Wyoming wolf report – Nov. 10, through Nov. 21, 2008

Latest report says mange too is now hitting the Yellowstone Park Wolves-

Ed Bangs just sent out the Wyoming wolf report. It is below. I cut off the redundant “blah, blah” about delisting, etc. that is at the outset of every report.

The key is news is that mange it now hitting Yellowstone Park wolves. Other news is that research indicates the decline in moose in NW Wyoming is not due to bears or wolves, but mostly to the nutritional condition of female moose probably due to declining habitat.

Here is the actual news-

Nothing to report at this time.

Yellowstone Park began its annual winter study on November 15. Research objectives include: 1) documenting kill rates of wolves; 2) determining prey selection; and 3) estimating annual wolf population numbers. Park biologists suspect that the number of wolves in YNP in 2008 has decreased due to adult wolf mortality from conflicts between packs, increased pup mortality, and mange. Mange has been documented in >8 wolves from four different packs (Oxbow Creek, Mollies, Leopold, and one unnamed group of 4 wolves).

University of Wyoming students Abigail Nelson and Arthur Middleton presented updates on their graduate research in the Absaroka/Sunlight Basin areas. Both projects are cooperative efforts between the University of Wyoming, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Abby’s project is titled: Wolf habitat selection and predation patterns in the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming: Identifying the landscape drivers of wolf-livestock conflicts. Arthur gave an update on his research and discussed his research objectives: 1) Determine the status of migratory and non-migratory elk in the Clark’s Fork Herd Unit; 2) Determine the timing of migrations and routes used by migratory elk; 3) Increase the understanding of elk use of private lands; 4) Determine adult female survival rates; and 5) Evaluate the influence of wolves on elk habitat use and movements.

Scott Becker, recently graduated from the University of Wyoming, presented the results of his masters research. His abstract states: “Since the establishment of a self-sustaining population of Shiras moose (Alces alces shiri) in the Jackson Valley around 1912, moose populations have fluctuated over time. These fluctuations were thought to be driven primarily by density dependent factors during the 1950s and 1960s. More recently, however, population trend data has suggested that the north Jackson moose herd has been in decline although wildlife managers have attempted to halt the downward trend by reducing harvest. Also during this period, large predators have increased in number and expanded their range which has led to questions regarding the relative influence of potential limiting factors. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative influence of habitat and predation on the north Jackson moose herd using a combination of physiological health indices and population demographics. We used the animal indicator concept to infer habitat quality from physiological parameters and estimated population vital rates from 2005-2007. Evidence suggested that the study population appeared to be declining. The preponderance of evidence indicated that habitat quality and its effect on the physical condition and reproductive output of adult females was the most likely limiting factor. We suggest that the influence of bear and wolf predation, although present, had minimal impact at the population level. While we were not able to fully explore the specific elements of habitat quality that may be affecting this population, a better understanding of the relative influence of winter and summer habitat and the availability of thermal refugia will be vital in determining relative what management actions, if any, will be effective in altering the dynamics of this herd unit.”

Law Enforcement and Related Activities
Nothing to report at this time.


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