Category Archives: Wolf News

Legislator Wants To Shift WA Wolf Payouts To General Fund

Who pays for wolf depredations and how much should be in the pot was an active topic during the last session of the Washington state legislature.

It will be again this coming year.

A Westside lawmaker says she will introduce legislation that would compensate ranchers out of the state General Fund.

“This should absolutely not be coming from sportsmen,” Senator Pam Roach (R-Auburn) told Dave Workman for articles in TheGunMag.com and Seattle Gun Rights Examiner earlier this week. “It should be a cost borne by everyone since it was everyone – the federal government – who imposed this on our livestock owners.”

Currently, there’s $80,000 available to pay out for attacks like those that have occurred over the past two months in Okanogan, Stevens and Spokane Counties.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Defenders of Wildlife each chipped in $15,000, with the other $50,000 in a special WDFW account.

Hunter and angler license dollars, however, are not on the hook for payouts.

At one point during this winter’s legislature, our fees could have been — and to the tune of $200,000 — before a WDFW representative and lobbyists of the Washington Farm Bureau and Washington Cattlemen’s Association argued against it and an amendment by Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen) nixed the idea.

Ultimately that bill failed, but lawmakers authorized WDFW to spend up to $50,000, with money coming from the sales of certain license plates which fund the management of nongame and threatened or endangered animals.

So far, and despite several confirmed or probable depredations over just the past two months, the pool of money hasn’t been tapped — yet.

Bill McIrvin of northern Stevens County, who lost one calf to a wolf and had others injured last week, told our Jeff Holmes he wasn’t going to take any money for a variety of good reasons which we spell out in our August issue.

“But we will be putting together a ‘tally sheet’ of what he would be eligible for should he choose to submit a claim,” Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW’s wolf policy lead, said in an email.

He says reimbursement is being finalized for the Thurlows of Okanogan County, who lost a calf in mid-May, while paperwork for the Tessiers of northwest Spokane County, who lost a sheep, is still pending.

Compensation is based on variables such as current market value, size of the spread an animal was killed on and whether it was a confirmed or probable wolf predation. Under the state plan, owners can get up to $1,500 per cow for probable wolf predations, and up to twice that for confirmed kills on ranches bigger than 100 acres, the idea being it would be tough to find additional possible kills across more ground.

“The wolf plan is far more generous than state law,” notes spokeswoman Madonna Luers.

She anticipates some “meshing” of the Washington Administrative Code and the wolf plan in the next legislative session.

In related news, a bill to delist wolves regionally in the state may also be introduced.

Chittim In On Capture Of Another Wolf, 3rd In A Week

UPDATED 7-19-2012 Best wolf trapper in the state right now? A reporter at a Seattle TV station.

Or at least he’s been a good luck charm for WDFW staffers out trying to capture and collar Washington wolves this week anyway.

On Monday Gary Chittim at KING 5 filmed as state trapper Paul Frame hauled a 94-pound wolf out of the brush up in the Wedge of northern Stevens County by the scruff of its neck and back end after it was caught in a foothold trap. It may be the alpha male of the “new” Wedge Pack.

They also caught and ear-tagged a pup that day.

After cattle depredations last week and a history of wolf reports in the area, WDFW had made collaring members of the pack its No. 1 priority.

Chittim had a long-standing request with the agency to participate in such an event.

Then, earlier today, Chittim and a photographer report being in on the recapture of the Teanaway Pack’s alpha female by another trapper, Scott Becker, who covers the Cascades for WDFW.

SCREEN GRAB SHOWING A WOLF CAUGHT EARLIER TODAY IN KITTITAS COUNTY WHILE KING 5 CAMERAS ROLLED.

The same wolf had been caught and collared with a GPS/VHF collar last June, an event that confirmed the north-central Kittitas County pack following hunter and others reports the previous fall and winter. It had at least four pups that survived to the end of the year.

Pups are again on the ground this year, but how many is unknown, Becker reported yesterday.

He said he gave the female a new GPS and VHF collar that will remain switched on around the clock.

Most Canis lupus captures in Washington since 2008 have occurred at this time of year.

Might be time to send Chittim down to the Blue Mountains where there have also long been reports of wolves, but in a recent looksee, state bios couldn’t find fresh hide nor hair.

WDFW Traps 2 Wolves In ‘New’ Wedge Pack, State’s 8th

A state trapper this morning caught two wolves, collaring what may be the alpha male of the “new” Wedge pack of Northeast Washington and put ear tags on a pup.

