For the moment it’s quiet on the Washington wolf front.
I’m awaiting word on the results of an investigation into a sheep kill west of Spokane last weekend. The owner believed it was a wolf, according to the report filed on WDFW’s dangerous wildlife complaints page. There should be a final determination by next week, according to wolf policy coordinator Steve Pozzanghera. He says trail cams haven’t turned up any repeat customers.
Awaiting a call back from WDFW’s game division manager for more on the agency’s plans for enhanced tab-keeping on ungulates in Northeast Washington where wolf populations are building.
Awaiting news on the latest capture-and-collar efforts from the Selkirks, Cascades and Blues — a spokesman points out that early July has basically been when that’s happened since 2008′s trapping of the Lookout Pack.
Meanwhile, wolf news I’ve gathered of late, mostly out of audio from the June 2 Fish & Wildlife Commission, includes:
WDFW basically has three trapping teams out — one each in the Cascades, and southeast and northeast corners;
The wolves in the Hozomeen of upper Ross Lake in eastern Whatcom County may use the area as their winter range and probably den on the BC side, which, if true, would mean they wouldn’t count to Washington breeding-pair recovery goals;
The Spokane Tribe is “beginning to suspect” they may have a pack on their reservation, WDFW reported, but I haven’t been able to confirm that with a tribal biologist;
The Colville Tribes posted an instructive 22-page PDF that provides details on the history of wolves on their sprawling reservation, trapping training they recently underwent with Carter Niemeyer, what a capture operation looks like, and the catching of two wolves. The slide show isn’t posted obviously on the Tribes’ site, but if you google “Nc’icn Pack” the top result should be this document;
WDFW and Conservation Northwest are splitting the $20,000 cost of paying a range rider to patrol the Colville National Forest lease of a Northeast Washington producer who’s running cattle in “close proximity” to the Smackout Pack, two members of which were captured in May and can be tracked with GPS collars;
CNW is getting excited about the U.S. airing of a Lookout and Teanaway Packs documentary that they were involved in over winter and summer 2011 and previously showed in the UK by the BBC;
Eastside ranchers and WDFW have been doing a lot of talking and listening about wolves and livestock;
Fish & Wildlife Commissioners seem to be impressed with the agency’s work implementing the management plan and are also listening to producers. A few disagree a bit of about whether WDFW is or is not hamstrung from using some tools in the plan;
One commissioner — and not the one you’d expect — thinks it’s time to believe ranchers that the mere presence of wolves leads to loss of weight on cows;
This past winter a rancher in far northern Stevens County was given a 30-day caught-in-the-act permit to lethally remove wolves attacking his stock, but didn’t need to use it before it expired. He apparently used “turbo” fladry to stave off their every-three-weeks’ interest;
Cattlemen are trying to build support to legislatively delist wolves by region from statewide protections;
Jeff Flood, a Colville logger/cowboy/hunting guide, contacted me with several pictures of not only wolves but the grizzly bear in the Wedge — that part of Stevens County between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers and the Canadian border. He’s provided numerous locations of wolf sightings in Northeast Washington to WDFW, believes there are more packs, and is under contract with the agency to place cameras around the area.
I’m sure there’s more out there, but for the moment, this is what’s up.
“Right now, quiet is good,” says Pozzanghera, the WDFW wolf manager.