Tag Archives: U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

Joint WDFW-RMEF-Forterra Project Secures 7 Sq. Miles In Cowiche For Critters, Rec

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Working closely with Forterra and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently finalized the purchase of 4,486 acres of land near Yakima in the foothills of the eastern Cascades. WDFW will manage the new property as an addition to the Cowiche Unit of the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

The site serves as key habitat and a migration corridor for an astonishing array of species, including mule deer, elk, Neotropical birds, raptors, bats, and more than 70 butterfly species. The expanded Cowiche Unit will also conserve more than seven miles of Cowiche Creek, an important spawning and rearing habitat for bull trout, coho, and chinook salmon.

Recreational opportunities are abundant on the new property, and include hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing, and bird watching. The low-elevation and close proximity to Yakima make it an ideal destination for local outdoor recreationists and visitors.

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

“This property is an important link to surrounding state, federal, and private conservation lands,” said Mike Livingston, WDFW’s south central regional director. “With the help of our partners RMEF and Forterra, we’re able to permanently protect the area where up to 2,000 Rocky Mountain elk migrate between their summer and winter ranges, and where elk calves are born each year.”

RMEF took the lead on negotiations with the landowner, the Van Wyk family, starting in the early 2000s and solidified a path forward in 2017.

“This is the latest example of RMEF’s work with partners to protect a key elk migration route where butterflies are also known to migrate. The project is built on RMEF and WDFW’s history of securing quality public access in the East Slope of the Cascades,” says Jennifer Doherty, RMEF’s director of lands. “While this project was an important step toward protecting this landscape for wildlife and recreationists, we need to recognize and thank Van Wyk family members for their vision to protect this land.”

A WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION PRESENTATION EARLIER THIS YEAR INCLUDED IMAGES AND MAPS OF THE ACQUISITION. (WDFW)

Forterra, a nonprofit land conservation organization, stepped up to meet the cost obligations necessary to make the final transaction happen. In addition, for the first time on WDFW-managed lands, Forterra will hold a stewardship easement on the property, which allows the organization to work closely with WDFW to conduct restoration and maintenance work. To help pay for this stewardship and cover transaction costs, Forterra needs to raise $300,000, and has launched a fundraising effort to that end.

“The Van Wyk property is more than a stunning stretch of stream, steppe, and forest,” said Michelle Connor, President and CEO of Forterra. “It’s a puzzle piece that connects all of the protected land surrounding it. In the face of climate change, species like the elk and butterfly found here will rely more and more on un-fragmented ecosystems like this one. We’re thrilled to help secure this special place, and we look forward to working with the state to protect it for generations to come.”

WDFW used funds from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service habitat grant and a Pacific Power mitigation agreement to make their portion of the purchase.

“PacifiCorp’s commitment to enhancing wildlife habitat in areas we serve is a keystone of our overall dedication to environmental stewardship,” said Brian King, PacifiCorp environmental manager. “It is great to work with partners such as Forterra, WDFW, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to help conserve habitat in the essential Cowiche corridor. The funding provided is part of a mitigation agreement connected with PacifiCorp’s major transmission project in the area. We are balancing economic development, improving service reliability, and conserving wildlife habitat through this innovative agreement.”

WDFW actively manages approximately 1 million acres of land and over 600 water access sites across the state to preserve natural and cultural heritage, provide access for hunting, fishing, and wildlife-related recreation, and to foster experiences and exploration for thousands of Washingtonians and visitors each year.

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WDFW Releases More Details On New Commissioners; Holzmiller Thanked

THE FOLLOWING ARE A PRESS RELEASE AND A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Editor’s note: For our story last Sunday breaking this news, go here.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday appointed two new members to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission: Jim Anderson, and Molly Linville.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Both new members began their appointments on July 24, 2019, with terms ending December 31, 2024.

James R. Anderson is an active sportsman residing in Pierce County, who has fished and hunted across most of Washington. Anderson brings habitat restoration and extensive policy experience to the table, having spent more than 20 years in the executive management, fisheries and natural resource fields.

JIM ANDERSON. (WDFW)

“Jim brings with him knowledge around salmon and Washington’s fishery management complexities. These topics are some of the commission’s highest priorities and his expertise will be a welcome addition as we consider some near- and long-term challenges,” said Commission Chair Larry Carpenter.

