May 17 – May 30, 2008. Idaho wolf management news
The material below is produced the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and follows the same format as the old report done by the USFWS (Ed Bangs).
So here is the latest official Idaho wolf news.
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To: Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators
From: IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau
Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management, Week of May 17 May 30, 2008
Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) were delisted on March 28, 2008. The USFWS successfully recovered and delisted the population with the help of state, federal, tribal and non government partners. Management of these wolves now resides with the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The 2002 legislatively approved Wolf Conservation and Management Plan along with the March 2008 Idaho Fish and Game Wolf Population Management Plan, as well as the laws and policies of the state now govern wolf management in Idaho. Wolves are now listed as a big game animal in Idaho and protected under the laws and policies of the State of Idaho.
Once wolves were delisted, the USFWS decided to discontinue the publication of the NRM wolf weekly. Instead, for the time being, Idaho will continue publishing the Idaho specific wolf weekly. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO PUBLISH A WEEKLY EVERY FRIDAY THEREFORE AT TIMES WE WILL BE PUBLISHING A BIWEEKLY THAT WILL BE POSTED ON THE WEBSITE. Along with the USFWS, contributors to the weekly historically have included the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the states of Idaho and Montana. Wyoming was reported on by the USFWS. You may review past wolf weekly publications on our wolf webpage and links along with all pertinent and updated wolf information and publications at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/
5/27: Jason Husseman got a pup count of 5 pups in the Hughes Creek pack.
NPT crews have traps out in the Scott Valley area, where the Orphan pack was last known to reside, based on sign located there this week.
Isaac Babcock obtained a partial pup count on the Stolle Meadows pack; while tracking the radiocollared alpha female, B249, he happened across a secondary den. Inside he observed 2 black pups, but it is likely there are at least another 1-2.
Isaac and Bjornen Babcock obtained a visual on GPS radiocollared male B327 in the Scott Valley area; he appeared to be alone (as he was during an aerial observation 5/25/08). This crew investigated the past 2 aerial locations of female wolf B290 (originally a member of the Morgan Ck. pack); a den is highly suspected due to the site fidelity being exhibited by this wolf, but no direct evidence of reproduction has been obtained thus far. They also documented a new pack, containing radiocollared female B315, on the breaks of the Snake River; B315 and an uncollared wolf were observed away from the den/rendezvous site and 1 adult and multiple pups were heard howling. This pack will be named soon.
Holyan conducted additional scouting in the Boulder Ck. drainage SE of McCall following up on reports from ID Dept. of Lands personnel that made a sighting in the area. Holyan had verified wolf sign here in February/March. Flights were conducted on 5/25 and 5/26. Female B192, originally captured as a pup in the Soldier Mt. pack (born in 2003), was aerially observed N of McCall with another wolf. B192 had been missing from her natal territory since June 2007, although she was identified via DNA from a scat collected in the Bear Valley pack’s territory during July 2007.
WS has investigated 57 reported wolf depredations so far in 2008 (they conducted 36 investigations by this date in 2007). WS confirmed 35 depredations compared to 22 during the same time frame in 2007. Therefore investigations have increased 58% this year over last, and confirmed livestock kills have increased 59% as well.
From January 1 to May 25, 2008 IDFG has recorded 45 dead wolves. Twenty-two were control actions due to livestock depredations, 5 were killed by producers under state law 36-1107, 1 was killed by a producer under the federal 10j rule, 2 died of natural causes, 3 from vehicle collisions, 7 unknowns, and 5 illegal kills. Wolves continue to remain in lower elevations and on private lands due to late spring conditions during denning season thus making them more vulnerable to livestock depredations and other forms of mortality. Also, because of increased wolf populations expanding into suboptimal habitat and high conflict areas higher levels of mortality can be expected.
On 5/19, WS captured and radio collared a gray, sub-adult male wolf at the depredation site near Hill City where unknown wolves killed 18 sheep the weekend before.
On 5/20, WS confirmed another calf killed by the Pass Creek pack on private land along the East Fork of the Salmon River. So far, this pack has killed 4 calves in the past 3 weeks; all on private land.
On 5/23, ID WS confirmed that a wolf killed a calf on private land SE of Grangeville. This property neighbors the property where WS confirmed another wolf depredation earlier this spring. Control efforts are ongoing.
On 5/25, WS confirmed that wolves killed 2 buck sheep and probably killed 13 more on private land about 10 miles north of Carey, east of the Little Wood Reservoir. Several more sheep are missing. A neighbor saw 3 wolves running from the property. Control efforts are underway.
