Category Archives: Wolf News

ODFW Collars Blue Mountains Wolf

ODFW’s been on the quiet side of late about Oregon’s wolves, but this morning filed the following press release:

June 11, 2012

On June 10, 2012, ODFW trapped OR-13, a two-year-old wolf of the Wenaha pack, and fitted it with a GPS radio-collar. The black female weighed 85 pounds and was captured in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit. She was previously caught as a pup in August 2010, but at the time was too small for a radio-collar.

Earlier in June, biologists observed at least four pups in the Wenaha pack.  Reproduction was also confirmed in the Imnaha pack this month, with a minimum of four pups observed.

For information on wolves in Oregon, visit ODFW’s website, http://www.dfw.state.or.us/Wolves/index.asp

OR-13. (ODFW)

Colvilles Announce They’ve Captured, Collared Two Wolves; Pack Named Nc’icn

Just over a week after state trappers captured a pair of male wolves in Northeast Washington, Colville tribal biologists today announced they too have put collars on two wolves on their sprawling reservation.

The animals were caught in a leg hold trap deployed in the San Poil River drainage on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review‘s Outdoor blog, which posted the news a little while ago.

A SCREEN SHOT OF THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW'S BLOG SHOWS A TRIBAL BIOLOGIST WORKING WITH ONE OF THE CAPTURED AND SEDATED WOLVES.

Collar data from the two — one, a 14-month-old 68-pound female, the other a 71-pound male about the same size — will help determine the Nc’icn Pack’s range and whether it overlaps with the territory of a suspected pack in the Boulder Creek drainage further north in Ferry County.

If it doesn’t, that could mean Washington has as many as 11 packs, though five of those have not been officially confirmed.

Biologist Randy Friedlander believes the pair came from Idaho or Canada, according to the Spokesman-Review.

“We know that wolves are a controversial species, and our own people have differing opinions about them, just like anywhere else,” Joe Peone, Fish and Wildlife Department director said, according to the Coeur d’Alene Press. “Indian people have a strong spiritual connection to the wolves, but we also have a long tradition of hunting deer, elk and moose with great success.”

The tribes’ wolf trapping team included eight members of their Fish and Wildlife Department who were assisted by retired federal wolf trapper and manager Carter Niemeyer.

The Press reported that “Nc’icn” is the Okanogan term for wolf. It is pronounced “nn-seetsin.”

“We’re pleased that this effort was such a success,” Colville Business Council chairman Michael Finley said, according to the Spokesman-Review.  “It will provide our Fish and Wildlife Department with very useful information about wolves in our homeland. It took several weeks of looking and seven days to capture the first wolf. But the very next day they found the second.”

Next step is to figure out how many wolves are on the reservation as biologists also develop a management plan for the species, the blog says.

Trapping will continue; Peone told the Press he believes there are others.

In other wolf news, WDFW reports photographing two wolves via remote camera in the Wedge of extreme northern Stevens County in late May. At least four wolves were seen on camera there this past winter.

For more on our previous reporting on wolves on the Colville Reservation, see these articles:

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2012/01/13/colvilles-say-there-are-3-to-9-wolves-on-reservation/

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2011/11/04/colville-tribes-speak-out-at-spokane-wolf-meeting/

http://nwsportsmanmag.com/2011/03/18/possible-wolf-poo-tracks-found-on-colville-reservation/

Washington Wolf News (Early June 2012)

WDFW captured a pair of black wolves from the Smackout Pack of Northeast Washington last week while one from the Teanaway Pack of Central Washington put on its walking boots this past March and in two months traveled 350 air miles to the northeast into Canada.

That from the Fish & Wildlife Commission’s briefing last weekend on implementation of the state’s management plan for Canis lupus and other things wolfish.

Pictures in the 22-page document that’s available online (download item 14 here) show the two wolves wearing ear tags, one of which is visibly marked in red and white “WDFW.”

Both are male and described as adults; one weighed 97 pounds, the other 90 pounds.

It’s unclear, however, which is the pack’s alpha male, so GPS collars were strapped on both and that data should show which is hanging around the den site more, according to WDFW wolf policy coordinator Steve Pozzanghera in Spokane.

The significance of determining which is the alpha is that “breeding pairs” are the “currency of recovery objectives,” he points out.

