Category Archives: Headlines

RMEF Rips National Wolf Recovery Petition

Tuesday’s petition by an Arizona-based environmental group calling for a national wolf recovery plan instead of the federal government’s regional approaches was met by a double-barrelled blast from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation yesterday.

“This is not about saving a lost species,” said David Allen, CEO of the Missoula-based organization. “It’s about money and special interest agendas.”

A press release from RMEF says “animal rights groups have learned that introducing wolves translates to major fundraising, and activists have found a way to exploit the Endangered Species Act — as well as taxpayer-funded programs that cover lawyer fees — to push their agenda and build revenue through the courts.”

Allen frames fundraising efforts on the behalf of wolves as “writing a check that our country’s rural and traditional lifestyles can’t cash. You’re eroding the fundamentals of America’s model for wildlife conservation.”

The petition, from the Center for Biological Diversity, requests the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service come up with a recovery plan for putting wolves back into Washington’s Olympic Mountains (looked at in the 1990s, and dropped after local opposition) and the Cascades of Oregon and California, as well as Great Plains, Great Basin and New England.

The Center says wolves are missing from 95 percent of their former range, and that there is enough suitable habitat in the above areas to foster recovery.

A MAP SHOWING POTENTIAL WOLF RANGE, TAKEN FROM THE CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY'S JULY 20, 2010, PETITION TO THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Reintroduction of wolves into Central Idaho and Yellowstone in the mid-1990s has grown into an extremely contentious issue in the region, including Washington. A wolf-related post on WDFW’s Facebook page last Sunday had run to 139 comments as of 1:23 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Idaho and Montana both unabashadly want to hunt more wolves this fall, though a ruling by a federal judge could put packs back on the endangered species list and move management from those two states back to USFWS before seasons start.

Noting RMEF’s successful work reintroducing elk into numerous Eastern states, Allen pointedly highlights two different approaches to restoring species, one more neighborly than the other.

“Our way is offering to help with funding and expertise so long as the local public wants the species and the state can manage them,” he says. “The other way is using lawsuits and loopholes to shove a project down people’s throats.”

The words also continue RMEF’s newly strident tone on wolf issues.

Feeling some heat from hunters around the collective campfire, earlier this year it got into a war of letters with the Defenders of Wildlife and Western Wildlife Conservancy.

In the latest press release, titled “Attention All States: Prepare to be Sued Over Wolves,” RMEF says wolf advocates’ lawsuits have cost the states as well as negatively affected revenues for conservation projects funded through hunter purchases.

“Now imagine bringing these kinds of impacts to more populated states elsewhere in the U.S., and I think we’re looking at an unprecedented wildlife management disaster,” said Allen.

He is urging USFWS to cautiously evaluate the petition and “reject the rhetoric of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice, Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal rights groups. Wolf re-introduction in the greater Yellowstone region was a classic example of ‘let’s get our foot in the door and then move the goal line,’ and should be warning enough. This is a fundraising strategy with anti-hunting, anti-ranching, anti-gun impacts, and the public needs to understand and see it for it is.”

IN OTHER HUNTING NEWS, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, as well as Secretary of Agriculture will hold a national teleconference tomorrow to announce 18 members of the new Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council.

The group will help to promote and preserve the country’s hunting heritage, as well as serve as a forum for sportsmen to advise the Federal government on policies that benefit recreational hunting and wildlife resources.

Prineville Man Jailed On Charges Of Poaching 4 Deer

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

An investigation by an Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division trooper, assisted by the OSP Crime Lab forensic analysis, led to the arrest of a Prineville man Tuesday on multiple charges related to the illegal kill and waste of 4 deer six months ago.

