Category Archives: Wolf News

Hunters Help Pin Calf Depredation On Wolf Pack

Pat Matthews could see that something had struggled for its life in the Northeast Oregon forest cattle grazing area, bleeding in at least seven different places, and that its carcass had been dragged away.

But what that unlucky animal had been and what led to its death weren’t clear — there wasn’t any body for him to identify, much less to perform a postmortem on.

No flanks to check for bite marks and no tooth gaps to measure, nor the “grape-jelly” effect that happens when predators bite living animals in the webbing between upper legs.

ODFW'S OFFICIAL DETERMINATION IN THE SEPT. 4 DEPREDATION IN THE DEVILS RUN CREEK DRAINAGE PUTS THE BLAME SQUARELY ON A WOLF ATTACK, BUT WOULD NOT HAVE HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE FORTUITOUS TIMING AND PICTURES OF A BOWHUNTER WHO STUMBLED UPON THE ATTACK IN PROGRESS. (ODFW)

ODFW’S OFFICIAL DETERMINATION IN THE SEPT. 4 DEPREDATION IN THE DEVILS RUN CREEK DRAINAGE PUTS THE BLAME SQUARELY ON A WOLF ATTACK, BUT WOULD NOT HAVE HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE FORTUITOUS TIMING AND PICTURES OF A BOWHUNTER WHO STUMBLED UPON THE ATTACK IN PROGRESS. (ODFW)

There was a potential victim and suspects, however.

He was at the remote site in Joseph Creek’s headwaters on Sept. 6 to investigate a reported calf depredation two days before.

Wolves had been there.

Along with tracks that Matthews found, telemetry data from three different times two days before put OR42, a member of the Chesnimnus Pack, within 350 and 600 yards of the struggle.

But that wasn’t enough for the Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist to make an official determination.

“From my standpoint, I needed more evidence,” Matthews told the La Grande Observer for a story this week.

The case might have gone unresolved had it not been for the fortuitous timing of an archer.

TOM OLSON AND HIS HUNTING PARTNER were tracking different groups of bull elk early the morning of Sunday, September 4 when they heard bawling nearby.

“I thought it sounded like a dying turkey vulture, but my friend said it sounded like a cow,” Olson told the newspaper.

Together they looked towards the noises and saw what they at first thought were six coyotes jumping in the grass but through binoculars determined were wolves, according to the story.

Olson went back to his rig for his camera phone and drove closer to the scene. On foot from a football field’s length away, he zoomed in as best he could and took images of the wolves, which were now bedded in the grass, the paper reported.

One eventually got up and circled around the herd of cattle, apparently without causing much of a stir, and then it decided to take a closer look at Olson and his partner, the Observer wrote.

A warning shot cleared it and the rest of the pack out.

The two hunters went to where the wolves had been and found a dead month-old calf. Its entrails had been eaten, according to the story.

Olson also took numerous pictures of the calf and scene, several of which would become key to Matthews’ investigation.

Later in the day, Olson and his partner ran into a local hunter who would go on to figure out who owned the cattle, the McClaren Ranch, and alert them to the depredation.

Two days later Matthews arrived, but putting it all together would take another month.

ODFW REPORTS THAT IT RECEIVED Olson’s pics in early October, and that the area matched Matthews’ shots from the scene the month before.

Supporting the seven spots of blood on the ground that Matthews had found, Olson’s images showed “bloodstaining in the jaw and throat area [of the calf] with no apparent open wound or feeding activity, which would indicate a premortem injury.”

In other words, the animal that had been attacked in the grass had been a cow calf that was alive at the time of the attack.

The telemetry data, tracks and Olson’s pics put wolves at the site, and additionally, the Observer reported that one of the hunter’s photos showed a wolf with blood on its face.

In witnessing a rarely seen but increasingly frequent event to the Northwest, Olson and his hunting partner provided key evidence that helped pin the blame on the right party.

“No determination would have been made without the pictures,” Matthews tells Northwest Sportsman, “because there would have been no way to know what was killed or fed on by the wolves — cattle, elk, deer?”

It was a calf in fact, and he was able to circle “confirmed wolf” as the cause of its death.

