Category Archives: Wolf News

Ag-world News Outlet Calls For End Of Western Wolf Protections

Is it time to end protections for Northwest wolves?

The Capital Press thinks so.

So too do a lot of hunters and others, judging from online reaction to each and every little bit of wolf news I post.

A WDFW STAFFER’S PHOTO OF THEIR BOOT BESIDE WOLF TRACKS IN THE SNOW IN ASOTIN COUNTY. (WDFW)

But if anyone can match the number of wolf stories I’ve done, it is the Press (the Spokesman-Review‘s Rich Landers probably has us both topped), which looks at the issue from a rancher’s standpoint.

In an editorial out Thursday and headlined “No protection needed for wolves,” the Salem-based news organization writes:

“Wolves are thriving in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and other states — even California. The idea that any resources or protections are required to help those populations of apex predators spread borders on laughable (sic).”

The Press isn’t saying anything WDFW, Eastside Congessmen and others haven’t already said, but it calls on Congress to delist the species in the rest of the West outside the Northern Rockies, as lawmakers did in 2011.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed doing just that.

In June 2013.

The four-and-a-half-year hold-up can be traced to a court case involving Wyoming and Great Lakes wolves. The former delisting was upheld by a federal appeals court earlier this year, the latter was not.

Though disappointed, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said the judge’s decision still provided a “path forward.”

Even in the absence of a federal listing, there would be state protections.

Meanwhile, the wolf issue is hotter than I ever recall seeing at this point of the year, fueled by news of depredations, the shooting of a wolf by an elk hunter and commentary on it, lethal removals, litigious groups’ lawsuits, caught-in-the-act incidents, and poachings in Northeast and Southern Oregon.

Things are beginning to feel slightly out of control, and there is grave danger in over-the-top rah-rah for each illegal killing of a wolf.

The Press put it thusly:

“We did not write the law, nor do we agree that wolves should be a protected species. But to blatantly violate the law only bolsters wolf advocates’ arguments for protecting the animals.”

Wolves are going to be around a long, long time.

There is no doubt.

The faster we normalize things, the better off it will be for everyone involved, not to mention the wolves.

OSP Looking For Tips On Shooting Of Wolf In Wallowa Co. This Week

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

The Oregon State Police is asking for the public’s assistance in locating the individual(s) responsible for shooting and killing a wolf in Wallowa County. The wolf was found dead in the Chesnimnus hunt unit in an area known as Cold Springs on Wednesday November 14, 2017. The wolf was a collared wolf known as OR23 and it is believed that it died Sunday or Monday morning (November 12 or 13).

OREGON OFFICIALS ARE LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ON A WOLF SHOT DEAD IN THE CHESNIMNUS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT UNIT THIS WEEK, THE SAME AREA THIS WOLF WAS CAPTURED AND COLLARED THIS PAST FEBRUARY. (BAKER AIRCRAFT VIA ODFW)

The Oregon State Police is investigating the incident and has found evidence that the wolf was killed by a gun shot. Due to this being an on-going investigation, no further information will be released at this time.

Poaching (otherwise known as unlawful take) of fish and wildlife, to include wolves, is a problem in Oregon and will be vigorously investigated by the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division, says Captain Jeff Samuels. As the Division only employs 120 officers statewide, the public’s assistance greatly increases the chances of catching persons involved in poaching.

“We are upset and frustrated by the unlawful wolf killings in Oregon,” said Doug Cottam, ODFW Wildlife Division Administrator. “Poaching of any wildlife is wrong and harmful to their conservation. Please, if you know something about any of these cases, step forward and provide information to OSP, which can be done anonymously.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Sergeant Chris Hawkins at the La Grande Patrol Office, 541-963-7175 ex 4670. Callers can also stay anonymous by calling the Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

Another Ferry Co. Wolf Depredation, Another CBD Lawsuit

Usually Washington’s wolf world cools off as winter approaches. Not this fall.

WDFW this afternoon is reporting a second depredation in northern Ferry County this month just as an out-of-state environmental group has filed a second lawsuit against the agency this autumn.

As the kids like to say these days, let’s unpack these one at a time.

THE LATEST DEPREDATION — a dead calf — was discovered Nov. 8, six days after another calf was reported injured nearby.

Both attacks occurred on a local livestock producer’s fenced private land though in different locations.

NORTHEAST WASHINGTON HAS SEEN MORE DEPREDATIONS THIS FALL THAN PAST AUTUMNS.  (WDFW)

The dead calf was found as a cattle herd was being moved, and was tarped to preserve evidence.

