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Wolf documented between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A gray wolf was photographed in February by a trail cam between Leavenworth and Stevens Pass, state and federal biologists have confirmed.

The confirmation is another piece of mounting evidence that the wolves are advancing their recovery toward the West Side of the Cascades.

The gray wolf is still protected under state and/or federal endangered species laws in Washington. Wolves must establish a breeding presence in three regions of the state, including Western Washington, before they can be considered for delisting.

The February photos, released today, were captured by Conservation Northwest’s Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project northwest of Leavenworth. The wolf in the photos is the first officially documented in the area since wolves began to recolonize Washington state in the late 2000s.

“This exciting discovery shows that wolves are continuing to naturally regain their historic range in the Pacific Northwest,” said Chase Gunnell, Conservation Northwest spokesman.

The photos underscore the importance of educating the public on the value of wolves for healthy wild ecosystems, gathering accurate data on impacts to big game and other wildlife species and furthering collaborative efforts that are to reduce conflicts between wolves, livestock and domestic animals in Washington, he said.

Biologists believe the animal is likely a dispersing wolf that traveled into or through the area.

An established wolf pack has not been confirmed in the area, although wolves have likely moved through the region previously to establish the Teanaway and Wenatchee packs to the south, Gunnell said.

While hikers, backpackers and others recreating in wolf country should take some sensible precautions just as they would around bears and other large wildlife, including properly storing food and keeping dogs on leash, wild wolves have posed little threat to humans in North America.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers these tips regarding wolf-human interactions:

In the February photos the wolf near Leavenworth, a gray and white animal with a classic coat, is seen sniffing and lying in the snow at a camera station set out to capture photos of wolverines, another elusive carnivore making a comeback in the Cascades. Confirmed wolf tracks were also found within the same area.

The group's citizen-science monitoring program previously made headlines in 2008 by capturing photos of the first wolf pups born in Washington in about 80 years. The project has also photographed and documented scientific data on wolverines in Washington and Canada lynx in British Columbia.

The Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project, led by Conservation Northwest in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness Awareness School and other partners, uses citizen-scientist volunteers to better inform conservation programs and priorities in the Pacific Northwest.

By training hikers, climbers, backcountry skiers, and other outdoor recreationists in tracking, wildlife biology and remote camera use, volunteers are able to support ongoing wildlife research efforts in the Cascades and the Kettle Range of northeast Washington and southeast British Columbia, the group says in a release.

Project efforts typically cover geographic areas outside those where professional research efforts are ongoing, adding to and strengthening the work of agencies, biologists, researchers and conservation organizations.

More information about the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project is available from Conservation Northwest online or in a video.

Photos and full scientific reports on each wildlife monitoring season are also available.

$15,000 reward offered in Washington wolf shooting case

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Conservation groups announced today a $15,000 reward for information that helps convict a poacher who killed a federally protected wolf near Salmon la Sac.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials confirmed this week that a female gray wolf from the Teanaway pack in Upper Kittitas County died last month from being shot.
The public is being asked to report any information or sightings from Oct. ​17 to Oct. 28 dealing with the case. Information can be reported by phone at (425) 883-8122.  Tips also can be reported on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recorded poacher hotline, (877) 933-9847.

Groups contributing to the reward include Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Woodland  Park Zoo and the Humane Society of the United States.

  • After a wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County, conservation groups joined with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to offer a $22,500 reward for information about the case. However, the case still has not been solved.
  • The investigation continues into the October shooting of a wolf in Whitman County.
  • Twisp ranching family members were ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008.

The carcass of the breeding female recovered Oct. 28 in the Teanaway Pack’s habitat area was found on the north side of the Paris Creek drainage in the Salmon la Sac area north of Lake Cle Elum, says Brent Lawrence with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland. The area is within the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

  • The person who killed the Teanaway wolf could set back state de-listing of wolves from endangered species protections. Washington's wolf management plan sets a goal of having wolf packs in three areas of the state. The Teanaway Pack ranges very close to the last of the three zones — the southern Cascades — which is still unoccupied. Wolves ranging out of that pack could be the ticket to de-listing.

The wolf was fitted with a radio telemetry collar and was recovered by federal wildlife officials and those with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Gray wolves in the western two-thirds of the state (with U.S. Highway 97 the boundary) are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and a similar state law, Lawrence said.