ONE OF FOUR DOES POACHED AND LEFT TO WASTE EAST OF PRINEVILLE LAST WINTER; TWO WERE PREGNANT AT THE TIME. (OSP)

On July 20, 2010, OSP Senior Trooper Amos Madison arrested BRADLEY BROCK, age 20, from Prineville, and lodged him at the Crook County Jail on the following charges:

* Illegal Taking of Deer (4 counts)
* Unlawful Waste of Wildlife (4 counts)
* Theft in the First Degree (4 counts)

BROCK’s arrest came following Senior Trooper Madison’s investigation that started January 9, 2010 when a central Oregon rancher in the Rager area about ten miles east of Paulina contacted OSP to report he found two deer that had been shot.  Initial response and investigation led to the discovery of a total of four deer illegally killed and left to waste.  All were does and at least two were pregnant.

Evidence seized from the scene and during the investigation was submitted to the OSP Forensic Services Division Crime Lab.  Forensic analysis linked BROCK to the crimes leading to his arrest.

What’s Fishin’ In Oregon

Here’s what’s fishin’ around Oregon, courtesy of ODFW’s weekly Recreation Report:

SOUTHWEST ZONE

  • Bass fishing has been improving throughout the mainstem and South Umpqua River.
  • Trout fishing has slowed in many rivers and streams with the onset of warm weather, but the fishing can still be good in smaller streams where there’s lots of shade to help keep waters cool.
  • Anglers are still getting spring chinook, and also some summer steelhead, in the middle and upper Rogue River.

NORTHWEST ZONE

  • Siletz River: Steelhead angling is in full swing and providing a good fishery for many bank anglers. Good numbers of summer steelhead are returning with many hatchery fish being recycled back down stream to the Moonshine Park area. River conditions are now low, clear and starting to warm.  Anglers should focus efforts early or late in the day and try more subtle techniques.  Fish can be found through out the mainstem with drift boat/kayak/raft angling from Twin Bridges down to Morgan Park as flows allow and bank access from Moonshine Park up to the deadline. Cutthroat trout fishing is fair to good with sea-runs starting to show in the bay and lower river. Using small spinners or fly fishing can be very productive.

WILLAMETTE ZONE

  • Now is a good time to target bass and walleye fishing on the Multnomah Channel.
  • Summer steelhead and spring chinook have moved into the North Santiam River around Stayton.
  • Good catches of kokanee have been reported recently on Green Peter Reservoir.
  • Summer steelhead are showing up in the Willamette River town run between Springfield and Eugene.
  • Trout stocking of most local valley lakes and ponds has come to an end for the summer due to warm water conditions. Lower and mid-elevation Cascade lakes are still being stocked and provide a good opportunity for trout fishing.
  • July and August are peak months to target largemouth bass in Fern Ridge Reservoir.
  • The cool waters of Breitenbush River, combined with a generous stocking schedule, should mean good trout fishing throughout the summer.

SOUTHEAST ZONE

  • The water level on the Chewaucan River is near perfect and the dry fly fishing is coming on.
  • Brown and rainbow trout fishing has been fair to good on the Lower Owyhee River.
  • Fishing in the high Cascade lakes for brook trout remains excellent.

NORTHEAST ZONE

  • Fishing for both rainbow and brook trout has been good on Grande Ronde Reservoir.
  • Trout fishing remains good on Magone Lake but look for fish to be in deeper water.

SNAKE ZONE

  • Brownlee Reservoir: Crappie spawning has slowed but good fishing is available. Fish very early morning or late evening. The fish are deep in the middle of the day (25-70 feet) and the bite is very light. Use 4 lb test and an ultra light rod. Use jigs with a crappie nibble (motor oil, red and whites have been good lately). Night fishing with lights is producing good catches.  Bass are biting but are fairly small. Some large catfish are being caught using cutbait, worms or stink bait. Trolling for trout is fair. The reservoir is full. Call Idaho Power Company’s recording at 1-800-422-3143 to get information on access at recreational sites or visit their Web site under the “Rivers and Recreation” heading.

COLUMBIA ZONE

  • Effective June 26 angling is open for adipose fin-clipped summer chinook, adipose fin-clipped summer steelhead, and sockeye from the Astoria-Megler Bridge upstream to the Oregon/Washington Border.
  • The summer steelhead run is making a strong early showing at Bonneville Dam. Look for summer steelhead near the mouths of cooler tributaries as the water temperature in the Columbia continues to rise.
  • The walleye fishing has been good in the John Day pool where anglers are finding lots of walley — many in the 10-pound range. The best lures have been spinner and worm combinations and blade baits.

