Wyoming Wolf Weekly- Oct 27 to Nov 8, 2008

Report says 16-17 “packs” in WY outside Yellowstone-

Here is the latest official Wyoming wolf news sent out by Ed Bangs.

The number of wolves “controlled” this year is down a lot, but total WY mortality down just slightly from 2007. The report says 16 -17 “packs” have been observed over the year with an average litter size of 4 wolves.

Of course, at year’s end, we will see how many are still around with 2 or more surviving pups and the same breeding pair of wolves in the pack. Ralph Maughan

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WYOMING WOLF WEEKLY- October 27 through November 7, 2008.

To:        Regional Director, Region 6, Denver, Colorado
From:         USFWS Wyoming Wolf Recovery Project Leader, Jackson, WY
Subject:    Status of Gray Wolf Management in Wyoming and the NRM

Web Address – USFWS reports (past weekly and annual reports) and Wyoming weekly reports can be viewed at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov  .  Weekly reports for Montana and Idaho are produced by those States and can be viewed on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Idaho Department of Fish and Game websites.  Information concerning wolf management in Wyoming from 3/28/08 through 7/18/08 can be found on the Wyoming Game and Fish (WGFD) web site at  http://gf.state.wy.us.  Beginning 9/15/08, the USFWS will publish weekly wolf reports for Wyoming.  All weekly and annual reports are government property and can be used for any purpose.  Please distribute as you see fit.

Wolf Litigation and Management: Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) were delisted on March 28, 2008. On July 18, 2008, the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued a preliminary injunction that immediately reinstated temporary Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the NRM. All wolves in Wyoming are protected under the ESA as an experimental population and managed by the USFWS.

On September 22, 2008 the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to the Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana requesting that the February 27, 2008 NRM wolf delisting final rule be vacated and remanded back to the USFWS for further consideration and action. The Court can take whatever time it believes it needs to make that decision. The Court had reinstated the listed status to wolves on July 18, 2008 via a preliminary injunction that indicated the Court believed the USFWS was unlikely to prevail in its case. The FWS, in consultation with its State and other partners, concluded that the best and most timely way to resolve this issue was to get the final rule back in its hands to closely review the Court’s ruling, the final rule, the administrative record, any new information, and then consider whether modifications or some other action might be warranted.

On October 14, 2008, the court vacated the final delisting rule and remanded it back to the FWS. The court dismissed the case without considering its merits, thereby ending the lawsuit and re-establishing full Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the NRM.

On October 24, 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was reopening the public comment period on its proposal to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. The public will have until November 28, 2008, to submit their comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov 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 Dive, Suite 222; Arlington. VA 22203.

We routinely use aerial telemetry flights from November through January to identify wolf packs, determine pack composition, and estimate the total number of wolves in Wyoming. Snow cover improves tracking conditions thereby increasing the accuracy of our estimates. During early winter, we may confirm new packs as well as determine some suspected packs do not actually exist. The USFWS will provide final minimal wolf population estimates in the 2008 Annual Report which will be completed by the end of February 2009.

From January 1 through November 7, 2008 we have documented 68 dead wolves in Wyoming (outside YNP). Causes of mortality included: agency control: n=38 (56% of total mortality); WGFD Predator Area take: n=9 (14%); under investigation: n=7 (10%); natural: n=3 (5%); vehicle strikes: n=2 (3%); individual control: n=2 (3%); capture related: n=1 (1%); and unknown; n=6 (9%).

Table 1. Causes of wolf mortality in Wyoming (outside YNP) 1/1/03 through 11/7/08.

Agency       WGFD      Individual    Illegal/Under
Year   Control     Pred. Area   Control      Investigation              Natural    Vehicle        Other    Total
2003          18              —                 —                    5                     3                0             1           27
2004          29              —                 —                    1                     0                0             6           36
2005          41              —                 —                    5                     3                2             0           51
2006          44              —                 —                    8                     1                3             3           59
2007          63              —                 —                    5                     2                0             5           75
2008          38              9                  2                    7                     3                2             7           68
Total:         233           9                   2                   31                    12              7            22         316

On 11/6/08, WGFD confirmed a calf killed by wolves on private property west of Cody, Wyoming. Numerous depredations have occurred on this property over the last several years. The USFWS requested WS to remove the 2 depredating wolves on the private property and issued the livestock producer a shoot-on-site permit to kill 2 wolves.

The USFWS has managed wolf population growth and distribution in Wyoming (outside YNP) to minimize chronic loss of livestock from wolves. In 2007, we reduced the total number of confirmed livestock depredations by >55% compared to the number of depredations in 2006 by removing chronically depredating wolves early in the grazing seasons. We predict the number of confirmed depredations in 2008 will again be significantly lower than the number of depredations in 2006. While reducing livestock depredations, we continue to maintain the Wyoming wolf population (outside Yellowstone National Park) well above recovery objectives with >20 confirmed packs, ~16-17 breeding pairs, and ~180 wolves in 2008.