Meanwhile more cattle of the Diamond M Ranch than originally known may have been attacked by wolves in the area last week.

Footage of the wolf capture is expected to appear on KING 5 TV tonight at 10 and 11 p.m.

SCREEN GRAB SHOWING THE SCENE OF TODAY'S CAPTURE OF A WOLF IN NORTHERN STEVENS COUNTY. (KING 5)

For the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, the presence of the pup confirms that a pack is in the area, according to spokeswoman Madonna Luers.

While ranchers have talked of wolves in the area for awhile and a number were caught on video cameras last winter, officially the Wedge wolves are now the state’s eighth confirmed pack, and the sixth in Northeast Washington.

This remote, forested grazing area of northern Stevens County has also been the scene of recent predator depredations on cattle, including the killing of two calves and wounding of a cow and calf last week.

The wounded animals were found July 11, the dead ones July 12, but it’s believed the dead calves were hit first based on maggots.

WDFW says that a wolf or wolves attacked the cow and calf and killed one of the calves; a cougar got the other.

Over the weekend it came to light that two more calves turned up with wounds.

“The rancher found a couple more slightly injured calves that were probably attacked and injured at the same time as the cow and calf,” Luers said.

Last week’s attacks made the Wedge her agency’s No. 1 wolf-trapping priority.

The male, which weighed 94 pounds, was given a GPS and VHF radio collar.

“The GPS is really nice for downloading data from a satellite,” says Luers.

Also over the weekend, director Phil Anderson arrived to get a first-hand look at the situation.

He’s offered Diamond M a caught-in-the-act/shoot-to-kill permit.

It’s unclear how effective that or other hazing devices might be in this case. While a radio-activated guard, or RAG, box might work when calves are in a pen, the rancher is now running cattle over a massive allotment that would also be all but impossible to put fladry up in.

And anyway, the ranchers have no interest in the permit or the compensation they’re eligible for, our Jeff Holmes learned after speaking with Diamond M’s Bill McIrvin this weekend.

He called the permit a “feel-good token,” saying he’s only seen wolves once in the area, at midnight a year ago, and had multiple objections to the money.

From a period of relative quiet, wolf management activities have quickly ramped up in Washington this summer.

“That’s why we have four full-time people whose only job is wolves,” said Luers.

Earlier this year saw confirmations of the Huckleberry and Nc’icn packs of southern Stevens and southern Ferry Counties, and two separate confirmed and probable wolf depredations elsewhere in Washington.

Meanwhile, WDFW’s wolf policy lead spoke in front of Blue Mountain ranchers last Tuesday about cougars and other issues. We’ll have more on that and the Stevens County attack in part I of a two-part report on Washington wolf management in our August issue, due on the press, oh, an hour or so ago.

AN UPDATED MAP OF WASHINGTON'S WOLF PACKS SWITCHES THE WEDGE PACK FROM SUSPECTED TO CONFIRMED WITH THE CAPTURE OF THE MALE AND PUP IN MID-JULY 2012. (WDFW)

WDFW Gives Rancher Caught-in-the-act, Shoot-to-kill Permit After Wolf Attack

Editor’s note: This corrects an earlier version of the story which misreported whose cattle were attacked.

As family members expressed concerns about wolves and cougars to state officials at a meeting this week in Walla Walla, predators may have been attacking the Diamond M Ranch’s cattle herd up in Northeast Washington.

Northwest Sportsman reporter Jeff Holmes says that on Friday afternoon Ted Wishon told him that one calf was confirmed to have been killed by wolves, another by a cougar and two more were “chewed up” by wolves earlier this week.

The attacks were confirmed in a joint press release from WDFW and the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office later that day.

Wishon is a relative of the ranch’s owners, the McIrvins. The press release states that WDFW Director Phil Anderson has issued a caught-in-the-act, shoot-to-kill permit to the operator, authorizing them to shoot a wolf if they see one attacking his livestock again.

It’s the second such permit issued this year; another was given to a different rancher in the same general area in April after wolf tracks turned up inside a calf pen surrounded by fladry. That permit has not been used, according to spokeswoman Madonna Luers, and expired after 30 days, we previously reported.

This week’s attacks happened near Laurier, a tiny burg on the west side of the Wedge, that area between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers and Canadian border. It’s a region where at least four wolves and four grizzly bears — even a wolverine — as well as mountain lions and black bears are known to roam or have roamed this year.