MARINE ZONE

  • Tuna are still between 30 and 40 miles offshore. Tuna catches landed in ports on the central coast averaged between four and five fish.
  • Anglers fishing Cape Falcon to the Oregon/Washington border are now allowed to keep up to two chinook salmon in the bag limit. Daily bag limit is now two salmon per day, and all retained coho must have a healed adipose fin clip.
  • Sport fishers are approaching the cap on yelloweye rockfish and fishery managers will meet this week to decide how to limit bycatch of this federally-designated, over-fished species.
  • Fishing for lingcod remained at about one fish for every two anglers targeting lingcod. Success in catching lings and most other bottom fish improves as waves moderate.
  • The annual conservation closure north of Tillamook Head to protect newly set razor clams began July 15 and continues through Sept. 30. Since 1967, ODFW has closed the 18 miles of beaches in Clatsop County to razor clam digging on July 15. The closure is to protect newly-set young clams that are establishing themselves on the beach during this time of the year.
  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture closed all recreational razor clam harvesting north of Bandon due to elevated levels of domoic acid.
  • Most crabbers had average catches between one and three crab. Crabbing in the ocean this time of year can be very productive, but also dangerous because of wind, sea and bar conditions.

WA Coast Goes 7 Days A Week For Salmon

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

Anglers will be able to fish for salmon seven days a week along the entire Washington coast beginning Friday (July 23), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The new rules will increase recreational fishing opportunities in marine areas 2 (Westport-Ocean Shores), 3 (LaPush) and 4 (Neah Bay), where salmon fishing is currently restricted to five days a week. Salmon fishing is already open seven days a week in Marine Area 1(Ilwaco).

“Overall, salmon fishing has been good on the coast this summer, but the number of anglers participating in the fishery has been lower than expected,” said Doug Milward, ocean salmon fisheries manager for WDFW. “With effort down – partly due to rough weather – we can provide anglers additional fishing opportunities without exceeding recreational harvest quotas for this year.”

Through July 18, anglers fishing along the coast had caught 8.3 percent of the 49,000 chinook quota for the ocean and 9.5 percent of the 67,200 coho quota.

Anglers fishing in those areas can keep up to two chinook as part of their two-salmon daily limit, but must release any chinook measuring less than 24 inches and hatchery coho less than 16 inches. Wild coho must be released unharmed.

Salmon fishing is scheduled to continue through Sept. 18 in marine areas 3 and 4, through Sept. 19 in Marine Area 2 and through Sept. 30 in Marine Area 1.

Ilwaco Team Wins 1st Leg of Wind-affected OTC

(OREGON TUNA CLASSIC PRESS RELEASE)

The first leg of the Oregon Tuna Classic is in the books. More than 60 teams signed up for the Newport event but due to strong north winds blowing all week the seas were a bit too sporty for some cutting the field to 36 teams at the starting line for the 6am Saturday morning flare start.

Most boats ran to the northwest towards tuna town partly because that’s where the most recent fish reports had come and partly to stay with the pack for safety reasons. Some teams stayed in and later came to watch the weigh in but at the end of the night more than 300 people joined in at the awards BBQ.

THE FLEET HEADS OUT OF NEWPORT TOWARDS "TUNA TOWN" DURING LAST WEEKEND'S OREGON TUNA CLASSIC. (DEL STEPHENS)

The forecast was barely within the parameters of the OTC criteria for fishing and participants could testify to the conditions by the way they felt at the end of the day with sore muscles from dancing in the rough seas, backs aching from the long ride out and back, tired but satisfied they had given a good effort to help feed the hungry in Lincoln County.

The north winds had pushed the warm water out to beyond 60 miles and had scattered the fish making for scratch fishing at best. The best of fishermen were humbled when only 19 teams turned in fish and only 12 of those teams turned in the required minimum of 5 fish.

At the end of the day 78 fish had been turned in totaling 1,510 pounds of fresh albacore going to the Lincoln County Food Share.

