Montana wolf weekly for Feb. 6-13

Latest Montana wolf news from Montana Fish, Wildlife, Parks-

There is some interesting news here, mostly regarding research about to be published or recently published.

Ralph Maughan

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To: Interested Parties
From: MFWP Wolf Program Coordinator, Carolyn Sime

Subject: Wolf Program Activities and Related Information, February 6-13, 2009

Contributors to the Montana Wolf Weekly are Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Universities, USDA Wildlife Services (WS), the National Park Service (NPS; Glacier NP; Yellowstone National Park will be reported in the Wyoming Wolf Weekly), US Forest Service, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Blackfeet Nation.

Highlighted activities relate to: monitoring, wolf – livestock interactions, outreach and education, research, law enforcement, and other miscellaneous topics of public interest. The Weekly Report will be available on each Monday, covering the previous week. It and other wolf program information (including the 2007 annual report) can be found at: Monitoring Activities
Staff are focused on preparing the annual report, though occasionally getting out for snow tracking ground surveys as snow conditions permit.
Final 2008 minimum estimates of the number of wolf packs, total wolves, breeding pairs, the number of confirmed livestock killed by wolves, and wolves killed to address wolf-livestock conflicts will be available in early March 2009 when the 2008 Annual Report is completed and made available to the public. Until then, all media reports of wolves and/or livestock losses should be interpreted with a
dose of caution, as numbers provided to the media have been preliminary estimates. [boldface mine]

Ross flew in southwest Montana on the 7th. FWP encourages hunters, landowners, and other outdoor enthusiasts to report wolves through the
online reporting button or to send in one of the pre-printed postcards available at all FWP offices, many US Forest Service offices, and license providers throughout the state. Information provided by the public helps FWP more accurately monitor wolf numbers and distribution in Montana.

Wolf – Livestock Activities

On the 13th, WS confirmed that a weaned calf was injured by a wolf on private land. The incident occurred 6 miles south of Grant in the Medicine Lodge drainage. There are no wolves collared in this area and the wolf or wolves involved in the incident are unknown. WS has been authorized to collar and release one wolf.

Outreach and Education Activities

On the 10th, Wildlife Services State Director John Steuber and District Supervisor Kraig Glazier met in Helena with the Board of Directors of the Montana Woolgrowers as well as representatives from the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Cattlemen’s Association, Montana Board of Livestock, and Natural Resources Defense Council to discuss common ground related to wolf delisting and wolf damage management in Montana.

On the 11th, Sime, Steuber, Glazier, MT DOL George Edwards and CSKT biologist Stacy Courville attended the Montana Cattlemen’s Association and rancher gathering in Lone Pine. About 100 people attended. They provided updates on wolf-livestock protocols, damage management, funding, status of local packs, delisting. Additionally, MT DOL McKay and FWP Kujala gave presentations on brucellosis and development of the state’s action plan.

On the 13th, Sime and Laudon each gave a presentation during the annual Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society, which is the independent organization of wildlife professionals in Montana comprised of state and federal agency biologists / managers / researchers, private consultants, universities, and students. About 200 people attended.

The University of Montana’s Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit announces the availability of a report summarizing the first 2.5 years of research to develop wolf population monitoring techniques. The report covers the years 2006-2008. The research is a cooperative effort between the University of Montana, The Nez Perce Tribe, University of Idaho, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Dave Ausband is the senior author and it soon will be available on line at: Look for it on under Faculty / Staff /Personnel, Dave Ausband.

FWP announces the availability of a paper that was published in a conference proceedings of the Wildlife Damage Management Working Group of The Wildlife Society. It is entitled “Gray Wolves and Livestock in Montana: A Recent History of Damage Management” by Sime et al. It presents a historical and contemporary look at wolf-livestock interactions and damage management from 1987- 2006. It will be available at:

FWP also announces the availability of a final report that examines wolf-ungulate interactions and population trends with special emphasis on the Greater Yellowstone Area and Southwestern Montana. It also presents information about wolf-ungulate interactions in Montana from a statewide perspective. It is authored by Ken Hamlin (recently retired FWP Research Biologist) and FWP Researcher Julie Cunningham, with significant contributions from Montana State University professors Dr. Robert Garrott, Dr. Scott Creel, and their students. See:

Research Activities

Nothing to report.

Law Enforcement and Related Activities

On the 7th, a dead wolf was reported and retrieved by FWP law enforcement southwest of Hamilton. The matter is under investigation.

NEW — Delisting Update:

On January 20th, as was somewhat expected, the new incoming administration put a “hold” on all new federal regulations that were not finalized and published in the Federal Register as of the 20th. The hold affects all federal agencies, all pending federal decisions, all subject areas. This was not a surprise as every new incoming administration for the last 20 years has done similar and put a “hold” on the previous administration’s pending decisions. All new, incoming federal department / agency heads are directed to review rules not yet published and
decide what should be done. Options are to approve them and move forward, modify them first and then publish them, or not publish them in order to take a different course of action. Since the wolf delisting decision (rule) announced on January 14, 2008 was not yet published
in the Federal Register, its publication will be delayed while it is being reviewed by new, incoming federal officials. The reviewers will examine the biological data and legal merits of the decision. It is not known how long the review process will take and when a decision will be
made. Secretary of the Interior Salazar will make the decision. Additional information about delisting in the northern Rockies is available at the USFWS website:

Current Management in Montana:

FWP, through an interagency cooperative agreement, is still the lead agency for all wolf conservation and management (within the bounds of federal regulations) so long as adequate federal funding continues to be made available. FWP will continue to monitor wolves, do public outreach, and guide and direct research activities. No public hunting or trapping is allowed. USDA Wildlife Services is still the agency to investigate causes of injured or dead livestock and carry out FWP’s decisions to address conflicts, as guided by federal regulations. Montana will continue to stay involved in litigation and any future delisting developments and will continue to seek the most efficient, successful path to delisting. FWP will also continue its collaborative work with Montana Tribes, other state and federal agencies, and the Montana Livestock Loss Reduction and Mitigation Program. Check the wolf pages on the FWP website for important information and updates:

Montana Livestock Loss Reduction & Mitigation Board:
There are several openings on the Board that will be filled when Governor Schweitzer makes new appointments. The deadline for the nomination process through the FWP Commission will close February 15. Over a dozen letters of interest have been received so far. The FWP Commission will make their recommendations to Governor Schweitzer on March 12. Contact George Edwards or Christian McKay for information about the nomination process through the Montana Board of Livestock: 444-5609 or 444-9312, respectively.



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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