Idaho Bi-weekly wolf report Oct.18 – Nov. 3, 2008

Idaho’s Latest Wolf Bi-weekly-


To:  Idaho Fish and Game Staff and Cooperators
From:  IDFG Wolf Program Coordinator, Steve Nadeau
Subject: Status of Gray Wolf Management, Weeks of October 18- Nov 3, 2008.

Delisting: FWS – Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Status (WY, MT, ID): The U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, July 18, 2008, that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain DPS pending

final resolution of the case. This includes all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and parts of north-central Utah. On September 22, the United States filed its motion to vacate the delisting rule, return the gray wolf to the list of endangered and threatened species, and remand the matter to the Fish and Wildlife Service. On October 14, Judge Molloy filed an order granting the United States’ motion to remand the delisting rule back to the Fish and Wildlife Service. He also dismissed the case.

NEW — Delisting Update:
On October 24, 2008 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is reopening the public comment period on its proposal to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. Through a notice in the Federal Register published on October 28, 2008, USFWS asked the public to provide comments and any additional information on the February 2007 proposal to delist wolves. The Service is seeking additional information on a variety of topics related to the delisting. More details are available in the Federal Register notice which will be posted along with associated materials at the Service’s northern Rocky Mountains wolf website:

The public will have until November 28, 2008, to submit their comments to the Federal
eRulemaking Portal at or via U.S. mail or hand delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-Au53; Division of Policy and Directives
Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203..

For the time being, all wolves to the north of Interstate- 90 in Idaho remain listed as endangered. All wolves in the southern half of Montana, all portions of Idaho south of Interstate-90, and all of Wyoming are being managed under the 2005 and 2008 Endangered Species Act nonessential experimental population 10j regulations. The State of Idaho Department of Fish and Game is acting as the designated agent for the USFWS in implementing day-to-day management of wolves under the MOU between the Secretary of Interior and Governor of Idaho signed January 2006.

Delisting wolves and assuring their proper long-term management is and has been of highest priority for the state of Idaho and the Fish and Game Department. We continue to work along with the Department of Interior, Department of Justice, and other states and interveners toward the eventual delisting of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and move toward state management under the State Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the Wolf Population Management Plan.

You may review past wolf weekly publications on our wolf webpage and links along with all pertinent and updated wolf information and publications at:

Aerial telemetry flights are ongoing. November and December are the primary months IDFG and the NPT attempt to count wolf pack members from the air. Snow conditions and time of year when pack members tend to congregate allow us to get quality pack sizes from the air.

From January 1 – Nov. 3 agencies have documented 131 dead wolves in Idaho. Of those, 82 were depredation control actions by USDA Wildlife Services, 9 illegal kills, 13 legal kills, 4 natural kills, and 23 other/unknown.

From 1/1/08 – 11/3/08, WS confirmed that wolves killed: 11 cows, 80 calves, 211 sheep, 13 dogs; Injured: 1 cow, 7 calves, 6 sheep, 7 dogs; Probable killed: 5 cows, 21 calves, 57 sheep; Injured: 1 cow, 3 calves, 1 sheep.

Table 1. Confirmed wolf depredations and wolf mortality in Idaho from 2003 to October 15, 2008.

Depredations1 Wolf Mortality
Cattle Sheep Dogs Total WS2 10j3 Other Total
2003 7 130 3 140 7 0 8 15
2004 19 176 4 199 17 0 21 39
2005 29 166 12 207 24 3 16 43
2006 41 237 4 282 35 7 19 61
2007 57 211 10 278 43 7 27 77
2008 91 211 13 315 82 13 36 131
Total 243 1130 46 1419 208 30 126 364
1 Includes depredations resulting in death or injury
2 Authorized take by Wildlife Services
3 Authorized take under 10j for protection of stock and dogs


From 10/16-11/3, WS confirmed two wolf depredations on livestock. WS confirmed that wolves killed 1 calf and 1 buck sheep, both on private land. In response to those depredations, WS shot and killed two wolves. During the same time frame in 2007, WS verified two “probable” wolf depredations.

