Tag Archives: colville confederated tribes

Wolf Season Now Open Year-round, No Limit On Colville Reservation, North Half

UPDATED 5:30 P.M. FEB 22, 2019 WITH COMMENTS FROM WDFW NEAR BOTTOM

Colville wildlife managers posted a rule change this afternoon that removes the annual limit on wolves for tribal hunters as well as switched the season to open year round both on the reservation and what’s known as the “North Half.”

ONE OF TWO YOUNG WOLVES CAPTURED AND COLLARED ON THE COLVILLE RESERVATION SEVERAL YEARS AGO. (COLVILLE CONFEDERATED TRIBES)

Last September, the Business Council had dropped the three-wolf limit on the “South Half” — the 2,100-square-mile reservation in North-central Washington’s southeast Okanogan and southern Ferry Counties — but yesterday members approved extending that to both zones in a 12-0 vote.


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Wolf hunting in the North Half, which is comprised of federal, state and private lands comanaged with WDFW, was otherwise slated to end at the end of this month.

“Tags are still available at the Fish and Wildlife Offices as well as hide sealing by appointment,” a notice from the department reads.

The hunt is only open to tribal members, and there are somewhere around eight packs combined in both halves, including the Old Profanity Territory, Togo, Beaver Creek, Strawberry, Nc’icn, Nason, Frosty and Whitestone wolves.

Following the federal delisting in the eastern third of the state, the Colvilles opened the first wolf hunt in Washington in modern history in 2012, on the reservation, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the first was taken.

Then in 2017, the Business Council opened the North Half with a quota of three wolves.

When the 2017-18 South Half season came to a close last February, wildlife managers reported all three wolves in the quota had been taken.

“We’re not expecting it to represent a conservation concern in the region or statewide,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW wolf manager, late this afternoon.

He confirmed that eight of the state’s 25 known packs overlap the halves and that the recovery region already has 13 successful breeding pairs, three times as many as are required under the state management plan.

Martorello also said that he didn’t anticipate the tribal harvest to be markedly different than what it has been.

When the Colvilles first began hunting wolves, the agency pointed out that the tribes have the right to manage wildlife on their reservation however they wish.

Earlier today in Olympia, a bill directing WDFW to immediately begin a status review of gray wolves across Washington and consider whether to change the species’ listing either statewide or regionally had a public hearing and was passed out of a House natural resources committee.

Chief sponsor Rep. Joel Kretz, a Republican from Wauconda, not far north of the Colville Reservation, said there wasn’t anything “prescriptive” in the bill and that it wasn’t meant to make “to make people nervous,” but that it raised the possibility of managing distinct wolf populations differently.

“My district has 90 percent of the wolves in the state. I get pictures every day of wolves all over, outside pack boundaries, in backyards,” he said.

However, the bill will probably be amended if it moves forward.

Colville Tribes Report Growing Wolf, Pack Numbers

More than 20 wolves as well as a new pack and possible other one are roaming the Colville Reservation in North-central and Northeast Washington, a fair jump over 2016’s minimum count.

According to the tribes’ Fish and Wildlife Department, a recent aerial count found eight wolves in the Strawberry Pack, seven in the Nc’icn Pack, six in the new Frosty Meadows Pack and five in the Whitestone Pack.

THE NEW FROSTY MEADOWS PACK LIKELY OCCURS ROUGHLY WHERE THE STRAWBERRY, NC’ICN AND WHITESTONE PACK BOUNDARIES CONVERGE, WITH THE POSSIBLE DISAUTEL PACK OCCURRING LIKELY TO THE SOUTHWEST OF STRAWBERRY. (WDFW)

All four were reported as breeding packs.

“There is a suspected Disautel Pack as well,” managers reported in the Facebook post last week.

Disautel is in the western half of the reservation, Frosty Meadows the east.

Separately, WDFW reported four wolves in the Beaver Creek Pack to the north of the western end of the reservation.

The figures will be included when WDFW’s Donny Martorello presents the 2017 year-end count for the entire state to the Fish and Wildlife Commission this weekend.

In last March’s update, there were a reported minimum of 14 wolves in the three known Colville Reservation packs, including seven in Strawberry, five in Nc’icn and two in Whitestone.

Tribal managers also reported that a wolf had been legally harvested from each of the Strawberry, Whitestone and Frosty Meadows Packs. They’d announced the hunt was closed in late February because the annual quota had been met.

The news rererererereconfirms that wolves are doing quite well in the state’s northeastern corner.

Of note, the recently passed state budget includes $183,000 to study moving wolves from this country to elsewhere in Washington, according to the Capital Press.