Molly Linville is a cattle rancher out of Douglas County, a member of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, and grew up hunting and fishing in Washington. For four years, Linville has been active on the WDFW Wolf Advisory Group, where a diverse array of stakeholders advise the agency on wolf management implementation. Linville is also a former wildlife biologist with experience working on federally threatened and endangered wildlife species issues.

MOLLY LINVILLE. (WDFW)

“We have valued Molly’s service to our Department for her measured, rational voice,” Carpenter said. “She’s engaged and works to connect with citizens and her communities. These are all characteristics that will be assets in her role as a Commissioner and I work forward to working with her.”

Anderson graduated from Washington State University with master’s degrees in environmental science. Linville graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology.

Outgoing commission member, Jay Holzmiller, of Asotin County, has served as a valued and engaged member of the commission since June of 2013.

“I want to thank Jay for his service. The days are long, the pay is essentially nil, and the issues are challenging,” said Carpenter. “When you dedicate yourself to this role it’s done out of a deep and abiding commitment to public service. Jay brought that plus a lot more to the table throughout the full course of his term.”

FORMER WDFW FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONER JAY HOLZMILLER (SEATED AT RIGHT) SPEAKS ON WOLVES, COUGARS AND NORTHEAST WASHINGTON UNGULATES DURING THE MARCH 1-2 MEETING IN SPOKANE. “PREDATOR MANAGEMENT ISN’T SEEING HOW MANY DAMN PREDATORS WE CAN RAISE, AND THAT’S WHAT WE’VE BEEN IN THAT MODE,” HE SAID DURING PUBLIC COMMENT DOMINATED BY LOCAL RESIDENTS’ CONCERNS. (WDFW)

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is comprised of nine citizen members, each appointed by the governor. The second appointment fills a previously vacant position.

Commission appointees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which will reconvene in January 2020. However, members are official upon appointment and serve as voting members while awaiting Senate confirmation.

Commission members

James R Anderson

(At-large position, Pierce County)
Occupation: Retired Administrator
Current Term: 07/24/2019 – 12/31/2024

Jim Anderson is a life-long resident of the state, and lives near Buckley in rural Pierce County, very close to land his grandparents bought in 1912 and that is still in the family today.  He graduated from Washington State University in 1974 with a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and Masters of Science in Environmental Science (Rural and Regional Planning option) in 1978.  He worked 35 years in professional natural resource management.  He was the Executive Director of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission from 1985 to 2005, before retiring in 2010.

Commissioner Anderson has been and continues to be an active fisher, hunter and outdoor recreationalist.  He started fishing when he was 4, and hunted since he was 10, and has had fishing and hunting licenses every year since. He is an avid backpacker, having hiked all of the 508 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington.  A former mountaineer, he has climbed all the major volcanoes in the state numerous times, as well as many other mountains.

He has served on numerous boards and committees at local, state and federal levels.  He has been Secretary of the Board of the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and the Washington Water Trust for many years.  He was a member of the US Fish and Wildlife Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council.  He served for over two decades on the Enumclaw Regional /St Elizabeth Hospital Board.  He has worked with many federal, state and local agencies and understands our governing laws, including treaty rights.  He is well connected to tribal communities and values the work they do and the roles they have played in our state.  He was a key participant and leader at the Timber-Fish-Wildlife Process, the Chelan Water Agreement, Shared Salmon Strategy, Hatchery Reform Coordinating Committee, and many other efforts.

He and his wife, Dianne Meserve have two children, Katie and Erik.

(The following are excerpts from Molly Linville’s application packet to join the commission)

“I am the fifth generation raised on my family’s wheat and barley farm near Reardan, Washington in Lincoln County. I graduated with 34 other students, most of whom were also farm kids and attended Kindergarten through 12th grade together.

“I attended the University of Montana where I completed a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology. My mom jokes around that I’ve been a wildlife biologist since I was two when I was catching salamanders in the creek that ran through our farm.

