A young wolf with an expensive "necklace" is playing a major role in helping wildlife researchers map the recovery of gray wolves in Washington. The number of confirmed wolf packs in the state increased by four to 13 in Eastern Washington in 2013. A yearling female wolf captured along Ruby Creek southwest of Ione on July 15, 2013, and fitted with a GPS transmitter was one of 11 collared wolves state Fish and Wildlife Department biologists monitored in 2013 to help determine the number of packs in Washington. The agency released those numbers in its annual wolf status report on March 8, 2013, bringing the wolves a step closer to official "recovery" and removal from state endangered species protections. Outdoors editor Rich Landers was with biologists on the lucky day when they captured the yearling female that led to the confirmation of the Ruby Creek Pack. His photos detail the process of working up a wolf for research, from beginning to end.
Gray wolves established four new packs and expanded their territory in Washington over the past year, according to the annual status report on the state endangered species released Saturday by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Conventional wisdom in northeastern Washington suggests that gray wolves are lurking everywhere – that is, until you try to catch one. Capturing a wolf for research ranges from dangerous to tedious, depending on whether the tool is a helicopter or a leg-hold trap. Either way, success rates are low because the target is mobile, wary and still rare even in the corner of the state where wolves have repopulated the most ground.