It’s unclear when exactly the attacks took place — many wolf depredations occur at night — but on Wednesday, July 11, the ranchers contacted the sheriff’s office to report that an injured calf and cow had been found at the ranch.

That day, deputies joined by WDFW enforcement officers and ultimately wildlife biologists confirmed that injuries to the first two animals were caused by a wolf.

The next day two dead calves were found and reported. Investigators determined one had been hauled down by a cougar, the other a wolf, based on bite marks.

The wolf-hit calves exhibited wounds on their flanks and in the webbing behind their front legs.

A fifth calf remains missing.

The young cattle are described as running 250 to 300 pounds.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW’s wolf policy coordinator, says that trapping wolves in the Wedge is now the agency’s top priority. They hope to capture and collar a wolf; GPS collars can help track the animals as well as set off radio-activated guard, or RAG, boxes.

Meanwhile, if wolves turn up while state staffers are there, they will use “rubber bullets, floodlights and other strategies to keep wolves away from the rancher’s livestock.”

The agency is also working to figure out how much compensation Diamond M is eligible for. The state management plan says that livestock owners can be paid up to $1,500 for wolf-killed or -injured cattle.

The ranch was the site of the state’s first modern-day wolf depredation back in 2007. There has been talk of a number of cows that didn’t return at roundup last fall.

Get used to it: By one of several forecasts in the state’s now more and more frequently tested wolf management plan, this area, which has the most wolves in the state, is expected to be a population sink for the species due to conflicts with man.

The incident comes during a rather busy week in the Washington wolf world: On Wednesday, three members of a Twisp family were sentenced in federal court for their role in the killing of at least two ESA-listed wolves and attempted export of one’s hide; on Tuesday we learned the Smackout Pack, about 20-25 air miles to the southeast of the Wedge has had at least two pups; WDFW gave up trying to capture wolves in the Blues; and last weekend, Conservation Northwest reveled in the U.S. release of a 90-minute documentary on the Lookout and Teanaway Packs.

Also this week, on Tuesday, Wishon and others attended the Walla Walla County Predator Information Day, sponsored by the Washington Cattlemen’s Association. WDFW staffers were on hand and were peppered with questions; the meeting will be featured in the August issue of Northwest Sportsman.

According to our Jeff Holmes, ranchers in the area have been offering WDFW evidence of wolves in the area for some time, but the Wedge pack is officially still unconfirmed.

Three separate videos posted to YouTube earlier this year show at least three animals walking past a trail camera, and a note with the posts says that there are believed to be four in the group.

SCREEN GRAB FROM AN 11-SECOND CLIP CAUGHT BY A MOTION-ACTIVATED VIDEO PLACE IN THE WEDGE LAST WINTER. (WDFW)

A couple weeks ago, WDFW confirmed the Huckleberry Pack of southern Stevens County with a video of five pups.

A litter is more likely to indicate wolves tied to a place versus possible dispersers like OR7, another Imnaha wolf which went to Washington two winters ago, and the Teanaway female which traveled to BC and was killed in a pig sty this spring.

This is the third wolf-related predation of the year in Washington after a five-year stretch without a WDFW-confirmed case.

Table 9 in the statewide management plan provides an outline of options that managers and ranchers have when dealing with wolves.

Issuance of a caught-in-the-act permit to a livestock operator indicates that “WDFW does not have resources to address control.”

The state has hired two wolf trappers and three wolf techs.

 

WA Wolf Managers Head To The Wedge To Check On Livestock Depredation

A day after the state’s first modern-day case of wolf poaching was resolved in federal court, Washington wolf managers are headed to far northern Stevens County to investigate a possible livestock depredation in The Wedge where at least four wolves have been reported.

The incident involves cattle; not much more is known at this time.

The area had four grizzly bears — a mother and two cubs, and a lone boar — roaming around this spring, and there are also cougar, black bear, coyotes and at least one wolverine in the area.

This past winter a rancher on the west side of the Wedge — the area between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers and Canadian border — reported wolf tracks around his home and in his calving pen; two state officials found tracks in the pen, which also contained over 100 head of herford and angus cattle.

There have been two wolf-related depredations in Eastern Washington in recent weeks, a “probable” kill of a calf by the Lookout Pack in mid-May and a “confirmed” sheep kill near Ninemile Falls in mid-June by a wolf of unknown origin.

