Tag Archives: wolf

More Details Emerge On Oregon Elk Hunter’s Killing Of A Wolf

A series of news stories are providing more details as well as commentary on the shooting of a wolf by an elk hunter in Northeast Oregon’s Starkey Wildlife Management Unit in late October.

Following last Thursday’s press release from the state police, first out was an Oregonian piece on Saturday morning based on a troopers case report obtained by the paper.

Reporter Andrew Theen wrote that Brian Scott, 38, had three wolves in his vicinity and one “had targeted me … and was running at me to make contact,” according to the documents.

A SCREENSHOT OF ODFW’S WOLF ALBUM ON FLICKR SHOWS A NUMBER OF THE WILD CANIDS ACROSS THE STATE.

That article was followed the next day by an actual interview of Scott at his Clackamas home by freelance Oregonian outdoor writer Bill Monroe.

“It meant to make contact,” Scott told Monroe while pecking at his breakfast. “I was terrified. I screamed and raised my rifle. All I saw (in a scope) was hair so I shot.”

After confirming the animal was a wolf with his hunting partners, Scott contacted the Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who arrived with “forensic equipment, GPS units and a video camera; surveying the scene and evidence and taking Scott’s statement,” Monroe wrote.

OSP’s press release, which was also posted by ODFW, stated “The Union County District Attorney’s Office was consulted regarding the investigation and based upon the available evidence the case will not be prosecuted as this is believed to be an incidence of selfdefense.”

In Theen’s Saturday article, a member of Oregon Wild questioned the path of the killing bullet, described as hitting the wolf’s right side and exiting on the left.

In a Monday story, Eric Mortenson of the Capital Press interviewed renowned retired Northern Rockies wolf expert Carter Niemeyer, who said he is in “doubt” about Scott’s story based on the wound channel which suggests a broadside shot.

Interviewed by Monroe, Scott said he couldn’t explain that as he had had other priorities in that moment in the woods.

“I screamed, raised the rifle and saw fur,” he told Monroe. “Who knows how it was moving in that split second? I don’t and was more interested in defending myself.”

It’s possible the bullet deflected off bone.

As with nearly every single bit of wolf news, this incident caused quite a stir on social media and in story comments.

It was always going to, as it was the first time an Oregon hunter has killed a wolf in what was classified as self defense (Washington’s first occurred in 2013 in the Pasayten Wilderness).

In the end, there are bits of wisdom worth gleaning.

Wolf attacks on humans remain very rare; wolf encounters with humans in the Northwest are increasing as wolf populations continue to increase; some of those are occurring at close range; we don’t all have the same comfort levels in terms of personal safety; we don’t all have the same experience with wolf behavior; and nobody can say with absolute certainty how every single wolf will act — they’re wild animals.

“If you see a wolf or any other animal and are concerned about your safety, make sure it knows you are nearby by talking or yelling to alert it to your presence,” advised Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator. “If you are carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground.”

“That would have been the first logical thing to do,” Niemeyer told Mortenson of the Press. “The gunshot and a yell from a human would turn every wolf I’ve ever known inside out trying to get away.”

Niemeyer also suggested carrying bear repellent, which Spokane Spokesman-Review outdoor columnist Rich Landers had in hand during a similar incident this summer with his dog and two wolves.

Landers wrote about that again in a Monday blog post, as well as offered this observation:

“The wilds won’t miss one wolf as the still-endangered species is multiplying beyond expectations in the Northwest. Meanwhile, the other two wolves likely learned a tad more fear of humans. That’s a recipe for success.”

I’ll second that, and for my part I’ll point out that somewhat underplayed in all of this was that Scott did the exact right thing to do: He immediately called OSP and ODFW to come investigate. That’s stand-up. That’s jumping from the frying pan into potentially a bonfire.

The results of that evidence collecting won’t ameliorate the hard-core wolfies, but what ever will.

For the rest of us outside the fringes, it yields several lessons, even as it put a pall on the hunting season of the man at the center of the story.

“People envision this jerk hunter out to kill anything, but that’s not me,” Scott told Monroe. “It frustrates me they don’t understand. I’m a meat hunter. I was looking for a spike elk. This wasn’t exciting. It ruined my hunt.”

