1) Not much in a press release today from WDFW on Washington wolves that we haven’t already reported in The Daily Howler — minimum population nearly doubled in 2012 to 51, may be as many as 100, wolf activity again in Wedge — but the agency has updated information on the state’s nine known, two suspected and two shared packs, and posted an improved map of territories.
For the historical record:
The Diamond Pack currently has 10 members – including a successful breeding pair – confirmed by an aerial survey,
First documented in 2008, this pack continues ranging along the Washington-Idaho border in northeast Pend Oreille County. Based on location data from four radio-collared wolves over the period 2009-2012, this pack uses a territory of about 350 square miles – mostly in Washington – where its members den in spring.
No wolves were captured in this pack during summer 2012. Trail cameras set up in summer 2012 recorded images of wolves, including at least four “young of the year.” The alpha male, radio-collared in July 2009 but not transmitting since 2010, was also observed by trail camera this summer. One adult female in this pack is currently equipped for monitoring.
In September 2012, one wolf that had been ear-tagged as a yearling in 2010 was legally killed by a hunter in Idaho.
The Huckleberry pack has eight members – including a successful breeding pair – as determined from photographs and DNA samples. This winter WDFW biologists are attempting to capture a wolf in this pack to equip it with a monitoring collar.
In June 2012, five wolf pups were video-recorded by a remote camera set by WDFW biologists in southern Stevens County, east of the town of Fruitland and north of the Spokane Indian Reservation. Cameras were set up in that area based on reports of wolf activity, including wolf tracks and evidence of wolves at a moose kill. Spokane tribal biologists collected scat during the winter of 2011-2012 and DNA analysis of those samples identified at least four individual wolves in the area. The pack was named for nearby Huckleberry Mountain.
The Salmo pack has at least two confirmed members, as confirmed by aerial surveys.
An adult female was captured and radio-collared in September 2012. Continued monitoring should provide a better understanding of the composition of this pack.
Based on earlier radio-collar data, about one-third of this pack’s home-range is in British Columbia with the rest in the northeast corner of Washington The pack was named for Salmo Mountain in Pend Oreille County.
The Smackout pack has 12 confirmed members – including a successful breeding pair – confirmed through aerial surveys.
Two adult black male wolves in this pack, which ranges throughout the Smackout Meadows area of northeastern Stevens County, were captured and radio-collared in 2012. Location data from the radio collars is being used to guide the activities of a range rider hired by WDFW to protect livestock in the area. The collars are also used to trigger the wolf-scaring sounds and lights of Radio-Activated Guard (RAG) boxes stationed near livestock grazing areas.
Four black pups were observed in this pack during the summer of 2012.
The Wedge pack, named after the wedge-shaped part of northwestern Stevens County on the Canada border between the Kettle and Columbia rivers, has two confirmed members. These wolves may be new arrivals to the area, or they may be remnants of an original larger pack that was reduced by state wildlife managers in 2012 to end a series of attacks on an area rancher’s cattle.
Wolf activity was suspected in the Wedge even before a rancher’s calf was confirmed killed by wolves in 2007. In April 2012, another rancher reported wolves stalking his calving operation. WDFW staff confirmed wolf tracks around the calving pen, captured images of wolves on motion-activated cameras, and set up specialized fencing (electrified fladry) to protect livestock.
The original Wedge pack was confirmed in July 2012 with the capture and radio-collaring of an adult male wolf believed to be the alpha, and the capture and ear-tagging of a wolf pup. At the same time, investigations of livestock injuries and losses at other area ranches indicated the pack of at least eight wolves was likely responsible. Wolves were hazed and livestock owners were issued a permit to kill a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock. When wolf-livestock attacks continued into August, one wolf was killed to try to break the pattern of depredation. As livestock injuries and losses escalated into September, efforts to remove wolves continued, and ultimately six additional wolves were killed.
The Nc’icn pack has six members – including a successful breeding pair – as confirmed by aerial surveys,
In June 2012, two yearling wolves, one male and one female, were caught and radio-collared in the northeast portion of the Colville Indian Reservation in Ferry County.
Colville Confederated Tribes Fish and Wildlife staff first documented wolf tracks on the reservation in 2008 and produced remote motion-triggered camera pictures of wolves on the reservation in 2011. The pack name “Nc’icn” is a native language word for wolf.