 

WDFW Again Ends Hunt For Profanity Wolves

WDFW has ended its hunt for the last members of the livestock-killing Profanity Peak Pack for the second time, but warns it will take action again if attacks resume.

Since early August, state sharpshooters have killed seven wolves in the pack which is blamed for 15 confirmed and suspected depredations on 15 calves and cows roaming grazing allotments in the Colville National Forest north of Sherman Pass.

pack_map_06-15-2016

It’s believed that one female and three juvenile wolves remain in the pack. Another member is believed to have died from natural causes.

In August, WDFW also suspended the hunt for awhile, but then took to the air again after further depredations occurred.

“The goal of our action was to stop predations on livestock in the near future,” Director Jim Unsworth said in a press release this afternoon. “With the pack reduced in size from 12 members to four and most livestock off the grazing allotments, the likelihood of depredations in the near future is low.”

That said, in an October 2012 debriefing after the Wedge wolves were taken out, former WDFW Director Phil Anderson noted that the radio-collared alpha male had basically followed cattle out of the hills to the Diamond M Ranch.

The Profanity operation has been marked by a tightly controlled flow of information out of state wolf managers, and a full report is expected later this fall, but today’s announcement of the suspension of the hunt included a timeline from WDFW:

Early June: Ranchers arrived with their livestock on federal grazing allotments. WDFW field staff captured two adult members of the Profanity Peak pack and fitted them with GPS radio-collars, allowing the department to monitor the pack’s movements.

July 8: WDFW confirmed the first calf killed by wolves.

July 12: WDFW documented two probable wolf attacks, one of which was on a second rancher’s allotment.

Aug. 3: WDFW confirmed the fourth and fifth wolf attack on cattle and documented three probable wolf attacks. Per the protocol, the WDFW director authorized staff to remove some members of the pack to deter further depredation.

Aug. 5: WDFW removed two female wolves from the Profanity Peak pack.

Aug.18-19: The director ended his authorization for lethal removal after 14 days without a depredation. The next day, he authorized the removal of up to the full pack after field staff documented four more wolf attacks, two confirmed and two probable.

Aug. 21-Sept. 29: WDFW removed five more wolves from the Profanity Peak pack.

Oct 3: WDFW documented the last depredation on cattle by the Profanity Peak pack.

Oct 18: WDFW suspended lethal removal of wolves in the Profanity Peak pack

State managers say their actions have been consistent with lethal removal protocols in the wolf plan, and that ranchers who suffered cattle losses had been using nonlethal measures to deter attacks.

After initial successes in August, the hunt became tougher and tougher for WDFW as wolves moved into thicker country. In recent weeks, Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber commissioned a local resident to help collect data on the pack.

WDFW says Maycumber said he and his staff will “monitor the movements of the (collared) adult female wolf for signs of conflict with people, pets, or livestock in lowland areas.”

The Profanity Pack operation will be remembered not just for how thin the trickle of news was out of the state, but for over-the-top claims by some in the wolf advocate community, including a Washington State University professor’s allegations that a rancher turned out his cattle “directly on top of” the pack’s den. That earned Rob Wielgus a sharp rebuke in a WSU disavowal which said its Large Carnivore Lab head acknowledged he’d had “no basis in fact” for making the statement.

Even friends of wolves that supported WDFW’s actions came under intense fire from fringe activists, and yesterday, one of those organizations, Conservation Northwest posted a blog “fact-checking” the claims, starting with the Center For Biological Diversity’s ridiculous claim that OMG! sharpshooters were going to take out “12 percent of the state population.”

The first thing every cub reporter on the wolf beat learns is that the population numbers are only minimums, that there are likely more — many more — out there that haven’t been counted because they’re sneaky critters that hang out in rough country where even state sharpshooters in helicopters or packing traps have a tough time getting around.

Soon enough we’ll learn how much it all cost, though we’ll probably never know how well the melodramatic outrage filled coffers.

Wolf Killed Near Summer Lake; $15K Reward Offered

A large reward is being offered for information in the case of a wolf illegally killed in Southcentral Oregon earlier this month.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported OR28 was found dead near Summer Lake October 6th.

The agency today initially offered a reward of $5,000, which grew to at least $15,000 with contributions from private organizations.

Wolves in that portion of Oregon are federally listed still. The carcass was taken to the National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland.