The next day, WDFW determined it to be a confirmed depredation, based on bite marks, signs of struggle, wolf tracks and the injured calf.

The two depredations follow on the heels of another rancher catching a wolf in the act of attacking their stock in late October and killing it, which is legal in this part of Washington.

That wolf was killed less than 3 miles from where the dead calf was found, according to state wolf managers.

Even with two confirmed attacks in less than 30 days, it’s unclear what pack may be to blame should state gunners be authorized for lethal removals. Reporting on the injured calf earlier this month, WDFW said that attack occurred outside known ranges.

“The producer checks on the cattle multiple times every day during feedings,” the agency noted in today’s update. “The producer has also used range riders periodically this year and last year. The producer removes sick or injured cattle from the area. The producer also received locations of nearby collared wolves via WDFW’s Sensitive Wildlife Data Sharing Agreement.”

In October, there was a confirmed depredation in Stevens County by the Smackout Pack. In previous years, livestock attacks have mostly occurred in June, July, August and September.

AS FOR THAT LAWSUIT, it was filed by the Center For Biological Diversity in Thurston County Superior Court against WDFW over public records.

The Arizona-based organization is trying to get ahold of details on the June caught-in-the-act shooting of a wolf by a Stevens County ranchhand, as well as information on the removal of much of the Profanity Peak Pack of northern Ferry County in 2016 for a series of depredations.

“The public has every right to know how and why wolves are being killed in Washington,” CBD’s Amaroq Weiss said in a press release. “Wolves are still in a fragile state in Washington. It’s frustrating that state wildlife officials won’t come clean with the full details on these lethal operations.”

It’s the outfit’s second lawsuit in two months, following on one in late September trying to stop lethal removals, and it “disappointed” instate wolf advocates.

“While this group spends money on lawyers and undermines Washington’s collaborative wolf policy process, Conservation Northwest funds range riders and on-the-ground field staff working to protect both wolves and livestock,” said spokesman Chase Gunnell. “Balanced coexistence, not courtroom wrangling, is the best path for long-term wolf recovery. We firmly believe that sitting down with other wildlife stakeholders to create common-ground policies and win-win solutions is far more effective than divisive lawsuits.”

While both organizations are listed as members of Pacific Wolf Coalition, CNW has a seat on WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group while CBD does not. The former is typically more in tune with on-the-ground realities in Washington’s wolf world than the latter, which attempts to paint the population as “fragile,” even as numbers increase year over year as more arrive from Canada, elsewhere in the Lower 48 and instate packs multiply and split.

“WDFW can’t comment at this point, since neither we nor our attorneys have had the opportunity to review the complaint,” said agency spokesman Bruce Botka.

WDFW Reports Ferry Co. Rancher Shot, Killed Wolf Attacking Livestock; Confirms Calf Injured Nearby By Wolf

THE FOLLOWING IS A WDFW WOLF UPDATE

On October 27, 2017, a livestock producer saw one wolf in the act of attacking their livestock on private grazing lands in Northern Ferry County. The producer shot and killed the wolf, and reported the incident to WDFW. WDFW Enforcement investigated the producer’s action and found it to be consistent with state regulations. In areas of Washington where wolves are not listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, WAC 220-440-080 states the owner of domestic animals (or an immediate family member, agent, or employee) may kill one gray wolf without a permit issued by the WDFW director if the wolf is attacking their domestic animals. The incident occurred outside any known pack territories and the wolf killed was an unmarked adult female.

A WASHINGTON WOLF TAKES A LOOK AROUND. (WDFW)

On November 2, 2017 WDFW was contacted by a different livestock producer in Ferry County about an injured calf that was discovered less than three miles from where the unmarked female wolf was killed under caught-in-the-act authority. A WDFW contracted range rider heard that there was a possible injured calf a day prior, but the calf could not be located at that time. Once the calf was found, it was taken to a holding pen for the investigation. The Ferry County Sheriff and WDFW management staff were notified of the pending depredation investigation as per the Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol. A Ferry County Officer was also in attendance for the depredation investigation.

The calf had injuries to both rear flanks and on both rear legs between the pin and hocks. Injuries on the rear flanks included bite lacerations and puncture wounds. Hemorrhaging was noted near bite lacerations in all four locations. After the wound was cleaned and dead tissue was removed, significant hemorrhaging was noted inside the wound, specifically around the wound margins. After a field examination of the injuries to the calf, it was determined to be a Confirmed Wolf Depredation. The determination was based on evidence and recent wolf activity in the area. Repeated reports from the producer and WDFW contracted range rider included recent wolf howls, tracks, scat, and cattle grouping behavior in the pasture where the injured calf was located. Information on the use of deterrence measures will be provided in our

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.”

