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Death sentence issued for entire wolf pack in Wedge area

ENDANGERED SPECIES — One thing's for sure: Beef is not healthy for wolves.

At a public meeting in Colville Thursday night, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced intentions to eliminate the entire Wedge Pack of wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle in northern Stevens County since mid-July.

This is a milestone in the controversial process of wolf recovery, the first time a wolf pack has been targeted in Washington since gray wolves were extirpated from the West with guns, traps and poison in the early 1900s. Eliminating wolf packs focused on livestock already has been employed in Montana and Idaho where the issues arose.

Statements were issued late Friday afternoon by the WDFW along with the state Cattlemen's Association and Conservation Northwest.

Details of the meeting and the agency's plan to kill the wolves are spelled out in this morning's report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

For those watching this issue, the writing was on the wall.

The scenario was pretty well set up, as I illustrated in my Thursday column, when WDFW officials confirmed another wolf attack on Diamond M Ranch cattle on Sunday.

Walgamott also posted a detailed scene-setting report.

The agency posted answers to frequently asked questions on Wednesday night.

Wedge wolves topic of Colville public meeting tonight

ENDANGERED SPECIES — At the request of Stevens County ranchers and commissioners, Washington Department of fish and Wildlife officials will present an update on their efforts to deal with gray wolves that have killed or injured at least 15 cattle since mid-July.

Some of the issues were spelled out in today's Outdoors column.

The cattle belong to the Diamond M Ranch which summers its livestock on a national forest grazing allotment in the "wedge" area near the Canada border between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, will outline the agency's efforts in a public meeting set for 5 p.m. tonight (Sept. 20) in the Colville County Commissioner's meeting room (old Avista Building) 230 E. Birch Street Colville 99114.  See map.

WDFW posted these answers to questions about the Wedge Pack issues on its website Wednesday.

Reading between the lines, Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott says the agency appears to be targeting more than just a few of the Wedge Pack wolves — perhaps the entire pack of 8-11 animals.

Park sued for not using wolves to control elk

PREDATORS — WildEarth Guardians will have their day in court in a lawsuit  against the National Park Service for not considering reintroduction of wolves into Rocky Mountain National Park as an option for controlling elk numbers.

Park officials have been using sharpshooters to thin the elk herd over the past few years.

WildEarth says wolves should have been introduced to do the culling naturally. 

Biologists say the park is to too small to expect the wolves to stay put and not cause issues elswhere. 

WildEarth said we'll see you in court.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing a case Thursday on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

See story.

Diamond Pack wolf killed by hunter in Idaho

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Even though Washington wolves are still protected by state endangered species rules, Idaho offered a touch of "management" to the Diamond Pack of northeastern Washington over the weekend.

A Washington man with an Idaho wolf hunting license killed a wolf on Saturday just east of the Pend Oreille County/Washington border.

The wolf had the red Washington eartags 379, 378, which means it had been caught, tagged and released by Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists studying the Diamond Pack's movements. 

According to Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager, the male wolf was killed by the hunter in Kalispell Creek. which drains into Priest Lake near Nordman. 

The Diamond Pack had been observed as early as 2007 and was confirmed as the second breeding wolf pack in 2009.  The photo above shows Diamond Pack pups photographed in Pend Oreille County in 2009 by a remote camera placed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Only a few tagged Washington wolves have previously strayed to legal doom in other jurisdictions.

  • A Diamond Pack female wolf was killed by a trapper in Idaho last winter just east of the Washington border.
  • A Teanaway Pack female wolf was shot last spring in a southeastern British Columbia pig pen.

Read on for details on the Diamond Pack from the WDFW.

More dead cattle but no dead wolves reported in Wedge

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department hasn't had much to report regarding its less than fruitful efforts to curb the cattle killing by gray wolves in the Wedge area of northern Stevens County. The toll is about 15 cattle confirmed killed or injured by wolves between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers since mid-July.

But a lot of other people are talking, including the Stevens County Cattlemen's Association.

Several more cattle have been found dead or severly injured since WDFW sent officers into the Wedge area in late August, but the agency has not reported any wolves being killed in the effort.

Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager, said this afternoon that the number of officers in the area is being increased after another Diamond M Ranch calf was confirmed killed by wolves in an investigation on Sunday. 

Possible reasons for the lack of effective agency response are listed in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Read on to see a media release from the Cattlemen's association, which is raising concern about the progress of wolf recovery and wolf management.