The Teanaway River valley and the area north of Lake Cle Elum is in the part of the state where wolves continue to be under both state and federal protection.

East of the highway, wolves have been taken off the federal endangered list but continue to be protected by state law. The federal agency is the lead investigator of wolf mortalities in the western two-thirds of the state.

Lawrence said the wolf’s telemetry collar signaled that it wasn’t moving, which led to the search and recovery of the carcass. The preliminary necropsy revealed the wolf was shot in the hindquarters. He had no additional information to share about the investigation or a possible suspect.

Wedge Pack wolves average size, scales show

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The seven Wedge Pack wolves killed by Washington Fish and Wildlife officers in August and September were healthy, but not necessarily beefy from their diet of livestock.

Read this report by Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott for updates and details on the weights of the carcasses assessed by the WDFW veterinarian.

Roskelley: Wedge pack’s demise was done deal months ago

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Former Spokane County Commissioner (and current candiate) John Roskelley of Spokane claims the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was not being genuine with the public in its handling of the summer wolf attacks in northern Stevens County and ultimately the elimination of the Wedge Pack.  Here's Roskelley's take, as posted on my Facebook page:

The WDFW rushed this decision to exterminate the Wedge Pack to avoid having to deal with the public or legislators like Sen. Rankin. I stopped at the meeting in Colville Thursday night; the WDFW got their nose bloodied by McIrvin and other Stevens County ranchers; the agency decided on a quick and dirty fix; provided the news media with their excuses for their action; used Conservation Northwest and the Cattlemen's Association as justified supporters; pretended to hunt the wolves by foot; and then proceeded to do what they intended all along - wipe the wolves out quickly via helicopter and sharpshooters before the public woke up and some organization filed an injunction to get it stopped. The WDFW agency people had their mind made up weeks ago, but they knew better than to let the public in on something this controversial before it was a done deal."

State kills 3 more Wedge Pack wolves today

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three wolves from the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County were killed by a shooter in a helicopter today as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife continued its effort to stop persistent attacks on livestock by eliminating the pack.

Since early July, Wedge Pack wolves are believed to have killed or injured at least 17 cows and calves from the Diamond M Ranch herd ranging on both private and public land between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers southwest of Laurier, Wash. 

Department Director Phil Anderson said a WDFW marksman shot the wolves from a helicopter at about 8 a.m.  The wolves were shot about seven miles south of the U.S.-Canada border in the same area where two other wolves from the Wedge Pack were killed by aerial gunning yesterday.

Biologists estimate the pack includes 8-11 wolves.  Before this week's kills, the state shot a wolf on Aug. 7 when it was still believed the pack could be thinned and dispersed without eliminating the pack. 

One wolf, thought to be the pack's alpha male, was trapped and fitted with a GPS collar earlier this summer. WDFW officers have been monitoring that wolf to follow the pack in the rugged, remote forested country.

Anderson said a department wildlife veterinarian would perform necropsies on all five of the wolves killed this week.

For more information on the situation, see the WDFW's  Wedge Pack Lethal Removal Actions FAQ

Pro-wolf groups stir up ranks to protest killing of Wedge Pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Pro-wolf groups aren't all standing by as Washington Fish and Wildlife staffers try to eliminate the cattle-preying Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County. Here's a form letter being promoted by the Center for Biological Diversity:

Center for Biological Diversity


Dear John,

Only seven wolf packs live in Washington state — but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has ordered the entire Wedge pack killed in response to cattle depredations. That includes at least eight wolves.

The killing will be carried out on the public's dime using marksmen on the ground. If that doesn't work, these wolves will be shot from helicopters.

Washington's wolf management plan clearly states that, to avoid cattle losses, non-lethal measures must be taken first to protect livestock. In this case only minimal actions were taken to avoid wolf-livestock conflicts. The state should not reward irresponsible ranchers by killing wolves that are only acting as wolves do.

Please call Gov. Christine Gregoire now at (360) 902-4111 and tell her you do not support killing the Wedge pack when ranchers have not done their part to protect cattle.