“In 2000, I began working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildlife biologist and a wildlife refuge manager … I had completed all my (masters degree) course work at WSU and was beginning my thesis when my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away and left us [she and husband David] his 100 year-old, 6,000-acre cattle ranch, near Wenatchee, WA. I literally had to quit school and we both had to quit our jobs overnight to take care of the ranch. However, I immediately caught the ranching bug and have been running the cow/calf and haying operation since 2011. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s like running my own personal wildlife refuge.

“I am active in my community and care deeply about issues that negatively impact rural/agricultural communities. Some of the topics I’ve been working with state legislators on are: fire suppression in communities not served by a fire district, fire impacts on rangeland, environmental laws that have become too cumbersome for small fmaily farms, the mental health crisis in farming communities and predator/livestock conflicts.

“I am a member of the State’s Wolf Advisory Group (WAG), which I find both challenging and rewarding. I serve as a Planning Commissioner for Douglas County and I’m on the school board for our nearby two room school that serves 25 students in Palisades. I enjoy visiting rural high schools as a guest lecturer and often give presentations on the return of wolves to Washington. I was awarded the 2018 Redd Fund Award from the Society of Range Management for excellence in range management for my work in creating on creating a curriculum on the importance of range land that is taught at fire refreshers across the State of Washington and parts of Oregon.

“My roots run deep in the State and I’ve spent a career serving the beautiful landscapes and wildlife populations found here. I would be proud to continue working towards conserving fish and wildlife populations for future generations by serving on the Fish and Wildlife Commission.”

NMFS Shares Salmon Habitat Gains, Flood-threat Reduction From Tillamook Estuary Work

THE FOLLOWING IS A NEWS STORY FROM THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE

NOAA’s work with community partners restoring estuary habitat in Tillamook Bay, Oregon is revitalizing tidal wetlands for threatened Oregon Coast coho salmon, and helping reduce flooding in the surrounding communities and farmlands.

The project’s benefits to fish were realized immediately—443 acres of different estuary habitats critical to juvenile salmon are now available, including mud flats, open water with vegetation, marsh and others. Often called “nurseries of the sea,” estuaries offer unique conditions, like slow moving water and tides that bring in nutrients, which keep fish safe and allow them to grow.

BEFORE AND AFTER IMAGES FROM THE TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSHIP SHOW THE EFFECT OF REMOVING LEVEES AND TIDE GATES NEAR THE MOUTH OF THE TRASK RIVER. (TILLAMOOK ESTUARY PARTNERSIHP VIA NMFS)

A recently published report also confirms the project’s flood reduction goals were achieved. Shortly after project completion, in October 2017, a flood occurred at the site. Our restoration work resulted in widespread reduction in flood levels and duration including along Highway 101, a key commercial and transportation corridor. In total, about 4,800 acres around the project site showed reductions in flood levels.

This project, like many others we work on, shows how restoring habitat back to its natural functions can help coastal communities be more resilient against severe weather. Nature-based approaches are being shown to provide these, and many other economic benefits, along both the the east and west coasts of the United States.

Almost 90 percent of the Tillamook Estuary’s historic tidal wetlands have been lost to development and agriculture. Like many other species relying on estuary and wetland habitats, loss of these areas is a primary contributor to the decline of Oregon Coast coho salmon.

Additionally, Oregon’s winters bring storm surges, heavy rainfall, and snow melt. Combined with high tides, this often causes flooding in the area. Flood losses in Tillamook County exceeded $60 million from 1996 – 2000.

ESTUARIES ARE IMPORTANT HABITAT FOR COHO SMOLTS ALONG WITH THE YOUNG OF OTHER SALMON SPECIES. (ROGER TABOR, USFWS)

To achieve the mutually beneficial project goals, old levees, fill, and tide gates were removed to create tidal estuary habitat. This functions as a “flow corridor,” allowing flood waters to move freely and quickly away from the town of Tillamook. Now, nearby properties and more than 500 structures are protected from flooding. It’s estimated that $9.2 million in economic benefits will accrue from avoided flood damages over the next 50 years.

The project reconnected hundreds of acres of marsh habitat and restored 13 miles of new tidal channels. This will significantly benefit Endangered Species Act-listed Oregon Coast coho salmon. Historically, more than 200,000 of these salmon would return to Tillamook Bay each year. That number was down to just 2,000 in 2012. This habitat is critical for juvenile salmon to feed and grow, and will help with the broader goal of species recovery along Oregon’s entire coast.

