Tag Archives: wolves

ODFW Removes Two More Wolves From Depredating Pack

Oregon wolf managers lethally removed two more members of a pack that’s now killed four calves and injured six others in five incidents in the state’s northeastern corner.

(ODFW)

The news comes as local producers continue calling for all members of the new Pine Creek Pack to be taken out. The depredations have impacted two different ranchers.

ODFW had previously authorized killing two wolves for early-April depredations, and one was killed almost immediately by agency personnel.

But following subsequent depredations that occurred around 5 miles away and were confirmed on Sunday and Monday, last night ODFW authorized killing two more.

Those two animals are described as an uncollared yearling female and an adult male that is also uncollared. They were shot on private land from a helicopter.

One more wolf can be killed at the site of the April 6-7 depredations, either by the state agency or a rancher who was issued a permit that’s good till early May.

“Producers in the new area have been implementing non-lethal activities including burying bone piles and removing carcasses,” ODFW reported. “Ranch staff have hazed the wolves away multiple times. Ranch staff have also been patrolling cattle from before daylight until darkness daily and keeping track of the wolves’ location with ODFW assistance.  Finally, ranch staff have delayed turning out cattle on large open range pastures and have moved cattle from pastures where  the most recent depredations occurred.”

The Pine Creek wolves currently number five, the breeding pair and three yearlings.

ODFW Says Minimum Of 124 Wolves Roaming Oregon

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

ODFW wildlife biologists counted 124 wolves in Oregon this past winter, an 11 percent increase over the number counted last year.

THE BREEDING FEMALE OF THE WALLA WALLA PACK MOVES PAST A LOGSTACK IN UMATILLA COUNTY THIS PAST JANUARY. (ODFW)

This count is based on verified wolf evidence (like visual observations, tracks, and remote camera photographs) and is considered the minimum known wolf population, not an estimate of how many wolves are in Oregon.

Twelve wolf packs were documented at the end of 2017. Eleven packs were successful breeding pairs, meaning that at least two adults and two pups survived to the end of the year. This marks a 38 percent increase in breeding pairs from 2016.

“The wolf population continues to grow and expand its range in Oregon,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Wolf Coordinator. “This year, we also documented resident wolves in the northern part of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains for the first time.”

More information about the minimum wolf count is available in Oregon’s 2017 Annual Wolf Report. See the full report at ODFW’s web page (in Director’s Report portion of the April Commission meeting agenda).

A PAIR OF MIDDLE FORK PACK WOLVES MOVE THROUGH FOREST SERVICE LAND IN EASTERN WALLOWA COUNTY. (ODFW)

Other highlights from the report:

  • The 12 wolf packs documented had a mean size of 7.3 wolves, ranging from 4-11 wolves. Another nine groups of 2-3 wolves each were also counted.
  • Known resident wolves now occur in Baker, Grant, Jackson, Klamath, Lake, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wasco counties.
  • 25 radio-collared wolves were monitored, including 19 wolves that were radio-collared during 2017.
  • Four collared wolves dispersed out of state (two to Idaho, one to Montana, one to Washington).
  • 13 wolf mortalities were documented, 12 of those human caused.
  • 54 percent of documented wolf locations were on public lands, 44 percent on private lands, and 2 percent on tribal lands.

Illegal take of wolves

Four wolves were killed illegally in 2017, two in areas of the state where wolves remain on the federal Endangered Species List (west of Hwys 395-78-95). Three of those poaching investigations are ongoing with rewards for providing information ranging from $2,500-$15,000.

The fourth case, involving a wolf trapped and then shot in Union County, was prosecuted. The defendant was penalized with 24 months of bench probation, 100 hours of community service, a hunting/trapping license suspension of 36 months and a $7,500 fine paid in civil restitution to ODFW. He also forfeited the firearm and all trapping related items seized during the investigation and was sentenced to an additional $1,000 court fine.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement and Oregon State Police continue to actively seek information on the remaining open cases.

