Outdoors blog

State focuses trapper on Methow wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has sped up plans to put radio collars on wolves in the Methow Valley after confirming last month the pack likely killed a calf – the first in the state to qualify for compensation.

Biologist Scott Becker has been stationed in Wenatchee and hired to work with wolves, according to the Wenatchee World. He’s begun efforts to trap the two known members of the Lookout Pack, said Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera.

It’s the state’s first confirmed wolf pack in 70 years, and now deemed the first pack to have probably killed livestock in a May 19 attack on the Thurlow cattle ranch near Carlton.

Becker - formerly a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - and another biologist stationed in Spokane will try to trap and radio collar animals from all five known packs in the state. That will allow biologists to follow the packs’ movements and track breeding.

The wolves will be released in the same location as captured, Pozzanghera said, adding the agency hopes to work with the Thurlows and other ranchers to prevent further problems.

Read on for more details from the Wenatchee World.

The Thurlows qualify for compensation under the state’s wolf recovery plan, up to $1,500 depending on the calf’s market value.

Bernard Thurlow said he believes two other calves were injured by the wolf the same day. He brought them home and nursed them back to health, but will receive no compensation for them.Funds are available for preventing wolf kills, he noted, and that includes hiring what’s known as a range rider.

He said the agency would work with ranchers, who can pick someone who knows their land and knows cattle ranching to help prevent further wolf attacks.

Human presence is often enough to deter wolves, he said.

Thurlow said he has declined the agency’s offer to hire a range rider. "I just don’t want somebody else up there," he said. "I don’t know what they know about cows, and they don’t know our range. They could cause me more grief, and the cows don’t know them," he said.

In addition to the two biologists who will work with wolves, the WDFW hired two science technicians - one of them stationed in Wenatchee - to attempt to detect new wolf packs in the state, and provide support for issues arising from confrontations with livestock.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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