Tribal wildlife officials in Northeast Washington are reporting a wolf was killed earlier this week — but not on the reservation where a hunting season just began.
B.J. Kieffer, the director of the Department of Natural Resources for the Spokane Tribe of Indians, confirms that the animal was killed “incidentally” on the Spokane Reservation by a tribal member targeting other predators, probably on Monday.
A pair of images online popped up the next day purporting to show the dead wolf.
Kieffer was not at liberty to discuss some details, including its age, sex and how it was killed, though comments in the above thread make it sound as if it was snared.
The gray wolf could be a member of the Huckleberry Pack, the territory of which overlaps tribal, state and private lands at the south end of the Huckleberry Range. This past March Spokane biologists confirmed the presence of wolves on their 155,000-acre reservation through DNA analysis, and WDFW trail cameras captured images of five pups nearby. The pack has otherwise eluded attempts to capture and outfit a member or two with a radio collar.
Like the Colville Tribes on the west side of Lake Roosevelt, the Spokanes put a premium on the health of big game herds, including deer, elk and moose, roaming their reservation, sustenance their members have leaned on more ever since fish-ladderless Grand Coulee Dam shut off the supply of salmon in the 1940s.
Kieffer confirms that the tribe is also currently working on a wolf management plan, now in its final stages of internal departmental review before being sent to the business council for approval. It will likely provide management options.
Earlier this month, the Colville Tribes’ business council approved a winter hunt for as many as nine wolves. Tags are only available to members, and only three are available in each of three hunting areas on the million-plus-acre reservation. No word on whether any have been killed.
This region of Washington is part of the zone in the Northern Rockies where gray wolves were Congressionally delisted in spring 2011. Additionally, the Spokanes and Colvilles are sovereign nations and can manage animals on their reservations as they see fit.
There are at least six other packs in Northeast Washington, including two on the Colville Reservation, two suspected ones, and new activity in the area where the Wedge Pack was eliminated for cattle depredations.
The Huckleberry Pack is suspected by state wolf managers of being involved in sheep depredations in northwest Spokane County in early summer.
There have been calls for state delisting and translocation of wolves in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties and elsewhere in Washington east of, roughly, Highways 97 and 17.
At least ten Washington wolves have now been killed this year through management actions, legal hunts or other incidents, including the seven Wedge wolves shot by state gunners, one that went to BC on a walkabout and another member of a cross-border pack that was on the Idaho side earlier this hunting season.
A pup that was eartagged by a state trapper in July was also discovered dead.
That that many wolves have died may be alarming for some, but it also means that their numbers are strong, especially so in Washington’s gamey northeast corner.
IN OTHER WOLF NEWS from the Evergreen State, OR-16, the Oregon male recently collared north of Elgin, wandered north into Washington’s Garfield County in early December, according to telemetry data from its collar, according to WDFW’s weekly wolf report.
The agency used the word “dispersing” in its report, which also indicates that the yearling was not with another wolf at the time. Two winters ago, another radio-collared wolf, OR-5, moved out of Oregon’s Imnaha Pack and ventured into Washington’s side of the Blue Mountains, but hasn’t been heard from (that I know about) in quite some time.
Trail cameras have been installed east of Enumclaw where there was a report of two wolves together while biologists are now performing year-end aerial surveys to establish a baseline for how many wolves there are in Washington at the end of 2012. At the end of 2011, there were 27 known animals, but the agency has allowed that there are likely more roaming around.
And carvivore section manager Donny Martorello has been working to procure wolf management funding from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service while other top state wolf managers have been meeting with North-central and Northeast Washington cattle producers, the weekly wolf report states.
Editor’s note: Apologies to Mr. Kieffer. His name was initially misspelled in this blog.