ENDANGERED SPECIES -- A trail-cam image of a pair of gray wolves in the Methow Valley is raising the possibility that the Lookout Pack may be regrouping -- and possibly reproducing.
The wolves (above) were photographed in April by a motion-activated camera put out by the U.S. Forest Service southwest of Twisp.
Several sightings of the pair have been reported to the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department, offering the possibility the pair may have mated and the Lookout Pack is rebuilding.
Poaching and other possible causes reduced the Lookout Pack from 10 wolves in 2008 to two or possibly three animals.
Three members of a Twisp family, whose ranch borders the area inhabited by the Lookout Pack, pleaded guilty in April to charges related to killing endangered wolves and attempting to smuggle a wolf hide to Canada.
Their fines total more than $70,000
The the photographed pair are a breeding male and female, pups could be born in early May.
“Without radio-collared animals, our next best chance of finding out more will be when the pups are old enough to leave the den and start responding to howling solicitations – probably not until mid-June,” Scott Fitkin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, told the Methow Valley News.
Elsewhere in Washington
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to document whether wolves confirmed in about five new areas of the state have formed new packs.
WDFW biologists currently are attempting to trap and fix radio collars on wolves in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers in northeast Washington.
Officials say that operation likely will move next to the Hozomeen area in northwest WA.
Efforts to put collars on wolves in the Touchet River area of the Blue Mountains likely won't begin until later this spring or early summer, officials say.