WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Some smart asses had a lot of fun this week spreading rumors that wolves had attacked three horses near La Crosse, Wash.
A Whitman County Gazette reporter tried to track down the word-of-mouth reports and so did several Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police and biologists.
"We tracked down the source and can verify there's no substance whatsoever to the rumors," Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager in Spokane, said this morning.
He said the rumors were not even a case of mistaken identity, such as stray dogs attacking livestock or anything like that. "It's just purely a rumor," he said.
While we're putting that issue to bed, let's also dismiss the rumor going around that WDFW staff has been releasing wolves in Whitman County. For God's sake, get a clue out there.
"Somebody is saying they actually saw the department releasing four wolves and that's pure rumor," Pozzanghera said. "The department is not relocating wolves, and we have not had a capture or any hands-on activity with wolves in recent months."
- In Idaho, for the record, a wolf attack on a horse was confirmed on Aug. 20 at West Pass Creek, about 20 miles south of Clayton, according to Idaho Fish and Game Department wildlife manager Jon Rachael in Boise.
Turnbull elk rumor
One more rumor that needs to be squashed is the persistent rant that WDFW uses a helicopter to herd elk away from hunters and onto Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge each fall. Indeed, the hunting seasons enacted on the refuge a few years ago were designed specifically to help move elk OFF the refuge to reduce damage on Turnbull and increase hunter harvests outside the refuge boundaries.
A two-day helicopter survey is run at the end of September each year to monitor Turnbull-area elk, but the elk are not herded.
Farmers who've had depredation problems with elk can verify that nobody could chase a herd of elk to a patch of ground on one weekend and expect them to stay there throughout the fall hunting seasons. Nobody with a hint of knowledge about elk would believe that, and nobody with a brain would repeat the rumor.