Montana plans to change the way they count wolves. The Missoulian has the story. We’ve also included a link to the official Montana FWP press release discussing the subject . . .
Montana wildlife officials say the way they count wolves is too expensive and falls far short of an actual population estimate, so they plan to switch to a model that uses information gathered from hunters.
However, wildlife advocates say wolf numbers are declining and the switch could threaten the species’ survival. They worry the data is too unreliable to be used to manage the population.
The change, expected within the next three years after improvements to the model, will be cheaper than the annual wolf counts conducted now and provide a more accurate estimate of the total population, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials said.
Wow! North Forker and NFPA member Diane Boyd has a very nice write-up in the Flathead Beacon titled “The Jane Goodall of Wolves” . . .
In 1979, Diane Boyd left her native Minnesota and headed west to begin tracking the first radio-collared gray wolf from Canada to recolonize the Western U.S., where humans had effectively eliminated the species by the 1930s through hunting, poisoning and habitat loss. Boyd, a 24-year-old wildlife biology graduate student at University of Montana, was fueled by optimistic idealism and boundless energy. When she pulled up to her new home, deep in northwestern Montana’s rugged North Fork Flathead River valley, it was apparent she would need both.
“It was like, ‘Wow,’” Boyd recalls of seeing the cabin, which had no plumbing, electricity or means of communicating with the outside world. “I’d spent a lot of time outdoors, but this was true isolation.”
Though wolves had been extirpated statewide, reports of sightings and shootings started trickling in during the 1960s and ‘70s, leading University of Montana professor Bob Ream to launch the Wolf Ecology Project in 1973, the same year that Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves were listed under the Endangered Species Act. It was through the Wolf Ecology Project that researcher Joe Smith trapped a female wolf, dubbed Kishinena, on April 4, 1979 in the North Fork drainage along the northwestern edge of Glacier National Park.
Science is at its best when it produces unexpected results . . .
Research that compared Yellowstone National Park grizzly bear and wolf interactions with those same animals in Sweden has produced a surprising finding: brown bear presence in both ecosystems reduces the wolf kill rate.
“It’s a baffling finding,” said Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s wolf biologist. “To be honest, for 20 years I’ve been saying bears increase wolf kill rates because bears steal so many carcasses.”
That data from two very different ecosystems pointed to the same conclusion helped convince Yellowstone bear biologist Kerry Gunther that the research was “not just a fluke.”
Several conservation groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue keeping an eye on things in areas where the gray wolf has been delisted . . .
Five conservation groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extend its oversight of wolves in Montana and Idaho that is set to expire in May.
The agency removed the two states’ gray wolf populations from the Endangered Species List in 2011 after finding they were sufficiently recovered. The delisting order required the Fish and Wildlife Service to continue monitoring the population for five years as the states’ wildlife agencies assume management of the species.
A group of scientists feels that Montana, as well as other states with wolf populations, are more or less just playing things by ear . . .
A group of 14 scientists with backgrounds in large carnivore research have called on state wildlife management agencies to set “clearly defined, quantitative policy goals” for wolf management.
“One of the big issues in science-based management is to have clear goals,” said Scott Creel, a professor in the Department of Ecology at Montana State University in Bozeman and the lead author of the paper published in the December issue of Science magazine. “Avoiding being listed under the Endangered Species Act is one of the goals, but it’s not clear if that’s the only goal.”
Creel said the conservation policy paper is an “attempt to redefine what is a sustainable level” of wolf removal through hunting, trapping and those killed by stockmen.
Here’s a fascinating and moving video created by Henry Roberts from a series of game cam photos taken by North Forker Ray Brown. Thanks to Walter Roberts (no relation to Henry, I’d guess) for getting up on Facebook and giving this work the publicity it deserves. The sound track is from music by Josh Woodward. Highly recommended . . .
In February of 2014, Ray Brown of Polebridge, Montana came home to discover that wolves had killed an elk just off his driveway.
He set up a game camera near the carcass to see who might come back for it.
Three weeks went by.
The following photos are what he found — the inhabitants of the forest that helped return the carcass to the ecosystem.
Lawsuits over wolf management in Wyoming are hampering some research efforts . . .
Fur piled in a mess under a fallen tree. A jawbone lay nearby. The spine was farther down the hill by some ribs. Part of a shoulder was 50 yards in another direction. They were the first signs of a female moose killed months before by a pack of wolves. Little remained of her body. But her bones told a story…
She was sick, and that may have lowered her defenses, which is what matters to wolves, said Ken Mills, wolf biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department…
Mills, 35, was gathering information in late July on how many moose, deer and elk wolves have killed in the Gros Ventre Range in northwestern Wyoming.