Non-lethal efforts wrapped up last week with a meeting among cooperators near Ketchum who worked together to reduce livestock/wolf conflicts. Four producers, USFS, USDA Wildlife Services, IDFG, Blaine County Commission, and Defenders of Wildlife experimented with the use of paid non-lethal personnel (funded by Defenders) who used fladry and penning for sheep at night, and attempted to scare wolves away from sheep during the night. Wolves were around the sheep on a regular basis but only one sheep was confirmed killed by wolves all summer. The effort was considered a success by producers and cooperators and may be implemented again in the future should funding and qualified personnel be available.


Nothing new to report.

Information and Education

On 10/25 Holyan (NPT) gave a presentation on wolf biology/ecology to ~25 3rd grade students at Barbara Morgan Elementary School in McCall.

On Nov. 1 Steve Nadeau gave a presentation to 15 members of the Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council in Boise and teleconferenced to Idaho Falls and Jerome, where 6 sportsmen group leaders and 2 legislators were connected.

A reminder: wolves are protected under the endangered species act and killing one illegally is a federal offense.



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  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    The Sept. report lists 155 wolf pups in Idaho this year and now this report lists 131 dead wolves so far this year from all causes. It looks like the number of dead wolves by the end of the year will come close to the total number of pups produced this year. That doesn’t leave any wolves left for hunters to kill (assuming delisting takes place) if the wolf population is to be maintained at the present level.

  2. Jay Barr Avatar
    Jay Barr

    The state of ID doesn’t want to maintain at the present level- they want it lowered to the 2005 population of ~500. So they’d still have plenty of wolves to harvest even with current mortality (and still 2 months to go in this year for additional deaths) almost equalling pup production.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Larry and Jay,

    I think you’re right on track. We can now see how grossly off Idaho’s estimates of wolf fecundity were, and the real effect a hunt would have had (of course, they knew that).

  4. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    Not exactly on task but wolves do eat these things….from Nature today..

    Linking climate change to lemming cycles

    Kyrre L. Kausrud1, Atle Mysterud1, Harald Steen2,7, Jon Olav Vik1, Eivind Østbye2, Bernard Cazelles3,4, Erik Framstad5, Anne Maria Eikeset1, Ivar Mysterud2, Torstein Solhøy6 & Nils Chr. Stenseth1

    The population cycles of rodents at northern latitudes have puzzled people for centuries1, 2, and their impact is manifest throughout the alpine ecosystem2, 3. Climate change is known to be able to drive animal population dynamics between stable and cyclic phases4, 5, and has been suggested to cause the recent changes in cyclic dynamics of rodents and their predators3, 6, 7, 8, 9. But although predator–rodent interactions are commonly argued to be the cause of the Fennoscandian rodent cycles1, 10, 11, 12, 13, the role of the environment in the modulation of such dynamics is often poorly understood in natural systems8, 9, 14. Hence, quantitative links between climate-driven processes and rodent dynamics have so far been lacking. Here we show that winter weather and snow conditions, together with density dependence in the net population growth rate, account for the observed population dynamics of the rodent community dominated by lemmings (Lemmus lemmus) in an alpine Norwegian core habitat between 1970 and 1997, and predict the observed absence of rodent peak years after 1994. These local rodent dynamics are coherent with alpine bird dynamics both locally and over all of southern Norway, consistent with the influence of large-scale fluctuations in winter conditions. The relationship between commonly available meteorological data and snow conditions indicates that changes in temperature and humidity, and thus conditions in the subnivean space, seem to markedly affect the dynamics of alpine rodents and their linked groups. The pattern of less regular rodent peaks, and corresponding changes in the overall dynamics of the alpine ecosystem, thus seems likely to prevail over a growing area under projected climate change.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks John Weis.

  6. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    “Delisting wolves and assuring their proper long-term management is and has been of highest priority for the state of Idaho and the Fish and Game Department.”

    Makes me laugh every time…

  7. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I don’t know if this will work here or not but this pic was taken this past weekend somewhere north of Sun Valley.

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Jeff E.,

    I have the photo, and will post it. It is of the Phantom Hill wolf pack. That’s the pack that so much effort was committed to in order to keep it away from sheep last summer.

    The program was very successful. The photo should go up.


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.

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Ralph Maughan