Team Engage from Ilwaco took the top honors with 105.55 lbs and now leads all teams in the points system to win the right to fish in the IGFA Offshore World Championships next spring. They are followed in second place by Team Gales Creek Tuna Gaffers with 104.2 lbs and Team Green Lightning Laundry secured the third place spot with 104.10 lbs.

The Oregon Tuna Classic will take its armada of boats, volunteers, sponsors, spectators and support staff to Ilwaco Washington on July 31st. for the second leg of the tournaments where over 78 teams and 500 people packed the event last year. The boardwalk will soon be buzzing with excitement again in anticipation of the teams rolling into town.

–Del Stephens

WDFW Officer Fired On; Suspect Arrested, Faces First-degree Murder Charges

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

An 18-year-old Mattawa man has been charged with attempted first-degree murder, after shooting at a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) police captain Saturday in Grant County.

The man is being held in Grant County Jail on $1 million bail, along with his 60-year-old father, who drew a knife on another WDFW police officer. The father has been charged with second-degree assault, and is being held on $100,000 bail.

The men, who made a preliminary appearance today in Grant County Superior Court, are to be formally arraigned next Monday. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has also placed holds on both men.

The two were arrested Saturday evening, following a vehicle pursuit by WDFW and the State Patrol on State Route 28 near Ephrata.

The incident began about 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when WDFW Officer Chad McGary was checking anglers at Crab Creek, a popular fishing area near Beverly in Grant County. McGary contacted the 18 year old, who had been fishing but did not possess a fishing license. As McGary was escorting the suspect back to his vehicle, to confirm whether he had purchased a license, the man drew a gun and pointed it at the officer. The man’s father also approached the officer, brandishing a knife.

The young man then escaped to a car and was pursued by WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson. During the pursuit, the suspect turned his vehicle around and drove toward Anderson’s marked police vehicle, firing shots and penetrating the driver’s side door with one round. Anderson returned fire after the suspect attempted to shoot at him a second time.

After a pursuit of several miles, the suspect was apprehended after his car stalled on State Route 28 near Ephrata.

The young man was booked into Grant County Jail for alleged attempted murder in the first degree. The suspect’s father was booked for alleged assault and for an outstanding felony warrant on an unrelated charge.

The incident is being investigated by the Columbia Basin Investigative Team, a regional law-enforcement consortium. Investigations are routinely conducted following police use of force involving firearms.

WDFW police are general-authority law enforcement officers who provide a range of police services focused on natural-resource protection and public safety.

SW WA Fishing Report

(COURTESY JOE HYMER, PACIFIC STATES MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION)

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River– 34 bank anglers kept 5 steelhead while 48 boaters kept 45.  All the fish were sampled from the Blue Creek area.

Last week Tacoma Power recovered 1,066 summer-run steelhead, 168 spring Chinook adults, 24 jacks, 240 mini-jacks, four sockeye salmon, and one sea-run cutthroat trout during five days of operation at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery separator.

Tacoma Power employees released 48 spring Chinook adults and 22 jacks into the upper Cowlitz River at the Day Use Park in Lake Scanewa above Cowlitz Falls Dam, eight spring Chinook adults into the Cispus River, and 198 spring Chinook mini-jacks into Riffe Lake at Mossyrock Park during the week.

River flows at Mayfield Dam are approximately 4,780 cubic feet per second on Monday July 19. Water visibility is eleven feet.

Drano Lake – 5 boat anglers kept 1 chinook jack.  There were 13 boats there midday Saturday July 17.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Lots of effort though angling success was a little better earlier in the week during the stronger tides.  Tides become stronger again later this week.

Last week we sampled 1,968 salmonid bank anglers below Bonneville Dam with 12 adult and 3 jack summer Chinook, 429 steelhead, and 1 sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 4.4 rods based on mainly incomplete trips. In addition, we sampled 448 salmonid boat anglers (211 boats) with 5 adult summer Chinook, 151 steelhead, and no sockeye, an average of a salmonid kept/released per every 2.9 rods based on mainly completed trips.  Overall, 65% of the adult Chinook and 60% of the steelhead caught were kept.

