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Wed., Dec. 12, 2012, 5:30 p.m.

Wolf killed on Spokane Indian Reservation

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- A gray wolf has been killed on the Spokane Indian Reservation by a tribal member who was trapping other species, according to B.J. Kieffer, the tribe's Natural Resources Department director.

"The incidental take occurred (Dec. 10) within the boundaries of the reservation, and within the jurisdiction of the Spokane Tribe," he said in a media release.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say the wolf is likely a member of the Huckleberry Pack, noting that its range overlaps a portion of the reservation.

Wolves are protected by state endangered species rules outside of the reservation.

The Spokane Tribe is still in the process of developing a wolf management plan for its 157,376-acre reservation and has no designated trapping or hunting seasons for wolves.

The Colville Confederated Tribes have formally opened a wolf hunting season for tribal members on their 1.4 million-acre reservation with a quota of nine wolves. No wolves have been reported killed in the hunt.

Officials from both tribes say protecting big game is important to their tribal members, who rely on deer, elk and moose for subsistence.

At least 10 wolves have been killed in Washington this year through official or accidentalt actions, notes a report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine:

This region of Washington is part of the zone in the Northern Rockies where gray wolves were Congressionally delisted in spring 2011. Additionally, the Spokanes and Colvilles are sovereign nations and can manage animals on their reservations as they see fit.

There are at least six other packs in Northeast Washington, including two on the Colville Reservation, two suspected ones and new activity in the area where the Wedge Pack was eliminated for cattle depredations.

The Huckleberry Pack is suspected by state wolf managers of being involved in sheep depredations in northwest Spokane County in early summer.

There have been calls for state delisting and translocation of wolves in Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties and elsewhere in Washington east of, roughly, Highways 97 and 17.

At least ten Washington wolves have now been killed this year through management actions, legal hunts or other incidents, including the seven Wedge wolves shot by state gunners, one that went to BC on a walkabout and another member of a cross-border pack that was on the Idaho side earlier this hunting season.

A pup that was eartagged by a state trapper in July was also discovered dead.

That that many wolves have died may be alarming for some, but it also means that their numbers are strong, especially so in Washington’s gamey northeast corner.

Meanwhile, the Washington Department of  Fish and Wildlife has been active with wolf issues on various fronts, including public education presentations.

In addition, officers have:

  • Met with landowners about the range rider program to deter wolves from livestock during spring, summer and fall.
  • Responded to a reported wolf attack in Loon Lake.  The party reported her dog had been injured and its leg had to be amputated.  She said she saw a silver or grey dog, which was bigger than a coyote, near her residence a few weeks back.  Officers advised her to immediately report any more sightings and preserve any evidence found in the future.
  • Used radio telemetry to verify the wolf known as OR-16 (yearling wolf dispersing from Oregon) is in Garfield County. 
  • Worked with cattlemen to develop a Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreement that would set guidelines for livestock operations in wolf country and detail responses to wolf activity available from the state.
  • Toured the area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers in northern Stevens County where agency gunners wiped out seven wolves in the Wedge Pack after they'd inflicted a out 17 confirmed attacks on cattle.  No tracks were seen in fresh snow on that tour, but locals have reported seeing wolf tracks in new snow since that time.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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