As of the end of 2011, Washington had three breeding pairs and five confirmed packs, numbers which should rise this year if even some of the five suspected packs elsewhere in the state have at least two pups that survive to the end of this year. The goal is at least 15 breeding pairs for three straight years spread around in certain numbers across at least the eastern two-thirds of the state, or 18 pairs in any single year in certain numbers in the same area.

The Smackout Pack runs between Colville and Ione.

Additionally, collar data will give managers and a local rancher who runs cows on a Forest Service grazing allotment at Smackout Meadows locational information on the pair.

A MEMBER OF THE SMACKOUT WOLF PACK OF STEVENS AND PEND OREILLE COUNTIES AWAKES AFTER BEING DRUGGED, EAR TAGGED, WEIGHED AND GPS COLLARED IN LATE MAY. (WDFW)

As for that dispersing wolf from the Teanaway Pack, a map indicates the yearling female — which was captured and collared last September — left its home territory in north-central Kittitas County in mid- to late March, zigzagged through the Colockum and Chelan County, turned up to the south of the Lookout Pack’s range, headed up Washington’s Okanogan Valley to British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake and crested the divide into the upper Columbia River watershed before the dots of its progress end about 60 or 70 miles north of Kootenay Lake in late May.

“She’s been on a walkabout for quite some time,” says Pozzanghera.

However, its roughly 500-mile journey came to an abrupt end around May 21.

Pozzanghera says it was shot and killed in the pig sty of a local farmer. He says its carcass was turned over to a trapper — working in the area after complaints from the farmer — who in turn provided it to the BC Ministry of Environment which called WDFW.

The agency is making arrangement to get the collar and pelt back, he says.

Doug Zimmer of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Lacey, Wash., says the skin will be used as an “educational display to teach people more about wolves.”

The Teanaway disperser’s journey was much more typical than the one of that internationally known wanderer, Oregon’s OR7, currently in southwestern Lassen County, Calif.

“Dispersers are very vulnerable. They have no support from a pack, they’re in country they don’t know, they’re hard up for food all the time,” says Zimmer. “Lone wolves are romantic, but they don’t survive well. Wolves are built to run and live in packs.”

It’s the second Washington wolf that’s been killed out of state. Late last December, a female from the Diamond Pack of Pend Oreille County was legally trapped and killed 300 yards across the state line in Idaho.

PATH OF THE DISPERSING TEANAWAY FEMALE, TRACKED BY GPS. THE MAP SHOWS ROUGHLY 60 DOTS FOR THE COURSE OF THE 70-DAY TREK. (ODFW)

The commission’s presentation also includes a briefing and photos from the probable wolf depredation of a 200-pound calf on a Carlton ranch on May 19.

Pozzanghera says that the state’s trapper for the area is just now getting the correct gear on the ground to capture and collar members of the Lookout Pack.

WDFW Posts Officer’s Report From ‘Probable’ Carlton Wolf Depredation Investigation

For the most part, WDFW’s “Dangerous Wildlife Reports” page carries fish and wildlife officers’ write-ups of cougar conflicts, but since the legislature mandated it, game wardens have been filing any wolf and grizzly bear incidents they check into.

While things have been relatively quiet on the Washington wolf front this past winter and spring, that peace was broken two weeks ago when wolves in the Methow Valley near Carlton are believed to have attacked a calf. The animal was so badly mauled it had to be put down by the rancher.

In the days afterwards, two WDFW staffers arrived to confer with the producer as well as piece the scene together with their own eyes. The rancher is now eligible for compensation for the kill. One, Officer Cal Treser, filed the following report which is instructive in how it outlines how depredations are investigated:

To wit:

On May 21, 2012 the RP [reporting party] called my home phone as I was off on sick leave and requested assistance in determining what had killed one of his calves. The RP stated he could not afford to loose more calves or cows. I told him I was off but would assist in determining what may have killed or was fed on his calf. The RP stated he had an NWCO trapper that would also be with him to assist.

I met the RP on Biggers Road about a mile from Carlton. The RP has about 3000 acres of range land there in which he pastures his cattle. The land is behind a locked gate. We drove about one mile up Puckett Creek from Biggers Road to the depredation site. Cattle were grazing in the area of a spring which fed a water trough. The area is the site of an old homestead. West of the spring is an old apple tree and near was a dead calf completely consumed except for some hide remaining on the head, partial rib cage, back bone and one hind leg.

