A domestic dog that took a monthlong romp on the wild side in Pend Oreille County forced Washington wildlife officials to capture and spay an endangered female gray wolf on Saturday.
“Our goal is restoration of a native wolf population, not producing a generation of hybrids we’d have to take care of in another way later,” said Donny Martorello, the Fish and Wildlife Department’s carnivore manager in Olympia.
The wolf was one of two females in the new Ruby Creek Pack that biologists have been tracking with GPS collars since July.
The unusual action came after biologists learned that a large Akbash sheepdog climbed a 7-foot-tall fence from its yard near Ione and disappeared with the two female wolves during February, when wolves go into heat.
“If there had been a male wolf in the group, the dog would have been killed instantly,” Martorello said. But the two females tolerated him and breeding occurred, he said.
Biologists easily tracked the GPS signal and used a helicopter to shoot tranquilizers and capture the wolves. One female was pregnant, he said. Both were released in the Pend Oreille River area.
“Spaying was a better alternative than trying to go out and kill all the pups after they’re born,” he said.