The 3-year-old female wolf was originally from Northeastern Oregon’s Mount Emily Pack and is believed to have had at least one pup this year.

It was radio-collared.

 

WDFW Reports 2 More NE WA Wolf Depredations

A livestock producer who runs cattle northeast of Chewelah is moving the herd after wolves injured one of the operator’s cows.

The confirmed wolf attack occurred on a DNR grazing allotment in the Dirty Shirt Pack’s range, the first this year, though four depredations were recorded there last year.

WDFW investigated the incident Oct. 2 and yesterday evening reported on it.

dirtyshirtpackrangemap

According to state wolf manager Donny Martorello:

“The producer turned livestock out on the allotment on June 5, 2016.  The producer checked on the livestock regularly during the summer, except during haying season. In the last several years, the producer has not had any livestock mortalities and subsequently has not needed to remove or secure any livestock carcasses (i.e., maintain sanitation) on the allotment. The livestock producer did remove the injured cow from the allotment after the depredation investigation. Due to the recent depredation event, the producer is currently removing the livestock from the allotment.”

Haying occurs in summer as timothy and alfalfa ripens and is cut, sometimes multiple times depending on rains or if fields are irrigated or not. Swathing, baling and stacking involves a lot of work over brief periods of time.

Martorello also reported another depredation by the remnants of the Profanity Peak Pack, an injured calf, bringing the count to 15 confirmed and suspected wolf attacks in northern Ferry County this year, nearly half since WDFW began removing the pack.

“Given this pattern, we do not believe recent lethal removals are likely to achieve the goal of stopping depredations in the near future,” he said.

While seven wolves have been taken out so far, Martorello says that removing the last female and three juveniles will be very difficult given the country they’re running in.

He adds that WDFW is continuing to work with Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber, who “commissioned” a local resident to help out hanging trail cams and collecting data on the remaining wolves.

WDFW Reports Smackout Pack Depredation

A Northeast Washington pack of wolves that has been the subject of intensive nonlethal deterrents killed a calf last week.

WDFW investigated the depredation in the Smackout Pack range last Wednesday and announced it was a confirmed wolf kill on Friday evening.

It’s the first by the pack since last October when it injured a calf that subsequently died.

“The livestock producer has maintained sanitation by removing or securing livestock carcasses, and deployed a range rider at the start of the grazing season,” reported state wolf manager Donny Martorello.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE SMACKOUT PACK OF WOLVES IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE SMACKOUT PACK OF WOLVES IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

Conservation Northwest said it was “disappointed” to hear the news, as over the past five years it has helped ranchers who run cattle here to use nonlethal tactics to try and prevent conflicts with wolves.

But the organization also acknowledged that that’s just not always going to work.

“With the range rider seeing signs that younger adult wolves from the Smackout Pack had been testing the cows in recent weeks, the ranchers had significantly increased human presence on the grazing allotment prior to the depredation,” Conservation Northwest said in a statement. “In addition to the range rider regularly working 14-hour days, seven days a week, other family members provided more herd supervision across the grazing allotment on foot, horseback and ATV.”

The calf was apparently killed several hours after being seen with its mother before dark.

“After discovering and documenting the depredation, the range rider cleaned up the site and removed the carcass. However, trail cameras deployed over the weekend showed that wolves later returned to the site,” CNW stated.

Martorello said he’d be updating the WDFW’s online event chronology as it pertains to the Smackouts.

He also reported that a Spokane Tribe hunter had killed a wolf on the reservation where hunting is allowed year-round with an annual limit of six. It was reported elsewhere that another wolf was taken there in July. The black-coated Huckleberry wolves roam this country in southern Stevens County.

On the Profanity Peak front, Martorello reports that efforts to remove the rest of the livestock-depredating pack are ongoing. Spokeswoman Madonna Luers also reiterated that Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber is not operating unilaterally, as was alleged by a Facebook page late last week, and that he continues to work with WDFW.

On Friday the state and sheriff jointly investigated an attack on a dog northeast of Republic and Luers says the culprit could not be determined and is considered “unknown.”

Claim NE WA County Sheriff Deputized Wolf Hunters Not Accurate: WDFW

WDFW’s wolf manager is refuting a wolf-advocacy blog’s statement this afternoon that a Northeast Washington county sheriff has deputized a couple local residents to remove the last members of a livestock-depredating pack.

