Tag Archives: marblemount

Washington Wolf Maps Reveal Canid’s Spread, Real And Otherwise

Say what you will about wolves, the predators’ peregrinations make for fascinating stuff.

At least to cartography and wandering wildlife geeks such as myself.

A pair of new Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maps are revealing more about the ranges and ranginess of the state’s wolves over the past decade.

Both are based off data from all the GPS collars WDFW has strapped to various breeding males and females and other pack members since 2008.

(Dozens upon dozens more wolves over the years haven’t been collared.)

One shows nearly 72,000 of their locations — gulp, they’ve got Deer Camp surrounded, boys!

(WDFW)

Well, from the 35,000 foot level they do.

Though the GPS locations of wolves on the Colville and Spokane Reservations aren’t included, it represents “the most complete dataset currently available of wolf telemetry in Washington State,” according to WDFW.

Many of the green dots correspond to known pack areas in Northeast Washington, Kittitas County and the Blue Mountains.

But there’s a relatively surprising amount of wolf activity in state and federal lands between the Chewuch and Okanogan Valleys — the well-tracked Loup Loup Pack appears to roam north of its state-identified territory, or there’s a second pack with a collared animal there.

It also shows where the Marblemount wolf, which was captured and collared last spring, is hanging out.

The other new WDFW map shows the dispersal paths of 14 telemetry-bearing wolves since 2012, several of which are rather remarkable.

I’ve reported on two of these before — the Teanaway female shot in a British Columbia pig sty, the Smackout male that ventured into the province’s Coast Range due north of Neah Bay and set up a territory.

Another was killed in Central Montana.

But I believe this is the first time I’ve seen the winding path one took to the Cowboy State.

The wolf exited Washington north of Spokane, followed I-90 east into western Montana, trotted into the lower Bitterroot Valley before heading back southwest over Lolo Pass and down the Lochsa to the Clearwater, then south past Riggins and Cascade, Idaho, to the Boise area, loped across the north side of the Snake River Plain to Yellowstone National Park, then angled to the southeast towards the heart of Wyoming.

The new maps were part of a presentation to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission earlier this month by Donny Martorello, WDFW’s wolf policy advisor.

The next time he talks to the citizen oversight panel, probably in March, he’ll have an updated pack range map, if that first map above is any indication.

Here’s what the one the agency published late last winter looked like:

(WDFW)

Damnit, I gotta get to work now, but I’m going to leave one final WDFW wolf map here, one I closely watch for “clusters” of citizen reports.

They’re an indication of possible wolf activity for biologists to check out —  there may be something going on south of Snoqualmie Pass and in the upper Lewis River watershed — and help keep tabs on known packs, reconfirming activity.

(WDFW)

But while WDFW’s new GPS maps do lend credence to many public observations by showing the locations of actual wolves and the campfire sparklike spread of dispersers, some state residents’ reports are, shall we say, slightly less likely to have been actual wolves, especially those coming from the I-5/405 corridor, where an inordinate number are annually spotted in the shrubberies.

Here are a couple of my favorites from this year:

No doubt.

North Cascades NP Shares More Details On Wolf Observations

A North Cascades National Park official is shedding light on his revelations yesterday that there may be two or three packs of wolves there.

That news caught Washington state wolf managers off guard during a Wednesday morning interagency teleconference they’d organized because their maps and updates this year don’t report any packs in the park itself.

THIS MAY, A TRAIL CAMERA STATIONED IN THE SOUTHERN SECTION OF NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAPTURED AN IMAGE OF THIS WOLF. (NPS)

But at the same time, information federal wildlife biologist Jason Ransom shared with Northwest Sportsman today does correspond to locations wolves are known to occur in the northern Cascade Range, have been spotted in recent years or is not that far from previous pack ranges.

And more to the point, it shows that additional attention should be focused on this remote region of the state, especially as the important winter population and breeding pair counts near.

“Bottom line is there is quite a lot more activity in the park over the last year or two,” says Ransom “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Hozomeen wolves had a den in the park, but we just don’t know about it if they do. Same goes for the other areas. We’ve certainly gotten a lot more track reports this year, which could mean some localized use.”

A MAP OF NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK COMPLEX, WHICH INCLUDES ROSS LAKE AND LAKE CHELAN NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS, WILL SHOW HOZOMEEN AT TOP RIGHT, MT. LOGAN AND LAKE CHELAN AT BOTTOM RIGHT AND MARBLEMOUNT AT MIDDLE LEFT. (NPS)

Hozomeen is located near the northern end of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, part of the federal land complex in the region.

Up until early 2016 WDFW maps did identify a pack there, though it was shaded differently because the wolves were believed to den in British Columbia, which in standard protocols means it didn’t count towards state delisting goals. Per the agency’s website, “Packs may be removed from the map due to natural breakup of the pack, lethal control, or no longer detected.”

Ransom says that wolves here are occasionally turning up on trail cameras on either side of the border, mostly on the east side of Ross.

“We’ve seen up to three animals together in winter, which meets the state definition of a pack. We’ve also picked up tracks of two individuals traveling on the west bank of Ross Lake, but we have no way of knowing if those are the Hozomeen wolves or others,” he says. “Otherwise, we continue to receive anecdotal reports of tracks by backcountry staff in the area, and generally interpret those reports as some likelihood the same wolves detected on camera are using that area of the park through time. ”

This past May and June saw a flurry of activity around Marblemount, where biologists ultimately confirmed a lone 100-pound, two- to three-year-old male. Ransom said there have been “anecdotal visitor and staff reports” on this side of the park, it’s western face, over the past two years, including different-colored and multiple animals.

He says that one of two trail cams deployed picked up a canid whose “behavior and general structure of the animal strongly suggests a wolf rather than coyote,” but it won’t be till next year before the devices are checked again.

Most intriguing might be reports from the southern end of the park, between Highway 20 and Lake Chelan. Ransom says there’s been “quite a bit of activity from multiple individuals” there over the last year, “including at least one detection event of two animals together in late winter/early spring.”

That isn’t too far west from where the state’s first confirmed pack, the Lookouts, roamed, sightings of which have been few and far between this year, with WDFW capturing in mid-September what it said was just the second trail camera image of a wolf in that territory since last winter.

“This year, we’ve detected at least three individuals in the southern part of the park based on color and markings, with several other detections that could be the same animals or different ones,” says Ransom. “Wolves were detected on at least eight cameras in the area this year, roughly south of Mt. Logan to the head of Lake Chelan.”

Logan sits in the headwaters of Thunder Creek, itself an arm of Diablo Lake, and North Fork Bridge Creek, which ultimately drains into Chelan via Bridge Creek and the Stehekin River.

“Like elsewhere in the park, we’ve received numerous anecdotal reports of tracks from field staff in the backcountry and generally interpret those reports as some likelihood the same wolves detected on camera are using those general areas of the park,” Ransom adds.

He says DNA from scat might be able to determine whether the south park wolves and Lookouts are related, but also notes that only 80 percent of samples sequence out.

Following yesterday’s teleconference, WDFW wolf policy manager Donny Martorello said state staffers were looking into the park service’s reports. He said the agency, which reports to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, confirms packs in Washington.

Next March there may be more dots on the map.