ODFW’S LATEST STATEWIDE WOLF RANGE MAP SHOWS KNOWN AND ESTIMATED AREAS OF WOLF PACK USE. (ODFW)

Livestock depredation

ODFW investigated 66 reports of livestock depredation by wolves and confirmed 17 of those to be caused by wolves, compared to 24 confirmed depredations in 2016. ODFW confirmed losses of 11 calves, one llama, one alpaca and 23 domestic fowl to wolves in 2017 (compared to 11 calves, 7 sheep, one goat and one llama lost in 2016.) During 2017, 24 percent of known wolf packs depredated livestock, compared to 57 percent in 2016.

Since 2009, 75 percent of confirmed wolf depredations have occurred on private land with most happening during four months (May, August, September, October). While wolf numbers have increased considerably over the last eight years (only 14 were counted in 2009), depredations and livestock losses have not increased at the same rate.

The Wolf Plan stresses non-lethal preventative measures in all phases of wolf management. Reducing attractants by removing carcass and bone piles is thought to be the single best action to keep from attracting wolves to areas of livestock.  ODFW, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services continue to support livestock producers by providing technical advice and non-lethal supplies including electrified fladry, fencing, solar chargers and radio-activated guard (RAG) boxes.

“We appreciate all the hard work of Oregon’s livestock producers in putting in place preventative measures to decrease the risk of problems with wolves,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW wolf coordinator.

When non-lethal measures are ineffective, the Wolf Plan allows for lethal control against depredating wolves. Five wolves were killed to address chronic livestock depredation in 2017 (four Harl Butte wolves taken by ODFW, one Meacham wolf taken by producer with permit).

The Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Wolf Depredation Compensation and Financial Assistance Grant Program also awarded 10 counties $252,570 in grant funds to compensate livestock producers for losses and fund preventive non-lethal measures.

“It is encouraging to see the continued recovery of Oregon’s wolf population into more of their historic range,” said Governor Brown. “Despite this good news, ongoing issues of poaching and livestock depredation must be carefully considered as we explore more effective management and conservation practices.”

ODFW staff will present an overview of the draft 2017 Annual Wolf Report to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their April 20 meeting in Astoria.

Baker Co. Rancher OKed To Kill Up To 2 Wolves After Depredations By New Pack

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

ODFW will provide a kill permit to a rancher in Baker County, after two confirmed depredations by wolves of the Pine Creek Pack in two days on private property he is leasing to graze his cows. The wolves killed three calves and injured four others.

(ODFW)

While the producer requested full pack removal, ODFW is only authorizing the take of two wolves at this time. Under the terms of this permit, the producer can kill up to two wolves on the private property he leases where the depredations occurred, when his livestock is present on the property. The permit expires on May 4. ODFW staff are also authorized to kill the two wolves.

Under the Wolf Plan rules, livestock producers must be using non-lethal methods and document unsuccessful attempts to solve the situation through these non-lethal means before lethal control can be considered. Also, there can be no attractants on the property (such as bone piles or carcasses) that could be attracting wolves.

ODFW determined that there were no attractants on the property when it responded to a depredation report late last week. In terms of non-lethal measures, this producer was penning cattle and pairing calves and cows before turnout (keeping the mother cow with her calf can help deter depredation). This producer had delayed turning out his cattle and before he did, he and range riders watched for wolf activity but saw none. After the first report of wolves in the area chasing his cows, the producer used the range riders to check cattle and harass wolves. After the second depredation, riders hazed (shot firearms without harming wolves) to get the wolves to move. Beginning Sunday and continuing into Monday, ODFW staff have assisted in non-lethal efforts by using aircraft to haze wolves away from the pasture.

The Pine Creek is a new pack previously referred to as the OR29/OR36 pair. It was designated after ODFW’s winter counts showed it met the definition of a pack (minimum of four wolves travelling together in winter, typically a breeding male and female and offspring). It currently numbers eight wolves—a breeding male and female, five yearlings (wolves born a year ago), and one other adult wolf. The breeding female appears to be pregnant and if she is, is expected to den up in the next 1-2 weeks.

The pack’s breeding male, OR50, was formerly of the Harl Butte Pack but left that pack in October 2017 and joined OR36 in Baker County. The previous breeding male OR29 left the pack in the fall and did not return.

Removing wolves is intended to stop further depredations by the Pine Creek Pack on this producer’s cattle. Authorizing incremental take and providing a kill permit is typically the first step ODFW takes when livestock producers using non-lethal measures cannot stop losses and ODFW believes depredations will continue. In this case, collar data shows these wolves have a pattern of routinely using this property at this time of year and many producers are getting ready to place cows on the neighboring pastures soon.