Colville Tribe documents Washington’s 9th wolf pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Colville Tribe confirmed Washington’s ninth wolf pack Sunday as they trapped and released a 104-pound gray wolf.

The new group of gray wolves has been called the Strawberries Pack.

The wolf is the third to be captured, fitted with a GPS collar and released  on the reservation in three months.

Eric Krausz and Donovan Antoine of the tribe’s wildlife program caught the 104-pound female wolf on Sunday, the tribe reports.

Wolf trapping expert Carter Niemeyer was hired last spring to teach the Tribes’ wildlife personnel the tricky art trapping gray wolves.  While Niemeyer was on the reservation, the trapping team captured a 68-pound female and a 72-pound male as the tribe confirmed the state’s eighth pack, dubbed the Nc’icn Pack.

After scouting to find significant wolf sign, Krausz and Antoine set a trapline two weeks ago that finally caught the third wolf after six days.

The tribe is working on a wolf management plan that’s separate from the Washington wolf plan adopted last year to deal with wolves as the naturally move back into their former range.

Wolf answers bowhunter’s elk call; archer wins

HUNTING — Bowhunters have been learning over the years — some of them the hard way — that bears and even cougars will sneak in on them while they are calling elk during the September rut seasons.  

Cow and calf talk is especially effective in luring predators, and archers must be ready to deal with being prey for a large carnivorem whether it's with their bow, bear spray or a handgun, where allowed.

This week, a Montana elk hunter with a wolf license shot a wolf on the fourth day of archery season just west of the Whitefish Divide, reaching a quota that prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to close the North Fork Flathead’s wolf management Unit 110. It is the only hunting district in the state that retains a quota for wolves.

Region One Wildlife Manager Jim Williams said the hunter checked in the wolf as required on Wednesday.

“An individual archer took an 83-pound, 4-year-old male wolf just west of the Whitefish Divide,” Williams told the Daily Interlake. “The guy was cow-talking at elk. The wolf came right in.”

Only two wolves can be harvested a year in the district, which covers the North Fork west of Glacier National and extends over the Whitefish Divide into Lincoln County.

One more wolf can be harvested once the rifle season for wolves opens Oct. 15.

Oregon monitoring state’s fifth breeding wolf pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — In case you missed it from last week, Oregon has confirmed its fifth breeding wolf pack after documenting pups in a group roaming the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Read on for details from the Associated Press.

Wedge Pack cattle-killing pattern apparently continues; two more carcasses found today

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Wedge Pack's appetite for livestock may spell doom for four or more of the dozen or so wolves roaming between Canada and northern Stevens County.

Two more Diamond M Ranch cattle were confirmed today.

That could bring the number of wolf depredations on the ranch's herd to 12 the cattle between the Columbia and Kettle rivers since mid July.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers are in the area trying to trap and collar another wolf in the pack  — one is already collared to help them monitor the pack's movements.  They're also seeking to kill wolves and disperse the pack.

Department Director Phil Anderson gave an update on the Wedge Pack issue a few hours ago. 

Anderson's update is detailed here in a blog post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Wolf attacks on cattle continue; state resumes hunt on Wedge Pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Before taking a break for the holiday weekend, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers confirmed that wolves had attacked two more cattle on private land in northern Stevens County, this time on private land.

See details in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

Today Fish and Wildlife officers have resumed their hunt to radio collar another wolf in the pack and kill up to four members of the pack in an attempt to stop the pattern of depredations on Diamond M Ranch cattle in the Wedge area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.

See a just-posted update on the situation, again by Walgamott, the wolf man from Northwest Sportsman.

Wyoming finally taking charge of its wolves

PREDATORS — Another milestone in wolf reintroduction…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that wolves in Wyoming will be removed from the federal endangered species list as of Sept. 30, allowing Wyoming's wolf hunt to go forward as scheduled on Oct. 1.

See Casper Star-Tribune story With federal protection removed, Wyoming's wolf hunt begins Oct. 1 


About 70 attend CdA pro-wolf rally; hunter’s views not appreciated

PREDATORS — About 70 people attended a pro-wolf rally in Coeur d'Alene on Thursday, the day the state's wolf hunting season opened.

The Coeur d'Alene Press has this news report on the rally, including the observation that a hunter who tried to support Idaho's current wolf management plan did not received a warm welcome for his thoughts. 

UPDATE: Wedge Pack wolves get holiday reprieve while another cattle attack investigated

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington wildlife managers have given a reprieve to four wolves targeted for killing in the state’s northeastern corner.

