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WA, OR wolves higher profile in annual report

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- In past years, Washington and Oregon have been little more than footnotes in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service annual report on western gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.

However, the 2010 report gives the relatively new breeding packs in those states more stature.

Read on for the Washington-Oregon portions of the annual report.

From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2010 Western Gray Wolf Report


Inside Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment

Northeast Washington – Wolves continue to re-colonize northeast Washington from northwest Idaho and southeast British Columbia (Table 7). During 2010 Washington Department of Wildlife (WDFW) confirmed 1 new pack, bringing the number of packs in eastern Washington from the Northwest Montana Recovery area/British Columbia to 2. A third pack known as Cutoff Peak, divides its time between Idaho, British Columbia, and Washington. Based on information from summer monitoring, Cutoff Peak probably dens in northern Idaho. The 2 confirmed Washington packs in the NRM DPS (Diamond and Salmo) contained a total of 16 wolves at the end of 2010.

Diamond Pack – In late July 2009 the breeding male of the Diamond Pack was captured and radio-collared (WA-398M) making this the second confirmed Washington pack since the 1930s. During summer 2010 WA DOW caught and marked four yearling wolves (WA-376F, WA-378M, WA-380F, WA-382F) and caught and released a pup of the year. WDFW documented 6 pups on several occasions during the summer and counted 12 wolves in this pack at the end of the year making this pack a breeding pair. Approximately 24% of Diamond pack‟s territory is in Idaho.

Salmo Pack – In late August 2010, WDFW caught and collared a 50-lb pup of the year with a standard VHF collar. This is a newly documented pack that is spending most of their time in far northern Washington with occasional forays into British Columbia. WDFW observed four adult-sized animals on several occasions this winter. It is unknown whether this pack dens in Washington. Because only 1 pup was confirmed, the pack was not considered a breeding pair in 2010.

Southeast Washington – Sightings of wolves and their sign have been reported in the Mill Creek watershed area of southeast Washington and the adjacent portion of northeast Oregon, consistently since 2008. There were multiple credible reports of three wolves using this area during 2010. WDFW considers this a probable pack which likely re-colonized SE Washington/NE Oregon from the Central Idaho Recovery Area.

Outside Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment

Lookout Pack – In July 2008 a breeding male and female were captured and radio-collared near Twisp, WA, representing the first confirmed wolf pack in Washington since the 1930s . Genetic testing indicated the breeding male might have originated from a coastal/southern British Columbia and the breeding female came from northern British Columbia/Alberta border or wolves reintroduced into central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park from that area of Canada. They were the first confirmed wolf pack in Washington since the 1930s. The pair produced 6 pups in summer 2008 and 4 in 2009. During spring 2010, the female was observed to be pregnant and was using a den. Several weeks after the estimated date of parturition her signal was lost and she was no longer observed in the vicinity of the den. The pack did not use any of its previous rendezvous sites and the radio-collared male ranged widely. Based on tracks and observations he appeared to be alone most of the summer. At the end of calendar year 2010, observations by WDFW indicate there are still 2-3 wolves occupying Lookout pack‟s territory.


Inside Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct  Population Segment

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ORFW) confirmed 2 breeding pairs of wolves in 2010. The Imnaha pack (15 miles east of Joseph, OR) produced a minimum of 6 pups in 2010. In February, 2010 three radio collars were deployed within the pack including a GPS collar. The pack was involved in livestock depredations from May through December and 8 calves confirmed killed in 2010. One member of the pack dispersed in December and the Imnaha Pack had 15 members at year-end; 6 of them pups.

Wolves also continue to inhabit the Wenaha Unit of northeast OR (20 mi west of Troy, OR). In August 2010 a Wenaha pack member was radio-collared by ODFW. In September, the newly collared wolf was found shot, leaving the pack again without a radio-collared member. A minimum of 3 pups was confirmed in 2010 and the minimum estimate for the Wenaha pack is 6 wolves. Both confirmed OR packs are within the NRM DPS that was delisted from the ESA in 2009 but relisted in August 2010.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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