USFWS Offering $5,000 Reward For Info On Another Dead Southern Oregon Wolf

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest or a criminal conviction of the person(s) responsible for killing a federally protected gray wolf in south-central Oregon. On October 29, 2017, a radio collared male gray wolf known as OR-25 was found dead near Fort Klamath on Sun Pass State Forest.

OR-25 CAUGHT ON A TRAIL CAMERA IN AUGUST 2015. (USFWS)

OR-25 was collared as a yearling on May 20, 2014, and dispersed from the Imnaha Pack in northeastern Oregon in March 2015. The wolf was approximately 4½ years old at the time of its death and was not known to be part of any pack at that time.

It is a violation of the Endangered Species Act to kill a gray wolf, which is listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of Oregon. It is also a violation of Oregon state game laws. The Oregon State Police and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the incident.

Anyone with information about this case should call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (503) 682-6131, or Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888. Callers may remain anonymous.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s December 2016 population count, there are a minimum of 112 wolves in the state, which is a 75 percent increase since December 2013. For more information about wolves in Oregon, visit http://dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/

North Cascades NP Shares More Details On Wolf Observations

A North Cascades National Park official is shedding light on his revelations yesterday that there may be two or three packs of wolves there.

That news caught Washington state wolf managers off guard during a Wednesday morning interagency teleconference they’d organized because their maps and updates this year don’t report any packs in the park itself.

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

But at the same time, information federal wildlife biologist Jason Ransom shared with Northwest Sportsman today does correspond to locations wolves are known to occur in the northern Cascade Range, have been spotted in recent years or is not that far from previous pack ranges.

And more to the point, it shows that additional attention should be focused on this remote region of the state, especially as the important winter population and breeding pair counts near.

“Bottom line is there is quite a lot more activity in the park over the last year or two,” says Ransom “It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Hozomeen wolves had a den in the park, but we just don’t know about it if they do. Same goes for the other areas. We’ve certainly gotten a lot more track reports this year, which could mean some localized use.”

A MAP OF NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK COMPLEX, WHICH INCLUDES ROSS LAKE AND LAKE CHELAN NATIONAL RECREATION AREAS, WILL SHOW HOZOMEEN AT TOP RIGHT, MT. LOGAN AND LAKE CHELAN AT BOTTOM RIGHT AND MARBLEMOUNT AT MIDDLE LEFT. (NPS)

Hozomeen is located near the northern end of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, part of the federal land complex in the region.

Up until early 2016 WDFW maps did identify a pack there, though it was shaded differently because the wolves were believed to den in British Columbia, which in standard protocols means it didn’t count towards state delisting goals. Per the agency’s website, “Packs may be removed from the map due to natural breakup of the pack, lethal control, or no longer detected.”

Ransom says that wolves here are occasionally turning up on trail cameras on either side of the border, mostly on the east side of Ross.

“We’ve seen up to three animals together in winter, which meets the state definition of a pack. We’ve also picked up tracks of two individuals traveling on the west bank of Ross Lake, but we have no way of knowing if those are the Hozomeen wolves or others,” he says. “Otherwise, we continue to receive anecdotal reports of tracks by backcountry staff in the area, and generally interpret those reports as some likelihood the same wolves detected on camera are using that area of the park through time. ”

This past May and June saw a flurry of activity around Marblemount, where biologists ultimately confirmed a lone 100-pound, two- to three-year-old male. Ransom said there have been “anecdotal visitor and staff reports” on this side of the park, it’s western face, over the past two years, including different-colored and multiple animals.

He says that one of two trail cams deployed picked up a canid whose “behavior and general structure of the animal strongly suggests a wolf rather than coyote,” but it won’t be till next year before the devices are checked again.

Most intriguing might be reports from the southern end of the park, between Highway 20 and Lake Chelan. Ransom says there’s been “quite a bit of activity from multiple individuals” there over the last year, “including at least one detection event of two animals together in late winter/early spring.”

That isn’t too far west from where the state’s first confirmed pack, the Lookouts, roamed, sightings of which have been few and far between this year, with WDFW capturing in mid-September what it said was just the second trail camera image of a wolf in that territory since last winter.

“This year, we’ve detected at least three individuals in the southern part of the park based on color and markings, with several other detections that could be the same animals or different ones,” says Ransom. “Wolves were detected on at least eight cameras in the area this year, roughly south of Mt. Logan to the head of Lake Chelan.”