The Southern Flow Corridor Project is the result of tremendous community support and collaboration. NOAA Fisheries’ Restoration Center, within the Office of Habitat Conservation, and the West Coast Regional Office, worked with more than a dozen local, state, federal, tribal and private partners on this effort.

BRYCE MOLENKAMP PREPARES TO NET A SALMON ON TILLAMOOK BAY. (MARK VEARY)

Key partners include the Port of Tillamook Bay, Tillamook Bay Habitat and Estuary Improvement District, Tillamook County, the State of Oregon, FEMA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Institute for Applied Ecology, and the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership. We provided funding for the project through the Community-based Restoration Program and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, and on-the-ground technical assistance.

New Improved Boat Launch, Facilities In Reedsport Shown Off

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Boaters and anglers now have improved access to the lower Umpqua River in Reedsport, now that the Rainbow Plaza boat ramp is complete.  Rainbow Plaza is a popular and heavily used boat launch facility with an estimated 10,000 boat launches per year.

(CITY OF REEDSPORT VIA ODFW)

This project was needed as the facility had not had major improvements since the early 90’s.  As part of this project, a new piece of land was purchased and an old building removed, along with expanding the parking lot at the site.  Old derelict pilings were removed and the boat launch was widened to improve navigability and congestion.  Additionally, a new ADA flush restroom was installed, debris deflectors and boarding docks were installed, and parking lot was reconfigured with new curbs, islands, sidewalks and a storm water treatment system.  A new fish cleaning station with grinder was also added across the street from the facility on City-owned property adjacent to the overflow gravel parking along with boat wash-down station.

(CITY OF REEDSPORT VIA ODFW)

According to ODFW STEP Biologist Evan Leonetti, this site provides improved boating access to a great angling opportunity for fall Chinook, coho, surf perch and sturgeon, all within a mile or two from the ramp.  This project added a new fish cleaning station right at Rainbow Plaza, when previously anglers had to drive down to Salmon Harbor to the nearest fish cleaning station.  The facility is attractive to boat anglers, because it offers a two-lane boat ramp with lots of boarding docks and 36 vehicle with boat trailer and 11 single car parking spots; all factors that reduce launch delays and long lines.

Other recreational uses include sea kayaking and canoeing.  According to Jonathan Wright, City Manager of Reedsport, “Each boat, each trailer that you see here – many of them have purchased gas here, purchased materials and have gone to a restaurant or two during their stay here. All those things serve to benefit the local economy.”

Cost of the project was approximately $2M, which was paid by several partners, including the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) thru a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration grant, ODFW R&E board, Port of Umpqua, Reedsport Winchester Bay Chamber of Commerce, Oregon State Parks, USDA, Reedsport Urban Renewal District and City of Reedsport.

For more information about boating access and boating regulations, visit www.boatoregon.com.

North Cascades Grizzly Restoration Planning To Push Ahead Again

UPDATED 1:07 p.m. Friday, March 23, 2018

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke told reporters this morning that the federal review of options to restore grizzlies in Washington’s North Cascades will push forward again.

THE NORTH CASCADES RISE OVER A SHARP TURN ON HIGHWAY 20. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Appearing at North Cascades National Park Complex headquarters in Sedro-Woolley, Zinke’s statements came after an apparent pause this past winter of the environmental review of four options for bringing the bears back to this mountainous country.

He said the process should wrap up this year — a Department of Interior press release says by late summer — and that he feels grizzlies can be returned to the recovery region.

“I’m in support of the great bear,” Zinke said in televised comments. “I’m also supportive of doing it right. This is not reintroduction of a rabbit. This is reintroduction of a grizzly, and when done right by professional management, the grizzly can return harmony to the ecosystem and the grizzly can be a great example of how we do it right. Doing it wrong can adversely affect visitor experience and it can also adversely our ability to manage the land.”

Bear advocates were pleased by the news, and it’s likely that local tribes are happy as well, as the Tulalips have supported restoration.

However, national, state cattlemen’s and public-lands ranching associations expressed disappointment.

The four options that the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put out for comment in January 2017 ranged from no action — allow them to return themselves from southern British Columbia — to expedited reintroduction and a goal of 200 animals between the Canadian border and Snoqualmie Pass.