Most livestock die due to health and weather issues, but some are also rustled or killed by predators, including wolves. Between 1987 and the end of 2011, wolves were confirmed to have killed 1,669 cattle, 3,261 sheep, 153 dogs and 37 goats, among other domestic animals in the Northern Rockies. Federal agents responded by moving 117 wolves and killing 1,681.

Federal Judge Adds Home Detention To Twisp Wolf Poachers’ Sentence

UPDATED JULY 12, 2012 7 A.M.–Two Twisp, Washington wolf poachers were sentenced to more than they bargained for when they appeared in a Spokane court today.

A federal judge tacked on six months of home detention for William D. White, 62, and three months home detention for his son, Tom D. White, 37.

They and federal prosecutors had reached a deal in April in which William pleaded guilty to conspiracy to kill an endangered species, conspiracy to export an endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife and Tom pleaded guilty to illegally killing two wolves in exchange for paying hefty fines, serving three years of probation and forfeiting the guns they used to kill the wolves and Canadian wildlife.

The case began in late 2008 when a bloody wolf pelt was discovered in a shipping package being sent to a family friend of the Whites in Alberta.

(WDFW)

Searches of the White’s computer files turned up photos of at least one other wolf  killed by Tom, but differently colored, and other evidence, including a deer and a moose poached in 2007 by William.

Wolves in that part of Washington were and still are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The two had otherwise faced prison terms of seven years for William, two for Tom.

In a more muted response than the one he issued after the announcement of a plea deal that left out jail time, Mitch Friedman of Conservation Northwest said he was pleased with U.S. District Court Judge Frem Nielsen’s stiffening of the penalties. He also applauded game wardens’ work on the case.

“My hope is that these sentences send a strong signal to anyone considering harming wolves or any other wildlife,” he said in a press release.

The group has been deeply involved with the Lookout Pack, which ran on the White’s property southwest of Twisp, including a BBC-Discovery Channel documentary about it and other wolves in the state.

Wolf recolonization is not supported by everyone in Washington, but the management plan the state is now locked into requires that least 15 successful breeding pairs, including four in the North Cascades, be on hand for three straight years to reach minimum recovery goals.

The federal case’s resolution follows recent video releases by the state Department of Fish & Wildlife showing at least seven pups in two packs that weren’t confirmed to exist just a year ago, and word that a pack with genetic ties to the one Tom White shot up has had pups for a second year in a row.

Sentencing for Tom’s wife, Erin, 37, who attempted to ship the pelt out of Omak, went unchanged. For her guilty plea of conspiracy to and unlawful export of an endangered species, she will pay $5,000 and be on probation for three years.

Home detention means the men can go to work, doctor’s appointments and church, but otherwise must stay at home, according to their attorney, as paraphrased in The Wenatchee World.

William is on the hook for $15,000 in fines for his three federal crimes, Tom $10,000 for his, and they must jointly pay WDFW $20,000.

And as a condition of their federal sentence, William and Tom both must plead guilty to state charges in Okanogan County for hunting bear with a dog, and William must cop to poaching a trophy mule deer buck out of season — which carries an automatic $6,000 fine.

The Methow Valley News is reporting that that will result in the loss of state hunting privileges for both men for five years; the paper also states that William’s importation of his poached Canadian big game is a felony, meaning the former hunter ed instructor can no longer legally have a gun around.

“This case is not just about the illegal killing of wolves. It is about individuals who had utter disregard for the law and who bragged about violating state, national, and foreign laws,” said Pat Rogers, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region, in a press release.

The News quoted deputy Okanogan County prosecuting attorney David Gecas as saying: “I am pleased with the agreement that we reached in these cases. I think the combined penalties of the state and federal charges, which includes over $40,000 in financial obligations, along with the collateral consequences associated with Bill’s felony conviction, will send the message that we take poaching cases very seriously.”

The World quoted the White’s attorney, Craig Smith, as saying, “They’re just relieved to have this over … This has been an awful experience for them. They just want to get their life back.”

He termed them “good folk caught up in a controversial situation,” although there are suggestions from law enforcement sources that William has a history of disregard for game laws.

The USFWS was joined by WDFW, state Department of Agriculture, federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division and Omak Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Ohms.