Logan sits in the headwaters of Thunder Creek, itself an arm of Diablo Lake, and North Fork Bridge Creek, which ultimately drains into Chelan via Bridge Creek and the Stehekin River.

“Like elsewhere in the park, we’ve received numerous anecdotal reports of tracks from field staff in the backcountry and generally interpret those reports as some likelihood the same wolves detected on camera are using those general areas of the park,” Ransom adds.

He says DNA from scat might be able to determine whether the south park wolves and Lookouts are related, but also notes that only 80 percent of samples sequence out.

Following yesterday’s teleconference, WDFW wolf policy manager Donny Martorello said state staffers were looking into the park service’s reports. He said the agency, which reports to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, confirms packs in Washington.

Next March there may be more dots on the map.

Northeast Oregon Elk Hunter Shoots, Kills Wolf In Self-defense

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

On October 27, 2017 at about 11:30AM, an OSP Fish and Wildlife Trooper and an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist responded to the report of an elk hunter, who had self-reported shooting a wolf in Union County. The two responded to the hunter’s camp in the Starkey Wildlife Management Unit.

NORTHEAST OREGON WOLVES. (ODFW)

The hunter, a 38-year-old male, from Clackamas, told the trooper he had been hunting elk alone, when he repeatedly noticed some type of animal moving around him. A short time later, the hunter observed three of what he assumed would be coyotes. He said at one point one of them began to run directly at him, while another made its way around him.

The hunter stated he focused on the one running directly at him. He began to scream at it, and fearing for his life shot it one time. He said what he still believed to be a coyote died from the single shot. He stated that after the shot the other two disappeared out of sight.

The hunter said he returned to his camp and told fellow hunters what had occurred. He said he was still uncertain if what he shot was a coyote. He said they returned to the location and came to the conclusion it was a wolf. The hunter then notified ODFW and OSP.

Further investigation at the site of the shooting indicated the hunter was 27 yards from where he shot and where the wolf died. The wolf was seized and later released to ODFW for examination. 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 self-defense.

It is unlawful to kill a wolf in Oregon, except in defense of human life (and in certain instances involving wolf depredation of livestock).

According to ODFW, this incident marks the first time that a wolf has been reported shot in self-defense in Oregon since they began returning to the state in the late 1990s.

ODFW examined the wolf shot and determined it was an 83-pound female associated with the OR30 pair of wolves occupying the Starkey and Ukiah WMUs in northeast Oregon (Union and Umatilla Counties). Initial examination does not indicate that the wolf was a breeding female, but the wolf’s DNA will be analyzed to confirm this.

“Dangerous encounters between wolves and people are rare, as are such encounters between people and cougars, bears and coyotes,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Acting Wolf Coordinator. “They will usually avoid humans and leave the area when they see, hear, or smell people close by. 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. If you are carrying a firearm, you can fire a warning shot into the ground.”

Unknown Wolf Packs In North Cascades National Park? Hmmmm

A somewhat dull interagency teleconference on Washington wolves this morning turned jaw-dropping an hour and a half in when a National Park Service ecologist said they believe they have two or three packs in the North Cascades.

It particularly stunned the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s wolf managers.

“Stephanie had to revive me,” said Donny Martorello about the agency’s carnivore manager, Stephanie Simek, who was leading the call.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS NO KNOWN WOLF PACKS IN THE NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK (GREY INSIDE RED CIRCLE) AS OF LAST WINTER, BUT A BIOLOGIST THERE TOLD A TELECONFERENCE THERE MAY BE TWO OR THREE. (WDFW)

That’s because WDFW’s maps and its regular wolf updates don’t show or list any packs in that highly rumpled country south of the Canadian border, and the agency’s public reports site records very, very few observations over the years.

“We weren’t aware at all you had pack-level activity in the park,” said Martorello, who is the state’s wolf policy lead.

Now, whether the Park Service actually does or not is a good question.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the wolves that NPS wildlife ecologist Jason Ransom referred to were discrete packs that heretofore haven’t been identified, were wanderers from the two known packs in western Okanogan County, the confirmed solo animal in eastern Skagit County or others from southern British Columbia, or were some combination thereof.

Nor was it clear what the evidence was — observations, trail cam pictures, tracks, scat, howls, bumps in the night?

Or whether the park’s definition of a pack is the same as WDFW’s (two or more wolves traveling together in winter).

(A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman regularly queried since June has made no mention of anything.)

While recent years have seen wolves around Hozomeen, on upper Ross Lake just east of North Cascades park proper, activity there in the early 1990s and that NCNP still touts on its website was related to a more sordid episode.

