The Daily Howler: Wolves In The Big Papers Edition

1) Wolves made the Sunday papers in Seattle and Spokane.

On the Westside, environment reporter Craig Welch had a long piece in the Times on the Huckleberry Pack’s recent depredations.

He quoted from sheep owner Julie Dashiell’s heart-rending testimony to the Fish & Wildlife Commission in late September.

“There were days when I walked down a drainage and when I came back two hours later there was a dead lamb where I walked,” she told the citizen panel between tears.

She estimated the depredations would amount to a $100,000 loss for the hardscrabble family.

She and her husband, Dave, believe that a couple hundred sheep are still missing, but he also told the commission that a handful of ewes had unexpectedly come back to their ranch after not having been there for two grazing seasons.

With the hardcore wolfies’ hating on him and the McIrvins to the north, he also worried about whether Hancock would continue to lease grazing land in the future.

One fish and wildlife commissioner — and not the one some would expect — wondered aloud if the current citizen panel had heard “more powerful testimony,” and it was.

Jay Kehne, who is a part-timer for Conservation Northwest, also asked what WDFW could do next, and Dashiell replied that in his opinion, the Huckleberries, in so many words, needed to be plucked.

Rep. Shelly Short also spoke that day, and said that a way of life was in danger in Northeast Washington. She too felt that the pack needed to be “taken out” because of their behavior, but also wished to get to delisting as soon as possible.

And also on the Eastside, outdoor reporter Rich Landers at the Spokesman-Review wrote about the protocols behind naming behind the state’s packs, including how one hunter lent a friend’s name to the Goodman Meadows Pack in northern Pend Oreille County, in his Sunday column.

2) As of about 50 minutes ago, WDFW had yet to capture the Ruby Creek wolf, nicknamed “Louise” by Dave Dashiell before the wolfies could come up with some mystical-sounding Native American name, as they did with the Huckleberry female the agency took out.

(The manager of an Eastside wolf page on Facebook gave it a Nez Perce name then asked the Spokane Tribe to request its carcass be returned to the reservation for burial; the tribe declined and noted its den was actually outside their lands.)

While WDFW is trying to catch the wolf before, in its apparent habituation to humans, it causes some real trouble, Landers has some “second” thoughts on that.

  • Once a wolf has been pinched by a trap, it’s extremely difficult to catch again.

  • Baiting options for capturing a wolf would have to be monitored constantly to avoid compromising other wildlife.

  • Tranquilizing a wolf by shooting from a helicopter is expensive and dangerous.

Are we going to crash a helicopter and kill a pilot and biologist before we come to grips with how many lives and how much  money we’re willing to risk to make people feel good about managing wolves?

3) To that end, WDFW will hold the first of two meetings dedicated to wolves tomorrow night in Colville.

The agency has also just announced a second is coming up Oct. 14 in Room 1EF of the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, from 6 to 9 p.m.

4) A recent article in the Ellensburg paper makes it seem all has been hunky dory with a local pack this summer.

“Teanaway wolf pack seems fine to stay put, no attacks confirmed” reads the headline in The Daily Record.

Recent WDFW Wildlife Program reports show no small amount of work and good luck have kept the pack out of sheep.

To wit:

Sept. 22, 2014

Biologist Moore, Specialist Wetzel, and Range Rider McBride spent several days last week trying to establish wolf and sheep locations and determine how close the Teanaway pups, which are still separate from the collared breeders, were to the Swauk band of approximately 1100 sheep. Late last week the sheep band split unexpectantly and about 400 sheep were missing on Cle Elum Ridge. Due to the proximety of the 5 known pups, considerable time and effort was expended to find the sheep and find the wolf use area. Additionally, late Friday night the breeder adults re-joined the pups, making an 8 member wolf pack that had the potential of mixing with the missing and known sheep. Range Rider McBride and the livestock owners worked Saturday to find the sheep; no known incidents occurred and the sheep are back in one group and properly concentrated at night. The RAG box is operational day and night at this location.

Aug 25, 2014

Wildlife Conflict: Biologist Bernatowicz spoke with conflict specialist Wetzel about wolves in the Teanaway. The pack had temporarily relocated to very near a domestic sheep flock. Options were discussed with Regional Director Livingston and Wildlife Program Manager McCorquodale. Over the weekend the wolf pack moved back across the valley and away from the domestic sheep. No depredations were reported.

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