Donny Martorello says that as far as he is aware, Ferry County Sheriff Ray Maycumber has commissioned a single local resident to assist the agency in collecting data on the remaining members of the Profanity Peak Pack.

“Sheriff Maycumber has not indicated to us he intends to take lethal action on the pack,” Martorello said.

ProfanityPeakPackRangeMap

In a midafternoon post, Protect The Wolves claimed that “McCumber (sic) deputized 2 hunters to carry out what WDFW can not seem to finish,,, They sent hunters into the woods evidently today to Slaughter the rest of the Profanity Peak Pack.”

The state agency has lethally removed six members of the pack after a string of cattle depredations in July and August, per an established protocol and after nonlethal actions by the producers, and is still targeting the final two adults and the rest of the year’s litter.

However, Martorello has said that is challenging given the country the wolves run in.

Martorello also took umbrage with how Protect the Wolves characterized a return call he made to a caller from their organization. The group reported he confirmed the sheriff’s move, but statements by Martorello to Northwest Sportsman refute that.

It’s the latest explosion in what has been a trying month. Statements by a Washington State University professor about where a livestock producer turned out his cattle were later acknowledged to have had “no basis in fact.”

Martorello says that with tensions as high as they are, misinformation and misconstrued statements can have different and dangerous outcomes. Death threats followed Professor Wielgus’s claim.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this blog misspelled Sheriff Raymond P. Maycumber’s last name as McCumber. Our apologies.

The Daily Howler: Latest Removal Efficacy Study Meets Big Shift In Washington’s Wolf World

The Daily Howler has been pretty damned lazy of late, relying on other lupus news outlets to track down and bring red meat back to the den, but I want to spotlight what I consider to be a fairly big and positive shift in Washington’s wolf world.

If you’ll pardon the use of the phrase of these days, last week, “directly on top” of a state operation to remove a livestock-depredating wolf pack in Northeast Washington, came yet another study looking at how effective doing so can be in preventing new attacks.

The University of Wisconsin’s Adrian Treves et al argue in “Predator control should not be a shot in the dark” that “there’s little scientific evidence that killing predators actually accomplishes the goal of protecting livestock,” according to a write-up by the National Geographic last week.

frontiers

It was met, remarkably, with something of a yawn here.

As I understand it, there will be more public discussion of the paper in the weeks ahead, but at one time — say, 2014 — a study like that would have been trumpeted far and wide as The Final Word on why we should never, ever discipline wolves for gnawing on cattle and sheep.

But it’s 2016 and a different landscape has grown in Washington.

THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC‘S STORY on Treves’ analysis was posted far and wide on Facebook, as if doing so would somehow ground WDFW’s chopper.

One place it landed was the Facebook page of Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest.

Asked his initial thoughts, Friedman said that he was “not a big fan of that research.”

David Mech, one of the foremost wolf experts in North America, “isn’t persuaded” by it either, but what’s of note here is that Conservation Northwest is one of the state’s most dedicated defenders of predators.

If it’s got fur and fangs, they’re fans.

Naturally, CNW is also part of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group.

After much give and take (and no small amount of what appears at this juncture to have been state money well spent), the ranchers, hunters and wolf advocates on that panel came to an agreement earlier this year on the protocol for lethally removing depredating packs.

What’s more, the four major wolf groups on the WAG stood by it as the Profanity Peak Pack unfortunately reached set benchmarks for partial then full destruction.

(WDFW reports eight confirmed and five probable calf and cow depredations and six wolves killed as of last Friday.)

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

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE PROFANITY PEAK PACK IN 2014. (WDFW)

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association tipped their Stetsons to CNW, Wolf Haven International, the Humane Society of the United States and Defenders of Wildlife for their tough but gutsy stand.

The “(lethal take protocol) helps to maintain a higher level of social tolerance amongst members of rural communities throughout Eastern Washington. Removal of problem wolves benefits the rest of Washington’s wolf population that do not depredate livestock,” the cattlemen noted.