343 salmonid boats and 872 bank anglers were observed from Bonneville Dam downstream during last Saturday’s (July 17) effort flight count.  Three-quarters of the bank effort was found on the Washington side.  Boat effort was more scattered.

Bonneville Pool – Fairly windy last week but boat anglers are catching steelhead though most of the fish were wild and had to be released.

The Dalles Pool – Bank anglers averaged 2/3 salmonid per rod when including fish released.  Most of the fish were steelhead of which over half were wild and had to be released.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth, WDFW District 4 Fish Biologist in Pasco, reports very little effort for salmon last week and no reported catch. Anglers are beginning to fish for steelhead above and below McNary Dam.

  • The summer steelhead counting period at Bonneville Dam began April 1 and continued to June 30 for the Skamania stock.  A total of 29,261 steelhead (11,276 unclipped) were counted during this time period and the run exceeded the preseason forecast (16,400 total, 3,300 wild)for Skamania steelhead. On July 1 the upriver A/B steelhead counting period began.  From July 1 to July 18, a total of 84,680 steelhead have been counted at Bonneville which is significantly above average.   Nearly 50% of the summer steelhead at Bonneville have been unclipped.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – At the ports of Chinook and Ilwaco, charter boat anglers averaged nearly ½  legal kept per rod while private boaters averaged one per every 6.3 rods.  At the Deep River and Knappton ramps, anglers averaged 0.81 legals kept per boat.  Bank anglers sampled in the estuary did not catch any fish.  If an angler did catch a fish, there was a 40% chance it would be a keeper.

A few legals were caught by boat anglers in the Kalama area and by bank anglers near Longview.

175 private and 2 charter boats were found fishing for sturgeon from the Wauna powerlines downstream during last Saturday’s effort flight count.  Just over a hundred boats were counted from Wauna upstream.  Only 28 bank rods were counted during the same flight.

WALLEYE AND BASS

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Some walleye are being caught by boaters in the Camas/Washougal area and in the gorge.

The Dalles Pool – Boat anglers are catching some walleye while bank anglers are catching some bass.

John Day Pool – Paul Hoffarth reports walleye angling was a little slower than the previous week but still good. Average was a walleye per every 4.4 hours fished.

TROUT

Mayfield Lake – 4 bank anglers had 2 rainbows.

Riffe Lake – 21 bank anglers kept 18 landlocked coho.  Catch was split between the dam and Taidnapam.

Swofford Pond – 4 bank anglers had 1 bluegill.

SHAD

John Day Pool – Boat anglers are still catching some shad.

Sox On A Stick: NC WA Fishing Report

(COURTESY ANTON JONES, DARRELL & DAD’S GUIDE SERVICE)

What’s hot and cold is trolling for Sockeye Salmon below Wells Dam on the Upper Columbia.  Chinook numbers are up, so it should really take off during this reporting period.  Also hot is trolling the Bar for Lakers early in the morning on Lake Chelan.  That indeterminate flat and the Yacht Club were hot later in the mornings.

CHUCK HAMMOND OF MANSON WITH ED RAUVOLA OF MANSON WITH THEIR LIMITS OF COLUMBIA RIVER SOCKEYE. (DARREL & DAD'S GUIDE SERVICE)

