Category Archives: Wolf News

Northeast Washington Tribe To Begin Hunting Wolves Off Reservation

The tribes that first began hunting wolves in Washington have expanded seasons to off-reservation areas, a first as well.

The Colville Tribes’ Business Council voted this morning to amend its 2016-19 hunting regs to open the “North Half,” where the Profanity Peak, Sherman, Wedge and Beaver Creek Packs largely run, to tribal hunters.

THE RED LINE REFLECTS THE  FORMER NORTH HALF OF THE COLVILLE RESERVATION, WHERE THE TRIBAL BUSINESS COUNCIL HAS APPROVED WOLF SEASONS. (WDFW)

The hunt will be modeled on those in the South Half, where the quota is around one-fifth to one-quarter of the overall population, according to a Tribal Tribune article out yesterday.

Though it’s highly likely there are more wolves now, the 2016 year-end count reported 16 in the four North Half packs, as well as 12 in two South Half packs that roam into the North Half at times.

But if the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife kills any in the area to head off cattle depredations — the Shermans are sitting on two confirmed calf kills and one confirmed calf injury since June 12, and a fourth attack could lead to removals of one or two members — that could reduce how many are available for tribal hunters to take, according to the paper.

The North Half includes state, federal and private lands in northeast Okanogan County, the northern half of Ferry County and that part of Stevens County north of the Columbia River, where the Colville Tribes maintain hunting and fishing rights and comanages wildlife with WDFW.

“It is entirely consistent with the Tribes’ rights to hunt and fish in that area,” said Steve Pozzanghera, the state agency’s regional manager.

He says that there was “good communication” between tribal wildlife managers and WDFW as the proposal moved towards the business council.

Pozzanghera says that if hunting on the North Half proceeds as it has to the south, the state has no concerns about it impacting the wolf population as a whole.

Wolves in this part of Washington are federally delisted. The Colvilles opened seasons in 2012, though it wasn’t until last fall that one was reported taken. Spokane Tribe of Indians hunters have been more successful.

State hunts are dependent on first, set numbers of successful breeding pairs occurring in the eastern third, North Cascades, and South Cascades and Olympic Peninsula — benchmarks that are nowhere close to being met — and then the Fish and Wildlife Commission changing their status to game animal and approving opening a season.

The Colvilles’ fifth annual wolf hunt in the South Half began Aug. 1 and runs through Feb. 28. Trapping season begins Nov. 1-Feb. 28. The overall limit is three.

Top goals in their wolf management plan, approved earlier this year, are to “1) outline strategies for maintaining viable wolf populations that persist through time, while 2) maintaining healthy ungulate populations capable of meeting the cultural and subsistence needs of Colville Tribal Members and their families.”

The amendment opening the North Half was approved with little discussion except that one member of the council noted that wolves are sacred animals to the Colville Tribes and that elders recalled some taking pups as pets.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:00 p.m., Aug. 3, 2017, with comments from WDFW.

RMEF Sees Silver Lining In Court’s Great Lakes Wolf Listing Ruling

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN ELK FOUNDATION

Unlike its decision earlier in 2017 upholding efforts to delist wolves in Wyoming, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia chose not to do the same in the Western Great Lakes states.

“We are disappointed with this latest ruling, but the court wholeheartedly rejected a number of claims by environmental groups regarding wolves and wolf management,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The court undid a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”

 

Positive points from the decision:

  • Rejected an environmental group argument that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not use the best available science
  • The Endangered Species Act allows the FWS to delist a distinct wolf population segment
  • Supported FWS’s reliance on state management of wolves and other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes states
  • Upheld the FWS’s determination that disease and human mortality do not pose a significant threat to the wolf population
  • There is no permanent barrier to delisting wolves

“This latest ruling came six years after the FWS tried for a third time to delist wolves in the Great Lakes. We call on Congress to approve and pass a legislative fix to halt this non-stop litigation that frustrates successful wildlife management,” said Allen. “These environmental groups continue to use the wolf as a fundraising tool while overlooking and ignoring each state’s approved wildlife management plans.”

As of 2015-16, there is an estimated minimum population of 3,762 wolves in the Great Lakes states. Minnesota’s wolf population is approximately one and a half times above objective. Michigan’s wolf population is more than 200 percent above its state plan and Wisconsin’s wolf population is more than 250 percent above objective.

RMEF recognizes that predators have a proper place on the landscape but that they need to be managed just as elk, deer and other wildlife are managed in accordance with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.

2nd Smackout Wolf Removed, WDFW Evaluating Pack Response

WDFW late this afternoon reported removing a second Smackout Pack wolf following a series of cattle depredations stretching back to last September.

