The Wedge Pack was largely in good condition from that beefy summer diet that got it in so much trouble, necropsies of the animals are showing.
Six members of the pack were killed last week by helicopter-born state gunners after the wolves were implicated in the deaths or injuries of at least 17 calves and a cow of the Diamond M Ranch in northern Stevens County.
Their carcasses were looked at by WDFW’s vetrinarian. Preliminary information indicates these weights and estimated ages, based on teeth, for the pack:
* Alpha male, 100 pounds, 3 to 4 years old
* Alpha female, 72 pounds, 3 to 4 years old
* 2- to 3-year-old male, 92 pounds
* 1- to 2-year-old male, 84 pounds
* 1- to 2-year-old female, 64 pounds
* 6-month-old male, 56 pounds
A 68-pound nonbreeding female, likely 1 to 2 years old, was killed in August, and an additional pup of the pack died after being eartagged in mid-July.
“They’re not massive animals,” noted agency spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane this morning.
Northwest Sportsman had requested the information last week.
WDFW considers wolves that are 2 years of age or older to be adults. The 84-pound male and 68- and 64-pound females are considered immature, according to Luers. Wolves don’t typically breed till they’re 2 years old, she says.
While the sample size is limited and weights could be impacted by factors such as how recently the animals fed and how much, err, exercise they were getting in the moments leading up to their deaths from above, the sizes of the adults is on par to slightly smaller than seen in the rest of the Northern Rockies.
Idaho roadkill and 2009-2010 hunt data found that adult males averaged 101 pounds while adult females averaged 86 pounds. The largest were up around 130 pounds. Montana saw adult males running from 90 to 110 pounds typically while adult females went 80 to 100 pounds.
Other Washington wolves have been heavier still. A female recently captured and collared on the Colville Reservation weighed 104 pounds while the Diamond Pack alpha male scaled 105 pounds at its July 2009 capture.
DNA tests have yet to be done, but the preliminary information would seem to indicate a pack that possibly had three successive litters. Typically wolves establish a territory and then hold it, so the Wedge wolves probably were operating in the triangle between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers and up into British Columbia as far back as 2010, if not before. The area saw a calf depredation in 2007.
Typically, packs in the Northern Rockies averaged five pups a litter during recolonization, but that’s an average meaning some had more, some had fewer.
Based on earlier estimates of as many as 11 members, Luers acknowledges there could still be some wolves roaming around the Wedge, but the heart of the pack, the alphas, has been killed. State staffers will continue to monitor the area for new reports and go from there.
Luers said that WDFW’s vet, Kristin Mansfield, “indicated body condition on all was good except the 92-pound male was thin to good and the 64-pound female was thin to good.”
Fecal and small intestine samples were sent to WSU’s parasitology lab. The skulls and some pelts will be saved for educational purposes.
With no other new wolf news or depredations to report, the next big event on the Washington Wolf Trail is this Friday afternoon’s staff briefing for the Fish & Wildlife Commission.
“If you can’t be there, it’s supposed to be webcast on TVW,” Luers points out.