But the wolves aren't taking a holiday.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday that it was giving the temporary reprieve to give its team in the field a break, to avoid running into people outdoors on Labor Day and to evaluate what it’s learned so far about the pack’s activities. Officials say they’ll reconsider next week.

Then they received a new report of a wolf depredation on cattle in northern Stevens County, which is being investigated today.

The move announced Thursday to bring staff out of the field came after protests from conservation groups who argued that there’s little evidence the Stevens County pack, known as the Wedge pack, were to blame for recent depredations on the Diamond M ranch. Eight livestock have been injured or killed since last month, most recently in mid-August.

Officials killed one wolf Aug. 7 and planned to kill up to four more.

The conservation groups include Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity. The department maintains that the wolves are responsible.

If you still have a full appetite for the past week's regional wolf news, here's an assortment of stories compiled and headlined by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine:

Wolves Are Confirmed To Have Killed 54 Cows, Sheep And Other Stock In Oregon

WDFW Ends Its Fruitless Hunt For Wedge Wolves, Though At Least Figures Out There Are 11 Up There

WDFW, ODFW Want To Manage All Wolves In Their Respective States On Their Own, AP Reports (About A Couple Weeks After We Did)

There's Another Pack Of Wolves In The Wallowas, At Least Seven Up The Minam River

A Bunch Of Wolf Groups Take Credit For Getting WDFW To Call Off The Wedge Wolf Hunt

WDFW Says, Look, We've Been Hunting Those Wolves For 12 Days, Time To Give The Boys In The Field A Break, Plus It's Labor Day Weekend

Anderson Will Provide A Wolf Update To Fish & Wildlife Commissioners On Sept. 5

Decomposed Body Of Dead Young Wolf Found In Wedge

Spokesman-Review Map Shows Range Of Wedge Wolves Over 1-month Summer Period

Gets The County Wrong In The Headline & Lead, But Captures The Essence Of The Wedge Problem

WDFW Wolf Manager Says, Look, People Are Going To Disagree About Whether Wolves Killed Something Or Not; At The End Of The Day, Agency Makes The Final Determination

Investigators find dead wolf in northern Stevens County

ENDANGERED SPECIES — State officers were unsuccessful this week as they attempted to trap and possibly kill up to four wolves in northern Stevens County  — but they found the carcass of a gray wolf that had died of some other means.

The carcass reportedly was decomposed and cause of death could not be determined by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff.

The graphic above shows how far the Wedge Pack has ranged in the six weeks since the alpha male was trapped, radio-collared and released. WDFW officials say the pack's full summer-winter range is likely much greater.  They also noted that aerial monitoring coupled with on the ground observation show the collared male can be miles away from other wolves in the pack.

"It's a misconception that a pack always runs together," said Steve Pozzanghera, WDFW regional manager.

Read on in this post for today's late afternoon WDFW update on the effort to deal with Wedge Pack cattle depredations.

Pro-wolf groups ask Gregoire to stop plan to kill wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES —  Seven conservation organizations sent a letter today calling on Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and state agencies to rescind a state Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to thwart attacks on cattle by killing up to four wolves in the Wedge Pack in northeastern Washington.

WDFW officials announced last week that up to four wolves may be killed in the Stevens County area near the Canada border after the latest in a series of wolf attacks that had injured six cattle and killed two. 

The state killed a wolf in that area on Aug. 7 in response to a series of attacks in July. That was "lethal removal" mission the agency has launched under its 2011 wolf management plan.

The conservation groups contend the WDFW field analysis of the Diamond M Ranch's livestock was flawed and the cattle may not have been killed by wolves.

The letter was directed to WDFW Director Phil Anderson from the Western Environmental Law Center and forwarded to Gov. Gregoire and other state lawmakers.

Contacted today, WDFW regional manager Steve Pozzanghera said the department stands by its detailed field investigations that confirmed the attacks were by wolves. 

He said that while agency staff have been working in the area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers all week, no wolves have yet been trapped and fitted with radio collars and none has been killed.

Read on for the media release the seven conservation groups issued today announcing their letter to Gregoire and their complaints.

More wolves to be killed to curb Washington cattle attacks

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials say they plan to kill more wolves in northern Stevens County to curb a spree of attacks on cattle.

After confirming that wolves killed one calf this week and injured another, the agency intends to kill up to three members of the Wedge Pack, Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman said Friday.