6 Years In, Commissioners Want To Know If Washington Wolf Plan Can Be Tweaked

Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioners want to take a look at whether WDFW’s 2011 wolf management plan is actually working in a key area and if it could be tweaked.

Two somewhat unlikely commissioners — at least judging by conventional wisdom standards — led the charge too.

They’re Jay Kehne, the Conservation Northwest staffer based in Omak, and Kim Thorburn, the Spokane birder.

WASHINGTON FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSIONERS JAY KEHNE AND KIM THORBURN. (WDFW)

They made their thoughts known last Saturday morning during the commission’s annual briefing on the state of the state’s wolves, which showed that at the very least we had 122 in 22 packs, including 14 successful breeding pairs at the end of 2017, all increases over 2016 but which also did diddly squat for reaching state delisting goals.

Kehne then Thorburn spoke up right after WDFW staffers displayed a map showing the 2017 dispersal paths of seven telemetry-collared Evergreen State wolves — animals that went every which way but in the one direction that’s actually needed to help meet current recovery benchmarks.

“They’re not dispersing south,” lamented Thorburn.

One wolf, a Smackout female, took a 1,700-mile trek the wrong direction entirely.

It went from Stevens County southeast across North Idaho into Western Montana before cutting back southwest all the way to Riggins, Idaho, then south to Boise, east across the northern edge of the Snake River Plain, checked into West Yellowstone then literally walked off the map on a southeasterly bearing towards central Wyoming.

MAROON AND PURPLE DOTS TRACE THE 2017 DISPERSAL PATHS OF THE LOUP LOUP AND SMACKOUT WOLVES.(WDFW)

Same thing with a Loup Loup wolf.

It took a 540-mile hike through the Okanogan north into southern British Columbia, with a last ping recorded somewhere east of Kelowna.

True, 2017 did see the capture of the first Western Washington wolf in modern times, in eastern Skagit County, and three years before that the first roadkill west of the crest, recovered east of North Bend, so it’s highly likely that other wolves without GPS devices are lurking elsewhere in the Cascades, steadily moving from east to west, north to south, as WDFW often likes to say.

But modeling and assumptions made as far back as nearly a decade ago during development and passage of the wolf management plan — not to mention a March 2014 prediction by then Director Phil Anderson that we could see recovery goals met as soon as 2021 — are now under scrutiny.

A WDFW MAP RELEASED IN LATE 2017 SHOWS THE DISPERSAL PATHS OF 12 COLLARED WASHINGTON WOLVES SINCE 2012. (WDFW)

“The plan is excellent. It was well done. It was based on science, based on input from stakeholders. However, it was a plan,” Kehne said during a phone interview with Northwest Sportsman earlier today.

Pointing to the example of adaptive management of Columbia River salmon fisheries, what Kehne says he’s asking for is a check-up on whether the wolf plan is working the way commissioners and WDFW staffers thought it would when it was put together in 2008, ’09, ’10 and approved in early December 2011.

With very little information about where wolves would actually settle in in Washington, data from other sources was used to create maps of where colonization was most likely to occur and thus the three recovery zones.

One hundred years from now it might be a different story, but so far Canis lupus has done fantastically well in some of the toughest possible habitat to wear a wolf suit, and very poorly in some of the best.

The northern edge of the state’s biggest elk herd’s range is a valley away from the Teanaway wolves, and yet the pack doesn’t appear to give two howls about it. Meanwhile, their cousins are snuggling up with northeastern ranchers’ stock.

Kehne pointed to page 67 of the plan, which notes that “The expectation is that over time, as wolves recolonize Washington, WDFW will be able to collect data from within the state to determine whether the model assumptions are appropriate.”

The thought continues on page 68:

“If future data reveal that the population dynamics of wolves in Washington are significantly different from those used in the model, these conclusions will need to be reevaluated. Incorporating wolf demographic data specific to Washington will allow WDFW to update predictions of population persistence during wolf recovery phases and to revise the recovery objectives, if needed.”

I’m no mathematician, but I do pay attention to probabilities (which I use to collect more than my share of fivers from coworkers during the NFL season) and I now think the odds of having four successful breeding pairs in the South Cascades — where there currently are no known wolves (but likely are) — for three straight years (as required under the plan) by the end of 2021 are very long at best.