Several cow paths and bedding area’s are on both sides of the carcass. I walked along two of the trails and found large canine tracks on both trails. I measured the tracks and found they were between four and five inches each. Photo’s were taken of the tracks and what remained of the carcass. The stride between the tracks measured between 26″ and 31″ several scat piles were also in the area.

A possible struggle site was located but due to the cattle in the area much of the sign had been destroyed. No other tracks were found and very little bird feeding activity was found on the carcass.

I asked the RP when he found the calf and he stated he had discovered it on Saturday May 19th, 2010. The RP had drove up to the area to check on the cattle and observed a large and a small coyote leaving the area to the north. All the cattle were under and around the apple tree. When the cattle moved he saw the calf, it was down and could not get up. The RP observed a large wound on the hind quarters, the tendons severed and part of the intestines hanging out below the stomach. There was blood on the left shoulder, neck and head. The RP stated he could not understand why the calf was still alive. The RP then shot the calf to put it out of it’s misery.

The RP then took photo’s of the calf showing the injuries. The RP’s wife reported the incident and requested a deputy and stated she did not want anyone from the game department, and hung up the phone. The RP stated he needed help to identify what killed the calf and decided to call me. The RP also stated the week before he had observed a large and a small coyote at the same location and had shot at them, but missed and they ran off.

It appeared the probable depredation was caused by wolves. I told the RP I needed to contact the area wildlife biologist to assist with the investigation. We left the area about 3:00 pm and I contacted the area biologist for assistance. The area biologist and I met with the RP at about 5:30 pm at the site. I showed the area biologist the tracks in the trails. The area biologist measured the tracks, the stride and also photographed them. We also found a partial track in the mud at the water trough, a photo was taken. The area biologist stated the RP’s description of the coyotes matched the pair of wolves in the area.

Inspecting the remains of the carcass and puncture marks in the hide it again appeared probable the predation was from the wolves. I asked the RP if he had the photo’s he had taken and he stated he had his camera with him and the photo’s were on it. The area biologist loaded the photo’s from the RP’s camera on to his laptop computer.

We then set two trail camera’s at the site with the carcass placed in front of the camera’s. The area biologist and I then followed the RP to the south about a mile to another part of the grazing land to check on more of the cattle. We checked the area for wolf tracks but found none. We departed the area about 9:30 pm.

On the following day May 22nd, I was on a conference call with state wildlife managers, USFW Service, USDA and several others to discuss the possible cause of the depredation. It was concluded the depredation was probably caused by the wolves.

Plans were started for locating the wolves, trapping, collaring, and reducing the possibility of another occurrence. At about 3:30 pm the area biologist and I again met with the RP and discussed a press release with the information on the depredation. The RP was also told a compensation form would be made available to him.

The trail camera’s were checked and found no photo’s of wolves returning to the carcass. The carcass was removed from the area to prevent attracting any other predators. Scat samples were taken from the area. Follow up to continue with the RP.

For the Methow Valley News’ article on the incident, go here.

For our previous coverage of the incident, see these two blogs:

WDFW Treating Methow Calf Death As ‘Probable’ Wolf Predation Case

Hunter License Fees Will NOT Pay For Methow Wolf Depredation

 

Hunter License Fees Will NOT Pay For Methow Wolf Depredation

According to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, hunter license fees will not pay for the “probable” depredation of a Methow Valley calf last weekend by wolves.

The money will instead come from $15,000 that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has provided the agency to handle claims, according to the agency’s assistant Wildlife Program director Nate Pamplin.

“We are going to offer compensation to the operator from our federal grant,” he said this morning.

As it stands, another $15,000 is available from Defenders of Wildlife with $50,000 more approved by the state legislature this past session.

However, hunting and fishing license fees will not be on the hook for wolf claims, as we reported yesterday in this blog after speaking with a WDFW spokesman.

“It is not going to be assigned to license fees. Hunter license fees will not pay for the Methow calf depredation,” Pamplin said.

He explains that while the $50,000 the Legislature authorized for payouts this past session does come from the State Wildlife Account — which is largely funded by license sales — the money for wolf depredations will come from restricted portions inside that, such as revenue from certain vehicle license plate sales.

“Even if (wolf kills) occur elsewhere, the money will come from other accounts from non-game animals or other threatened animals,” Pamplin said.

Personalized and endangered species license plate sales revenue go towards nongame and threatened wildlife recovery.

WDFW Treating Methow Calf Death As ‘Probable’ Wolf Predation Case

In the first test of the state’s wolf management plan, wildlife officials say that wolves likely caused the injuries that led to the death of a calf in the Methow Valley late last week.