Then let us know you got through to the governor's office by clicking here. A sample call has been provided below:

"Hello, my name is ________________ and I live in ________________, Washington. I'm calling to ask Governor Gregoire to stop the killing of the Wedge pack by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. I'd also like to state my opposition to state-run wolf killing, particularly in cases where ranchers have not done everything they can to avoid losing livestock. Can you please tell me the governor's position on this issue?

[Wait for explanation]

"Thanks, that's good to know. I still don't believe the circumstances justify killing the Wedge pack. These animals are endangered, and killing them should always be viewed as a great loss. The kill order should be permanently revoked."

[Offer the staffer your address or zip code, and thank them for their time.]

State shoots 2 wolves in Wedge Pack today; 6 or more to go

ENDANGERED SPECIES – Shooting from a helicopter, a marksman with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife killed two wolves in Northeast Washington today as part of an effort to eliminate a pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in a remote grazing area near the U.S.-Canada border.

The word comes from Bruce Botka, WDFW public affairs director in Olympia.

Teams of marksmen and wildlife biologists returned to an area of northern Stevens County known as the Wedge late last week, but had not killed any wolves after several days of around-the-clock activity. 

Beginning Monday, the department called in a helicopter to aid the effort, and an airborne marksman shot the two wolves early this afternoon, about seven miles south of the Canadian border.

WDFW Director Phil Anderson had directed the pack’s removal last week in response to the wolves’ escalating pattern of predation on the livestock herd of the Diamond M Ranch of Stevens County.  Since July, the pack of eight or more wolves is believed to have killed or injured at least 17 of the herd’s calves and cows.

The department says the attacks came despite non-lethal efforts to minimize wolf conflict by the rancher and department staff. Some pro-wolf groups say the efforts to prevent the attacks could have been more effective.

Read on for more details from WDFW.

Conservation groups urge feds to keep wolves protected in Pacific NW

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Contacts for 24 conservation organizations say they sent a letter to President Barack Obama today asking for continued Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the Pacific Northwest.

Although federal protection on gray wolves in most of Eastern Washington was lifted at the same time wolves were delisted in  Idaho and Montana, wolves remain protected by state endangered species laws.

Wolves setting up housekeeping from the east flanks of the Cascades and into Western Washington would enjoy federal and state endangered species protection.

But groups, including Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, National Resource Defense Council, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club and others sent the letter, noting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is moving toward a decision on whether wolves in the Northwest and other areas will retain protection. 

  • Just for balance, I'm going to throw in a few observations to the points the groups make in a joint media release.

“Wolves are only just beginning to recover in the Pacific Northwest and need the continued protections of the Endangered Species Act,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves once roamed across most of the Pacific Northwest, but today they occupy just a fraction of their former range.”

  • Wolves  have just begun to work on game herds and kill livestock in Oregon and Washington.

About 100 wolves are dispersed among AT LEAST five Oregon packs and eight in Washington. All but two of these packs — the Lookout and Teanaway packs — lost federal protection along with the northern Rocky Mountains population, delisted by an act of Congress. The conservation groups are asking the administration to retain protection for these two packs and to develop a recovery plan for wolves in the Pacific Northwest, including in western Washington and Oregon and parts of California. 

“Wolves called the Pacific Northwest home for 10,000 years,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. “The fact that they are returning to the Cascades on their own is a good sign, but if we want them to survive and fully recover they will need our help.”

  • Efforts should start now to translocate wolves from Eastern Washington to the Mount St. Helens and Olympics areas to let Western Washington share the diversity/benefits/burden of having wolves. This would speed up recovery and expedite delisting of wolves in the region.

The need for continued protection of wolves in the Pacific Northwest was driven home when the Lookout Pack — the first breeding pack to be confirmed in Washington in more than 70 years — was decimated by poaching. The poachers were fortunately caught and prosecuted under the Endangered Species Act.

Since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho research has shown that by forcing elk to move more, wolves have allowed streamside vegetation to recover, benefitting songbirds and beavers. Studies also show that wolves provide benefits to scavenging animals such as weasels, eagles, wolverines and bears, and help increase numbers of foxes and pronghorns by controlling coyotes, which wolves regard as competitors. Thousands of visitors to the park have been thrilled to see wolves in their natural habitat.