Ransom didn’t return a phone call and email to Northwest Sportsman, but did tell the teleconference that data and DNA samples were being collected for analysis.

Under the math we’re locked in to get wolves delisted at the state level, breeding pairs would be relatively helpful in that region.

Needless to say, Martorello and Simek directed their lead wolf biologist Ben Maletzke to get in touch with Ransom asap.

All four were among the couple dozen or so federal, tribal and state staffers who took part in the call, which was the first get-together of the group in a year and a half.

Interested parties could also listen in on mute.

Most of the rest of the teleconference was fairly tame in comparison, and it allowed WDFW to bring its wildlife and land management partners up to speed on all things wolf in Washington.

This winter will see district biologists scouring the mountains south of I-90 for signs of Canis lupus, said Maletzke.

“There are a lot of reports to follow up on, especially after this hunting season,” he said.

(Hunters, keep ’em coming.)

There’s also a lot more work to be done on the big predator-prey studies that were launched last winter in the Methow Valley and Northeast Washington.

Biologists and others captured and collared cougars, wolves, deer, elk and moose in some of the state’s best hunting country to try and figure out the dynamics between the herds, packs and prides.

Analyzing the results is a ways out, but that particular subject weighed heavily on the mind of one caller

Near the end of the teleconference, Ray Entz of the Kalispel Tribe called for proactive management of wolves where they overlap endangered species, versus WDFW’s somewhat reactive one used with livestock depredations.

“We cannot afford to wait for a dead caribou. There are only 10 left. We’ve really got to up our game, people,” Entz said.

He said that without Canada going after wolves preying on the South Selkirk herd, “we don’t think we’d have any caribou left.”

Entz said that radio collar data shows that the herd’s last two “transgressions” into the U.S. were to Northeast Washington rather than habitat in Idaho and Northwest Montana, but the jaunts — not to mention the caribou — are becoming “fewer and farther between.”

ACCORDING TO RECENT SURVEYS, THERE ARE NOW ONLY 10 SOUTH SELKIRK HERD WOODLAND CARIBOU LEFT. (USFWS)

He said that tribe has just completed constructing an 18-acre maternity pen in southern BC for use next spring to keep woodland caribou moms and calves safe from predators.

Earlier in the meeting, Martorello said that with Washington about halfway to meeting wolf population goals, it was time to start thinking about what’s next and developing a postdelisting plan. He will bring that topic to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission at the oversight panel’s December meeting.

While Anna Schmidt with the Bureau of Indian Affairs thought now might be time to update the state’s management plan — itself a five-year endeavor the first go-around — Travis Fletcher with the Colville National Forest, which is home to more wolves than any other federal woods in the state, noted that with recovery “going quite well” it was “better to look forward than back.”

Smackout Pack Strikes Again, Killing Cow

The Smackout Pack appears to be back within one confirmed livestock attack of serious consequences after killing again in early October.

WDFW reports that one or members of the large Northeast Washington pack took down a cow grazing in the Colville National Forest.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE SMACKOUT PACK IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON AS OF THIS SUMMER. (WDFW)

The depredation in Stevens County was investigated Oct. 9.

Details are scant – just three sentences reported in the agency’s Oct. 13 update, one of which reads:

“This depredation marks the third wolf depredation by the Smackout pack within the last 10 months and the first within the last 30 days.”

Four confirmed attacks in 10 months or two confirmed and one probable in a month are the triggers for consideration of lethal removals, according to state protocols.

The agency promises more information in its Oct. 20 update.

At the start of this year’s grazing season, June 1, it was believed there were 13 to 15 Smackout wolves, three of which had telemetry collars. The grazing season in this area ended Oct. 15.

After years of relatively good behavior but also increasingly strong efforts needed to head off issues with the wolves, the pack struck twice and probably once more in September 2016, then were confirmed to have injured two calves this July.

One wolf was legally shot in June by a ranchhand when it and another were caught in the act of attacking cattle, and after July’s first depredation, WDFW Director Jim Unsworth authorized incremental lethal removals and two wolves were killed July 20 and July 30.

That and nonlethal work seemed to do the trick of heading problems off, and no further confirmed attacks occurred in August and September, leading WDFW to end removal operations.

A 94-page after-action report stated:

“The collaboration between WDFW personnel and the livestock producers, the approach highlighted in the protocol of both proactive and responsive nonlethal deterrents, and the incremental removal, appeared to have the intended effect of changing the Smackout Pack behavior to reduce the probability of reoccurring depredations while continuing to promote recovery.”

The probability of wolf attacks appears to have been reduced for a period of time. Ultimately they struck again.