The rancher, who runs stock on 3,000 acres near Carlton, will qualify for compensation for the loss, according to the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Steve Pozzanghera, the agency’s policy lead on wolves in Spokane, said that evidence at the scene supports the conclusion that wolves were involved.

The young animal was killed Saturday, May 19, and then reported to WDFW on Monday, May 21, he says.

“The calf was mostly consumed by the time the department was called in,” Pozzanghera said in a press release. “But photos of the carcass taken earlier by the rancher as well as tracks located in the area were definitely consistent with wolves.”

The kill occurred on the ranch of Bernard and Dianne Thurlow. Since 2008 or so the Lookout Pack has haunted this west side of the middle Methow Valley. A pair of wolves have been photographed in the general area in recent weeks, leading some to speculate there might again be a breeding pair on the territory of Washington’s first confirmed pack in 70 years.

METHOW VALLEY WOLVES CAPTURED ON A TRAIL CAM EARLIER THIS YEAR. (WDFW)

The calf is only the second considered to be a wolf kill in modern history in Washington and is the first dealt with under WDFW’s conservation and management plan, approved by the Fish & Wildlife Commission last December.

The other occurred in September 2007 in Stevens County.

By contrast nearly 60 sheep and cattle have been confirmed killed in Oregon since just 2009, according to ODFW.

According to KC Mehaffey of the Wenatchee World, Dianne Thurlow said that 20 minutes after they had driven by a group of their cattle, they came back and found 20 grouped up and the calf lying on the grass.

“It had been grabbed around the neck and throat and hind legs, and we lifted up one hind leg and looked and it had been eaten from the navel,” Thurlow told the World. “Everything had been eaten up, clear to the backbone, and it was still alive.”

The response to the Methow incident is being handled jointly by WDFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USDA’s Wildlife Services Program as wolves in this part of Washington are still listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Pozzanghera says putting up fladry in the large pasture of the Thurlow ranch where the kill occurred wouldn’t be of much use now, but officials may give the go-ahead for non-lethal pyrotechnics, and later this week traps will be on the ground in hopes of capturing animals in the pack.

“That would be for the purpose of radio collaring,” he says.

The collars can be programmed to set off RAG or radio-activated guard boxes that emit any number of sounds designed to scare wolves away from stock.

Pozzanghera terms it an “extremely useful” device, and adds that the collars will also help WDFW track the wolves’ movements, allowing them to notify producers of their presence. ODFW has used text messages in Northeast Oregon to warn ranchers of the whereabouts of the Imnaha pack.

Trapping them may also clear up whether the animals are mates or siblings. At least two other wolves from the pack were poached by Tom D. White of Twisp.

Under WDFW’s management plan, ranchers can be compensated up to $1,500 per cow for wolf predation classified as “probable.”

The plan also allows ranchers to be paid up to twice that amount for lost livestock that are “confirmed” to have been killed by wolves on ranches over 100 acres.

However, settling on what killed livestock can be controversial, with state agents tending to judge conservatively, which doesn’t win them many friends in cattle country.

Three years ago almost to the date a dead cow was found a bit further up the Methow Valley on the Golden Doe Ranch, but officials were unable to determine what killed it due to the advanced state of the carcass.

Pozzanghera says the dead calf was viewed by the same WDFW staffers, district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin and local fish and wildlife officer Cal Treser.

Earlier this year, both underwent training by Carter Niemeyer, the retired federal wolf biologist and depredation expert.

The evidence they collected and photographs from Thurlow were reviewed yesterday during a coordination call with the federal agencies with the result being a “probable” determination, says Pozzanghera.

DEFINITIONS OF “CONFIRMED,” “PROBABLE” AND OTHER CAUSES OF DEATH, P. 92, WDFW WOLF MANAGEMENT PLAN

• Confirmed Wolf Depredation – There is reasonable physical evidence that the dead or injured animal was actually attacked or killed by a wolf. Primary confirmation would ordinarily be the presence of bite marks and associated subcutaneous hemorrhaging and tissue damage, indicating that the attack occurred while the victim was alive, as opposed to simply feeding on an already dead animal. Spacing between canine tooth punctures, feeding pattern on the carcass, fresh tracks, scat, hairs rubbed off on fences or brush, and/or eyewitness accounts of the attack may help identify the specific species or individual responsible for the depredation. Predation might also be confirmed in the absence of bite marks and associated hemorrhaging (i.e., if much of the carcass has already been consumed by the predator or scavengers) if there is other physical evidence to confirm predation on the live animal. This might include evidence of an attack or struggle. There may also be nearby remains of other victims for which there is still sufficient evidence to confirm predation, allowing reasonable inference of confirmed predation on an animal that has been largely consumed.