And Northeast Washington Republican state Reps. Shelly Short and Joel Kretz called the four organization’s support for removal “unprecedented” in an Omak Chronicle opinion piece. They say it yielded “a glimmer of hope in the eyes of our neighbors.”

shortkretz

A SCREEN SHOT OF REPS. SHELLY SHORT AND JOEL KRETZ’S OPINION PIECE IN THE OMAK CHRONICLE.

Now, this is not to say that nonlethal methods have been abandoned. Far from it. Nor that we should ignore solid science.

But it’s pointing towards Another Way of doing business, one that may not work for the national groups, but on a local level …

“We know for fact that a number of ranchers who have signed up for conflict avoidance help, like range riders, waited until they felt they could trust us with clear rules (lethal take protocol) and a track record of standing by the rules,” Friedman wrote on Facebook. “When I hear that someone ‘only returned our call because of our action on …’, it tells me that this study missed something important.”

What his organization and the others have realized is that to get what they want requires working constructively with the other side.

As Friedman wrote in a thoughtful blog  after removals of the Profanity Pack began, “Coexistence, social tolerance and healthy wolf populations are all possible in Washington.”

As Kretz and Short wrote, “There is a tenuous path forward to balanced solutions that hinges on respect for the values of others. We believe it’s worth a try.”

Hat’s off to rational fans of wolves and ranching interests.

WDFW Confirms Another Profanity Depredation; Provides More Details On Turnout

WDFW’s confirmed another depredation by the Profanity Peak Pack this week, but reports it hasn’t removed any wolves since last week.

The latest carcass, a calf, was investigated Wednesday, Aug. 31, and was determined to be a wolf kill, bringing to 13 the number of confirmed (eight) and probable (five) attacks by the pack on cattle in northern Ferry County.

Six wolves have been killed in attempts to stop the depredations, which began in July, and operations continue, WDFW reports.

All six carcasses — two adult males, an adult female, a female and two female pups — have been recovered.

ProfanityPeakPackRangeMap

State wolf manager Donny Martorello also provided more details countering a university researcher’s now-debunked claim about where a rancher turned out his cattle to graze in northern Ferry County.

To wit:

I also want to make sure you are aware of two other recent developments:

  • On August 25, the Seattle Times ran a story quoting Dr. Rob Wielgus, associate professor and director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, as saying the livestock producer “elected to put his livestock directly on top” of the Profanity Peak wolf den. On August 31, WSU issued a news release disavowing that and other statements made by Dr. Wielgus in the Times story.
  • Yesterday (September 1), about 70 people gathered in front of the Department of Natural Resources building in Olympia to protest WDFW’s action to remove the Profanity Peak pack. The protest, initiated by the Center for Biological Diversity, was peaceful and received some news coverage.

Here are some facts I hope will improve everyone’s understanding about the situation in the Profanity Peak pack area.

  • Based on field reports of the 13 wolf depredations on livestock since July 8, three were within about a mile of the pack’s activity centers (den or rendezvous sites) and ten ranged from 2 to 10 miles away from wolf activity centers.
  • The Profanity Peak pack overlaps almost entirely with federal grazing allotments administered through the U.S. Forest Service. On this range, wolves and livestock share the landscape.
  • Four livestock producers operate on the allotments in the area and graze a total of about 1,500 cattle.
  • One of the livestock producers set out his cattle (198 pairs of cows-calves) around June 10 in a 30,000-acre allotment, which has only one road access point. The cattle turnout area was four to five miles from the Profanity Peak pack’s den, but the den site wasn’t known or confirmed at the time.
  • During the first week of June, Department employees started trapping to place radio collars on Profanity Peak wolves to monitor the pack. There were no collars in this pack prior to that time. We captured and collared an adult male on June 10 and an adult female on June 12.
  • As cattle dispersed through the grazing allotment from the release site, the Department employee conducting the trapping noticed cattle starting to come into that area around June 12. In the following weeks biologists began receiving data from those collars, and confirmed the den site by the end of June.
  • As cattle continued to disperse through the allotment they inevitably crossed paths with the den site and later with rendezvous sites.
  • The Department confirmed the first wolf depredation on July 8. By August 3, the Department had documented four confirmed depredations (and others classified as probable), and the situation met the terms of the lethal removal protocol developed earlier this year. The Director authorized wolf removal actions the same day.
  • Following the first depredation July 8, the producer deployed a range rider. The producer also increased human presence on the allotment by hiring two additional people to patrol the area on foot.
  • The livestock producers’ U.S. Forest Service grazing permit for this allotment directs them to rotate cattle through multiple allotments over the course of the grazing season.  During this time, the paths of wolves and cattle have put the two in close proximity a few times. When such situations occur, the Department works with producers to seek ways to reduce the risk of depredations.
  • In one situation, the wolf rendezvous site overlapped with part of the normal grazing path, where livestock were concentrated with the use of salt blocks. Once that overlap was detected, the Department contacted the producer, who removed the salt blocks from the area.
  • The Department will continue to communicate and work with the producers to reduce risks of depredations as the situation evolves.