  • True, but wolves had the room to work freely and naturally in Yellowstone. They don't have that room or prey base in Stevens or Pend Oreille counties, and it's certainly not clear that any sort of public majority wants them on the Olympic Peninsula. Elk herds are not out of balance in Eastern Washington with the single exception of Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, where hunting appears to be a workable solution.

Read on for more from the media release by the 24 conservation groups.

Check out the Discovery Channel’s “Man vs Wolf”












Tomorrow at 8pm, check out the Discovery Channel's special on Washington wolves called "Man vs. Wolf." The feature follows a team though the Cascades in search of the Lookout Pack, the first pack of wolves to return to our state in nearly a century.

"It was a profound moment," says Jasmine Minbashian, team leader and Conservation Northwest special projects director, "knowing I was in the familiar Cascade Mountains I grew up in, staring at wild wolves." (Read more from the Cascadia Weekly.)

Sunday Spin: Reaching a deal on ORVs

OLYMPIA – With all the examples of disharmony in the Legislature, it’s nice to tell a tale of folks with different agendas finding common ground and working together.

Although it doesn’t involve such high-profile issues as taxes or budgets or gay marriage or abortion, there is such a tale with two sides as diametrically opposed as Puget Sound liberals and Eastern Washington conservatives or the state Labor Council and the Building Industry Association of Washington.

The issue involves off-road vehicles, also known as four-wheel all-terrain vehicles or off-highway vehicles. In one corner, we have the people who love to ride them, wherever they can; in the other, we have the people who want them ridden less, in fewer places, with more controls.

Put another way, we have on one side people who believe in their God-given right to enjoy the outdoors and regard their opponents as tree-hugging, whiny busy-bodies. On the other, we have people who believe it’s their life’s mission to protect the environment against loud louts and their fume-spewing machines.

One might expect them to reach a meeting of the minds about as often as Planned Parenthood and the Catholic bishops. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, go inside the blog

Colville travel plan appealed by 3 regional conservation groups

PUBLIC LANDS — Getting no satisfaction from a letter of concern to the forest supervisor, three Washington-based conservation groups have appealed a Colville National Forest travel plan designating where ATVs, motorcycles and other off-highway vehicles can go at the south end of the 1.1 million acre forest.

The Lands Council, the Kettle Range Conservation Group and Conservation Northwest filed the appeal last week, charging among other things that the plan rewards lawbreaking OHV riders by legitimizing trails that were illegally made.

The groups sent a letter to Supervisor Laura Jo West on Dec. 22 expressing several concerns about the South End Project.

The supervisor replied that her decision would stand as is.

Gregoire fills two vacancies on Fish and Wildlife Commission

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Larry Carpenter, a Mount Vernon boat dealer and long-time sportfishing enthusiast, and Jay Kehne, an Omak conservationist, sheep farmer and hunter, have been appointed to vacant positions on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The commission is a nine-member panel that makes policy for the state Fish and Wildlife Department and sets rules such those for hunting and fishing seasons.

The announcedment was made today by Gov. Chris Gregoire's office.

Carpenter is likely to be a strong voice for salmon and steelhead sportfishing. 

Kehne likely falls in the category of wolf advocate, considering he’s the Okanogan outreach coordinator for Conservation Northwest, but he has a well-rounded resume of credentials.

Here's some insight from a "Living with Wolves" program report by Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

During his 31-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kehne’s worked to provide conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers.  He’s worked with conservation easements involving counties as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

He’s a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Mule Deer Foundation.

Kehne is the replacement for Spokane’s George Orr, who retired from the commission at the end of his term a year ago.

Three wilderness myths addressed

CONSERVATION — In the wake of conspiracy theorists taking over Colville National Forest public meetings, Aaron Theisen of Spokane takes a shot at busting three common misconceptions about wilderness. 

Free Rooftop BBQ Party for wilderness tonight!

Tonight from 5-9pm on the Saranac rooftop at 25 W. Main, come join Conservation Northwest for the "Free Rooftop BBQ Party for Wilderness." The event goes from 5-9 pm with burgers, beer, wine, prizes and music by Mark Walker Rhodes

At the party you can write a letter to the Forest Service supporting a balanced amount of designated wilderness areas on the Kettle Crest and Colville Nationall Forest for the benefit of wildlife, hikers, and other quiet, non-motorized recreation. Then kick back and enjoy delicious burgers, wine, beer, soda, and live music for free!

