident was as
12/02/02, wolf number 276 was shot and killed west of Polson, MT. Upon
realizing he had shot a wolf the shooter reported the killing to the
FWS. The shooter told the agent that he thought the wolf was a coyote.
The agent documented all of the evidence and is presenting the case
to the U. S. Attorneys office and Regional Solicitors office for
USFWS Law Enforcement--Wyoming
were no documented illegal kills of wolves during 2002 in Wyoming.
Enforcement continues efforts to prevent the illegal killing of wolves.
These efforts include the mailing of wolf information to some hunters
that will be hunting in areas occupied by wolves. This information is
intended to inform the hunters that wolves may be present, gives tips
on wolf identification, as well as providing phone numbers and addresses
to report wolf sightings. Special Agents still continue to educate people
about wolves. One of the more effective tools that Law Enforcement has
used is the back country horse patrol. Special Agents patrol the back
country during high use periods to provide a deterrent to those who
may otherwise kill a wolf, and to educate and answer questions about
wolves. These patrols have been effective in preventing the illegal
killing of wolves in remote areas.
USFWS Law Enforcement--Idaho
follows is a listing of known wolf mortalities occurring in Idaho during
calendar year 2002 that were investigated by Special Agents of the USFWS:
An uncollared wolf was found dead on 01/04/2002 near Glenns Ferry,
Idaho. Investigation and lab necropsy revealed that the wolf had been
shot. This investigation is ongoing.
B66, a collared female wolf, was found dead in the Muldoon Creek drainage
(near Carey, Idaho) on 01/13/2002. Necropsy determined that this wolf
likely died of natural causes.
B71, a collared male wolf, was found dead in the Big Smoky Creek drainage
(north of Fairfield, Idaho) on 05/10/2002. This wolfs collar had
been on mortality since March, but snow conditions in the area had prevented
recovery of the carcass and crime scene investigation. All that remained
of the wolf were bleached bones - it appeared that the carcass had been
in place for possibly two years, and no live signals had been received
from this wolfs collar in about that length of time. The carcass
was found within a few miles of where another wolf had died of 1080
poisoning. Due to the advanced decomposition of the remains, it could
not be determined whether poison had been involved in B71's death.
B48, a collared male wolf, was found dead near Dworshak Reservoir on
07/14/2002. The carcass was sent to the lab for necropsy, and apparent
wounds observed at the time the carcass was recovered were determined
by the lab to have likely been the result of scavengers. No bullet fragments,
broken bones, hemorrhaging or other signs of trauma were observed.
B134, a collared female wolf, was found dead in the Panther Creek drainage
(west of Salmon, Idaho) on 11/26/2002. Bullet wounds were evident on
the carcass, and the location where it was found suggests it was shot
from a nearby Forest Road. The carcass was sent to the lab for necropsy,
and it was confirmed that the wolf was shot. Investigation in this case
A wolf monitoring flight on 01/07/2003 detected a mortality signal from
the collar of Wolf B133 in the area of Pine, Idaho (east of Boise).
The collar was recovered the following day in the S. Fork of the Boise
River. The collar had evidently been cut off the animal (presumably
after it was killed), and thrown into the river from a bridge. Algae
growth on the collar indicated it had been in the river for some time.
Although the collar was found during calendar year 2003, Wolf B133 likely
died weeks or months earlier - during the hunting seasons and during
a period of more than two months when there were no monitoring flights.
Investigation in this case is ongoing.
A mortality signal (B132) was found after the resumption of monitoring
during a flight in late November 2002 in the area of Yellowpine, Idaho.
This collar was determined to be in an area which, due to terrain and
snow conditions, will be inaccessible to investigators until after snowmelt.
B67, a wolf that was originally collared as a member of the Big Hole
Pack in 1999, had dispersed in 2001 and taken up residence in the Painted
Rocks Reservoir area. She was associated with an unknown number of other
wolves there. In late November 2002 her radio signal was detected in
mortality mode. A USFWS Law Enforcement agent retrieved the carcass.