The agency will now see how the Northeast Stevens County wolves respond, with the hopes that they leave calves in the area alone. Five have been confirmed killed or injured, including two in the past month.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATION OF THE SMACKOUT PACK NORTHWEST OF SPOKANE IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

“The duration of the evaluation period is largely based on the behavior of the wolves. If the department confirms another livestock depredation by the Smackout pack after the removal period (in other words, a fresh depredation, not one that likely occurred during or before the removal period), the department may initiate another lethal removal action,” said WDFW in a new statement.

The agency took some heat last week after announcing it had removed one wolf from the pack. Some are calling for more information to be released. WDFW is saying complete details will be available in a final report, an attempt to keep a lid on a highly emotional issue for some.

1 Smackout Wolf Lethally Removed In Ops To Halt NE WA Depredations

State wildlife managers have removed one wolf from the Smackout Pack to head off a series of depredations in Northeast Washington.

They say that the lethal removal operation, which began a week ago, will continue for another week, and be followed by an evaluation period.

The goal is to take out one or two members of the calf-killing pack to change its behavior.

A SMACKOUT PASS WOLF CAUGHT ON A TRAIL CAM AT NIGHT. WDFW)

The news came out late this afternoon in a brief update to the public.

Details on the wolf, how it was taken out and other operational details are not being shared at the moment to try and keep the situation as calm as possible for state staffers, producers and others working it.

Full details will be available in a final report, says WDFW wolf manager Donny Martorello.

The Smackouts have been involved in five confirmed depredations since late September 2016, including two in the past month.

As a result of the depredation investigated July 18, the fourth in less than a year, incremental removals were authorized.

One Smackout wolf was also shot in late June by a ranch hand after it was caught attacking cattle in northern Stevens County.

The pack has been the subject of intense efforts to keep the peace between it and grazing cattle.

The depredations have mostly occurred on Colville National Forest lands, with the latest, investigated on July 22nd, happening in a private fenced 40-acre pasture.

WDFW Reports More Sherman, Smackout Pack Depredations

Washington wolf managers are reporting a new pair of depredations by packs already in trouble for recent attacks on cattle.

They say that the Shermans of Ferry County injured a calf not far from a pair of previously confirmed depredations on BLM land. The calf was so torn up it had to be put down, WDFW reports.

WDFW’S 2016 YEAR-END WOLF MAP SHOWS THE ROUGH BOUNDARIES OF THE STATE’S 20 KNOWN PACKS, INCLUDING TWO NEW ONES CONFIRMED LAST YEAR, SHERMAN AND TOUCHET, ON EITHER SIDE OF EASTERN WASHINGTON’S FEDERALLY DELISTED ZONE. (WDFW)

GPS data and tracks at the scene put at least two members of the pack at the attack.

WDFW reports the producer has been using five agency-contracted range riders since early May, and has also increased human presence on the grazing area.

The other two attacks were investigated July 12 and June 12.

One more depredation before mid-August could put the Sherman Pack in jeopardy under WDFW’s new protocols that allow for lethal removal to begin if three attacks (three confirmed or two confirmed and a probable) occur in a rolling 30-day period.

Four confirmed attacks across a year also qualify, and that’s the case in Stevens County already with the Smackout Pack

The agency says it was responsible for killing a calf in a private, fenced 40-acre pasture near the producer’s home last week.

WDFW investigated July 22 and said that GPS data from two collars puts the wolves at the scene at the time of the attack.

It’s the fifth by the Smackouts since last September, and on July 20, WDFW announced it would begin incremental lethal removals to stop the attacks. An update on that operation is expected later this week.

WDFW To Remove Some Smackout Wolves, Reports Ranchhand Legally Killed Attacking Wolf

THIS BREAKING STORY IS BEING UPDATED

WDFW Director Jim Unsworth has authorized the removal of wolves from the Smackout Pack of Northeast Washington following an attack on a calf in recent days.

They’re set to begin this week; there is no specific number of wolves that will be killed, but protocols say one or two initially, followed by a review of actions, with the goal to stop the pack from harming more cattle.

The latest calf was the fourth confirmed or probable depredation by the east-central Stevens County pack on calves in the past 10 months.

While most of those occurred last September, in June an employee of a ranch also legally killed a pack member after spotting it and another wolf attacking cattle.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATION OF THE SMACKOUT PACK NORTHWEST OF SPOKANE IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (WDFW)

“The incident was investigated by WDFW Enforcement and was found to be consistent with state regulations,” a statement from the agency reads.

Under state law, you can kill a single gray wolf if you are witnessing one or more attacking your domestic animals in the federally delisted eastern third of Washington. This particular wolf was a female that had been radio collared in 2015, according to WDFW.

It’s the first time the caught-in-the-act provision has been used by livestock operators in Washington.

