The Smackout Pack of wolves in Northeast Washington has again had pups.
It’s at least the second year in a row the group has had a litter. Last year’s included three pups that survived to the end of the year, qualifying the pack as a successful breeding pair — the basic unit of wolf recovery — and making it one of three known in the state in 2011.
The agency will post the 20-second video of the two black Smackout pups recorded the afternoon of June 14 to YouTube later today, according to WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane.
The footage was captured on a remote, action-triggered camera. Two 90-plus-pound males captured in May by WDFW also wear black coats.
As for other pups on the ground this year, previously we’ve reported that the new Huckleberry Pack of southern Stevens County has had at least five, and the Teanaway of north-central Kittitas County has had some number of young, based on howling surveys, at least its second litter as well.
While the latest WDFW Wildlife Program weekly report terms the two Lookout wolves in the middle Methow Valley a “probable mated pair,” it indicates that so far there’s no evidence of pups on the ground in the area.
And it’s unclear if the Nc’icn Pack on the Colville Reservation has pups; my notes from a conversation with someone familiar with the situation there indicate there are, but I’m trying to confirm that with tribal biologists.
As for pups in the state’s other confirmed packs, Diamond and Salmo, “We don’t know yet, that’s why we’re out trapping,” says Luers.
Efforts in the Blue Mountains, where a pack is strongly suspected in the upper Touchet drainage, again failed, she reports. It follows a similar fruitless attempt made late last summer.
Luers says that WDFW will update its wolf Web site with more information on the state’s packs after the trapping season ends in September, and again in January after the all-important year-end surveys.
The recovery goal is at least 15 successful breeding pairs (i.e., two adults and two pups at Dec. 31) for three straight years in certain numbers corresponding to three recovery zones across the state, or 18 in any single year, again in certain numbers. Putting radio collars on pack members helps biologists find them.
Theoretically, wolf recovery could be achieved without a single pack west of the Cascade Crest, though that would be unlikely with the St. Helens elk herd being the state’s largest and likely to attract wolves.
In other wolf news, William D. White and Tom D. White of Twisp will be sentenced at 10:30 tomorrow morning in Spokane’s federal court for several wolf poaching-related charges they’ve plead guilty to as part of a plea deal.