Category Archives: Wolf News

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.

Actual Oregon Wolf Recalls How Last Year Wolfies Fretted Numbers Had Stagnated – ‘LOL’

Hey, Wolfies, I’m baaaaaaaaaa-ack!

Remember me? It’s Jimbo! You may know me as OR777, or whatever this collar says — I can’t quite see the label on the damn thing and my packies can’t read either.

JIMBO THE OREGON WOLF. (ODFW)

Anyway, about this time last year ya’ll were fretting that Oregon’s wolf population growth had “stalled,” that it was “stagnant.”

Apparently those saps at ODFW could only find 112 of us at the end of 2016, just two more than the previous December.

(Might help their count if we ever saw any of them looking around in the woods — insert hungry wolf emoji here.)

But coming the year after the state biologists delisted us from Special Snowflake Status, it gave ya’ll a pretty good excuse to wring your hands and look all worried that we still needed “protection.”

(With Fenrir as my witness, good grief you embarrass us sometimes — these fangs? these claws? long-distance leg muscles? ability to freak people right the @%$@ out with a good long stare? We did not evolve these traits just to be coddled, OK.)

Sooooo I just got an email update from ODFW and it says here that, at the very least, we’re up to 124 of us Oregon wolves.

I’m not that good at math, as you can imagine, but I guess that’s like better than 10 percent population growth, and I don’t want this to get too X-rated because this is a family blog, you understand, but let’s just say that that randy dog up in Northeast Washington ain’t the only Northwest canine who knows how to woo ’em — we had a third more breeding pairs last year too.

Also, we’ve now taken over nine counties — surrender, La Grande, we gotcha surrounded!

Not too shabby for a population you thought had forgotten how to breed and raise pups, LOL.

That is what you want us to do, right?

I don’t mean to be all gross and vomit your words back in your face — I’ll be doing a lot of upchucking myself this spring with dead deer and elk because my better half is due any day now — but thanks anyway, wolfies, we gonna be all right here.

Oh, by the way, what’s this I hear that you’re trying to run this same exact “stagnation” ploy up in Washington now?

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.

 

Colville Tribes Report Growing Wolf, Pack Numbers

More than 20 wolves as well as a new pack and possible other one are roaming the Colville Reservation in North-central and Northeast Washington, a fair jump over 2016’s minimum count.

According to the tribes’ Fish and Wildlife Department, a recent aerial count found eight wolves in the Strawberry Pack, seven in the Nc’icn Pack, six in the new Frosty Meadows Pack and five in the Whitestone Pack.

THE NEW FROSTY MEADOWS PACK LIKELY OCCURS ROUGHLY WHERE THE STRAWBERRY, NC’ICN AND WHITESTONE PACK BOUNDARIES CONVERGE, WITH THE POSSIBLE DISAUTEL PACK OCCURRING LIKELY TO THE SOUTHWEST OF STRAWBERRY. (WDFW)

All four were reported as breeding packs.

“There is a suspected Disautel Pack as well,” managers reported in the Facebook post last week.

Disautel is in the western half of the reservation, Frosty Meadows the east.

Separately, WDFW reported four wolves in the Beaver Creek Pack to the north of the western end of the reservation.

The figures will be included when WDFW’s Donny Martorello presents the 2017 year-end count for the entire state to the Fish and Wildlife Commission this weekend.

In last March’s update, there were a reported minimum of 14 wolves in the three known Colville Reservation packs, including seven in Strawberry, five in Nc’icn and two in Whitestone.

Tribal managers also reported that a wolf had been legally harvested from each of the Strawberry, Whitestone and Frosty Meadows Packs. They’d announced the hunt was closed in late February because the annual quota had been met.

The news rererererereconfirms that wolves are doing quite well in the state’s northeastern corner.

Of note, the recently passed state budget includes $183,000 to study moving wolves from this country to elsewhere in Washington, according to the Capital Press.

Translocation was the subject of a bill sponsored by area Rep. Joel Kretz. It passed the House, and though it stalled in the Senate, was carried into the final budget, the ag world outlet reported.

Elgin Man Sentenced For Unbranded Trap; Wolf Charge Dropped

David M. Sanders Jr., 58, of Elgin pled guilty late last month to using an unbranded trap as part of a plea deal that saw a charge of unlawful killing of a wolf dropped.