Necropsy revealed that the wolf had been shot. This incident is under
Special Agents in Idaho began, in the Fall of 2002, to conduct wolf
protective details in Idaho. These were conducted in areas of the state
where there has been a past pattern of wolves being illegally killed.
Agents used horses to access back-country areas, as well as using vehicles
in areas that are easily accessed on maintained roads. The agents made
contacts with individuals in these areas soliciting information on unsolved
wolf cases, and establishing an enforcement presence. It is hoped that,
at a minimum, this activity will have a deterrent effect. This effort
is expected to continue this year, with primary emphasis being during
the Fall hunting seasons.
Idaho Wolf Management Planning
Idaho legislature passed a joint resolution in March 2002 accepting
the Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The plan has been given
tentative approval by USFWS, but still must be scientifically reviewed.
Idaho state law must be changed to allow the Department of Fish and
Game (IDFG) to take over management when wolves are delisted. The Governors
Office of Species Conservation (OSC) is proposing legislation to repeal
Idaho Code 36-715, which currently restricts IDFGs involvement.
Additionally, OSC is proposing to the legislature and USFWS that the
state become involved with wolf management prior to delisting. Idahos
Wolf Plan identifies the IDFG as the primary manager of wolves following
delisting, but the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT) will also have a significant
role. The NPT and State will have to agree upon a role for the tribe,
and those discussions are ongoing. The IDFG and OSC currently are involved
in coordination with surrounding states and the USFWS in writing a delisting
plan. IDFG is also increasing monitoring of ungulates, trying to determine
possible impacts of wolves. Research and monitoring, include investigating
areas with and without recent fire and with and without wolves, will
try to identify ecosystem-level habitat and predator-prey interactions.
Full implementation of the Plan and management of wolves will be dependent
upon federal funds.
Wolf Management Planning
Montana Wolf Management Advisory Council was appointed in April 2000
by former Gov. Marc Racicot to advise Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks
(FWP) as it prepares a management plan for the gray wolf upon federal
delisting. The Council was a diverse group, representing the interests
of conservationists, hunters, landowners, livestock producers, outfitters,
educators, and others. The Council completed their deliberations and
presented their report to newly-elected Governor Judy Martz early in
2001. Governor Martz directed FWP to use it to frame a wolf management
plan. In response, FWP released the "Montana Wolf Conservation
and Management Planning Document" in January 2002. While the 117-page
planning document reflected what a state wolf management plan could
resemble if it were based on the council's work and recommendations,
FWP still needed to hear from others and explore various alternatives
before adopting a management plan in full compliance with the legal
requirements of the Montana Environmental Policy Act.
this document as a basis for discussion, FWP opened the "scoping"
comment period for its wolf management environmental impact statement
(EIS) in February 2002. Community work sessions were held throughout
the state and written comments and emails were also accepted. FWP collected
nearly 4,000 comments and written correspondence. Because many of the
written letters and emails identified more than one issue or concern,
FWP recorded nearly 6,500 individual comments. In all, the comments
reflected a full spectrum of issues and concerns about wolves in general
and more specifically about a wolf conservation and management program
led by FWP.
wolf recovery and eventual state management are issues of such great
significance to Montana, Governor Martz reappointed the original Wolf
Management Advisory Council in January 2003. FWP consulted with the
Council prior to finalizing the EIS alternatives. The fundamental issues
of wolf conservation and management, associated social factors, state
and federal administrative responsibilities, prey populations and their
management, and concerns about livestock and compensation for wolf-caused
losses were significant enough to drive the creation of specific alternatives.
The lack of strongly conflicting public comments on issues like human
safety, the need for information outreach and education, or wolf population
monitoring, for example, allowed FWP to address several issues in different
ways within the spectrum of alternatives created based on the major
issues. Ultimately, FWP crafted a total of five alternatives, ranging
from little to no management by the State of Montana to aggressive management
by FWP. The Council's work will be presented as one of the alternatives.