• Probable Wolf Depredation – There is sufficient evidence to suggest that the cause of death was depredation, but not enough to clearly confirm that the depredation was caused by a wolf. A number of other factors will help in reaching a conclusion, such as (1) any recently confirmed predation by wolves in the same or nearby area, and (2) any evidence (e.g., telemetry monitoring data, sightings, howling, fresh tracks, etc.) to suggest that wolves may have been in the area when the depredation occurred. All of these factors and possibly others would be considered in the investigator’s best professional judgment.

• Confirmed Non-Wild Wolf Depredation – There is clear evidence that the depredation was caused by another species (coyote, black bear, cougar, bobcat, domestic dog), a wolf hybrid, or a pet wolf.

• Unconfirmed Depredation – Any depredation where the predator responsible cannot be determined.

• Non-Depredation – There is clear evidence that the animal died from or was injured by something other than a predator (e.g. disease, inclement weather, or poisonous plants). This determination may be made even in instances where the carcass was subsequently scavenged by wolves.

• Unconfirmed Cause of Death – There is no clear evidence as to what caused the death of the animal.

WDFW currently has $80,000 available to help livestock operators prevent conflicts with wolves and compensate ranchers who lose livestock to predation by wolves. Of that, $50,000 was provided by the state Legislature — funding depredations was a big concern of agricultural lobbyists and rural lawmakers this past session — $15,000 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $15,000 from the non-profit organization Defenders of Wildlife.

Dianne Thurlow told Mehaffey she didn’t believe the compensation would match the calf’s eventual value.

“She was a nice older calf that could have been a replacement cow. There’s an awful lot of work that goes into that,” she’s quoted as saying.

Pozzanghera said he was “very appreciative” of Thurlow’s effort to take photos of the dead calf, but stresses that operators who believe they have lost livestock to predation must contact WDFW immediately at 1-877- 933-9847.

“The sooner we can investigate the situation, the better our chances are of determining whether the incident is a wolf kill and whether compensation is warranted,” he said. “We also ask that landowners protect the site from disturbances and keep scavengers away by covering the carcass with a tarp.”

Next week he will be meeting with Northeast Washington ranchers to go over turnout and return rates the past few years.

For more on where exactly the Legislature’s $50,000 in predation funding comes from, read this follow-up blog.

Oregon, Washington Wolf Update

Coverage out of last weekend’s wolf symposium in Albany, Ore., featured words from a federal official on the possible future status of Canis lupus in the western two-thirds of a pair of Northwest states.

“What wolves there are in Western Oregon and Western Washington may lose their federal Endangered Species Act protection after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completes a regional review this fall,” reports Mitch Lies of the Capital Press, an agribusiness news Web site which has been regularly reporting on wolves in the states.

He quotes Paul Henson, USFWS supervisor for the Beaver State, as saying, “The service is taking a serious look at that.”

The service is conducting regional reviews of wolf populations in the Northwest, Southwest and Northeast, Henson said. The reviews were recommended in the service’s regular five-year status review of the wolf, which it completed in February.

Currently wolves in eastern Oregon and Washington are protected under state endangered species acts, but aren’t federally listed.

The review is analyzing whether to break out one or more distinct population segments from the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolf, which now comprises all wolves in the Northwest U.S.

Henson said a delisting recommendation would trigger several steps, including a public comment period.

The symposium was hosted by the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Hunters Association. OHA says that much more is known about wolves and their potential impacts on Western ungulates than when Oregon’s wolf conservation and management plan was developed.

“The purpose of the symposium is to better inform the public of the impacts wolves have on Oregon’s wildlife,” said Fred Craig, president of the Oregon Hunters Association in a press release. “While livestock producer issues with wolves have been in the news nothing is said about the take of big game and other wildlife. Hopefully a better-informed public will lead to the proper management of the wolf in Oregon. We believe Oregon can be proactive in implementing the Oregon Wolf Plan and not suffer the devastation of our big game and livestock like our neighboring states before proper management is started.”