He was sentenced to pay a $7,500 fine, lost his hunting and trapping privileges for three years and is on probation for 24 months, according to a report on mycolumbiabasin.com.

According to the media outlet, Sanders was “emphatic” that he’d only been trying to trap bobcats, and it appears that the Union County prosecutor agreed it was not an attempt on his part to kill a wolf.

Still, Sanders was admonished for not immediately calling state officials when he found the wolf in his trap.

“This case highlights the fact that the problem with wolves is not going away,” added district attorney Kelsie McDaniel, according to mycolumbiabasin.com. “We are seeing more and more incidents of wolf predation and human interaction in Union County. This issue has long been a challenge for local ranchers, and with the number of wolves in the area more visible, people engaging in recreation are having dangerous and accidental encounters as well.”

North-central Washington Wolf Hunt Ends With Quota Met

Tribal wildlife managers say that a wolf hunt in North-central Washington has closed now that the annual quota was recently met.

The Fish and Wildlife Department of the Colville Confederated Tribes made the announcement after a third wolf was harvested on their reservation, filling the limit, according to the Tribal Tribune newspaper.

(WDFW)

Today was the last scheduled day of the season, which began Nov. 1.

It’s also the last day wolf hunting is open on the “North Half” — that is, federal, state and other lands north of the sprawling reservation’s northern boundary.

There, the quota is also three wolves, but any removed by state wildlife managers for livestock depredations count towards that. The Sherman Pack male was killed in late summer for attacking cattle in the Kettle Range. It wasn’t immediately clear if tribal hunters had taken any others.

The Colville Tribes opened its first wolf hunt in 2012 but it wasn’t until November 2016 that an animal was reported taken. The original quota was 12, but that was subsequently reduced to three  on the reservation.

In other Washington wolf news:

* A rancher in northern Ferry County shot a wolf attacking calves in late October. The case only recently came to light in the Capital Press. It’s the third case of legal use of lethal caught-in-the-act provisions in the federally delisted eastern third of the state, two of which have involved ranchers and the other a dog owner at his cabin in the Blue Mountains.

* The Cattle Producers of Washington protested after the organization was denied grant funding for wolf work in the state’s northeast corner. More from the Press.

* Rep. Joel Kretz’s wolf translocation bill stalled in the state Senate after it passed the House on an 85-13 vote.

* And we should learn the latest minimum estimated number of wolves in Washington in the coming weeks, when WDFW releases the 2017 year-end count. It will likely show an increase over the 115 known wolves in 20 packs and 10 breeding pairs observed at the end of 2016. The agency’s next Wolf Advisory Group meeting is March 21-22 in Ellensburg.

Kretz’s Wolf Bill Translocated To Senate After Passing House

A bill pushing WDFW to translocate wolves out of Northeast Washington was passed by state representatives yesterday and will now be considered in the Senate.

It could face a tougher go in the upper chamber, and would have to also be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee before going into effect.

REP. JOEL KRETZ, 7TH DISTRICT (R). (WASHINGTON LEGISLATURE)

“This is not the be-all, end-all solution by any means,” said prime sponsor Rep. Joel Kretz, Republican of Wauconda in a press release. “But my constituents need something. If there isn’t the political will to follow the federal government’s lead to de-list the wolves in my legislative district, than maybe we can export a few to help even things out a bit.”

Legislators made a couple amendments to his original bill, including requiring WDFW to immediately begin the State Environmental Policy Act review process as well as determine that potential relocation areas have stable wolf prey populations.

Raquel Crosier, WDFW’s legislative liaison, said the agency was happy with those tweaks as they clarified concerns from the livestock and conservation communities.

Translocation is part of the state wolf management plan, but WDFW has preferred that the often polarizing animals move west on their own.

The mid-1990s reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone and Central Idaho still chafes many the wrong way as the species was otherwise naturally recolonizing the Northern Rockies at the time, albeit slowly.

Most Washington wolves are in four counties, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille, with some also in the Central Cascades and Blue Mountains and at least one in Skagit County.

“The ranchers and pet owners and those raising livestock in my district have waited long enough,” Kretz in the press release. “This isn’t going to help my neighbors tomorrow or later this spring during turnout when they’re dealing with another wolf kill.  But it is a measure of hope.”

The bill passed 85-13.

Notably, all the dissenting votes came from a mix of Democrats and Republicans representing largely rural and/or suburban portions of Western Washington, including the South Cascades, Willapa Hills and eastern King County.