Category Archives: Wolf News

Wolf TMI, Waaaaay TMI

It struck even me, an inveterate Washington wolf news hound, as, well, too much information — but now it’s been scrubbed from The Record and inquiring (not to say bored) reporters are wondering why.

OK, so it’s just one reporter.

The first version of the state Department of Fish & Wildlife’s weekly Wildlife Program report for early July includes the details about how one of the agency’s two wolf techs was apparently by herself in the Wedge of extreme northern Stevens County placing trail cams when her truck broke down and cell phone died.

It’s the same area where just a week or so afterwards, confirmed cattle depredations would occur and a state trapper would capture a 94-pound male wolf and a pup.

The second report for the same time period contains no mention whatsoever of the incident.

I only happened to catch it because I compulsively check the page where WDFW posts the PDFs, immediately downloaded Version 1 last week when it became available, scanned it for wolf news, and, well, kinda chuckled.

The report even included a pic of the truck’s hood popped up and malfunctioning part.

Then the PDF disappeared before reappearing sometime between my phone call to Oly HQ yesterday afternoon and this morning.

I of course stopped everything that I was doing, downloaded the second take and searched the now noticeably shorter document for “wol,” hoping to capture any and all new mentions of wolf and wolves for the blog.

But there’s now a gap where this was originally reported:

While attempting to check and deploy cameras in the Wedge, Wolf Technician Tiffany Baker’s truck broke down. A radiator hose was replaced the next day and the vehicle was retrieved and taken to the repair shop in Colville. ADWB Shepherd and Habitat Biologist Sandy Dotts retrieved Wolf Technician Tiffany Baker from the Wedge after her truck broke down and cell phone went dead. Private Lands Technician Scott Bendixen assisted Wolf Technician Tiffany Baker with repairs the following day and the truck was functional enough to drive to the automotive shop in Colville.

While attempting to check and deploy cameras in the Wedge, Wolf Technician Baker’s truck broke down. Private Lands Technician Scott Bendixen assisted Baker with repairs the following day and the truck was functional enough to drive to the automotive shop in Colville.

So what the hell’s going on? Why aren’t we being given every last detail about wolves and wolf management activities in Washington? Isn’t this part of the outreach component of the plan? What sort of coverup is WDFW running?!?!

I asked the Spokane office, and they said this:

“Kevin (Robinette, regional wildlife manager) says stuff like Tiffany’s truck breakdown are considered ‘administrative details’ that we usually don’t include simply for public interest and space.”

Yeah, probably TMI.

Back to work, Walmagott, bigger fish to fry.

Wedge Wolves On A Tight Leash

State and federal wolf managers have teamed up to haze wolves in northern Stevens County where a newly confirmed pack responsible for recent livestock attacks is on the proverbial tight leash.

“If we have another confirmed kill in the Wedge, we’d move to lethal removal,” says Steve Pozzanghera, the wolf policy lead for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife in Spokane.

Earlier this month, the Diamond M Ranch lost at least one calf to a wolf or wolves and had another calf and a cow injured by the predators. Two others were also slightly hurt. Another calf was killed by a cougar. In 2007, the ranch also lost a calf to a wolf.

Pozzanghera says that staff from Wildlife Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are in the area to haze wolves and reduce the chances of another livestock attack.

However, the federal agency would not pull the trigger if another cow goes down.

“They don’t have the proper legal paperwork in place to kill wolves in Washington,” he says.

That means the job could fall to WDFW.

The state offered Diamond M a caught-in-the-act/shoot-to-kill permit, but in a conversation with Northwest Sportsman for our August issue, out later this week, rancher Bill McIrvin said he didn’t want it.

Since then and the subsequent capture of a male wolf and a pup, it’s been quiet in the Wedge.

“Quiet is good,” says Pozzanghera.

The adopted wolf management plan says this about what would trigger a removal:

Lethal control to resolve repeated livestock depredations: Lethal removal may be used to stop repeated depredation if it is documented that livestock have clearly been killed by wolves, non-lethal methods have been tried but failed to resolve the conflict, depredations are likely to continue, and there is no evidence of intentional feeding or unnatural attraction of wolves by the livestock owner. Situations will have to be evaluated on a case-specific basis, with management decisions based on pack history and size, pattern of depredations, number of livestock killed, state listed status of wolves, extent of proactive management measures being used on the property, and other considerations. If it is determined that lethal removal is necessary, it will likely be used incrementally, as has been done in other states, with one or two offending animals removed initially. If depredations continue, additional animals may be removed. Lethal removal methods may include trapping and euthanizing, or shooting.

While moving wolves around inside the state is also part of the plan, Pozzanghera says the Wedge wolves “are not candidates for translocation” because of the attacks.

Events here will be closely watched by all parties involved.

One other note: Conservation Northwest volunteers report hearing howling in the Little Naches, in the Southern Cascades, earlier this summer. The area is part of the home range of the state’s second largest elk herd. There have been a few other wolf reports in the area over the years — our contributor Dave Workman says he saw two in 2004 — but nothing to indicate a pack had set up residence in the heavily hunted drainages here.

Spokane Hunter-writer Calls For Wolf Translocation Studies To Begin

You can read the frustration in Spokane hunter and longtime outdoors columnist Rich Landers’ blog yesterday about Eastern Washington bearing “the weight” so far, of wolf recovery in the Evergreen State.

Six of the eight packs now known to be roaming around are in the woods and mountains just to the north and northwest of him.

Three new packs have been confirmed just this year; at least two of those and another have had pups.

What’s that growing density going to do to Northeast Washington’s elk, moose and deer and endangered caribou herd as we wait for wolves to fan out into the North Cascades and South-central Washington?

Right now, there are just two known packs west of, basically, Highways 97 and 17, and only one breeding pair.

The Whites shooting the Lookouts up hasn’t helped — though the Teanaway alpha female is related to that Methow Valley group — nor will talk of or anyone acting on SSS.

The management plan requires there to be at least seven breeding pairs, for three straight years, here before delisting.

Delisting and possible wolf hunts are tied to statewide recovery goes, not regional ones which clearly are going to be met first in Landers’ country.

It binds the right-hand side of the state.

“The East Side is getting wolves without management authority whether they like them or not. West Side residents get to have a say in whether they want wolves in their woods,” he blogs.

The wolf plan does have a workaround, called translocation — moving Washington wolves around inside the state, not bringing in BC, Idaho or Oregon animals.

“With eight packs confirmed in Eastern Washington and more unconfirmed packs almost surely formed in the area, it seems like NOW is the time to begin the environmental reviews and public outreach required to get the ball rolling toward delisting wolves,” Landers writes.

Translocation has always made me very uneasy. I understand it in principle and I’m on board with getting to recovery as fast as possible.

But it could also potentially turn hunters against each other in the state — those who don’t want wolves in elk-rich South-central or Coastal Washington could argue against it, and in the process leave the Northeast to fend for itself.

Translocation drew support from members of the Wolf Working Group, hunters, livestock interests and wolf advocates who helped craft the management plan.

They’re said to have said something along the lines of it would help “share the joy” of wolves in Washington when the topic was discussed.

The hitch is money and interest from WDFW.

I haven’t sensed a great desire on the agency’s part to try translocation at the moment.

If I was a state wolf manager who recalls the meetings prior to and the outfall from the reintroductions into Yellowstone and Idaho, I don’t think I’d want to dabble in it either.

But that leaves the Northeast and its game and its livestock and its wolves and its hunters and its cattlemen …

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.