Tribal officials in northern Eastern Washington will vote early next month on lifting the wolf hunting quota on their sprawling reservation.
Only three can be harvested each season on the Colville Indian Reservation in southeast Okanogan and southern Ferry Counties under the current regulations, a benchmark that was also reached for the first time last season.
But under a recommendation from its natural resources committee and with as many as 40 wolves and five known packs, the Colville Business Council could remove the cap at a Sept. 6 special meeting, according to the Tribal Tribune.
The bid is being led by CBC member Jack Ferguson who worried about how fast wolf numbers could build in the next few years and said he’d rather see more deer and elk on the landscape.
“I’m not against having wolves around, but … I think we don’t put a limit on harvest, but we keep our regulations on how they’re hunted, how they’re trapped and that will regulate people and harvest,” he said, according to the newspaper.
With a population of between 30 and 40 wolves on the reservation, a tribal wildlife manager had recommended upping the quota to eight, matching a harvest level allowed in the wolf management plan, but the subcommittee voted 7-2 in support of Ferguson’s call to remove the limit, also allowed under the plan, according to the report.
Wolves in this part of Washington were federally delisted in 2011. The Colvilles opened their first season in 2012.
The current wolf seasons on both the reservation and what is known as the “north half” run from Aug. 1 through the end of February.
The quota on the north half is three annually and would appear to stay in effect. Wildlife there is comanaged with WDFW, though no state hunts are held.
The agency’s plans to remove one or more livestock-depredating wolves in northern Ferry County is on hold after environmental groups took it to court and a judge issued a temporary restraining order and set a late August hearing.
Seventeen of Washington’s 23 now known packs are in northeast Washington. As of the end of 2017, 84 of the 122 known wolves roamed that corner as well.