Zinke said that, not to prejudge the outcome of the review, but “the winds are favorable.”

WDFW participated in coming up with the EIS, but doesn’t have a position on any, a spokesman said.

It’s probable that there are no actual grizzlies in the North Cascades at present, or only one or two.

The secretary appeared for about 12 minutes and spoke for nine of them. He also spoke about his push to reorganize federal natural resource agencies.

Good News For Early Season NW Duck Hunters In Annual Survey

Silver lining to all of last winter and spring’s rain? Plenty of water for waterfowl to do their thing — and boy howdy did they ever.

Nearly twice as many ducks were counted in Washington compared to last year, according to a federal survey released today.

WATERFOWLERS LIKE LES CUMMINGS AND LES LOGSDON SHOULD SEE MORE MALLARDS AND WOODS DUCKS THIS FALL, THANKS TO STELLAR PRODUCTION IN WASHINGTON AND LIKELY GOOD PRODUCTION IN OREGON. THE DUO LIMITED AT THE BARKER RANCH NEAR RICHLAND EARLY LAST FALL WHILE PARTICIPATING IN A DISABLED VETERANS HUNT PUT ON THERE EACH OCTOBER. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s good news for hunting in the early season, which is typically fueled by local production until migrating northern birds arrive.

“In Washington the total duck estimate was 99% higher than the 2016 estimate, and 44% above the long-term average (2010–2016),” reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

They may not have the bright-orange legs of their Alberta brethren, but Evergreen State mallards did well, up 72 percent over last year and 29 percent above the 1978-2016 average, USFWS adds.

To the south, Oregon’s 2017 total duck and mallard estimates were similar to 2016 and the long-term average, though greenheads were down 21 percent over the long haul.

But there may not really be any reason for Beaver State waterfowlers to get their waders in a bunch over that.

For our September issue’s fall flight forecast, MD Johnson interviewed ODFW’s duck boss Brandon Rieshus.

“Normally, we count the best of the best – the Willamette Valley and the wetlands in Eastern Oregon – as examples. Maybe the birds were scattered across the basin in places we don’t count. But from a habitat standpoint, it looked very good. The best it’s been in four or five years. (My guess is) production will be pretty good,” Rieshus told Johnson.

The USFWS report backs that notion.

“Habitat conditions in Oregon were much improved relative to the past several years and were good to excellent in all surveyed areas. Some areas of southcentral and southeastern Oregon had basins and playas with water for the first time in a decade or more. Many playas and dugout ponds throughout the High Desert were flooded as well,” the agency stated.

It was even wetter to the north.

“In Washington, overall water availability was the among wettest seen in 20 years according to state wildlife area staff and others, particularly through the Potholes and Channeled Scablands region, where potholes and ponds were plentiful. Reservoirs throughout east­ern Washington were at or above 100% capacity with associated flooding of fields and pastures. In early May, significant snowmelt runoff was still occurring throughout the Okanogan and Northeast Highlands,” USFWS reported.

A U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY MAP FOR WASHINGTON STREAM FLOWS SHOWS THAT CREEKS AND RIVERS IN EASTERN WASHINGTON STILL RUNNING AT ABOVE NORMAL LEVELS, INCLUDING CRAB CREEK, AND THE PALOUSE AND WALLA WALLA RIVERS. (USGS)

In terms of hard numbers, Washington’s mallard population was estimated at 103,400, well above 2016’s 60,000 (overall ducks: 242,000 vs. 121,500.

Oregon’s duck population was 239,900, up from last year’s 213,600.

Looking across the rest of North America, Ducks Unlimited reports that the overall estimate of 47.3 million breeding ducks in traditional survey zones is less than a million birds below 2016’s count, but still 34 percent above the 60-year average.

While mallards are down 11.3 percent, DU points to dry conditions in the Canadians “Parklands” of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

 

Reward Offered For Info On Bald Eagle Found Shot Near Gaston

There’s now a reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to a conviction in the illegal shooting of a bald eagle southwest of Portland last month.

The male raptor was found outside Gaston, off Old Highway 47 and Looking Glass Drive, on June 28 following reports of an injured eagle in the area.