TOM D. WHITE POSES WITH ONE OF AT LEAST TWO WOLVES HE PLEADED GUILTY TO KILLING. THIS ONE WAS SHOT IN MAY 2008, ONE MONTH BEFORE THE FIRST ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN ABOUT WOLVES IN THE METHOW VALLEY BY THE WENATCHEE WORLD. TODAY'S RESOLUTION OF THE CASE COMES ALMOST EXACTLY FOUR YEARS TO THE DAY AFTER WDFW FIRST CONFIRMED THE LOOKOUT PACK IN A HOWLING SURVEY. (WDFW)

Here is the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Spokane, via USFWS:

Twisp Trio Sentenced For Endangered Species Related Crimes

Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern
District of Washington, announced that William D. White, age 62, Tom D.
White, age 37, and his wife, Erin J. White, age 37, all of Twisp,
Washington, were sentenced today for endangered species and other wildlife
crimes.

By way of a plea agreement, William D. White earlier pleaded guilty to
Conspiracy to Take Endangered Species, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and
16 U.S.C. § 1538(a)(1)(B); Conspiracy to Export Endangered Species, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 16 U.S.C. § 1538(a)(1)(A); and Unlawful
Importation of Wildlife, in violation of 16 U.S.C. § 3372(a)(2)(A). He was
sentenced to: a three-years term of probation, subject to six months of
home detention and a hunting prohibition; a $5,000 fine for each offense
($15,000 total); and $20,000 in restitution to be paid jointly and
severally with Tom D. White to the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife. As a condition of his plea agreement, William D. White paid
$3,500 in previously unsatisfied fines assessed in connection with a
Canadian case in which he pleaded guilty to using another person’s
resident license to take an antlered moose and the unlawful possession of
wildlife (a moose). As a further condition of his plea agreement, William
D. White is required to enter guilty pleas to two state offenses: Hunting
Bear with Dogs, in violation of RCW 77.15.245(2) and Hunting Big Game in
the Second Degree, in violation of RCW 77.25.410(1).

Tom D. White, who also entered a plea agreement, earlier pleaded guilty to
two charges of Killing Endangered Gray Wolves, in violation of 16 U.S.C. §
1538(a)(1)(B). He was sentenced to: a three-years term of probation,
subject to three months of home detention and a hunting prohibition; a
$5,000 fine for both offenses ($10,000 total); and $20,000 in restitution
to be paid jointly and severally with William D. White to the Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife. As a condition of his plea agreement, Tom
D. White is required to enter a guilty plea to a state offense: Hunting
Bear with Dogs, in violation of RCW 77.15.245(2).

Erin J. White, who earlier pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Export an
Endangered Species, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 16 U.S.C. §
1538(a)(1)(A), and Unlawful Export of an Endangered Species, in violation
of 16 U.S.C. § 1538(a)(1)(A), was sentenced to: a three-years term of
probation and a $5,000 fine.

This case arose in 2008 from a report of a suspicious package that had
been left with a private shipping company in Omak, Washington. The package
was addressed to a resident of Alberta, Canada. An Omak police officer
responded to the report and observed that the package appeared to be
leaking blood. The package had been shipped by a woman who identified
herself as “Alison,” and provided a non-working telephone number for a
contact number. She also falsely labeled the shipment as containing a rug.
When the shipper and police officer opened the box, they observed that it
contained a fresh wolf hide. Wolves are protected as endangered species in
the Twisp area.

Through investigation, agents identified Erin J. White as “Alison.” During
a subsequent search of Erin and Tom D. White’s residence, Tom D. White
admitted to killing the wolf and Erin J. White admitted to attempting to
ship it to Canada. A further search of computer equipment and emails
revealed several photographs showing Tom D. White holding up a second dead
wolf. Agents also searched William D. White’s residence and computer. The
agents discovered evidence that revealed William D. White was involved in
a conspiracy to kill wolves and to export a wolf hide to Canada. Evidence
also revealed that William D. White had illegally killed wildlife in
Alberta, Canada, and thereafter imported that wildlife into the United
States in violation of the law.

At today’s sentencing hearing, United States Fish and Wildlife Agent
Charles Roberts testified that during interviews conducted in conjunction
with search of their residences, both William D. White and Tom D. White
stated that they had had no problems with the wolves living in the area.
At today’s hearing, the Court found that both William D. White and Tom D.
White had engaged in a pattern of similar violations regarding the
offenses to which they had pleaded guilty.

Michael C. Ormsby stated: “This important natural resources case is yet
another example of the effective law enforcement partnerships here in the
Eastern District of Washington.”

“This case is not just about the illegal killing of wolves. It is about
individuals who had utter disregard for the law and who bragged about
violating state, national, and foreign laws,” said Pat Rogers, Acting
Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for the United States Fish and
Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region.