Fish for sockeye with Mack’s Lures mini squid rigs behind big chrome dodgers or simply bait a tandem red hook set up with Pautzke cured shrimp chunks.
For the Chinook try sardine wrapped T55 Flatfish.  Colors are matter of experimentation.
Fish for Lakers on Chelan with T-4 Flatfish in Purple Glow or those UV / glow Kingfisher lite spoons off the downriggers.  Fish the little F7 flatfish in the same colors off the outrigger rods.  After the early morning bite, we have had nice success in the indeterminate flat just below the Bar, up at the Yacht Club and at the nursery.
Your fishing tip of the week is to take care of your fish.  I got a chance to catch some Sockeye off the mouth of the Okanogan one evening this past week.  I was horrified to see people dragging their caught fish around on a rope on the surface of the water.  If that doesn’t ruin them, I don’t know what will.  I’m not a great believer in bleeding, but whether or not you bleed them, for heavens sake, get those fish on ice to preserve their delicate flavor and texture.
The kid’s tip of the week is to put your own ego aside and measure success by the kid’s satisfaction.  I was struggling in the wind to get my fish one morning this reporting period with a father and young son out.  The boy was being real good, but my song and dance routine was wearing thin with just a couple of fish in the box.  I really wanted to get another big fish.  But, this trip was for the kid’s sake.  I asked the dad if he minded if we broke it down and went to the nursery to pile up some little fish to get the kid back in the game.  He said, go for it, so we did.  We pounded a bunch of little fish and the kid was happy as a clam, so all’s well that ends well.
The safety tip of the week is to try to resolve mechanical issues before launching at a busy time.  We had a guy who was having mechanical issues on a busy summer weekend morning at the Launch.  He nearly clipped two docked boats while trying to get it worked out.  Also, give those trollers lots of space before cutting across their stern.  Remember, those outrigger rods can have trailing lines of 500’ or more!

Baker Lake Opening For Sockeye

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE PRESS RELEASE)

For the first time, anglers will be able to fish for sockeye salmon in Baker Lake, where the fish are returning in significantly higher numbers than expected.

From July 22 until further notice, anglers can retain up to two adult sockeye salmon that exceed 18 inches in length from Baker Dam upstream to the mouth of the Baker River.

All other salmon must be released, and no fishing will be allowed between the dam and the log boom at the lower end of the lake.

More than 10,000 sockeye have returned to hatchery facilities and artificial spawning beaches on the lake, exceeding this year’s 6,300-fish escapement goal, said Brett Barkdull, a fish biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“People have been waiting a long time to be able to fish for sockeye salmon in Baker Lake,” Barkdull said.  “This year’s run isn’t huge by historical standards, but we’ve exceeded our goals for both hatchery-reared sockeye and naturally spawning fish needed for production.”

Harvest opportunities for returning fish will be shared by recreational and tribal fisheries, he said.

Barkdull said improving ocean conditions have helped to boost survival rates for young sockeye returning to the watershed.  Meanwhile, the installation of a juvenile-collection facility at the upper Baker Dam has improved the transfer of out-migrating smolts downstream to Puget Sound, he said.

But the biggest boon to area sockeye fishing may be the completion of a new hatchery facility on Baker Lake, Barkdull said.  Starting next year, smolt production in the watershed is expected to increase significantly at the new facility built by Puget Sound Energy as part of a 2008 hydroelectric licensing agreement.

“We hope to eventually produce enough sockeye fry to bring 75,000 adult fish back to the watershed,” Barkdull said. “We’ve been working toward that goal for a long time and we know what it would mean for sockeye fishing in the watershed.”

In addition to the upcoming opening at Baker Lake, anglers can also catch sockeye salmon on the Baker and Skagit rivers today (July 16) through Sunday (July 18) under rules announced earlier this week by WDFW.

The Baker River open to sockeye fishing from the mouth to the Highway 20 bridge.  The Skagit River is open from the Dalles Bridge at Concrete to a point 200 feet above the east bank of the Baker River.

The daily limit in those areas is two sockeye salmon. The anti-snagging rule and night closure are in effect in both areas.

WA Wolves Have Pups, But Lookout’s Alpha Female Missing

A day after Oregon officials revealed that the Imnaha Pack in Wallowa County is raising at least four pups this summer, we’re learning that Northeast Washington/North Idaho’s Diamond Pack is also rearing more pups.

And while the alpha female of the Methow Valley’s Lookout Pack in North-central Washington was pregnant this spring, the radio-collared animal has since gone missing, like the Imnaha’s alpha male earlier this year.

“We’re monitoring pretty carefully, but it’s not looking good right now,” said Harriet Allen, the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s lead wolf manager this morning. “There’s nothing definitive, but we’re concerned about her status.”