2003        2004         2005        2006        2007       2008*
Cattle                             34            75              54         123            55           36
Sheep                               7            18              27           38            16           26
Dogs                                0              2                1             1              2             0
Other                             10              1                0             1              0             0
Wolves controlled         18            29              41           44            63           38

* 2008 figures are from January through November 7, 2008.

Nothing to report at this time.

Law Enforcement and Related Activities

Nothing to report at this time.

Outreach and Education
In an article on 10/29/08, the Casper Star Tribune reported that canine distemper was suspected as a cause for lower pup survival in YNP this year. In Wyoming (outside YNP) we provide midyear estimates on the number of wolves, number of packs, pack size, and pup production; however, these estimates are only preliminary. More accurate estimates are calculated later in the winter. So far in 2008, we have documented approxately16-17 packs that produced pups with an average litter size of approximately 4 pups. From 1999-2007, litter sizes in Wyoming have averaged approximately 4.4 pups per litter. In 2008, 1 (possibly 2) packs have been identified with unusually smaller litters. Blood samples taken from wolves this winter during routine capture operations will be tested for various diseases.

Further Information
To request an investigation of livestock injured or killed by wolves, please contact the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services at (307)261-5336.

For additional information, please contact:
Ed Bangs (406)449-5225 x204 or Ed_Bangs@FWS.GOV
Mike Jimenez (307)733-7096 or (307)330-5631 or  Mike_Jimenez@FWS.GOV



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  1. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Distemper… among other things.

  2. Alan Avatar

    Ralph, The Rewilding Institute has just published the followng link to a USGS remote camera in Glacier that shows a wolf pack passing by. Really cool stuff.

  3. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    Alan, that was WAY cool. Thanks for the link! Too bad about the orphanage, though.

  4. Linda Hunter Avatar

    Today there is an article in the Anchorage Daily News about how the wolf control measures of killing them from planes has helped the caribou. I thought you might be interested in it.


    I believe if they waited the predators would have controlled themselves. Now they have probably made a mess they will have to live with for years.

  5. vickif Avatar

    Linda, I would have to agree, though we will never know.I take issue with this measure because it was not only cruel in it’s how it was carried out, it was an example of interference when man sees fit.

    I know that because of man’s interference and errors, habitat and climate change render many species unable to not only sustain themselves, but to regulate themselves. Historically though, canids have been the exception to that rule. Wolves, coyotes and foxes regulate their own populations, based on habitat and prey.
    A realistic look at this herds numbers shows a large amount of predation, but we have seen that the predator base was not ‘culled out’ evenly. The wolves were singled out and made villan in what is a natural cycle.

    At some point the caribou may have calved elsewhere in response to the dropping numbers, but even if they had not, the natural process would have depleted their numbers and caused the predators in the penninsula to disperse. Wolf populations in Alaska have a very different variability, some follow herds, others remain in territories. But when they are hungry, they all have to go in seach of food.

    Perhaps there would have been a more natural order to things, perhaps not. But the reasons behind the slaughter, and tactics used to do it, have nothing to do with legitimate concern for the herd-rather concern for hunters who want the numbers to be higher.

    The article uses antagonistic language like “saving calves from being eaten alive”. This is an attempt to rationalize the horrid manor in which the wolves there were exterminated and slaughtered. Calling the killing of orphaned pups “euthanization” is painting a corrupt behavior in a humane light. It was an ill conceived plan with twisted results.

    Though the southern penninsula may have what is called asequate food, the artile makes no mention of the demise of other herds and populations, the role of climate change or mosquitos, fragmented habitat, man’s oil invasion into caribou migration areas. We have got to look more closely at what needs to be done over-all, and what result the actions already taken may play down the road.

    Too bad Alaska wolf haters, the packs that that may have migrated out of the penninsula in search of food may have regulated numbers elsewhere by causing a competetive food chain and therefore reducing numbers. Like as with coyotes,( when too many predators enter an area, they have been known to have fewer pups) they may have caused a reduction on pack sizes by ‘flooding the market’.
    I guess your aerial gunning may have resulted in you shooting your selves right in the foot.

  6. John d. Avatar
    John d.

    Very biased article.
    “Had the desired effect”

    And that was to destabilise the ecosystem to benefit the hunting community, no screw the vegetation growth and the natural process of weeding the weak- no all animals are the same.
    I wonder how many starved and diseased ones they shot? Not many, if any, I would gather.


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Ralph Maughan