As for the latest depredation, the calf was found injured on Forest Service ground on Tuesday.

Bite marks and collar location data show that the Smackout wolves have been near the cattle herd “on a frequent basis.”

The attack occurred in a fenced area, and according to WDFW several deterrence measures have been taken.

Per WDFW:

“The livestock producer that sustained the July 18, 2017 confirmed wolf depredation is currently using: several range riders (one range rider is primary, but others fill in on an as needed basis), has maintained sanitation by removing or securing livestock carcasses, actively hazed wolves with a firearm and pyrotechnics, kept cattle in a fenced pasture within the allotment due to wolf activity, spotlighting nightly, wolf GPS collar data in the area to monitor activity near cattle, used fladry when needed, a RAG box when needed, and several other deterrents in the past. The range rider started patrolling the area prior to the June 1 turnout in 2017, and communicates frequently with the producer and the local Wildlife Conflict Specialist. Information on denning and wolf activity was also shared with the producer, which the producer has avoided those high use wolf areas. Another producer that was involved in one of the three 2016 depredations within the Smackout territory have been using WDFW contracted range riders, sanitation, and removal of injured cattle from the range.”

Conservation Northwest, which has long been involved in helping ranchers in this part of Washington’s wolf country, as well as elsewhere, issued a statement saying it hoped any removals plus the caught-in-the-act take last month would end the attacks on livestock and end the need to kill more wolves.

The organization also said it was “deeply saddened by the loss of these wolves, and for the strife this incident has caused ranchers operating in this area.”

Last year’s depredations occurred in late September and included a confirmed kill of a calf, a probable kill of a calf and a confirmed injury of a calf.

One other calf has been killed by wolves and two injured stretching back to 2015 in the general area.

“The purpose of this action is to change the pack’s behavior, while also meeting the state’s wolf-conservation goals,” the agency’s wolf manager, Donny Martorello, said in a press release this morning. “That means incrementally removing wolves and assessing the results before taking any further action.”

The pack is believed to have numbered eight coming out of 2016, with an unknown number of pups on the ground this year.

“The lethal removal of wolves is not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach recovery objectives statewide or within individual wolf recovery regions,” a WDFW statement reads.

This means that for a second summer in a row, agency marksmen will be targeting wolves as Washington’s population continues to grow at about a 30-percent-a-year clip. Last year it was the Profanity Peaks, while previous removals occurred in 2014 (Huckleberry) and 2012 (Wedge).

Not Much News On Skagit Wolf, None On Loup Loup Mortality Investigation

There’s little news about the Skagit wolf, even less about an investigation into the death of another on the other side of the North Cascades.

USFWS reports that the 100-pound, 2- to 3-year-old black male radio-collared near Marblemount in June hasn’t really left the area.

“We have been getting location data every few days, and the animal seems to be staying in the general vicinity, but not enough info to draw any conclusions at this point,” spokeswoman Ann Froschauer in Olympia said last  week, and yesterday noted, “Still in the area.”

She told the Capital Press it has ranged west and north of this tiny community along Highway 20, near where it was captured and had been hanging out, apparently, for several months beforehand.

Still, it may not have a mate or a pack, based on a lack of other sightings and trail cam photos.

As for WDFW’s revelation late last week that “A mortality of a wolf from the Loup Loup pack is currently under investigation,” the feds and state aren’t saying anything more.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE LOUP LOUP PACK IN THE MOUNTAINS BETWEEN THE METHOW AND OKANOGAN VALLEYS. (WDFW)

Asked for details about the animal, and date and location of the mortality event, Froschauer yesterday said, “We can’t comment on open investigations.”

Wolves are still federally listed in this part of the state.

A state wolf manager didn’t answer a question about it either.

Earlier this year, WDFW reported there were eight members of the Loup Loup Pack.

They roam around the pass of the same name, mountainous country that’s been burned in recent years, as well as is grazed.

In May 2016, three pack members were collared, and in February of this year another was. That female departed for British Columbia two months later.

Ranchers are said to be practicing conflict avoidance tactics and a WDFW-contracted range rider patrols the area part of the time.

The state’s first modern-day pack was confirmed not far away from here nine years ago this month. Several were subsequently poached.

WDFW Reports Second Sherman Pack Depredation, 5 Recent Wolf Deaths

The Sherman Pack attacked and killed a calf for the second time in a month, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The confirmed depredation was outlined today in a wolf update from the agency.

(WDFW)

The fresh carcass was found Wednesday, July 12, by a range rider, similar to last month, and also within 200 yards of that wolf kill, on a Bureau of Land Management grazing allotment in Ferry County.

According to WDFW, bite marks and other wounds on the calf as well as GPS collar data from the Sherman male “clearly indicate a wolf depredation.”

