State biologists recently caught two adult male wolves in the Smackout Pack in northeastern Washington, ending a drought of attempts to collar wolves with GPS transmitters to monitor Washington’s expanding gray wolf population.
The wolves were weighed at 97 pounds and 90 pounds before being released.
On Monday and Tuesday, the Colville Tribes’ “Wolf Trapping Team” captured and collared another two gray wolves from the Nc’icn Pack near the San Poil river, the first wolves caught on the reservation in over 100 years.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department also has redoubled efforts to put radio collars on wolves in the Methow Valley after verifying last month that the pack likely killed a calf on May 19 near Carlton – the first in the state to qualify for compensation. Biologist Scott Becker of Wyoming has been hired and stationed in Wenatchee to work with wolves, according the agency’s Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera in Spokane.
Becker put out traps this week in an attempt to catch the two known members of the Lookout Pack, which had been dismantled by poaching.
The Lookout Pack was the state’s first confirmed wolf pack in 70 years. Now it apparently has the distinction of being the first pack to have killed Washington livestock.
While two Washington staffers are in the Methow this week, two others are trying to capture wolves in a suspected pack in the so-called “Wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers of northeastern Washington.
One collar is still functioning on a wolf in the Salmo Pack, which roams the Washington-Idaho border area near the Canada border.
Another collar is transmitting on a wolf in the Diamond Pack of Pend Oreille County, the second breeding pack to be documented in the state. That wolf was collared in 2010 and recaptured for a GPS transmitter in 2011, Pozzanghera said.
The plan calls for moving the trappers to the Blue Mountains later this summer to try to put a collar on a wolf in the suspected Touchet River-area pack, he said.