I wouldn’t put much more money on four there plus four in the North Cascades and 10 elsewhere in any single year — the recovery shortcut — by 2021 either.

But if I’m wrong, hell, feed me to ’em.

Meanwhile, wolf numbers in the state’s upper righthand corner — where no less than 75 percent of the population, 16 of the packs and 12 of the breeding pairs occur — continue to grow.

ANOTHER 2017 WDFW WOLF MAP SHOWS 72,000 COLLECTED OFF COLLARED WOLVES SINCE 2008.NOTE THAT THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE DATA FROM THE COLVILLE OR SPOKANE RESERVATIONS, WHERE SEVERAL PACKS ARE KNOWN TO OCCUR. (WDFW)

“We’ve been hearing from Northeast Washington for years now, ‘We’re overrun with wolves,'” said Kehne during the commission meeting. “At first we thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re just new there and they’re not used to them.’ But they are overrun with wolves. Southeast Washington will be sooner or later full up on their quota of wolf packs.”

“We’re there,” Commissioner Jay Holzmiller of Anatone interrupted him briefly to say.

Earlier this week, Conservation Northwest described Jay Kehne’s role with the organization, telling this magazine that while Kehne is an employee, he has not been involved in its wolf work since late 2017 and instead is focusing his efforts on a Columbia Basin sagelands initiative.

“His role on the commission is entirely independent of his work at CNW and he has every right to express opinions that are not reflective of his employer’s positions,” said spokesman Chase Gunnell.

A statement that Conservation Northwest also posted online after the meeting defended the existing wolf plan and said it “is better left as is until recovery goals are achieved.”

The statement also said that the Wolf Advisory Group, which it is heavily engaged in, will begin discussing what comes after delisting goals are met “and will be advising the Department on how to incorporate new science as well as how to design a fair and inclusive public process for future wolf conservation and management.”

Kehne, who is a hunter and retired from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, said that with state legislators just having granted WDFW $183,000 in the budget to look into the SEPA process for translocating wolves around the state, staffers should tack on also doing so for making a couple “simple changes” to recovery map boundaries.

“I guess what I feel now is, we’re at recovery, we just don’t meet it by  definition that we established seven years ago,” he said during the commission meeting. “And that bothers me because there’s people that come to these meetings, you know, and tell us their stories about losing livestock. And that’s all part of wolf recovery, but I’m really hearing that and it’s bothering me at this stage of the game that we can’t make, at least look into, could we make an adjustment, not be afraid of it, if it made sense?”

Thorburn thought so.

“Getting back to the initial modeling assumptions, everybody involved in the plan development says, ‘We didn’t expect this pileup in Northeast Washington. We expected the dispersal to be a little more spread out.’ And it really has created that social pressure, despite all of the outstanding work by (WDFW) staff,” she said.

Commission Vice Chair Larry Carpenter of Mount Vernon said he was also on board with having a report prepared for the citizen oversight panel, though Commissioner Barbara Baker of Olympia cautioned that opening the wolf plan was a “can of worms.”

So as Saturday’s meeting came to a close, a “blue sheet” request from Kehne was put to a vote.

It asks WDFW to prepare a briefing on “administrative options for conserving wolves including (not limited to): updating the 2011 wolf conservation and management plan; targeted narrow change to wolf conservation and management plan recovery boundaries and names to better reflect current recolonization in our state; translocation and postdelisting management plan.”

It passed 8-1, with Baker voting against it, and is expected to be ready by the commission’s August meeting.

Editor’s note, March 23, 2018, 9:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this said that the blue sheet request had passed unanimously, per the commission office, but according to a spokesman the vote was 8-1.

Wolf Numbers Continue To Grow In Washington

UPDATED 6:20 P.M., MARCH 16, 2018 WITH QUOTES FROM THE HUNTERS HERITAGE COUNCIL AND CONSERVATION NORTHWEST

Stop me if you’ve read this before, but Washington’s wolf population grew again in 2017, making it nine straight years.

According to WDFW’s just-released year-end count, there is a minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs across the state, though all but 16 of those animals are in the federally delisted third of Washington.