On 5/27, WS confirmed that wolves killed another 6 sheep on Boise Forest land adjacent to this property. Control efforts are ongoing.
On 5/29 WS looked at a calf on private land near Leadore that was reported as a wolf depredation. There was no evidence that wolves were involved at all.
On 5/29, WS confirmed that wolves killed 33 sheep (9 ewes, 24 lambs) near Alexander Flat on the Boise Forest. Control efforts are underway.
On 5/29 Husseman and WS visited the Pass Ck suspected den area in a control effort that involves attempting to bump wolves from their den site that will soon have cattle on it, but backed off when the conditions were not right; further attempts will be made to try to move the wolves before the cattle gets put on the range.
On 5/29 the suspected breeding female of the Pass Ck pack was trapped at the depredation site on the E. Fork Salmon River and euthanized. Although WS attempted to avoid lethal removal of the female, her leg opposite the trap was broken and she could not have been released and expected to survive. The pups appear to be weaned so proactive efforts to have the remaining wolves move the pups away from the private land cattle operation are ongoing.
A wolf radio collar was found on mortality in the Selway wilderness (Selway pack) during a routine Nez Perce Tribe telemetry flight. Michael Lucid (IDFG) found the wolf carcass and it appeared to be a natural death.
On May 22, the Fish and Game Commission voted to approve recommendations for rules for the first wolf hunting season. Additionally, they approved a total mortality limit that would approach the goal of achieving the estimated population level of approximately 518 wolves, or the lower end of the range approved in the March 2008 Wolf Population Management Plan (518-732). This population level assures viable and healthy wolf populations across Idaho, reduced populations in areas where there is high conflict with livestock and ungulates, assure connectivity with Montana, Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming, and establishes the first big game hunting season for wolves in Idaho. Total mortality limits include all forms of reported or verified mortality including road kills, control actions, natural mortality, illegal kills, as well as regulated harvest. At current population levels, more than 200 wolves would be expected to die from all forms of mortality except legal harvest. Once the limit is reached in each wolf zone the hunting season for that zone will be closed. Once the statewide limit is reached, hunting will close across the state. All mortality will be accounted for both by confirmation and estimation using radio collar data. Remaining live wolf populations will be estimated using standard and newly researched techniques that rely on radio collar and GPS data for aerial counting wolves in packs, as well as DNA data, hunter and public reporting, and other techniques. The goal of maintaining wolves at the level approved will assure long-term healthy wolf populations in balance with prey, reduce conflicts and assure that wolves occupy optimal habitat in Idaho. Including hunting as a form of management will improve acceptance of wolves in Idaho and assure that wolves are here to stay.
On April 28, a lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Missoula to prevent delisting. The states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming along with several other groups were granted intervener status on behalf of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The injunction hearing was held in federal court in Missoula MT on May 29, 2008. Judge Malloy said he would get the ruling out soon.
Information and Education
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission met on May 21 from 7-9 PM to listen to public comment at their open house at the Jerome Fish and Game office. Approximately 100 people attended and many testified.
Carter Niemeyer gave a wolf walk and presentation to approximately 20 people at the Idaho Conservation League annual meeting at Red Fish Lake on May 17.
Wolves are being reported in Placerville and Lowman areas around residences. Information is being distributed to reduce conflicts.
We also would like to remind people that when wolves are in the area, please be aware that they may attack or injure dogs. It often helps to keep dogs in kennels or inside buildings at night and to not let them roam freely when humans are not around. When fresh wolf sign is found, place dogs on restraints and keep supervised. The state law allows individuals to harass or kill a wolf attacking or molesting their domestic animals including pets. If you are having concerns or problems with wolves close to your residence, please inform the Fish and Game Office nearest you.
Please help us manage wolves by reporting wolf sightings on our Fish and Game observation form found at:
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
3 Responses to May 17 – May 30, 2008. Idaho wolf management news
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“The goal of maintaining wolves at the level approved will assure long-term healthy wolf populations in balance with prey, reduce conflicts and assure that wolves occupy optimal habitat in Idaho. Including hunting as a form of management will improve acceptance of wolves in Idaho and assure that wolves are here to stay.”
–There is absolutely no scientific evidence that backs up either one of these claims.
Howdy from an old colleague. I just floated the MF Salmon and saw 2 wolves along Loon Creek (Simplot Ranch). Are they part of a pack or pioneers?
Well, hi Tom. It’s been a while!
Thanks for the comments. There are a number of wolf packs along the tributaries of the the Middle Fork and main Salmon River, such as Loon Creek. I haven’t kept track of them lately, but they were probably part of a pack.