The removal operation of the Profanity Peak pack is ongoing. I will provide another update next week.

 

Time For WSU’s Wielgus To Apologize For Incendiary Wolf Comments

Dr. Robert Wielgus owes a helluva lot of people in Washington apologies right about now.

The wolf researcher’s incendiary comments last week about where a Northeast Washington rancher allegedly turned out his cattle were a blatant lie that threw gas onto an already very dangerous situation.

They came during a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife operation to lethally remove a pack of wolves that has repeatedly attacked calves and cows, and were so out of line that his university, Washington State, issued a stunning rebuke and disavowal of his statements yesterday.

WSU said that Wielgus “acknowledged he had no basis in fact” for saying that Len McIrvin had put his cattle “directly on top” of the Profanity Peak Pack den.

DR. ROBERT WIELGUS. (WSU)

DR. ROBERT WIELGUS. (WSU)

In fact, Diamond M turned them out to graze for the season 4 miles away and at lower elevation, and were being rotated through the allotments per Forest Service guidelines.

It appears that Wielgus has a real grudge against the McIrvins which might have led to his designed-to-incite comments to The Seattle Times — which subsequently reported that Wielgus also emailed at one point to say, “After careful thought…..go ahead and quote me ‘where mcI (rvin) grazes … dead wolves follow’. He will be proud of it!”

They may not be the easiest ranchers for he and folks like him to work with, but in fact they were working to reduce conflicts with the 11-member Profanity pack.

So Wielgus can start by apologizing to Len McIrvin, Justin Hedrick and the rest of the crew.

Just because someone isn’t participating in your study doesn’t mean you have any right to make untrue accusations about their operation.

He also owes producers in Washington and elsewhere an apology for insinuating some of their own are careless actors dumping stock willy-nilly. An encouraging number are in fact working to make depredations less likely.

And he owes an apology to those northeast corner ranch families who received threats because of his words.

Next, he owes his university — my university — an apology for bringing shame on a world-class research and learning institution, and forcing WSU to have to issue an apology of its own “to our friends, our science partners, and to the public for this incident.”

He owes the alumni an apology too.

He owes his grad students in the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab an apology for misrepresenting data being collected during a research project. He said no livestock had been killed in ranches participating in his studies, but WSU says at least one has suffered depredations.

He owes the legislature, which funded some of this research, an apology for that as well.

And he owes wildlife scientists everywhere an apology for violating the public trust about the objectivity of researchers. While WSU’s disavowal was specifically about Wielgus’s statements, the work coming out of his lab and those elsewhere is damaged. Wildlife science is absolutely critical stuff for the understanding and management of all critters.

He owes WDFW an apology because his comments led to death threats against the hard-working employees there tasked with the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t management of wolves for the benefit of all residents of the state.

He owes the agency’s Wolf Advisory Group a massive — MASSIVE — apology for undermining the hard-won consensus it reached on when to lethally remove packs. That was no small feat.

He owes mainstream wolf advocates an apology for discrediting the passion and hard work they bring to recovering the species. I do not see eye to eye with them, but I can say that Wielgus’s words were the single most destructive torpedo to their cause in the near-decade I’ve been covering the return of wolves to Washington.

And he owes those who are OK with the recolonization of wolves and the responsible management of them — like me — an apology for making the latter that much harder. I very much doubt, however, we will get one from the doctor.

But he also owes journalist Lynda V. Mapes of The Seattle Times an apology for lying to her — and the Times owes an apology for printing, in the words of one Washington wolf world observer, “crap information.”