The producer uses five range riders and has been patrolling the area since even before turning their cattle out in late May on private ground, say state wolf managers.

They say there are no known dens or rendezvous sites in the area.

Under the agency’s new protocols, just three depredations, including one probable, in a 30-day period, could lead to the beginning of lethal removals. Last year it was four confirmed.

In other Washington wolf news from the update, WDFW reports that a Goodman Meadows Pack male that was captured in collared in January was legally harvested in Idaho;

That a Dirty Shirt Pack male that dispersed to Salmo Pack country in April was subsequently lethally removed by British Columbia officials trying to protect rare woodland caribou;

That the deaths of another Dirty Shirt wolf as well as one from the Loup Loup Pack are under investigation;

And that a wolf that had been part of the Huckleberry Pack in 2014 was recently mortally wounded by a vehicle collision further north this month and was dispatched by WDFW staff.

Killings wolves in Washington is illegal, and west of Highways 97, 17 and 395, where they are listed under ESA, a federal offense.

The update also includes proactive deterrence measures being used on a number of packs, recent activities of those wolves and community outreach provided by WDFW and volunteers.

Pretty interesting reading.

 

Wallowa Co. Rancher Shoots Wolf That Chased Cattle

Another wolf has been shot in Oregon after it was caught harassing livestock.

The latest incident occurred last Sunday, June 25, in Wallowa County when a rancher saw the wolf chasing cattle.

A NORTHEAST OREGON WOLF SIZES UP A SNOW-COVERED LANDSCAPE IN FEBRUARY 2014. (ODFW)

After consulting a county commissioner who’s been deeply involved in Oregon’s wolf world, the unnamed producer shot and hit the animal, according to the Wallowa Chieftain.

No identifying or locational information was offered in the story, but the newspaper reports that the commissioner and county sheriff went to the scene and that “further investigation indicated the rancher acted within his legal rights.”

“This is just to show you can do this and have anonymity,” Sheriff Fred Steen told the Chieftain. “It’s absolutely legal to do such and we’ve always believed it’s the rancher’s right to protect his livestock as private property. People need to know this is an option.”

In May 2016, a shepherd shot and killed one of four wolves that attacked his flock grazing in the South Fork Walla Walla River country of northern Umatilla County, a first under Oregon’s caught-in-the-act provisions.

WDFW Confirms 1 Kettle Calf Depredation, Says Other Unknown

Washington wolf managers are finally confirming a wolf or wolves from the Sherman Pack killed a calf in northern Ferry County earlier this month, but the remains of another found nearby were too far gone to determine cause of death.

WDFW says it’s the first depredation by the pack, and comes at the beginning of the grazing season and two weeks after new state wolf management protocols went into effect in this country.

MEMBERS OF THE SHERMAN PACK, BLAMED FOR KILLING AT LEAST ONE CALF IN THE NORTHERN HALF OF FERRY COUNTY EARLIER THIS MONTH. (JEFF FLOOD)

Earlier this week local state Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda) had told a reporter it was a confirmed depredation, but it wasn’t until very late this afternoon that WDFW publicly stated that.

The dead calves were reported June 12 by a range rider, and a pair of WDFW staffers reported to the BLM grazing ground “shortly after sunrise” the following day, though the agency has been criticized by Kretz for not arriving sooner to view the evidence.

According to WDFW, the Sherman adult male’s collar showed it in the area between June 3 and 11, and the intact calf’s carcass had “injuries [that] consisted of bite lacerations and puncture wounds with hemorrhaging associated with those bite wounds. The injuries to calf were consistent with a wolf depredation.”

The other calf’s remains were 150 yards away but skeletal in nature and scattered over dozens of yards, too little for investigators to make a determination, so it went down as unknown.

WDFW reports the livestock producer turned their cattle out to graze on private land on May 24 and uses five agency-contracted range riders who began patrolling the area May 9.

The Sherman Pack consists of at least a male, whose mate died in March after getting hit by a vehicle traveling along Highway 20, and an adult female.

They’ve apparently been sniffing around Kettle Range country formerly occupied by the Profanity Peak Pack, seven members of which were lethally removed last year following depredations not far away as the crow flies. WDFW says there are no signs of a den or rendezvous point nearby. Telemetry shows the collared Profanity female was “sporadically” in the area of the latest depredation June 5-7, but that all signs pointed to the Shermans, according to state wildlife managers.

The two calves’ carcasses have since been removed, as the area will see high use by cattle during the grazing season. Range riders will continue to patrol here, WDFW says.

Under the agency’s new protocols, just three depredations, including one probable, in a 30-day period, could lead to the beginning of lethal removals. Last year it was four confirmed.