A Stevens County man shot and killed a wolf in self-defense after it turned towards he and his daughter last weekend while they were on a hike, but the death of a collared wolf elsewhere in the county is under investigation.
WDFW Capt. Dan Rahn says the latter animal, a female, was killed off Highway 20 near the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge.
“It was transmitting a mortality signal — that’s how we found it,” he said. “We recovered it on May 27.”
He said that any tips can be phoned in to his agency’s regional office in Spokane at (509) 892-1001.
Conservation Northwest is offering a $7,500 reward for info leading to a conviction.
As for the other incident, state wolf specialist Ben Maletzke said the man and girl left their home late Sunday afternoon to go on a hike on an ATV trail onto public land when they encountered the wolf.
“About 30 yards up the trail a wolf came out of the brush,” he says.
The man, who was carrying a shotgun, “felt threatened and shot the wolf at 25 yards,” Maletzke said.
“It’s just one of those things. They just kinda crossed paths at a bad time,” he said.
Maletzke said the duo left the uncollared female wolf and returned to their home and reported the incident to WDFW.
In 20 minutes an officer arrived and began investigating, determining it had been in self-defense.
“The wolf was running at them and they were concerned for their safety,” said Capt. Rahn. “You have the right to protect yourself.”
Both he and Maletzke agreed that calling in the incident immediately was the right thing for the man to have done.
It’s the latest where state residents have been found to have been justified in shooting a wolf.
Other cases include a Blue Mountains cabin owner afraid for his dogs; a northern Ferry County livestock producer who caught a wolf in the act of attacking his cattle; an Adams County ranchhand who observed a wolf chasing cows; and a northeast Okanogan County rancher who saw a wolf approaching his day-old calves.
This most recent incident occurred in the south end of Stevens County, in the range of the Stranger Pack and most likely was a member of that group of wolves, Maltezke said, though it might also have been a wandering Huckleberry wolf.
Wolves in Northeast Washington were delisted in 2011 and this corner of the state is where most packs and individuals live. They remain state listed.
Maletzke also shared some nonlethal ways to deal with wildlife encountered afield.
“Stand tall, make yourself look big to make it go away,” he said.
Raising your voice can also help, Maletzke added.
Last summer, after wandering too close to a wolf pup rendezvous site and drawing the attention of protective parents, a Forest Service worker climbed a tree, twice.
And before he retired, Rich Landers, longtime outdoor columnist at the Spokesman-Review, posted a great video with advice for recreating with dogs where wolves might be encountered.