“Our officers will try to trap and put a radio collar on at least one more wolf in the pack for monitoring,” she said. “Then the intent is to lethally remove up to three more wolves to disrupt the pack and reduce its need to feed so many mouths.”

The Wedge Pack roams the Colville National Forest area the Diamond M Ranch leases for grazing between the Columbia and Kettle rivers. Wolf attacks have been confirmed on at least five of the ranch's animals in the past four weeks, including two calves killed.

A female non-breeding wolf in the pack was killed by department officers on Aug. 7 after wolves had killed a calf and injured two others. The kill was the first by the agency under its wolf management plan adopted in 2011. Although gray wolves in Eastern Washington are protected by state endangered species laws, the plan allows lethal removal in some cases.

Remote camera images indicate the Wedge Pack includes at least a breeding pair, a few sub-adults and a few pups, but the exact number of wolves isn’t known, Luers said.

Wolves launch more attacks on Stevens County cattle

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Another confirmed wolf attack on cattle in northern Stevens County is prompting the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to consider more lethal action and possibly breaking up the Wedge Pack near the Canada border.

Department officers confirmed on Tuesday that a Diamond M Ranch calf was attacked by wolves on a Colville National Forest grazing lease in "the wedge" area between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers. Today officers are responding to reports from the ranchers that two more calves were killed, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.

If verified, the ranch operated by the McIrvin family will have had at least three calves injured and three killed in four weeks. The ranch grazes about 400 cattle in the area during summer.

"Basically, cows, big-game and wolves are everywhere in that area," Luers said.

In mid-July, officials confirmed that wolves had injured a cow and calf and killed another calf from the northern Stevens County ranch.

A female non-breeding wolf was killed by department officers on Aug. 7 in an attempt to disrupt the wolf pack's pattern of targeting livestock. The kill was the first by the agency under its wolf management plan adopted in 2011.

Gray wolves are protected in Eastern Washington by the state endangered species laws.

One male wolf trapped and released from the Wedge Pack (one of eight confirmed packs in Washington) is wearing a GPS tracking device that helps the agency monitor the wolf pack's movements. Starting Monday, agency biologists will attempt to trap and put tracking collars on more of the wolves.

"We're going to try to thoroughly document their range and what they're doing," Luers said.  "After that, we'll decide which way to go. Everything's on the table, including removing more wolves and trying to disperse the pack."

In a report just filed by Capital Press online, rancher Len McIrvin suggests the Wedge Pack will need to be taken out.

There are so many wolves now, he said, the only acceptable option is trapping and poison.
Compensation is not the answer, McIrvin said, because the proposed fund is for a maximum of 10 ranches to receive $5,000.

“We’d use up the $50,000 ourselves,” McIrvin said. “We’ll still have the wolves and they’ll still put us out of business if we don’t eliminate them.”

McIrvin reported a loss of 11 calves and five bulls last year. Not all of the losses were confirmed kills by wolves. At least a few have been confirmed as cougar kills.  But McIrvin expects the cattle losses go to up this year.

  • See my recent column for background on wolf attacks and management in Washington.
  • See the latest update and details on the Wedge Pack issues from Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

TV documentary first to tackle Montana wolf hunting

HUNTING — A TV documentary will air Thursday featuring two Montana hunters confronting the issues and the difficulty centered around hunting wolves. The two-episode program on the Sportsman Channel will be the first to follow a wolf hunt in the Lower 48 states.

It's already getting praised and bashed, as you might expect.  See the video intro above and judge for yourself.

 “On Your Own Adventures” tackles the issue of wolf management head-on with an attempt to present equal parts education and adventure.

Big game hunter and conservation historian Randy Newberg, along with hunting partner, Matt Clyde, will try to outsmart an intelligent predator—and explain the reasons why wolf management is necessary—during an 11-day spot-and-stalk wolf hunt.

The series airs Thursday (Aug.) 16 and concludes on Aug. 23. 


To find the Sportsman Channel:

Use the zip code locator on the website http://thesportsmanchannel.com if you plug in your zip code, it will show the providers the channel is on.

I used zip code 99201 and it shows the Sportsman Channel on Comcast ch 428, DIRECTV 605, DISH 395 (that's in HD too).

For more details, see my Outdoors column: TV show confronts contentious wolf hunting issues

Feds seek to delist wolves in Wyoming: good luck

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The federal government plans to announce an end to Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Wyoming later this month.