Wolf Conservation and Management Draft EIS will be released in March
2003. FWP will accept public comments on its draft EIS at a series of
community work sessions, via written letters, or email. FWP expects
to complete the EIS process in Summer 2003. More information can be
found at www.fwp.state.mt.us.
Wyoming Wolf Management Planning
Wyoming Legislature passed a state wolf management plan in late February
2003. The bill reclassified wolves as either trophy game or predators,
depending on their location and on the overall wolf population level
in Wyoming. The USFWS will be working with the Wyoming Game and Fish
Commission on the specifics of how this legislation might be implemented.
Depending upon the details of the state wolf plan, USFWS may forward
it, along with state wolf plans from Idaho and Montana, for public comment
as part of any proposal to delist wolves this summer. The adequacy of
state plans to conserve the wolf population will be determined by independent
professional peer review at that time.
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
S. Fish and Wildlife Service USFWS
U. S. Forest Service USFS
U. S. National Park Service NPS
Nez Perce Tribe NPT
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services WS
Endangered Species Act ESA
Northern Rocky Mountains NRM
Northwest Montana wolf recovery area NWMT
Central Idaho wolf recovery area CID
Greater Yellowstone wolf recovery area GYA
Yellowstone National Park YNP
Glacier National Park GNP
Grand Teton National Park GTNP
Montana State University MSU
further information or to report wolf sightings, please contact:
S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Helena MT: (406) 449-5225
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kalispell MT: (406) 751-4581
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lander WY: (307) 332-7789
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Boise ID: (208) 378-5639
Yellowstone Center for Resources, YNP WY: (307) 344-2243
Nez Perce Tribal Wolf Program, McCall ID: (208) 634-1061
report livestock depredations:
Services, Montana: (406) 657-6464
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Wyoming: (307) 261-5336
USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Idaho: (208) 378-5077
report discovery of a dead wolf or information regarding the illegal
killing of a wolf:
Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Billings, MT: (406) 247-7355
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Missoula, MT: (406) 329-3000
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Bozeman, MT: (406) 582-0336
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Great Falls, MT: (406)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Casper, WY: (307) 261-6365
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Lander, WY: (307) 332-7607
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Cody, WY: (307) 527-7604
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Boise, ID: (208) 378-5333
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Idaho Falls, ID (208)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent, Spokane, WA (509) 928-6050
Rocky Mountain weekly & annual wolf updates:
USFWS Midwestern gray wolf recovery, national wolf reclassification
National Wildlife Research Center:
Nez Perce Tribe Wildlife Program and 2001 progress report:
Turner Endangered Species Fund:
Yellowstone Park Foundation:
Yellowstone Wolf Tracker:
Yellowstone National Park technical information page:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks:
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wolf management planning:
Montana Natural Resource Information System:
Montana State University wolf-ungulate research:
Idaho Fish and Game:
Idaho Office of Species Conservation:
Wyoming Game and Fish Department:
Wolves in Utah (report from Utah State University):
Wyoming agricultural statistics:
Idaho agricultural statistics:
Montana agricultural statistics:
National agricultural statistics:
Defenders of Wildlife wolf compensation trust:
International Wolf Center:
Wolf Recovery Foundation:
Wolf Education and Research Center:
People Against Wolves:
of people have assisted with wolf recovery efforts and we are indebted
to them. It would be impossible to individually recognize them all in
this report. Major contributions to wolf recovery efforts were provided
by Dave Skates and Laurie Connell (USFWS Lander, WY), Northwest College
(Powell, WY), Mark Wilson, Eileen Holman, Fern Thompson, Robyn Barkley,
Brent Esmoil, and Kendra Bushnell (USFWS/ES, Helena MT), Jeff Green
(USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services, Denver CO), and Mike Phillips and Kyran
Kunkel (Turner Endangered Species Fund). Numerous agencies have contributed
to the recovery program and we thank the USFS, Bridger-Teton National
Forest, Shoshone National Forest, Kootenai National Forest, Flathead
National Forest, Lewis and Clark National Forest, Glacier National Park,
Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Northwest College,
Powell, WY, National Elk Refuge, Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge,
U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes,
the Blackfeet Tribe, Wyoming Department of Game and Fish, Montana Fish,
Wildlife & Parks, and Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Wolf necropsies
and forensics work are performed by the MTFW&P laboratory in Bozeman
MT, and the USFWS forensics laboratory in Ashland, OR. Veterinarians
providing services and advice to wolf recovery programs included Drs.