A TRAIL CAMERA STATIONED IN THE SOUTHERN SECTION OF NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK CAPTURED AN IMAGE OF THIS WOLF LAST MAY. (NPS)

Those figures are all up over the previous count of 115, 20 and 10, and despite around a dozen lethal removals, tribal harvests, caught-in-the-act takes and illegal poachings last year.

WDFW’s wolf specialist Ben Maletzke stressed that the numbers are base figures and that they help to show longterm trends. Since 2008, when the Lookout Pack was confirmed, wolf numbers have increased an average of 31 percent each year, though last year was up only 6 percent.

Mark Pidgeon, president of the Hunters Heritage Council and member of WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group, said wolves are “firmly established” in Washington and it’s now time to start planning ahead.

“The Wolf Advisory Group’s single mission is to work on that post-delisting plan. More than ever, hunters, ranchers, and the conservation community have to come together for the common good. This post-delisting plan is where hunters have the most skin in the game. Before, it was protecting ranchers and agriculture. The post-delisting plan is where we need to make sure that hunting opportunities are protected.”

Among the new packs are Frosty Meadows on the eastern side of the Colville Reservation, Togo in northern Ferry County, Five Sisters between the Spokane Reservation and Spokane, Leadpoint in northern Stevens County and Grouse Flats in the southeastern Blue Mountains.

WDFW’S LATEST WOLF PACK MAP SHOWS YET MORE PACKS, ER, PACKED INTO NORTHEAST WASHINGTON, AS WELL AS A NEW ONE IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS, BUT STILL NONE SOUTH OF I-90 IN THE CASCADES, A KEY AREA TO MEET STATE RECOVERY GOALS. (WDFW)

Though WDFW’s newest wolf map puts a green circle denoting a pack in eastern Skagit County, a presentation for the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s meeting tomorrow notes there is only one animal there. It also seems to indicate that suspicions there might be more wolves in the North Cascades couldn’t be confirmed.

Only one of the three packs in WDFW’s North Cascades zone successfully bred last year, the Teanaways.

To meet minimum recovery goals for state delisting, there have to four successful breeding pairs there as well as four in the Southern Cascades/Northwest Coast zone and Eastern Washington zones, plus three floating pairs for three straight years (the other formula is 18 in certain numbers for one year).

The eastern zone has 13 breeding packs alone, but there are none south of I-90, and despite intriguing reports from western Yakima and Kittitas, northern Skamania and eastern Lewis Counties, WDFW reports not finding any wolves here, though it’s entirely possible.

There’s been increasing pressure to move wolves out of the Northeast Washington, and a translocation bill jumped from the state House to the Senate and while it died there, lawmakers supplied WDFW with the funding to begin SEPA reviews towards that, with an update on that work due at the end of 2019.

As for other facts and figures from the commission presentation, 2017 saw six known dispersals of Washington wolves, animals that either moved elsewhere instate, up to British Columbia or — in the case of one — across northern Idaho into Montana, back into central Idaho, down to the edge of the Snake River Plain, up to Yellowstone and then off the map into Northwest Wyoming.

The state’s largest pack is the Carpenter, at 13 animals. WDFW captured 12 wolves in a dozen different packs last year, and monitored 22 in 15. Currently, 13 percent of Washington’s known wolves are collared.

In early 2017, WDFW launched a predator-prey study in key game-rich areas, the Methow, Colville and Pend Oreille River Valleys, collaring deer, elk and moose, and while expected to run through 2021, preliminary results aren’t very conclusive, as the cause of death for a half dozen muleys and wapitis wasn’t able to be determined.

Last year saw eight cattle depredations linked to four different packs, the Sherman/Profanities, Smackouts, Leadpoints and Togos. That represents the highest number of packs involved in livestock attacks, but also a dropoff in total depredations from 2016 levels.

To get ahead of conflicts, WDFW reports that the number of cost-share contracts and range riders afield last year was the highest yet, and triple 2015’s.

“As wolves have continued to recolonize wild areas of our state, Washington has engaged in a decision-making process rooted not in acrimony and moving goalposts, but in dialogue, a search for common-ground, and thoughtful collaboration so that we can have both healthy wolf packs and local communities that accept them,” said Mitch Friedman,  executive director of Conservation Northwest. “Tolerance for wolves in the rural areas where they reside is essential for long-term recovery. Forums including the state’s Wolf Advisory Group are leading to an increased understanding of wolf issues on all sides.”