“The United States Fish and Wildlife Service appreciates the vital
assistance provided by its law enforcement partners on the local, state,
and international levels.”

The case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service,
the Enforcement Division of the Washington State Department of Fish
Wildlife, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the United
States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Alberta (Canada) Fish
and Wildlife Division, and the Omak Police Department. The case was
prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Ohms.

While the White case is now almost fully resolved, one other case of an illegally killed Washington wolf — the skinned carcass of one dumped up Bacon Creek — is still open. Footage from a BBC video on the Lookout Pack briefly showed pictures of the scene where a WDFW Karelian bear hound found it.

 

Washington Wolf News, Mid-July Edition

The Smackout Pack of wolves in Northeast Washington has again had pups.

It’s at least the second year in a row the group has had a litter. Last year’s included three pups that survived to the end of the year, qualifying the pack as a successful breeding pair — the basic unit of wolf recovery — and making it one of three known in the state in 2011.

The agency will post the 20-second video of the two black Smackout pups recorded the afternoon of June 14 to YouTube later today, according to WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane.

SCREEN GRAB OF A 20-SECOND VIDEO SHOWING THE SMACKOUT PACK PUPS. (WDFW)

The footage was captured on a remote, action-triggered camera. Two 90-plus-pound males captured in May by WDFW also wear black coats.

As for other pups on the ground this year, previously we’ve reported that the new Huckleberry Pack of southern Stevens County has had at least five, and the Teanaway of north-central Kittitas County has had some number of young, based on howling surveys, at least its second litter as well.

While the latest WDFW Wildlife Program weekly report terms the two Lookout wolves in the middle Methow Valley a “probable mated pair,” it indicates that so far there’s no evidence of pups on the ground in the area.

And it’s unclear if the Nc’icn Pack on the Colville Reservation has pups; my notes from a conversation with someone familiar with the situation there indicate there are, but I’m trying to confirm that with tribal biologists.

As for pups in the state’s other confirmed packs, Diamond and Salmo, “We don’t know yet, that’s why we’re out trapping,” says Luers.

Efforts in the Blue Mountains, where a pack is strongly suspected in the upper Touchet drainage, again failed, she reports. It follows a similar fruitless attempt made late last summer.

Luers says that WDFW will update its wolf Web site with more information on the state’s packs after the trapping season ends in September, and again in January after the all-important year-end surveys.

The recovery goal is at least 15 successful breeding pairs (i.e., two adults and two pups at Dec. 31) for three straight years in certain numbers corresponding to three recovery zones across the state, or 18 in any single year, again in certain numbers. Putting radio collars on pack members helps biologists find them.

Theoretically, wolf recovery could be achieved without a single pack west of the Cascade Crest, though that would be unlikely with the St. Helens elk herd being the state’s largest and likely to attract wolves.

In other wolf news, William D. White and Tom D. White of Twisp will be sentenced at 10:30 tomorrow morning in Spokane’s federal court for several wolf poaching-related charges they’ve plead guilty to as part of a plea deal.

A 7th Pack Confirmed In Washington; Pic Added

UPDATED: 4:21 P.M. MONDAY, JULY 2

WDFW is reporting two pieces of wolf news: They’ve confirmed a seventh pack, this one just north of the Spokane Reservation; and have determined that a wolf was responsible for killing a sheep near Nine Mile Falls west of Spokane two weeks ago, the second confirmed or probable attack in a month and a half.

The new Huckleberry Pack, named after Huckleberry Mountain, is located in southern Stevens County east of the tiny town of Fruitland.

It includes at least five pups, based on remote video camera footage, which has been posted here.

THIS SCREEN SHOT FROM AN 11-SECOND VIDEO WDFW POSTED TO YOUTUBE THIS AFTERNOON SHOWS FIVE PUPS FROM THE RECENTLY CONFIRMED HUCKLEBERRY PACK. (WDFW)

A description with the video states: “Cameras were set up in that area based on reports of wolf activity, including wolf tracks and sign at a moose kill and Spokane Indian Reservation information.”

A stink bait was used to lure the animals in front of the device.