Clarence Binninger, Kelly Chamberlain, Charlene Esch, and David Hunter.
of this report were authored by Tom Meier, Ed Bangs, Joe Fontaine, Mike
Jimenez, John Oakleaf, Roger Parker, Craig Tabor, and Dominic Domenici
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Doug Smith, Deb Guernsey and Dan Stahler
(National Park Service), Stewart Beck (National Wildlife Research Center),
Curt Mack and Jim Holyan (Nez Perce Tribe), Scott Creel and Robert Garrott
(Montana State University), Liz Bradley (University of Montana), Holly
and Jim Akenson (University of Idaho), Kim Berger (Utah State University),
Jason Husseman (University of Idaho), Carolyn Sime (Montana Fish, Wildlife
& Parks), Steve Nadeau (Idaho Department of Fish and Game), and
Val Asher (Turner Endangered Species Fund). Special thanks to Steve
Carson (Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks) for preparing maps for this
report, and to Jim Renne (USFWS) for producing the website.
thank our pilots: Dave Hoerner of Red Eagle Aviation; Lowell Hanson
of Piedmont Air Services; Tim Graff and Eric Waldorf of Wildlife Services;
Lee Anderson of the Montana Department of Agriculture; Bob Hawkins and
Gary Brennan of Hawkins and Powers Helicopters; Roger Stradley of Gallatin
Flying Service; Gary Lust of Mountain Air Research; Jerry Hyatt and
Claude Tyrrel of Sky Aviation; Pat and Mike Dorris; Pat Fitzgerald,
Gary Merrit, Rod Nielson, and Bonnie Osborne of McCall Wilderness Air/McCall
Aviation; Steve and Michelle Wolters, Wendy Beye, and Bill Stewart of
Northstar Aviation; Bob Danner and Dia Terese of SESS Air; Ray Arnold
of Arnold Aviation; Leroy Brown and Jack Fulton of Idaho Helicopters;
Liza and Steve Robertson, and Doug Chapman of Montana Aircraft; for
all of their skill and cooperation.
Edmonds, Scott Emmerich, Reggie Altop, John Waller and Steve Gniadek
helped monitor wolves in Glacier National Park. Stephanie Naftal helped
with wolf monitoring and management in southwest Montana. University
of Montana students, directed by Ty Smucker, conducted winter track
searches in western Montana. Laura Jones, Defenders of Wildlife, assisted
with the fladry project near Salmon, Idaho. Volunteers in Yellowstone
National Park included Kristy Bly-Honness, Daniel Boone, Charles Brecht,
Erin Cleere, Chris Geremia, Dan Graf, Ben Johnson, Daniel MacNulty,
Matt Metz, Robert Montgomery, Chris Muller, Stephanie Naftal, Melissa
Peer, Dan Stebbins, John Sterling, Heather Sterling, Janice Stroud,
Nathan Varley, Elena West, and Katie Yale. Assisting in monitoring wolves
in Wyoming were John Stevenson, Pat Leslie, Keysha Fontaine, Austin
Hess, and Tracy Hruska.
private organizations have lent their support to the program including
Defenders of Wildlife, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Wolf Education
and Research Center, DeVlieg Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,
Snowdon Wildlife Sanctuary, Twin Spruce Foundation, Yellowstone Park
Foundation, and Plum Creek Timber Company. The efforts of many individuals
who have contacted us to report wolf sightings are greatly appreciated.
The dozens of ranchers and other private landowners whose property is
occasionally used by wolves, sometimes at great cost to the owner, deserve
our thanks and consideration.