The Colville National Forest is a paradise for motorized and non-motorized recreation, with only 3% protected as wilderness, one of the smallest amounts of any national forest in the West. Wilderness areas bring balance to the forest, ensuring habitat for rare wildlife and quiet recreation opportunities for present and future generations of hikers, bird watchers, snowshoers, and other non-mechanized recreation. Your letter will make a difference for the lands you love to hike during this important public comment period.

Four organizations leading group hikes to choice wildlands

HIKING — It's not too late to join organizations leading Inland Northwest group hikes this summer. Check them out:

Please confirm with field trip leaders before attending any of these group hikes.

Bear experts confirm North Cascades bear was grizzly

WILDLIFE — A team of government and independent grizzly bear experts has confirmed that a bear photographed by a hiker n North Cascades National Park in October 2010 was a grizzly bear, according to a statement just released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency says this was the first "confirmed photograph" of a grizzly bear in the North Cascades in perhaps half a century.  Another sighting confirmed by tracks and evidence was recorded in 1996.

A panel of experts identified the grizzly in a photo taken last October in the upper Cascade River watershed by Joe Sebille. The Mount Vernon man says he was hiking near Marblemount when he saw the bear and snapped the cell phone photo.

Friends persuaded him to share the photo with the North Cascades National Park.

A member of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, Becki Heath, says it’s a significant event in the recovery of the bear. Fewer than 20 grizzlies are believed to live in Washington’s North Cascades. The bears are protected under state and federal law.

At nearly 10,000 square miles, the North Cascades Ecosystem is the second largest of six official grizzly bear recovery zones designated by the federal government and the only one outside of the Rocky Mountains. State and federal agencies have been working to recover the North Cascades grizzlies for more than two decades.

Read on for more.

Volunteers giving TLC to popular trails

PUBLIC LANDS - More volunteers are needed for upcoming outings that combine learning traditional skills and the camaraderie of group camping with maintaining popular northeastern Washington trails.

Three projects organized by the Washington Trails Association and Conservation Northwest include:

  • Bead Lake Trail, June 25-27.
  • Salmo-Priest Wilderness volunteer vacation, July 9-16.
  • Red Bluff Trail near Sullivan Lake, July 16-17;
  • Shedroof Divide Trail near Little Snowy Top, July 23-25.
  • Hall Mountain Trail near Sullivan Lake, Aug. 4-7.
  • Red Bluff Trail near the Sullivan Lake, Sept. 9-10.

Sign up:  Email derrick@conservationnw.org  or call (509) 389-5514.


Washington biologists ahead of feds in concern for wolves

 PREDATORS — Although the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced it will review the status of Pacific Northwest wolves, Washington biologists already are trying to get a handle on what's happened to the state's first documented breeding pack

The Lookout Pack in the Methow Valley has been decimated in the past year, apparently by poachers,  state and federal biologists say.
Since the wolves were discovered in 2008, the pack has gone from as many as 10 animals to only a couple of wolves.
“I’m guessing two… based on some of the photos we’ve gotten” from motion-sensor cameras, John Rohrer, a biologist with the U.S. Forest Service, told the Methow Valley News last week.
One of the survivors is the pack’s alpha male, Rohrer said, but biologists don’t know whether the other wolf is a female who might be able to breed and keep the pack alive.
Conservation Northwest is offering a $7,500 reward for information that leads to a conviction of wolf poaching in Washington.

Wilderness advocates present case for Columbia Highlands at REI

CONSERVATION — Exploring Northwest Washington's Columbia Highlands, a multi-media program, will be presented Wednesday, 7 p.m., at the Spokane REI store by Conservation Northwest and several related groups.

Explore portions of the Colville National Forest that make up some of the most wildlife rich and uncrowded recreational destinations in the state, and learn why some groups are working to protect them as wilderness.

Sign-up online to reserve a seat in the limited space available for this free presentation.

Coleman resumes Kettle Range role after Conservation NW layoff

CONSERVATION GROUPS — Tim Coleman of Republic, who's been leading conservation efforts for the Columbia Highlands area for more than two decades, has been laid off by Conservation Northwest.