The symposium featured the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s David Allen, among other speakers. Pointing to Canadian and Alaskan populations in the tens of thousands, he said that “that does not qualify in my view as an endangered species.”

According to the Capital Press, he also questioned federal biologists’ population estimates, saying they’ve basically been around 1,700 since 2009 though they can reproduce by 30 percent a year.

Former USFWS wolf manager Ed Bangs, however, has said that population growth was slowing down as almost all potential wolf habitat is now occupied.

Despite wolf advocates’ out-of-proportion worries that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s presence at the event was tantamount to supporting poaching, three high-up officials were on hand to talk about the importance of following the agency’s approved wolf conservation and management plan.

Joining Director Roy Elicker were Ron Anglin, Wildlife Division chief, and Bruce Eddy, ODFW’s Northeast Region manager.

“They felt like the meeting went well,” said ODFW spokesman Rick Hargrove in Salem.

For more on the symposium, see the article here.

Henson’s words didn’t surprise WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers in Spokane.

“It would make things simpler,” she said. “When they divide two states it’s confusing as heck for anyone with any interest in wolves.”

It’s not as simple as this, but basically WDFW and ODFW manage wolves east of Highways 17 and 395 while USFWS is in charge to the west of the asphalt.

Luers says that this past winter WDFW Director Phil Anderson submitted a letter to Dan Ashe, USFWS chief for Washington, recommending that the wolf status review “not result in a new (distinct population segment) for Western Washington and asked for a minimum step of downlisting to threatened from endangered.”

She adds that the letter also thanked the feds for $100,000 for wolf work.

Trappers from both states are now out trying to capture and collar members of the various packs, including one wolf that killed at least four sheep in Northeast Oregon while another ram was killed in another nearby attack blamed on wolves.

Luers says that efforts in The Wedge and Hozomeen areas of Washington didn’t work out and that trappers are now focusing their work on the Smackout Pack on the Stevens-Pend Oreille County line.

From there it will be onto the Diamond Pack and, presumably, Southeast Washington’s suspected pack in the Touchet drainage.

“Sooner or later we’re going to get something radio-collared,” she says.

The agency is receiving around five or six wolf calls a week, Luers adds.

And in Oregon, the state police say that there is now a $2,500 reward for information on the killing of a possible wolf in Union County earlier this year.

NW Wild Country To Talk WA Wolves With Hunter Who Worked On WDFW Plan

A Seattle-based outdoors radio show will feature a Northeast Washington hunter who was deeply involved in the crafting of the statewide management plan over the past four years, but who told Northwest Sportsman that he felt like he’d been “kicked in the stomach” by the finished product.

Tommy Petrie, an elk hunter, packer and all-around bad-ass outdoorsman who was raised in a valley now co-occupied by the Diamond Pack, will be on the air Saturday morning between 7 and 7:30 a.m. on Northwest Wild Country, according to host Joel Shangle.

His initial reaction to the final plan unanimously approved by the Fish & Wildlife Commission was mournful: “[It] felt like I’d been kicked in the … stomach. I feel like I spent years traveling, attending meetings, trying to get a plan for everyone that’s based on science … From the beginning, my only request was that WDFW consult Valerius Geist (the famed ungulate researcher) to peer review the plan. That never happened.”

TOMMY PETRIE WILL BE A GUEST ON NORTHWEST WILD COUNTRY ON SATURDAY, APRIL 21. (COURTESY TOMMY PETRIE)

Petrie, who shot the third biggest wolf during Idaho’s 2009 hunt, has been instrumental in documenting wolves in Pend Oreille County for WDFW since at least 2003. He served on the state’s Wolf Working Group, and he helped Carter Niemeyer trap members of the Diamond Pack northeast of Usk. –Jeff Holmes, Northwest Sportsman January 2012

So too will Scott Haugen, the well-known Oregon hunting and fishing writer who has very definite opinions on Canis lupus from his time hunting and trapping them on Alaska’s North Slope.

Their appearance follows up on Shangle’s initial “The Gray Area” interview with WDFW’s wolf policy coordinator Steve Pozzanghera who outlined the basic situation with wolves in Washington two Saturdays ago.

Shangle plans to air more segments in the future, and hopes to get Carter Niemeyer, the retired federal biologist and wolf manager and author of Wolfer on the air as well.