Rather than ending years of wrangling between state and federal officials, however, the move promises to spark legal challenges from environmental groups outraged that the state plans to classify wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most areas.

Read on for details in a story from the Associated Press.

Montana logs surge of interest in wolf trapping

PREDATORS — More than 1,200 Montanans have indicated they want to participate in the state's first wolf trapping season, which will open later this year.  The trapping season was approved just last month by the Fish, Wildlife and Parks commission.

The prospective participants have signed the roster for course they'll be required to complete before they can buy a wolf trapping license.

FWP bureau chief Ron Aasheim said the department is working to develop curriculum and schedules to accommodate those interested in taking the class.

Idaho had similar initial interest from the public during its first wolf trapping season, but only a couple hundred people actually participated during the trapping season.

See more in a story by the Ravalli Republic.

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.

Bitterroot elk numbers up, despite wolves, cougars

HUNTING — An ambitious elk study in the East Fork of the Bitterroot River has documented an increase in elk calf survival.  Wolves have not been a significant factor this year, although mountain lions have taken a toll on the elk.

Craig Jourdonnais of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks says he counted 56 elk calves per 100 cows during an aerial flight in July.

He said1976 was the last time elk calf numbers were that high.

The ratio between elk calves and cows at one point in recent years dropped into the teens.

An elk study has found that 17 elk calves have died since June, and of those six were killed by mountain lions and four by black bears. Two deaths were human related and it’s unclear how the other five died.

While biologists are encouraged, they warn there's a reason the study runs for three years.

“It was a screwy winter with not a lot of snow,” Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks research technician Ben Jimenez said in a story by the Ravalli Republic. “That’s why we do these studies for three years. … Who knows? Maybe this winter we’ll see a huge number of wolf kills.”

Montana wolf management log gives Washington glimpse of future

PREDATORS — Washington has killed it's first wolf in more than 70 years in response to threats to livestock. Get used to it, as I pointed out in today's Outdoors column.

Wolf watchers in Washington, where the first wolf was been killed under a wolf management plan on Monday, can take a look at Montana and get a glimpse of what's in store.

Click on the attached document to see the latest update to Montana's weekly wolf management report.  Bottom line: Montana has had to kill a total of 65 gray wolves this year after they were implicated in livestock depredation.  That's in addition to 45 wolves taken in the 2012 portion of the state's wolf hunting season.


Wolf pack spotted along Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The wonderful Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes rail trail between Plummer and Mullan has always been a wild experience, offering visitors the chance to see birds, coyotes, bears, deer, moose and other critters on a fairly regular basis.

But a friend called with a notable sighting at 4 p.m. today.

"Five black wolves," he said over a mobile phone from his boat about three miles south of Harrison.

"We're right off the east shore and the wolves were right above the trail. They went uphill within a couple hundred yards of a cabin on a hill before they melted away into the vegetation and trees.

"It was unbelievable," he said.

Officers leave Stevens County woods without killing second wolf

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Fish and Wildlife officers who killed a wolf implicated in livestock attacks on Tuesday have retreated from the northeastern Washington woods near Laurier today without killing a second wolf as planned.

Bruce Botka, the agency's public relations director, said the Wedge Pack will continue to be monitored, but has dropped plans to kill a second wolf from the pack, at least for now.

Northwest Sportsman blogger Andy Walgamott has a thorough report to date on this incident, which marks the first time Washington has used provisions under its wolf management plan to kill one of the gray wolves that are reintroducing themselves to the state.  Wolves otherwise are protected in Eastern Washington by state endangered species rules.

Officer looking to kill second wolf in the Wedge

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials this morning said an enforcement officer from out of the region continues to hunt for a second wolf to kill from the Wedge Pack after he shot a female wolf Tuesday.

The wolves are thought to be culpable in several attacks on Diamond M Ranch cattle near Laurier, Wash., since mid-July.

Agency officials from Olympia today asked that I remove a photo used with my blog posted Tuesday night because it showed a state biologist carrying a male wolf that had been caught, tranquilized, radio-collared and released.  In their request they pointed out:

  • The biologist who's been live-trapping wolves for tagging and monitoring is not involved in the current operation to kill livestock-attacking wolves.
  • The male wolf that was collared with a GPS tracking device is considered to be the pack's alpha male and is not being targeted for lethal removal.

However, the GPS-collared male likely is giving the officer clues to the whereabouts of the rest of the pack.