As for managing  wolves, the agency spent $1.27 million between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 on deterrence ($543,575), population monitoring ($263,775), lethal removal ($135,094) and compensation ($57,752), among other costs.

Funding for all that work came from WDFW, state and federal monies and special license plate sales.

 

2018-20 Hunting Regs, Columbia River Policy, Wolves On WA FWC Agenda

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

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will invite public comments on 2018-2020 hunting season proposals, Columbia River fisheries policy, and other issues during a public meeting March 15-17 in Wenatchee.

WITH MOOSE IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON HAVING EITHER PEAKED AND STABILIZED OR BEGINNING TO DECLINE SOMEWHAT, WDFW IS RECALIBRATING HARVEST LEVELS FOR THE UPCOMING SEASONS. (HOWARD FERGUSON, WDFW)

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will convene in the Wenatchee and Chelan rooms of the Red Lion Hotel, 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave., in Wenatchee.

The meeting begins at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 15, with Commission workshops that include no public input but are open to the public. Meetings scheduled Friday, March 16, and Saturday, March 16, begin at 8 a.m., with a review of hunting season proposals on Friday and Columbia River fisheries policy review on Saturday.

An agenda for the meeting is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

The hunting season setting public process began last summer with surveys and meetings to develop proposals. They include:

  • Changes to Yakima and Colockum elk hunting permit allocations.
  • Adding unmanned aircraft (drones) to the list of prohibited hunting equipment.
  • Requiring black bear hunters to complete a bear-species identification test in areas with threatened grizzly bears.
  • Prohibiting night hunting of bobcats in areas with endangered lynx.

The commission will hear final public input at the March meeting, with decisions scheduled for the April meeting.

Last month the commission directed WDFW staff to review the Columbia River policy, adopted in 2013 in collaboration with Oregon to guide management of commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the lower Columbia River. The policy is designed to promote conservation of salmon and steelhead, prioritize recreational salmon fishing, and shift gillnet fisheries away from the river’s main channel.

SPORTFISHING BOATS TROLL FOR FALL CHINOOK ON THE WASHINGTON SIDE OF THE COLUMBIA ABOVE THE ASTORIA-MEGLER BRIDGE. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The current Washington policy also calls for increasing hatchery releases in the lower Columbia, expanding the use of alternative fishing gear by commercial fishers, and implementing strategies to reduce the number of gillnet permits. The commission will be briefed, take public comment, and possibly make decisions at the March meeting.

The Commission will also hear public comment on proposed amendments to hydraulic project approval (HPA) rules on Saturday.

The Commission is set to make decisions on a proposal to require use of LED fishing lights in the coastal commercial ocean pink shrimp trawl fishery and a permanent rule to clarify the limits of keeping salmon for personal use during and open commercial fishery.

The commission will also be briefed by WDFW staff on forest management in wildlife areas, 2018 federal Farm Bill reauthorization, and the department’s annual wolf report.

WDFW WILL UPDATE ITS 2016 YEAR-END WOLF PACK MAP THIS MONTH WITH 2017’S KNOWN PACKS. (WDFW)

2 Wolves Roaming White River WA, Mt. Hood NF, First Pack In Oregon’s North Cascades

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

At least two wolves are using an area in southern Wasco County, marking the first time multiple wolves have been confirmed in the northern portion of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains since they began returning to Oregon in the 2000s.

A TRAIL CAMERA CAPTURED THIS IMAGE OF TWO WOLVES IN THE MT. HOOD NATIONAL FOREST JAN. 4, 2018. (ODFW)

The wolves were documented on the White River Wildlife Area and Mt Hood National Forest and have also been observed on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

Several wolves are known to have dispersed through Wasco County in the past few years. A single wolf was documented in the White River Unit in December 2013. In May 2015, a wolf from the Imnaha pack travelled through the area as he dispersed to Klamath County. Later in 2015, a single wolf was documented in Wasco County.

Wolves in Wasco County and anywhere west of Hwys 395-78-95 are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, so U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead management agency.

Additional information about Oregon’s wolf population will be available in March, after ODFW completes its annual winter surveys and minimum population count.