I am sure there are more individuals and groups out there who deserve an apology from Dr. Wielgus, but the ladies in the Design Department here are getting a little anxious about the lack of stories in yet from me for the next issue, so I have to get to my real job now.

But before I end this, I will say that while there are calls from some quarters for Wielgus to resign — that’s up to him and WSU — he should start by apologizing to himself for letting his emotions get the better of him at a time when clear-eyed realism was needed by all in Washington’s wolf world.

We all screw up, but the wolves will be here for a long time; they will be managed. There’s work to be done.

WSU Says Wolf Researcher Admits ‘He Had No Basis In Fact’ For Saying Where Rancher Turned Out Cattle

Editor’s note: This is staggering information from Washington State University about last week’s statements by one of its wolf researchers on where a rancher turned out his cattle in  northern Ferry County.

The nut is that Dr. Robert Wielgus “acknowledged that he had no basis in fact for” saying that “This livestock operator elected to put his livestock directly on top of their den site; we have pictures of cows swamping it, I just want people to know.”

Those words only served to inflame an already volatile situation.

The following is WSU’s statement issued this afternoon:

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University and the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences today issued the following statement regarding public statements made by Dr. Rob Wielgus, associate professor and director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at WSU, related to the Profanity Peak Wolf Pack.

Some of Dr. Wielgus’ statements in regard to this controversial issue have been both inaccurate and inappropriate. As such, they have contributed substantially to the growing anger and confusion about this significant wildlife management issue and have unfairly jeopardized the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group’s many-months long stakeholder process. Moreover, the statements do not in any way represent the views or position of Washington State University or the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resources Sciences. These statements are disavowed by our institutions.

WSU'S ROB WIELGUS SPEAKS DURING A WOLF SYMPOSIUM TWO YEARS AGO AND POSTED TO YOU TUBE. (YOUTUBE)

WSU’S ROB WIELGUS SPEAKS DURING A WOLF SYMPOSIUM TWO YEARS AGO AND POSTED TO YOU TUBE. (YOUTUBE)

We offer the following corrections of the information in the public arena:

In an article published by the Seattle Times on Aug. 25, 2016, Dr. Wielgus stated that a particular livestock operator had “elected to put his livestock directly on top of (the wolves’) den site; we have pictures of cows swamping it…”

In fact, the rancher identified in the article did not intentionally place livestock at or near the den site of the Profanity Peak wolf pack, and Dr. Wielgus subsequently acknowledged that he had no basis in fact for making such a statement. In actuality, the livestock were released at low elevation on the east side of the Kettle Crest more than 4 miles from the den site, and dispersed throughout the allotments based on instructions found in the Annual Operating Instructions (AOI). The CC mountain allotment is more than 30,000 acres and livestock are generally moved from pasture to pasture following an established rotation.

In the same article, Dr. Wielgus stated that a particular cattle rancher had also “refused to radio-collar his cattle to help predict and avoid interactions with radio-collared wolves” and that there had been no documented “cattle kills among producers who are participating in research studies and very few among producers using Fish and Wildlife’s protocol.”

In fact, the rancher identified in the article has held a term grazing permit for 73 years and has worked with both the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service in the management of livestock in order to avoid conflict – following procedures outlined by the Washington Wolf Advisory Group. In order to reduce wolf/livestock conflict, the rancher has modified livestock rotation practices and utilized range riders to ensure livestock safety. While the rancher  is not currently participating in Dr. Wielgus’ ongoing study, radio-collaring of livestock is not a Wolf Advisory Group procedure nor is it 100 percent effective at preventing depredations. It is inaccurate to state that there have been no cattle kills among producers participating in the study. There is at least one permittee who is participating in the study who has incurred livestock depredations.

The decision to eliminate the Profanity Peak Wolf pack came after two years of careful work and scientific analysis by the Washington State Wolf Advisory Group, consisting of a collaboration between scientists, industry, and conservation partners.  Washington State University subscribes to the highest standards of research integrity and will not and cannot condone statements that have the effect of compromising that integrity.

Regarding future steps for preventing subsequent inaccurate or inappropriate statements, we are implementing applicable internal university processes.

WSU apologizes to our friends, our science partners, and to the public for this incident.