If two pups and the adults survive to the end of the year, it would qualify as a breeding pair.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more news on Washington wolves, see these recent stories:

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2012/06/28/wdfw-reports-teanaway-pack-again-has-pups-odfw-finds-mama-wolf-in-new-spot/

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2012/06/22/washington-wolf-news-late-june-edition/

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2012/06/13/colville-reservation-wolves-are-states-6th-confirmed-pack/

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2012/06/04/washington-wolf-news-early-june-2012/

Earlier in June, state officials indicated the Spokane Tribe believed they had a pack on their reservation. And map produced earlier this year by WDFW with hunter sightings (we posted it here) indicates a fair number of wolf reports in the area.

The Huckleberry is also the second pack confirmed this year; the Nc’Icn wolves were captured and collared on the Colville Reservation in early June.

It brings to 12 the number of confirmed and suspected packs in the state. The known packs are Lookout (2008), Diamond (2009), Salmo (2010), Teanaway (2011) and Smackout (2011).

WDFW has since updated its map showing the locations of all the packs.

The definition of a pack is at least two wolves traveling together.

As for the sheep, the attack occurred west of Riverside State Park June 16. An investigation turned up wolf tracks, and based on trauma to the carcass, state managers determined it was killed by a wolf.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reports:

Steve Pozzanghera, eastern region director for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said two brothers woke up June 16 to see their flock of about 15 sheep in the pasture and away from the pen area where they normally gather in the morning. The men, who are not identified on the incident report, rode four-wheelers out to the flock, where they said they saw a lone wolf chasing one of the sheep. The wolf then ran away.

A subsequent investigation by the fish and wildlife department determined that the predator was a gray wolf, Pozzanghera said. Helping confirm that it was a wolf kill was the severity of the wounds – wolves have “incredible jaw strength” – and tracks found in the area, he said.

“You’re not talking about a dog-size track,” Pozzanghera said.

The incident report lists the location of the attack as 11000 N. Pinebluff Road.

It’s unclear which pack the predator may have belonged to — a disperser, the Huckleberry, or some other pack.

It’s the first known wolf kill in Spokane County since the 1950s, the paper reported.

It follows mid-May’s probable depredation of a Methow Valley calf by wolves.

Both producers are eligible for compensation.

 

WDFW Reports Teanaway Pack Again Has Pups; ODFW Finds Mama Wolf In New Spot

A PDF out from WDFW today indicates that the Teanaway wolf pack of north-central Kittitas County has again produced a litter, at least its second, while ODFW is reporting that a lactating female has been photographed in an area of Northeast Oregon where no pack was otherwise known to be.

The latter animal was caught on a wildlife researcher’s trail cam in the Eagle Cap Wilderness on June 4 and the image was sent to ODFW June 25.

“The photo clearly shows that reproduction has occurred, but the current location and number of wolves in this area is unknown at this time. ODFW will survey the area to try and gather additional information,” reads information from the agency here.

(ODFW)

The animal’s location would be to the west of the Imnaha Pack’s summer range. It and the Wenaha Pack have been reported to have had four pups apiece this spring. Additionally, two adult wolves in the Mt. Emily area near La Grande, one a male at least 6 years  old, may have had pups too, according to Richard Cockle of The Oregonian.

Back in Washington, a note in WDFW’s July 18-24, 2012, weekly Wildlife Program report, which can be downloaded here, says this about the Teanaway pack: “Pups were confirmed from howling sessions.”

It’s unclear, however, how many there are.

The group was first confirmed early last summer after hunters and others reported evidence of wolves the fall and winter before.

Consisting of at least seven animals, including four pups, at the end of 2011, it was one of Washington’s three successful breeding pairs last year. The alpha female is related to the Lookout Pack 70 air miles to the north-northeast.

This past March one member, a young female, dispersed from the pack north into British Columbia and, after covering approximately 350 to 500 miles based on GPS collar waypoints, was shot and killed in mid-May.

WDFW’s report also says that in anticipation of trapping members of the Teanaway wolves, staffers have been looking for its den and placing monitoring devices in the area.

TEANAWAY WOLF. (WDFW)

“Cameras have been successful in capturing images of multiple carnivore species as well as mule deer, squirrels, hares, skunks and domestic dogs,” the report says.

Photos show a wolf, two cougars, a black bear, a brownish black bear, a bobcat and a coyote.

A map in the 20-page PDF shows that staffers have also been using various older and newer reports of wolves to perform preliminary searches around Carlton in Okanogan County, home of the Lookout Pack, along the Entiat and Chiwawa Rivers in Chelan County, in the Colockum above Wenatchee on the Chelan-Kittitas County line, and in the Teanaway Pack’s territory.