For more information see http://www.colvilletribes.com/fish_and_wildlifeold.php
The Strawberry pack has three members, as confirmed by aerial surveys.This pack is located in the western part of the Colville Indian Reservation in Okanogan County. An adult female wolf was captured near Strawberry Mountain in September 2012 and equipped with a radio collar. Tracks of at least two wolves were documented in the area prior to the capture.
Colville Confederated Tribes Fish and Wildlife staff first documented wolf tracks on the reservation in 2008 and produced remote motion-triggered camera pictures of wolves on the reservation in 2011.
For more information see http://www.colvilletribes.com/fish_and_wildlifeold.php
The Lookout pack has two members. This winter WDFW biologists are attempting to capture a wolf in this pack to equip it with a monitoring collar.
Remote-camera images show that two wolves, which appear to be a male and female based on size and other physical characteristics, are using the Lookout Pack territory. Repeated surveys of historic den and rendezvous sites and traditional areas of summertime use suggested that this pair of wolves did not reproduce during the summer of 2012.
In April 2012, state wildlife managers determined that these wolves were responsible for the death of a domestic calf on private property on the edge of traditional Lookout Pack territory. A trapping effort was conducted in response to the depredation, but no wolves were captured.
The Teanaway pack has six members, including a successful breeding pair.
The breeding female of the Teanaway pack was re-captured in July 2012 to replace the radio collar that was originally placed on her in 2011.
A yearling female, also radio-collared in 2011, dispersed from the Teanaway territory in March 2012 and traveled north and east into British Columbia where she was legally shot by a hunter in May 2012.
The pack is named for the Teanaway River, Ridge and Butte within its range in northern Kittitas County.
2) Following up on its big-city meetings, WDFW has scheduled three later this month in more rural venues, to talk wolf-livestock conflicts.
They are slated for 6-8 p.m. here:
Feb. 26 in Cusick at the Cusick Community Center, 107 1st Ave.
Feb. 27 in Colville at the Colville Ag Trade Center, 317 West Astor Ave.
Feb. 28 in Okanogan at the Okanogan Public Utilities District office meeting room, 1331 2nd Ave. N.
3) The March issue of Northwest Sportsman, which is hurtling towards the press like a flaming asteroid at this very moment, includes a 4000-word interview by our Jeff Holmes with Fish & Wildlife Officer Ryan John who speaks to wolf issues and reaction amongst Blue Mountain ranchers to events in the Wedge.
Ryan John: Since the depredations up north of Colville with the Wedge pack, we’ve done a lot of talking to guys about the need to be on board with all the non-lethal types of preventive measures – right now – to show that you’re doing the right thing.
After watching all that unfold up north, we’ve had really good luck with cattlemen getting on board here. And most of them seem to agree that being on board with non-lethal deterrents needs to be done.
There’s a lot of distrust among some folks who don’t think we’re going to do an accurate investigation of a wolf kill, people who think we’re going to go in with a skewed view of what’s happened and automatically say it’s not a wolf. But, you know, as investigators, we don’t have any integrity if we don’t call it accurately. If it is, it is. If it’s not, it’s not. If we don’t know, we’re going to say that.
Most of us have been down here long enough that we’ve developed relationships in the area, mostly over cougar-related incidents. We communicate to folks, “Listen, you got to get us there as soon as possible because it’s a deteriorating scene, similar to a crime scene. The faster you get us there, the fresher the kill. The better we can follow the clues to determine what happened.
You know, there’s still mistrust here, but we haven’t had any blow-up meetings down here. I think it’s going about as good as we could possibly have it going right now.
While there isn’t a pack in the Blues known to make its den on the Washington side, the latest territory map from WDFW (above) shows the territory of Oregon’s Walla Wallas overlapping the west end of the range.
And in recent weeks, the Wenahas appear to have paid a visit to the Tucannon drainage in force — 10 were spotted there in January, but headed south again.
There has also been mention of 20 to 24 missing cows from the Grande Ronde side of the range coming out of last summer. A number of ranchers in this corner of the state appear to be interested in signing into Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements contracts with WDFW.