20-question Quiz Helps Hunters ID, Learn Differences Between Wolves, Coyotes

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

ODFW has launched a new online Coyote and Gray Wolf ID Quiz to help people differentiate between wolves and coyotes. Find the quiz at http://bit.ly/2x56uoU or at the ODFW Wolves website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wolves/.

WOLF OR COYOTE? A NEW ODFW QUIZ SHOWS PHOTOS OF BOTH SPECIES AND IDENTIFIES KEY DIFFERENTIATING FEATURES. (ODFW)

The quiz uses actual photos of various wolves and coyotes of various ages to test user’s knowledge, and gives tips on how to tell wolves from coyotes. For example, coyotes have taller, pointed ears and a pointed face and muzzle while wolves have shorter rounder ears and a blocky face and muzzle.

“We encourage everyone who spends time in the outdoors to take this quiz, but especially hunters that pursue coyotes,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW acting wolf coordinator. “It is the responsibility of every hunter to know their target.” Wolf pups in particular can resemble coyotes in the fall.

Wolves are protected throughout the state of Oregon and there is no hunting season for wolves anywhere in the state. Intentionally hunting or accidentally “taking” a wolf is unlawful and can have serious legal consequences. In 2015, a hunter shot and was prosecuted for killing a collared gray wolf in Grant County that he misidentified as a coyote.

ODFW also relies on hunters, outdoor recreationalists, livestock producers and others to report wolf observations. These public wolf reports help wildlife biologists know where to focus wolf survey efforts. If you think you have seen a wolf, wolf sign or heard wolves howling please report it at www.odfw.com/Wolves/wolf_reporting_form.asp

“This quiz can help anyone better identify wolves in the field,” said Brown. “We really appreciate everyone taking the time to take the quiz.”

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.

Washington Looks At Quicker Wolf Removals To Save More Livestock, Wolves

Washington wolf managers could move faster to head off depredations, saving more cattle, sheep and other stock as well as wolves, under new policies recommended by an advisory group.

Instead of waiting for four confirmed depredations before taking lethal action, WDFW could move if three occur in a 30-day rolling window, including one probable, if the agency adopts the policy.

“When conflict happens, we could act earlier to reduce the number of deaths to wolves and livestock,” says Donny Martorello.

At least one of the three would still need to be a confirmed kill, while the other could be an injury.

The current protocol requires four confirmed depredations in a calendar year, along with prevention measures.

The new policy came out of the Wolf Advisory Group, made up of livestock producers, hunters, wolf advocates and others. It does require ranchers to be meeting expectations to use at least two deterrence measures tailored to their operation.

Indeed, the overarching goal in Washington remains to recover wolves while working with cattlemen and shepherds to prevent conflicts in the first place.

Martorello says it’s about “doing our best to influence wolf behavior before conflict.”

For packs that may get in trouble and are hazed away before meeting the standards for “acute” conflict but then attack stock months later, WAG also recommended a “chronic” category with a 10-month rolling window and threshold of four depredations, one of which can be a probable, along with proactive prevention measures, to trigger the possibility of lethal removals.

Martorello said there had been “a lot of energy and synergy” between the many stakeholders in crafting the new guidelines, giving everyone involved a “sense of ownership.”

He says that wide involvement is important to the agency, and that he’s been pleased to work with everyone.

It all may give sportsmen cause to roll their eyes, but it appears to be working. Lowering thresholds for removals demonstrates a trust throughout Washington’s wolf world. While you and I would likely consider a probable depredation in the middle of a string of confirmed attacks to be a confirmed, it’s good to see wolf advocates appear to agree. The more people on board, the lower the tensions around an animal that generates a lot of angst.

WDFW also plans to change how it communicates its wolf activities to the public. Mostly, the agency puts out news when conflicts are ramping up, giving the public a head’s up about what’s going on, but Martorello says they’d like to put out monthly reports on the nonlethal things they’re doing.

And when situations are building to a head, he’d like to provide more of a narrative about the events than a few words in a field in a PDF.

For more details, see the Capital Press story.