(WDFW)

Elsewhere, the report says WDFW, Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Jay Kehne, ranchers John and Jeff Dawson and a range rider discussed wolf-livestock issues in Smackout Meadows, between Ione and Alladin in Stevens County and in the range of the Smackout Pack, and that trail cameras have been placed in the Le Clerc Creek drainage of Pend Oreille County in anticipation of trapping members of the Diamond Pack.

Washington has three trapping teams, two in the far eastern edge’s corners and one in the Cascades. The goal is to trap, capture, collar and release adult wolves to confirm successful breeding pairs. To meet minimum state recovery goals under WDFW’s management plan requires at least 15 such pairs over three years in certain numbers spread across the state in certain areas.

Washington Wolf News, Late June Edition

For the moment it’s quiet on the Washington wolf front.

I’m awaiting word on the results of an investigation into a sheep kill west of Spokane last weekend. The owner believed it was a wolf, according to the report filed on WDFW’s dangerous wildlife complaints page. There should be a final determination by next week, according to wolf policy coordinator Steve Pozzanghera. He says trail cams haven’t turned up any repeat customers.

Awaiting a call back from WDFW’s game division manager for more on the agency’s plans for enhanced tab-keeping on ungulates in Northeast Washington where wolf populations are building.

Awaiting news on the latest capture-and-collar efforts from the Selkirks, Cascades and Blues — a spokesman points out that early July has basically been when that’s happened since 2008’s trapping of the Lookout Pack.

Meanwhile, wolf news I’ve gathered of late, mostly out of audio from the June 2 Fish & Wildlife Commission, includes:

WDFW basically has three trapping teams out — one each in the Cascades, and southeast and northeast corners;

The wolves in the Hozomeen of upper Ross Lake in eastern Whatcom County may use the area as their winter range and probably den on the BC side, which, if true, would mean they wouldn’t count to Washington breeding-pair recovery goals;

The Spokane Tribe is “beginning to suspect” they may have a pack on their reservation, WDFW reported, but I haven’t been able to confirm that with a tribal biologist;

The Colville Tribes posted an instructive 22-page PDF that provides details on the history of wolves on their sprawling reservation, trapping training they recently underwent with Carter Niemeyer, what a capture operation looks like, and the catching of two wolves. The slide show isn’t posted obviously on the Tribes’ site, but if you google “Nc’icn Pack” the top result should be this document;

WDFW and Conservation Northwest are splitting the $20,000 cost of paying a range rider to patrol the Colville National Forest lease of a Northeast Washington producer who’s running cattle in “close proximity” to the Smackout Pack, two members of which were captured in May and can be tracked with GPS collars;

CNW is getting excited about the U.S. airing of a Lookout and Teanaway Packs documentary that they were involved in over winter and summer 2011 and previously showed in the UK by the BBC;

Eastside ranchers and WDFW have been doing a lot of talking and listening about wolves and livestock;

Fish & Wildlife Commissioners seem to be impressed with the agency’s work implementing the management plan and are also listening to producers. A few disagree a bit of about whether WDFW is or is not hamstrung from using some tools in the plan;

One commissioner — and not the one you’d expect — thinks it’s time to believe ranchers that the mere presence of wolves leads to loss of weight on cows;

This past winter a rancher in far northern Stevens County was given a 30-day caught-in-the-act permit to lethally remove wolves attacking his stock, but didn’t need to use it before it expired. He apparently used “turbo” fladry to stave off their every-three-weeks’ interest;

Cattlemen are trying to build support to legislatively delist wolves by region from statewide protections;

Jeff Flood, a Colville logger/cowboy/hunting guide, contacted me with several pictures of not only wolves but the grizzly bear in the Wedge — that part of Stevens County between the Kettle and Columbia Rivers and the Canadian border. He’s provided numerous locations of wolf sightings in Northeast Washington to WDFW, believes there are more packs, and is under contract with the agency to place cameras around the area.

WOLF PHOTOGRAPHED IN THE WEDGE OF EXTREME NORTHERN STEVENS COUNTY. (JEFF FLOOD)

BLACK WOLF OF THE SMACKOUT PACK, PROBABLY ONE OF THE TWO CAPTURED AND COLLARED WITH GPS DEVICES IN MAY. (JEFF FLOOD)

A BIG BEAR IN THE WEDGE. (JEFF FLOOD)

I’m sure there’s more out there, but for the moment, this is what’s up.

“Right now, quiet is good,” says Pozzanghera, the WDFW wolf manager.