The Lookout was Washington’s first confirmed pack in 70 years. It set up just outside Twisp and produced six pups in 2008, at least four last year and it’s considered “probable” that it also had a litter in 2007, making the female a pretty fecund individual, though survival of its pups has been low for reasons not well understood.

It was last seen May 12, about the time pups in a den would have been four weeks old. Whether the wolf’s VHF collar has failed, the pack has just moved to a location where a signal is difficult to get, or if the breeding animal is dead is unclear.

“It could be a substantial loss,” says Allen. “It could lead to the break-up of the pack. But it’s incredibly difficult to confirm. We’re monitoring closely to assess the situation.”

At least one member of the pack was killed in late 2008. Nobody has been charged in the case.

The agency has hired a contractor who will be attempting to put GPS collars on more members of the Lookout Pack.

Currently, the alpha male and one of the yearling females of the Diamond Pack are wearing satellite devices.

“The Diamond Pack, we’ve been able to confirm, has six pups,” Allen says.

They were spotted on the Idaho side of their home range in early July, she says. Last year, the pack had at least four pups.

“We’re fairly confident there’s a third (pack) in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness,” on the north side of the Washington-Oregon border but tucked way back in the woods, Allen adds. A biologist has set up trail cams to capture photographs.

Just south of the border is Oregon’s Wenaha Pack, though not much is known about it.

“It’s possible Oregon and Washington could be sharing some wolves, but we don’t have any conclusive data saying that is the case,” says Michelle Dennehy, an ODFW spokeswoman in Salem.

As WDFW continues to address roughly 60,000 or so public comments as well as a blind scientific peer review into its draft wolf management plan in anticipation of getting the document to its Wolf Working Group and Fish & Wildlife Commission later this year, work will continue on tracking down more information on other sightings in Northeast Washington and the North Cascades.

“We did have some indication of scat and tracks in the Hozomeen area,” says Allen. “It’s an area you might expect wolves coming in from Canada.”

Hozomeen is on the eastern shore of Ross Lake, just south of the Canadian border. It’s an area of wolf sightings over several summers in the early 1990s, though it’s now believed someone’s released pet wolf may have been responsible for some of the activity.

Appendix H of WDFW’s draft plan contains 2 1/4 pages of sightings throughout counties ringing the edge of Eastern Washington in the 2000s.

Meanwhile, as Idaho and Montana pursue higher wolf quotas for this fall, the region remains on hold for U.S. District Court Judge Molloy to make his ruling from Missoula on whether wolves in the Northern Rockies (which includes the Diamond, Wenaha and Imnaha packs) should go back on the endangered species list.

Montana has approved the culling of 186 wolves, but put tag sales on hold until Aug. 23. Idaho has folded a wolf tag into nonresident deer and elk tags, and will decide in August on the use of electronic calls and trapping as well as hunting quotas.

Kill orders on two livestock-killing wolves in Wallowa County, where Forest Service offices burned in a mysterious fire on Sunday, have also been on hold since early July after a lawsuit by Oregon Wild, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Cascadia Wildlands and Center for Biological Diversity against USDA Wildlife Services.

Dennehy adds that ODFW has also been sued by the groups for authorizing the kill order.

The lawsuit, filed July 12 in State Circuit Court in Multnomah County, alleges that the agency violated the state Endangered Species Act, Oregon Administrative Rules and Administrative Procedures Act when it authorized lethal removal of wolves, according to a statement on ODFW’s Web site.

In other predator news, pictures purporting to show a grizzly bear strolling through a man’s yard in northern Pend Oreille County popped up on Hunting Washington yesterday.

EDITOR’S NOTE: BASED ON NOTES FROM THIS MORNING’S CONVERSATION WITH ALLEN, AN EARLIER VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE STATED THAT THE LOOKOUT ALPHA FEMALE HAD HAD PUPS THIS YEAR. HOWEVER, ALLEN CALLED BACK TO CORRECT THAT, SAYING WDFW KNEW THE WOLF HAD BEEN PREGNANT IN APRIL, BUT NOT WHETHER IT HAD BORNE A LITTER.