"I've resumed my old role as executive director at Kettle Range Conservation Group," he said. 

The KRCG had essentially merged with Conservation Northwest years ago to combine efforts for promoting wilderness designation on portions of the Kettle Range and Selkirk Mountains.

Conservationist posts thoughts on Washington cougar hunting bill

PREDATORSMitch Friedman of Conservation Northwest has concerns about hunting cougars.

Nevertheless, he was disappointed by the Washington Legislature's failure to pass a bill to extend a pilot program that has allowed the use of hounds for limited cougar hunting in Northeastern Washington.  The bill died on the vine last week despite bipartisan support.

On Friday, Friedman wrote his well thought-out reaction to the situation and where the state and people in northeastern Washington should go from here.

"Cougar hunting can’t not be controversial," Friedman said. "On one hand, they are gorgeous cats that, as apex predators, play critical roles in the balance of ecosystems, assuring that conservationists and animal lovers have strong feelings about them. On the other hand, this silent and powerful stalker gives people who live or raise livestock around them strong feelings of a different sort."

Hound-hunting deal in the works

OLYMPIA – These adolescent males can be trouble. They wander around, get into fights on hostile turf, bother hard-working people just trying to make a living.
The experts don’t always agree on the best way to handle these problem teens. Should we hunt them down with dogs, and shoot more of them or less?
Oh, did you think we were talking about teenage boys? No, this group of adolescent males belong to the species puma concolor, also known as cougars, whose potential for increased confrontation with humans has for years been a point of contention between advocates of hound-hunting and its opponents.
An agreement struck this week between a major environmental group and an Eastern Washington legislator could be a truce in the long-running fight over hunting cougars with dogs, and lead to better state management of the big cats that some see as an icon of the West and others see as a hazard to people and livestock…

Read more about it, or comment, by clicking here.

Bannick presents ‘Birds of the Northwest’ at The Bing

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Paul Bannick, wildlife photographer and author of The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America's Most Iconic Birds, is coming to The Bing Tuesday for a program that begins at 7 p.m.

The last time Bannick was in Spokane, his program was booked at the Magic Lantern Theatre, which wasn't nearly large enough for the crowd, much of which was turned away.

The Bing will be an excellent venue.

Bannick's multimedia presentation will feature images, stories and recorded calls derived from thousands of hours in the field, highlighting the Columbia Highlands of northeastern Washington. Afterword, he will sign books.

Bannick, a birding specialist, draws connections between owls, woodpeckers and the plants and animals that live with them.  He says the show will include dozens of new images.

The show is sponsored by Conservation Northwest, with support from Friends of Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, Inland Northwest Land Trust, Palouse Audubon, Spokane Audubon, The Lands Council, and Upper Columbia River Group-Sierra Club

 A $5 donation  will be requested at the door. 

Info: 747-1663; www.conservationnw.org/birds

Conservationists boost rewards for bagging poachers in Washington

POACHING – Turning in a poacher in Washington can be rich experience, thanks to a commitment announced minutes ago by Conservation Northwest.

The Bellingham-based group says it’s partnering with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to boost the reward for people who help Fish and Wildlife police solve cases that involve the illegal killing of rare wildlife.

The reward is being increased from $500 to as much as $7,500 for information that leads to the conviction of anyone who has killed a gray wolf in Washington, and up to $5,000 if a protected grizzly bear, wolverine, lynx or fisher were killed.

The state currently is investigating at least two wolf poaching cases.

In addition, several Oregon groups have pooled funds to offer a $10,000 reward for information that would solve the case of a wolf killed illegally along the Oregon-Washington border in the Blue Mountains.

The fund Conservation Northwest has pledged also will pay up to $3,000 for “egregious violations involving deer or elk, such as spree killing,” said Mitch Friedman, the group's executive director.

Read on for more details.

Conserving working ranches topic of fundraiser

CONSERVATION — John Dawson, a Colville-area cattle rancher, will be featured at a Spokane event this week sponsored by several conservation groups to raise awareness of need to maintain working ranches for the benefit of wildlife.

Read my December feature story about Dawson.

