WDFW captured a pair of black wolves from the Smackout Pack of Northeast Washington last week while one from the Teanaway Pack of Central Washington put on its walking boots this past March and in two months traveled 350 air miles to the northeast into Canada.
That from the Fish & Wildlife Commission’s briefing last weekend on implementation of the state’s management plan for Canis lupus and other things wolfish.
Pictures in the 22-page document that’s available online (download item 14 here) show the two wolves wearing ear tags, one of which is visibly marked in red and white “WDFW.”
Both are male and described as adults; one weighed 97 pounds, the other 90 pounds.
It’s unclear, however, which is the pack’s alpha male, so GPS collars were strapped on both and that data should show which is hanging around the den site more, according to WDFW wolf policy coordinator Steve Pozzanghera in Spokane.
The significance of determining which is the alpha is that “breeding pairs” are the “currency of recovery objectives,” he points out.
As of the end of 2011, Washington had three breeding pairs and five confirmed packs, numbers which should rise this year if even some of the five suspected packs elsewhere in the state have at least two pups that survive to the end of this year. The goal is at least 15 breeding pairs for three straight years spread around in certain numbers across at least the eastern two-thirds of the state, or 18 pairs in any single year in certain numbers in the same area.
The Smackout Pack runs between Colville and Ione.
Additionally, collar data will give managers and a local rancher who runs cows on a Forest Service grazing allotment at Smackout Meadows locational information on the pair.
As for that dispersing wolf from the Teanaway Pack, a map indicates the yearling female — which was captured and collared last September — left its home territory in north-central Kittitas County in mid- to late March, zigzagged through the Colockum and Chelan County, turned up to the south of the Lookout Pack’s range, headed up Washington’s Okanogan Valley to British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake and crested the divide into the upper Columbia River watershed before the dots of its progress end about 60 or 70 miles north of Kootenay Lake in late May.
“She’s been on a walkabout for quite some time,” says Pozzanghera.
However, its roughly 500-mile journey came to an abrupt end around May 21.
Pozzanghera says it was shot and killed in the pig sty of a local farmer. He says its carcass was turned over to a trapper — working in the area after complaints from the farmer — who in turn provided it to the BC Ministry of Environment which called WDFW.
The agency is making arrangement to get the collar and pelt back, he says.
Doug Zimmer of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Lacey, Wash., says the skin will be used as an “educational display to teach people more about wolves.”
The Teanaway disperser’s journey was much more typical than the one of that internationally known wanderer, Oregon’s OR7, currently in southwestern Lassen County, Calif.
“Dispersers are very vulnerable. They have no support from a pack, they’re in country they don’t know, they’re hard up for food all the time,” says Zimmer. “Lone wolves are romantic, but they don’t survive well. Wolves are built to run and live in packs.”
It’s the second Washington wolf that’s been killed out of state. Late last December, a female from the Diamond Pack of Pend Oreille County was legally trapped and killed 300 yards across the state line in Idaho.
The commission’s presentation also includes a briefing and photos from the probable wolf depredation of a 200-pound calf on a Carlton ranch on May 19.
Pozzanghera says that the state’s trapper for the area is just now getting the correct gear on the ground to capture and collar members of the Lookout Pack.