Latest WDFW Weekly Wildlife Report Highlights Okanogan Deer, Wolves

A slightly higher ratio of fawns appears to have survived this winter than last in western and central Okanogan County.

The latest weekly wildlife report from WDFW says that biologists counted around 2,900 muleys in the Methow and Okanogan Valleys and found 34 fawns for every 100 adults.

Scott Fitkin and Jeff Heinlen estimated there was a 50 percent over-winter mortality for the young deer.

While that sounds bad, the biologists term it “slightly below average” and say it “translates into a roughly stable or slightly increasing deer population.”

Last year’s postwinter count was 31:100, down nine fawns from 2010, but also more than following the winters of 2006, ’07 and ’08.

High marks back through 1993 include 60:100 in 1999 and 56:100 in 2000 while low marks include 17:100 following 1996-97’s horrible winter and 18:100 coming out of 2005-06’s.

WDFW performs the spring count during the green-up when the deer are out and easier to count.

To the south, in Chelan County, a partial count found “normal” fawn counts.

But also found on each of five survey routes: deer affected by hairloss, which has taken a toll on muleys to the south in Yakima County.

Even worse news: It may be spreading to Okanogan County.

The weekly report mentions that a second deer with signs of it was spotted by Heinlen.

“Whatever the cause, it seems to be an isolated incident at this point. We will try to make an attempt to sample one of the infected animals this week,” they say.

Also in the region, the weekly newsletter mentions that trail cam photos captured two wolves “that may be a mated pair” traveling together in the Methow Valley.

Earlier this spring, a wolf watcher saw one wolf lift its leg and one wolf squat to pee, according to a U.S. Forest Service biologist we spoke to a couple weeks ago.

It’s unclear, however, if they’re mates or merely brother and sister from the Lookout Pack’s last litter.

By this time of season, it should be fairly apparent whether a female wolf is pregnant or not.

Only more photographs will tell.

PALS, BROTHER AND SISTER OR MATED PAIR? (WDFW)

If they are indeed a mated pair, for wolf advocates, it could be something of a Pyrrhic victory: The news comes the same week that the last two members of a Twisp family plead guilty to killing two wolves in 2008 and attempting to export the hide of one.

Under plea agreements reached with federal prosecutors, William White, Tom White and Erin White will pay a total of $73,000 in fines and be on probation for three years. While William White copped to felonies, Tom White’s settlement is for misdemeanors, which effectively saves his logging livelihood.

For more on WDFW’s statewide deer — including a Northeast Washington whitetail study and Westside blacktail study — habitat, and other work — hauling a dead moose out of a Methow Valley resident’s front yard — check out the informative weekly report, available as a 35-page PDF here.

Tom White Pleads Guilty To Killing 2 Twisp Wolves – Agrees To Pay $30,000, Serve 3 Years Probation, No Jail Time

(U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON PRESS RELEASE)

Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced today that Tom D. White, age 37, and his wife, Erin J. White, age 37, of Twisp, Washington, entered guilty pleas pursuant to plea agreements with the United States to criminal charges involving illegal conduct relating to endangered wolves.

Tom D. White entered pleas of guilty to Counts 2 and 3 of an indictment filed on June 7, 2011, charging him with killing two endangered gray wolves, in violation of  16 U.S.C. §1538(a)(1)(B). The wolves were killed in May and December of 2008.

Erin J. White entered pleas of guilty to an Information Superseding the Indictment, charging her with conspiracy to export an endangered species, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and 16 U.S.C. §1538(a)(1)(A), and with unlawful export of an endangered species, in violation of 16 U.S.C. §1538(a)(1)(A).

The Whites each face maximum penalties of up to one year in prison for each offense. The plea agreements anticipate that the United States and Tom D. White and Erin J. White will jointly recommend that they each serve a period of three years of probation. Tom D. White has agreed to pay criminal fines and restitution totaling $30,000 and to forfeit the firearm used to kill the wolf in December of 2008. Erin J. White has agreed to pay a criminal find totaling $5,000.

A sentencing hearing has been set for July 11, 2012.

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, dated May 13, 2008, showing Tom D. White holding up a second dead wolf. The wolf can be distinguished from the wolf that Tom D. White admitted killing in December of 2008 from injuries that were visible on one of its front paws.

U.S. Attorney Michael C. Ormsby stated: “Criminal wildlife violations are serious Federal crimes that will be investigated and prosecuted vigorously in the Eastern District of Washington.”

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 is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Timothy J. Ohms.