Translocation was the subject of a bill sponsored by area Rep. Joel Kretz. It passed the House, and though it stalled in the Senate, was carried into the final budget, the ag world outlet reported.

FDR Pike Numbers Up As State-Tribal Removal Efforts Intensify

Ten times more “nightmare fish” — northern pike — than last March were caught earlier this month on Lake Roosevelt, including a 20-pound hen carrying eggs that made up roughly a tenth of its body weight.

The unwanted invasive species is the target of stepped-up gillnetting by the Colville and Spokane Tribes, and removal by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staffers, who say that this year through March 28, 338 have been taken out of the large reservoir at the head of the Columbia River in Washington.

COLVILLE TRIBES MEMBER ROBERT THOMAS HOLDS UP THE 20-POUND FEMALE NORTHERN PIKE GILLNETTED EARLIER THIS MONTH OUT OF LAKE ROOSEVELT. (BRYAN JONES, COLVILLE TRIBES)

The worry is that, just as pike got loose out of the Pend Oreille River system into Roosevelt, they’ll get out of FDR and into the salmonid-rich Columbia below Lake Rufus Woods.

Managers are increasing their efforts to head them off as they inexorably move that way.

“To date, northern pike appear to be distributed primarily in the Kettle Falls area  — near the mouths of the Colville and Kettle Rivers, Singers Bay, Evans — but juveniles were caught further south, near Bradbury launch, for the first time recently,” says Bill Baker, a WDFW fisheries biologist based in Colville.

He says that 2016 saw recruitment of a “measurable year-class,” along with “confirmed successful spawning” in the Kettle and probably Lake Roosevelt too.

A NORTHWEST POWER AND CONSERVATION COUNCIL IMAGE SHOWS MULTIPLE YEAR-CLASSES OF NORTHERN PIKE GILLNETTED OUT OF THE COLVILLE RIVER EARLIER THIS MONTH, “EVIDENCE THE POPULATION IS GROWING,” ACCORDING TO A BLOG POST FROM THE REGIONAL GROUP. (COLVILLE TRIBES)

“Many of the northern pike caught thus far this year are from that year class, around 16 to 17 inches on average. However, there are some large adults present, as well,” Baker says.

According to a mid-March Northwest Power and Conservation Council blog by spokesman John Harrison and headlined simply “Nightmare Fish,” the gonads on that hefty hen weighed 2.2 pounds and were “stuffed” with eggs.

WDFW began looking for concentrations of pike in February for the tribes to net this month. Gillnetting now gets ahead of the May-June spawn.

Baker says that this year’s netting effort is larger than 2016’s, so it’s hard to compare overall removal numbers from year to year, but he feels the catch rate is up, probably because of more pike in the lake but also a better understanding of where they like to hang out.

“Last year’s efforts informed where and when to net this year,” he says.

Bycatch has been “low,” he says, with walleye and redband rainbows comprising 8 and 5 percent of the overall haul.

Those fish are released alive as much as possible, and that’s being helped by cold water temperatures, he says.

If there’s good news, it’s that removal efforts in the Pend Oreille River reservoirs by the Kalispel Tribe appear to have pinched off those waters as a source of pike for FDR through entrainment during high-runoff years, such as 2011, when they first came to widespread attention after an angler caught one near Kettle Falls.

But unfortunately, the Canadian Columbia now has established pike schools, and “in-reservoir recruitment appears to now be the major driver for population expansion within Lake Roosevelt,” says Baker.

Northerns likely originally came down the Pend Oreille from the Clark Fork and Northwest Montana, where they were illegally introduced over the continental divide by bucket biologists.

State, tribal and Columbia system overseers are all on board with getting rid of as many pike as possible.

“We need to stop pike from moving downstream now,” Colville Tribes principal biologist Holly McLellan told Harrison, who also quoted Guy Norman, a former WDFW regional director and now member of the power council, as saying, “This is something that could have significant ecological effects on the lake, and on fisheries both in the lake and downriver. We need to get on top of it.”

Not only will putting a halt to northern’s southerly advance down the Columbia system help prevent damage to FDR’s stellar trout, kokanee, walleye and bass fisheries and ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations below Rufus (the tribes also want to reintroduce stocks above Grand Coulee) but also provide fewer pike for jackasses to illegally move around, like the one that turned up in Lake Washington earlier this winter.

Baker says that gillnetting and monitoring will continue through spring.

And Harrison reports that crews will target the shallows this fall to remove and assess juvenile populations, while eDNA testing stations downstream will tell tribal and state monitors if pike are closing in on Grand Coulee Dam or getting into the Columbia Basin Reclamation Project.