 

Washington Wolf Maps Reveal Canid’s Spread, Real And Otherwise

Say what you will about wolves, the predators’ peregrinations make for fascinating stuff.

At least to cartography and wandering wildlife geeks such as myself.

A pair of new Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife maps are revealing more about the ranges and ranginess of the state’s wolves over the past decade.

Both are based off data from all the GPS collars WDFW has strapped to various breeding males and females and other pack members since 2008.

(Dozens upon dozens more wolves over the years haven’t been collared.)

One shows nearly 72,000 of their locations — gulp, they’ve got Deer Camp surrounded, boys!

(WDFW)

Well, from the 35,000 foot level they do.

Though the GPS locations of wolves on the Colville and Spokane Reservations aren’t included, it represents “the most complete dataset currently available of wolf telemetry in Washington State,” according to WDFW.

Many of the green dots correspond to known pack areas in Northeast Washington, Kittitas County and the Blue Mountains.

But there’s a relatively surprising amount of wolf activity in state and federal lands between the Chewuch and Okanogan Valleys — the well-tracked Loup Loup Pack appears to roam north of its state-identified territory, or there’s a second pack with a collared animal there.

It also shows where the Marblemount wolf, which was captured and collared last spring, is hanging out.

The other new WDFW map shows the dispersal paths of 14 telemetry-bearing wolves since 2012, several of which are rather remarkable.

I’ve reported on two of these before — the Teanaway female shot in a British Columbia pig sty, the Smackout male that ventured into the province’s Coast Range due north of Neah Bay and set up a territory.

Another was killed in Central Montana.

But I believe this is the first time I’ve seen the winding path one took to the Cowboy State.

The wolf exited Washington north of Spokane, followed I-90 east into western Montana, trotted into the lower Bitterroot Valley before heading back southwest over Lolo Pass and down the Lochsa to the Clearwater, then south past Riggins and Cascade, Idaho, to the Boise area, loped across the north side of the Snake River Plain to Yellowstone National Park, then angled to the southeast towards the heart of Wyoming.

The new maps were part of a presentation to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission earlier this month by Donny Martorello, WDFW’s wolf policy advisor.

The next time he talks to the citizen oversight panel, probably in March, he’ll have an updated pack range map, if that first map above is any indication.

Here’s what the one the agency published late last winter looked like:

(WDFW)

Damnit, I gotta get to work now, but I’m going to leave one final WDFW wolf map here, one I closely watch for “clusters” of citizen reports.

They’re an indication of possible wolf activity for biologists to check out —  there may be something going on south of Snoqualmie Pass and in the upper Lewis River watershed — and help keep tabs on known packs, reconfirming activity.

(WDFW)

But while WDFW’s new GPS maps do lend credence to many public observations by showing the locations of actual wolves and the campfire sparklike spread of dispersers, some state residents’ reports are, shall we say, slightly less likely to have been actual wolves, especially those coming from the I-5/405 corridor, where an inordinate number are annually spotted in the shrubberies.

Here are a couple of my favorites from this year:

No doubt.

More Details Come Out On 2 Poached NE WA Wolves

Washington wildlife managers are adding and correcting details from the weekend’s story that two female wolves have been found shot dead in Northeast Washington in recent weeks and are the subject of poaching investigations.

WDFW this afternoon reports that one was retrieved last Tuesday, Dec., 5, 15 miles southwest of the town of Republic in Ferry County.

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE PROFANITY PEAK PACK. (WDFW)

It had been part of the Profanity Peak Pack in the northern portions of the county when it was radio-collared in fall 2016, but wasn’t associated with any group of wolves this fall, according to the agency.

The animal’s collar had quit transmitting early last month.

The other wolf was classified as a breeding female, and it was discovered by hunters 10 miles southeast of Colville in Stevens County on Nov. 12.

WDFW is assuming that since it was within the range of the Dirty Shirt Pack, it was a member.

Earlier press reports listed the wolves as belonging to that pack and the Smackouts, the latter of which drew outrage from Conservation Northwest, which has worked closely to prevent the pack from tangling with a local producer’s livestock over the years.

Still, it along with two other organizations subsequently, are offering up to $20,000 in reward for info on the cases.

