Tag Archives: snohomish county

Cluster Of Wolf Reports In Central Snohomish County

Does a recent cluster of reports mean there are wolves in central Snohomish County?

A photo posted on a Granite Falls discussion board and hunters and others’ reports suggest that is the case, and it’s not as if wolves haven’t poked out of the Cascades into Western Washington before.

RECENT WOLF REPORTS CENTER AROUND THE MT. PILCHUCK FOOTHILLS TOWN OF GRANITE FALLS, IN CENTRAL SNOHOMISH COUNTY. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

DNA confirmed that one captured near Marblemount last year was a wolf, while another hit on I-90 east of North Bend in 2015 had apparently come as far west as Snoqualmie where it was spotted on a backyard trail cam.

About halfway between those two known wolves — likely dispersers from packs in Eastern Washington and beyond — is where the latest reports come from and it involves multiple individuals.

A resident’s photo shows the back end of one canid and front end of another trailing behind as they skirt the edge of a yard near Granite Falls.

The tail of the front animal and head of the other do appear to be wolflike.

A GRANITE FALLS RESIDENT SNAPPED THIS IMAGE AND ANOTHER OF WHAT MIGHT BE A PAIR OF WOLVES IN THEIR BACKYARD. (COURTESY IMAGE)

A second photo shows them as well.

(COURTESY IMAGE)

And in a KIRO interview, Becca Van Tassell, who said she had been hunting since she was 13 and has had up-close encounters with a coyote, says she now believes she saw one in the same area this past weekend.

“There’s no way that’s a coyote — that’s huge,” she said, recalling her sighting with reporter Joanna Small.

Then there are a series of reports this month posted to WDFW’s wolf observation map.

On Oct. 27 a deer hunter reported that after trying for a follow-up shot on a blacktail up on Mt. Pilchuck, they spotted a “large wolf heading after where the deer had gone. He looked about 100 pounds.”

An Oct. 22 report from the Granite Falls area reads, “Just passed through my back yard. My kids saw them the week before, but I did not,” while another Oct. 27 post says one was lying in resident’s backyard and was really big, and an Oct. 14 report from the Darrington area over the mountains to the northeast suggests multiple animals howling around daybreak.

I sent links to state and federal wolf managers for their thoughts — typically they like to confirm the species through scat, fur or biological samples rather than photos — but in the meanwhile Amy Windrope, the regional WDFW chief in Mill Creek, told KIRO’s Small, “It is possible.”

Washington’s Wolves, a Facebook page operated by Conservation Northwest, linked to the TV station’s report and called it “Exciting news for wolf recovery in Western Washington,” an unusually strong statement for them.

More developments as they arrive.

The Great ‘Elk Drive’ Of Snohomish County

UPDATED 2 P.M., MARCH 12, 2018

It was 106 years ago yesterday that a panicked herd of more than four dozen elk were turned loose in the Skykomish Valley around Startup.

They’d been “obtained” by the Snohomish County Game Commission and were meant to stock the Sultan Basin.

A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE REPORTS ON UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF THE RELEASE OF 49 ELK IN THE SKYKOMISH VALLEY 106 YEARS AGO THIS WEEK.

Five subsequently died in the corral they were being held in before being hauled in covered wagons to another enclosure in the basin, and according to a March 13, 1912, article in the Olympia Daily Recorder, another 11 had succumbed on the way from Gardiner, Montana.

Apparently, the release was big doin’s, attended by commissioners and folks who came upvalley from Everett.

“The frightened animals tore madly around the corral after being unloaded,” the paper reported.

My mom stumbled on the article while doing genealogy research on relatives who had lumber operations in the valley in the early 1900s (we also lived in nearby Sultan when I was a kid growing up).

Another she found from early 1916 provided an update on the herd.

“They were given rigid protection, they multiplied rapidly, and it wasn’t long before they had become so friendly that they were a positive nuisance,” reported the Seattle Daily Times.

Driven out of the Sultan Basin by snow, the elk in particular liked the pear orchard of a Startup rancher by the name of Bob Miller.

He was not pleased and threatened to take matters into his own hands if something wasn’t done.

So on Feb. 5, Snohomish County saw its “first ‘elk drive'” — and possibly its last — as Game Warden Miller, along with a pair of deputies and a pack of dogs did their best to herd the elk away.

Alas, it didn’t work.

“As soon as it was dark the elk came sneaking back. The Snohomish County Game Commission is considering what step to take next,” the Times reported.

It’s a result that wouldn’t be unknown to fish and wildlife officers and WDFW conflict specialists today who use a range of tricks and tactics to try and keep elk out of crops. Feeding them on Central Washington winter range is another way to limit ag damage.

A draft WDFW Nooksack elk herd plan from 2000 reports that, ultimately, the Startup release “failed” and lists “poaching” as a cause.

A similar 1912 effort in the Skagit Valley sputtered, but one of 80 animals in King County was successful.

Still, every now and then you hear of an elk or two roaming Snohomish County, mainly along the Skykomish River not far from Gold Bar.

And while hunting blacktail elsewhere in the county last fall, a friend got a pretty strong whiff of what he feels was wapiti.