Washington wolves dying is becoming old news.
Poachers have killed a few, three have been legally taken outside the state, seven were removed by state sharpshooters (an eighth died of unknown causes), another was “incidentally” trapped by a northeastern tribal member targeting other species, still another was hit by a vehicle recently on Blewett Pass (the first modern roadkill occurred in 2008), and any number of pups have succumbed to winter weather over recent years.
But now the Grim Reaper is taking a new toll on the state’s growing Canis lupus population.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today confirms that a small Teanaway yearling was killed by a member of Washington’s suite of toothsome critters.
Brent Lawrence, a spokesman at the Service’s Portland office, says the 47-pound female found dead in June not long after it was captured and collared by state trappers was a “confirmed predator kill.”
The federal agency investigated because the animal’s death occurred in the still-listed part of Washington, in north-central Kittitas County.
The carcass suffered “substantial soft-tissue loss,” so it couldn’t be determined whether another wolf attacked it, or it was hauled down by a bear, cougar or even free-roaming dogs, but Lawrence said there’s speculation that it was the work of a mountain lion.
That was the preliminary conclusion of WDFW officials who recovered the wolf after its GPS collar failed to move for a period of time.
At the time it was one of 10 that state and tribal biologists had trapped, collared and released this year.
Wolves die from all sorts of things, but starvation and attacks by other wolves are believed to be top causes of death, another federal spokesman told us a few weeks ago.
“They live in a rough neighborhood, a rough world,” said Doug Zimmer at the Service’s Lacey office.
It also means the state’s other predators are biting back as wolves recolonize Washington.