Officials said an unidentified officer from out of the region was brought in because they want to avoid possible retribution by wolf zealots who might target — with harassment or violence — the man assigned to do the dirty work of enforcing the state's wolf management plan. 

Video captures wolf pup howling, pack responding

WILDLIFE — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has captured video of a wolf pup howling with other members of its pack in northeastern Oregon.

The department posted the video, which is an excellent example of how wolves communicate.

It shows a pup by itself in a forested area. Its howls are answered by other wolves in the distance.

Department spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says the video was captured by a biologist on July 25.

The pup is a member of the Snake River pack, which was first observed in October in the Snake River wildlife management unit, which borders Idaho and includes the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wilderness.

Dennehy says biologists on Thursday successfully fitted the first member of the pack with a radio-tracking collar.

Wolves, eagles poisoned in Bob Marshall Wilderness

WILDLIFE — The deaths of four wolves and six eagles in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana are being investigagted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the US Forest Service and Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

Although officials just announced the investigation, the wolves and eagles were found in the vicinity of the Big Prairie Ranger Station in early May.

Recent lab results have confirmed that the wolves and eagles died as a result of poisoning. 

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the conviction of the person(s) responsible for the death of the wolves and eagles.

Contact: Rick Branzell, (406) 329-3000.

Wolves attack more Stevens County livestock; Wedge Pack may pay

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A calf injured in a wolf attack in northern Stevens County – the fourth injured or killed in one cattle herd in four weeks – has left the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department contemplating a response, including killing one or more wolves in the Wedge Pack.

“All options are on the table,” Madonna Luers, agency spokeswoman in Spokane, said Monday.

The incident, which apparently occurred on Thursday, is the latest of several confirmed wolf attacks on the Diamond M Ranch herd near Laurier. The ranch has a Colville National Forest grazing lease in the “wedge” of land just south of Canada between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.

  • See my recent column for background on wolf attacks and management in Washington.
  • Click on the video above to see and hear a wolf pack howling.

In mid-July, officials confirmed that wolves had injured a cow and calf and killed another calf from the northern Stevens County ranch.

The Diamond M Ranch is owned by the McIrvin family. In 2007, the ranch also suffered Washington’s first documented wolf livestock depredation in roughly 70 years.

Last year, state officials adopted a wolf management plan to deal with expanding wolf packs, which remain protected by state endangered species laws.

“This latest attack is a continuation of a pattern of wolf-livestock problems in the wedge,” Luers said. “The wolf plan allows several possible responses, including lethal removal, in cases of repeated depredation after other methods have been tried.”

 The response likely will be decided todayTuesday, she said.

Steve Pozzanghera, director of WDFW's eastern regional office in Spokane, was not available for comment.

Following the last attacks on the Diamond M Ranch cattle, a Fish and Wildlife Department trapper caught an adult male wolf and released it after attaching a collar with a radio transmitter.

A pup also was caught and released, confirming the pack had reproduced this year.

A range rider also was assigned part-time to the leased area to help keep wolves away from the stock, Luers said.

She could not confirm that the radio-collared wolf – thought to be the Wedge Pack’s alpha male – was near the recent attack on a calf. She also did not know whether the range rider had confronted the wolves.

After the July attacks, the Fish and Wildlife Department issued the ranchers a special permit to kill wolves caught threatening their cattle, but it has not been used, Luers said.

Wolf experts confront the myth about native vs. re-introduced wolves

WILDLIFE — After a letter to the editor on Sunday made claims about gray wolves that don't seem to be substantiated published wildlife science, I asked for a reaction from several wolf experts.  Some of that information appears today in my weekly Outdoors column.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie biologist Gary Wiles, principal author of the state's wolf plan, offered this explanation dealing directly with the claim that re-introduced wolves from Canada are "super wolves" compared with the wolves that were in this region before they were extirpated in the 1940s.

“The idea that native wolves were ‘much smaller’ and ‘do not engage in lust killing’ is not substantiated by any scientific proof. 

“The name Canis lupus irremotus is dated and no longer considered scientifically valid.  It is now considered part of the subspecies Canis lupus nubilus, which includes wolves formerly present in the U.S. Great Plains and most of the western U.S. and currently still present in northeastern Canada.  This subspecies is variable in size, but is not substantially smaller than Canis lupus occidentalis of western Canada, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.  Current subspecies designations are based primarily on genetics and skull morphology. 

A complete explanation is in the WDFW's  answers to Wolf FAQs (frequently asked questions).