Anyone with information is being asked to call (877) 933-9847 or (360)902-2936.

Killing a wolf in the federally delisted part of the state is listed as a gross misdemeanor, with a penalty of as much as a year in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000, according to WDFW.

Predators May Be To Blame For Recent Moose Calf Survival Issues In Part of NE WA

Washington wildlife managers looking into how a growing suite of hungry predators are affecting deer, elk and moose populations believe a Shiras subherd in the state’s northeast corner bears watching.

WDFW reports an unusual signal seen in moose calf survival in east-central Stevens and southern Pend Oreille Counties in recent years.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS TWO MOOSE STUDY AREAS, THE NORTHERN ONE OF WHICH SAW LOWER CALF SURVIVAL THAN THE SOUTHERN ONE. (WDFW)

It was lower in back-to-back years than in a study area just to the south and a cause for concern, biologists say.

“Calf-survival in the northern area, particularly during 2014, was low enough to elicit concern for population stability,” note authors Brock Hoenes, Sara Hansen, Richard Harris, and Jerry Nelson in the just-posted Wildlife Program 2015-2017 Ungulate Assessment.

They’re not sure why that is, except to say it’s probable some — maybe all — of the calves in question ended up as dinner and that more study will help flesh that out.

“Calf mortality occurred irregularly, with no discernible seasonal concentration,” they report. “We are unable to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths (the study is not designed to attribute specific causes to any of the calf deaths). That said, it is likely that at least some of the calf deaths were caused by predators.”

Among the toothsome crew roaming this country are cougars, black bears, perhaps a grizzly or two, and wolves.

According to WDFW’s latest wolf map, the Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows and Skookum Packs occur entirely or partially in the northern moose study area, and  all of which were successful breeding pairs in 2016. And in the past the Diamond wolves were here too.

A CLOSE-UP OF WDFW’S MARCH 2017 WOLF MAP SHOWS PACK LOCATIONS. THE NORTHERN MOOSE STUDY AREA OVERLAPS ALL OR PORTIONS OF THE DIRTY SHIRT, GOODMAN MEADOWS, CARPENTER RIDGE AND SKOOKUM PACKS. (WDFW)

By contrast, in the southern moose study area — Blanchard Hump and Mt. Spokane — there are no known packs, or at least were at the time of the biologists’ review last December.

Their 186-page report was posted late yesterday afternoon, two days before the state Fish and  Wildlife Commission will be briefed on wolves, wolf management and the future thereof by WDFW Wolf Policy Lead Donny Martorello.

It’s important because buried in the aforementioned wolf plan is a section addressing the species’ impacts on ungulates.

If “at-risk” big game herds such as woodland caribou are found to fall 25 percent below population benchmarks for two straight years or others see their harvests decline by a quarter compared to the 10-year average for two consecutive seasons, it could trigger consideration of reducing local wolf numbers if that particular recovery zone has four or more breeding pairs, regardless of statewide delisting.

As for the assessment of the rest of Washington’s moose, as well as its wapiti, deer and bighorn sheep, the report looks at each species, breaking them down by major herds or zones, details recent hunter harvest, and discusses other sources of mortality and factors that may influence population dynamics, before wrapping up with “Sub-herd Concerns” and “Management Conclusions.”

“Using the data at our disposal, none of the ungulate populations in this assessment appear to show clear signs of being limited by predation,” state Hoenes, Hansen, Harris, and Nelson in the executive summary.

That conclusion may not go over well with some Evergreen State hunters concerned about what their and others’ observations are telling them about how the animals are doing in the woods.

And it’s not to say that bucks and bulls, does and cows, calves and fawns aren’t affected in other ways by mountain lions, bruins, coyotes and wolves. They are, of course.

New research is beginning to show how wolf packs affect mule deer and whitetail behavior in North-central Washington, leading to different use of habitat than before.

The authors also acknowledge that limitations in the data sets “might preclude the ability to detect impacts of predation on a specific ungulate population.”

But the assessment is another way WDFW is attempting to show hunters it is keeping its eye on wolf impacts as numbers of the wild dogs near recovery goals and the conversation begins to turn to post-statewide delisting management.

Biologists will also take to the air and woods again soon for year two of a half-decade-long predator-prey study in the Okanogan, and Huckleberry and Selkirk Ranges.