INSPECTION OF THIS BALD EAGLE AT THE AUDUBON SOCIETY IN PORTLAND LED AUTHORITIES TO BELIEVE IT HAD BEEN SHOT. (OSP)

The reward is being offered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Bald and golden eagles are protected under a pair of federal acts, and harming one comes with a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Anyone with information on the case is being asked to call USFWS’s Oregon Office (503-682-6131) or the state police (800-452-7888). Case number is SP17221814.

Apparent Wolf Captured, Collared In Eastern Skagit County

What could be the first wolf captured in Western Washington is now being monitored by wildlife managers.

The 100-pound animal was collared Thursday, June 8, in eastern Skagit County near Marblemount and released.

USFWS CONFIRMS A POSSIBLE WOLF WAS CAPTURED AND COLLARED NOT FAR UP THE SKAGIT VALLEY FROM HERE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The news was broken by the Skagit Valley Herald.

“We did capture what appears to be a 2- to 3-year-old male gray wolf,” confirms U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ann Froschauer late this afternoon.

She says blood and saliva were taken from the animal and sent to the agency’s forensic lab for testing, confirmation that it’s a full-blooded wolf and to determine where it might have come from.

WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS WORK ON THE SEDATED CANID CAPTURED JUNE 8. (USFWS)

While at least four collared wolves have briefly wandered into Western Washington in recent years (one of which didn’t make it back out after being hit on I-90), this would be the first to have been captured, outfitted with telemetry and released west of the Cascades.

Froschauer says its movements are being monitored via GPS collar to “see if it sticks around or wanders off.”

USFWS and WDFW were drawn to the location in mid-May after a resident reported three chickens killed by a wolf and had solid photos to back it up.

Initially there were suggestions that a pack might be in the area, based on howling, but that’s less certain now.

“We did hang some cameras out. We did not see any other animals. As of right now there’s at least one that appears to be a wolf,” Froschauer says.

Grand scheme, a single wolf doesn’t do much for state recovery goals, but it has the potential to bring issues from the 509 much closer to Western Washington.

USFWS has management authority over wolves in the western two-thirds of the state, where the species remains federally listed.

WDFW had no comment.

WDFW also has had no comment about two dead calves found in the Kettle Range two days ago and which were investigated yesterday.

And WDFW probably doesn’t want to comment on the latest from Washington State University, where a professor plans to sue over alleged free speech violations involving wolves.

USFWS, WDFW Looking For Signs Of Possible Wolf Pack In Skagit Co.

Federal and state biologists are looking into the possibility that there may be wolves in eastern Skagit County.

Spokeswoman Ann Froschauer says it’s too early for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to confirm that reported tracks, howls and photos mean wolves have indeed arrived on the west side of the North Cascades or how many there might be, but in recent weeks her agency and WDFW biologists have been following up on good leads.

FEDERAL AND STATE BIOLOGISTS HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING UP ON EASTERN SKAGIT COUNTY RESIDENTS’ REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WOLVES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Froschauer says that in mid-May, a resident reported a suspected depredation of their chickens by a wolf and had pictures to back it up.

The resident told investigators that they had heard howling and seen tracks for a couple months beforehand too, according to Froschauer.

“Follow-up conversations with other area residents included reports of additional sightings, tracks, and howling in the area,” she adds.

Froschauer says the howling is “suggestive of multiple wolves.”

“Biologists attempted to capture one or more animals over the next week and a half without success. We have deployed trail cameras, and will continue to investigate reports of wolf activity in the area,” Froschauer says.

Capturing one would help determine if the animal was a purebred wolf, hybrid or something else.

And if proven to be a wolf, it could mean the first pack in Western Washington outside of the British Columbia-denning pack that haunted the Hozomeen area of Washington’s upper Ross Lake in recent years.

Froschauer says USFWS and WDFW get multiple unconfirmed reports of Westside wolves annually, and says at least four individuals are known to have traveled from their packs west across the Cascade Crest at one point or another.

“Wolves have continued to naturally recolonize the state via dispersal from resident Washington packs and neighboring states and provinces,” she says.

Wolves west of Highways 97, 17 and 395 are federally listed under the Endangered Species Act and managed by USFWS. Those east of that line are managed by WDFW and state listed.