The Dawson family are the first in Stevens County to put their ranch into a conservation easement to assure that it remains a ranch and is not developed.  The move has been lauded by conservation groups, wildlife biologists and cattlemen who know that economic pressures force many of them to develop and price the land out of the reach of the next generation of ranchers.

The event with appetizers and wine is set for Friday at the American West Bank Building lobby, 41 W. Riverside Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m.; program starts at 7.  It's sponsored by Conservation Northwest, Inland Northwest Land Trust and The Lands Council. Sen. Lisa Brown is a host.

RSVP to Crystal Gartner, (509) 570-2166, crystal@conservationnw.org

For more info, read my December feature story about the Dawson's and their conservation easement decision.

WA wolf bills panned or ‘awfulness’

WILDLIFE LEGISLATION — A spokeswoman for an organization working on wolf, wildlife and wildland issues in Washington is panning a trio of Canis lupus-related bills introduced in Olympia last week, according to a report by Northwest Sportsman magazine.

“They are spectacular in their awfulness and in the way they distort the truth,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Bellingham-based Conservation Northwest about House Bills 1107, 1108 and 1109. The magazine had looked into the bills in a previous report.

She predicts a quick death for them.

One of her coworkers, Derrick Knowles, a Spokane hunter, is among the 17 members on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Wolf Working Group, which since 2007 has helped shape the state’s draft wolf management plan.  It is expected to be debated and approved this year.

Read on for more details.

Wilderness and fly-fishing programs set for Wednesday

OUTDOOR PROGRAMS — Outdoors enthusiasts have a choice of two interesting programs to consider attending in Spokane on Wednesday evening.

Fly fishing – Pat Dorsey, who’s been named an Orvis Guide of the Year, will
present a free program on fishing tailwaters, at the Spokane Fly Fishers
meeting, 7 p.m., at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy.
Wilderness — Derrick Knowles of Conservation Northwest will present a slide program on the Columbia Highlands Initiative his group is proposing to protect forest lands in northeastern Washington while opening some lands to timber management, 7:30 p.m.,  at the Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.

Boots, camera, action!

Conservation Northwest is known for keeping it wild… with a little bit of fall hiking and tree-planting. There are two guided hikes to proposed wilderness for free and include an 8 am carpool option from Spokane. Enjoy great camaraderie and writing a letter for wilderness from the trail. To sign up for a hike, contact Crystal Gartner at (509) 570-2166 for details about where to meet.

-Saturday, Sept. 25th Jungle Hill Day Hike - Bring your camera and join Conservation Northwest for this challenging, 5-mile hike in the Columbia Highlands between Kettle Falls and Republic for panoramic views from a quiet trail through secluded wildlife habitat.

-Saturday, Oct. 9th Columbia Mountain Lookout Day Hike - This moderate, 8-mile hike leads to a 6,780-foot summit with a recently restored historic fire lookout and sweeping views of the Kettle Range when the western larch turn golden.

-Saturday, Oct. 2nd Tree Planting Party - Volunteers will revegetate a decommissioned Forest Service road in key wildlife habitat in Pend Oreille County. Bring sturdy shoes, long pants, at least two liters of water and a lunch. To sign up, contact Aaron at (509) 389-5514 or click here for details.

Also, become a fan of Conservation Northwest and Columbia Highlands Wilderness on Facebook to stay in tune as they work to protect wilderness and working lands.

Balance in the forest

Last Friday, DTE had the pleasure of covering a listening session on different interests finding common ground in the Colville National Forest, hosted by Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep Cathy McMorris-Rodgers. Much credit to keeping a sustainable forest management system is due to the collaborative efforts of the Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition, made up of Conservation Northwest, The Lands Council, timber industry, business leaders and more. Cantwell described them as “breaking the mold.”


(U.S. rep Cathy McMorris-Rodgers takes questions after the conclusion of the listening session.)

The funny thing about a blog is you get a second chance to enhance the story. We’re not taking the Andrew Sullivan approach and dissecting which is like taking the dust of the butterfly’s wings, rather giving readers further background on the 1.1 million acres of forest in question. Watch a video on the coalition HERE; take a beautiful photo tour of the Colville Roadless Areas HERE; check out SCAT, Conservation Northwest’s well-written blog on the listening session HERE.

But after the jump, you’ll find a feature that found its way to the DTE news section regarding this critical issue.