Archive for the ‘Washington’ Tag

Profanity Peak wolf pack in state’s gun sights after rancher turns out cattle on den   3 comments

August 25, 2016 b

Gabe Spence, of the WSU Large Carnivore Lab, listens for the signal from radio collars on the Profanity Peak wolf pack. (Robert Wielgus/Washington State University)

Gabe Spence, of the WSU Large Carnivore Lab, listens for the signal from radio collars on the Profanity Peak wolf pack. (Robert Wielgus/Washington State University)

The state is going to wipe out the Profanity Peak wolf pack because they are killing cattle, but a WSU researcher monitoring the den says the conflict is predictable and avoidable.

For the second time in four years, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife is exterminating a wolf pack to protect Len McIrvin’s cattle — this time, a WSU researcher says, after the rancher turned his animals out right on top of the Profanity Peak pack’s den.

Robert Wielgus, director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, has radio-collared 700 cattle and dozens of wolves, including animals in the Profanity Peak pack, as part of his ongoing study of conflicts between wolves and livestock in Washington. He also camera-monitors the Profanity Peak pack’s den.

“This livestock operator elected to put his livestock directly on top of their den site; we have pictures of cows swamping it, I just want people to know,” Wielgus said in an interview Thursday.

McIrvin, of the Diamond M Ranch, near the Canadian border north of Kettle Falls, Stevens County, in northeastern Washington, did not return calls for comment Thursday. The allotment Wielgus monitors, and McIrvin grazes, is on public land in the Colville National Forest.

The cattle pushed out the wolves’ native prey of deer, and with a den full of young to feed, what came next was predictable, Wielgus said.

After the wolves repeatedly killed McIrvin’s cattle, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, as per its protocol, authorized shooting wolves in the pack by helicopter, killing the pack’s breeding female by mistake. The department then stopped the killings after the wolf predations subsided.

But the department announced Saturday that after more cows were killed, it would eliminate the entire Profanity pack. That killing is ongoing, and department staff killed four more wolves this week, bringing the total to six.

The department targeted the Wedge Pack after McIrvin lost cattle to that pack, near the same area.

McIrvin has refused to radio-collar his cattle to help predict and avoid interactions with radio-collared wolves, Wielgus said.

He called the killing of cows by the Profanity Peak pack at their den site predictable and avoidable.

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife authorized fieldstaff to kill the Profanity Peak wolf pack to prevent more attacks on cattle in the rangelands between Republic and Kettle Falls.

Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife authorized fieldstaff to kill the Profanity Peak wolf pack to prevent more attacks on cattle in the rangelands between Republic and Kettle Falls. The state is home to at least 90 wolves and 19 packs as of early 2016.

By contrast, Wielgus has documented no cattle kills among producers who are participating in his research studies and very few among producers using Fish & Wildlife’s protocol.

“In Washington, more cattle are killed by logging trucks, fire and lightning than wolves,” Wielgus said.

Carter Niemeyer, of Boise, Idaho, a wolf expert who led the effort to reintroduce them into Idaho for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service before he retired in 2006, said things won’t change until the Forest Service changes its policy to bar grazing on allotments with known active dens and pup rendezvous sites.

“If this were on private land, it’s turn the page, ho-hum,” Niemeyer said. “But public lands have to be managed differently. Those lands belong to all of us, and so do the native wildlife.”

Killing the wolves is not a lasting solution, he predicted. “It is a short-term solution to a long-term problem; they will just come back,” Niemeyer said.

“It puts the responsibility on the managing authority; it’s, ‘Come get your wild dogs, you said you would, and you set the protocol, and I want these wolves out of here,’ and he (McIrvin) has a good track record of demanding that.”

But it’s the pack that’s got to go, not the ranchers using the allotment, said Ferry County Commissioner Mike Blankenship.

“The McIrvin family has run cows on that allotment for 73 years, and now all of a sudden they have to pull out because of wolves and go somewhere else?

“I haven’t met anyone here who wants them wiped out,” Blankenship said of wolves. “But we want them managed.”

The commission last Friday passed a resolution authorizing the Ferry County sheriff to take out the pack if the state doesn’t.

“For the most part, the local people believe the removal of that pack is long overdue,” Blankenship said. He said the county depends on a healthy ranching economy, which is also part of the state’s culture, custom and history.

“You don’t think Seattle had wolves originally? I am more than willing to pay as a county to round these critters up and bring them to you. If they are in your backyard, you have a whole new attitude about it,” Blankenship said.

Wolf advocates have been dismayed by the state’s decision to kill the pack — 11 animals of a total estimated state population of 90 wolves in 19 packs, as of early 2016.

Listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act west of U.S. Route 97, the wolves are not protected east of the highway. People remain their biggest impediment to recovery, which is required by state law.

Since July 8, 12 cattle have been killed or hurt in the Profanity Peak pack area, according to Fish & Wildlife. So far, the department has killed six wolves in the pack under the authorization of Director Jim Uns­worth. He is appointed by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission, which in turn is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Donny Martorello, the department’s wolf-policy lead, said the state remains committed to wolf recovery and coexistence. It confirmed its first wolf recolonizations in 2008, and so far has authorized lethal removals in three instances.

“The majority of the time, these two can coexist,” Martorello said of wolves and livestock. “The department is committed to wolf recovery, but we also have a shared responsibility to protect livestock from repeated depredation by wolves.”

Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington in the early 1900s, but have been gradually recolonizing, from populations in Idaho and British Columbia.

Source

Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2515 or lmapes@seattletimes.com


 

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Washington wolf activities go beyond Profanity Peak pack   3 comments

September 26, 2016 ~ Source

Washington wildlife managers say they are continuing to search for the surviving members of the Profanity Peak pack in the Colville National Forest, a hunt now on its eighth week.

Meanwhile, wolves in another northeastern Washington pack last week killed a calf, and a wolf was legally harvested on the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

WDFW’s plan to lethally remove the Profanity Peak pack has outraged some environmental and animal-rights groups, overshadowing other wolf activities in Washington this summer.

WDFW began hunting for the Profanity Peak pack on Aug. 4. The department has reported shooting five adults and one pup, though none since Aug. 22.

Two adults and up to four pups remain, according to WDFW. The department says it intends to eliminate the rest of the pack, but the pack is in rugged timberlands and finding the surviving wolves will be challenging.

WDFW has confirmed that the pack has killed or injured eight cattle and probably is responsible for five more attacks on livestock this summer.

WDFW’s policy calls for the state to use lethal control after four confirmed depredations, provided ranchers had taken steps to prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock.

WDFW investigators confirmed Sept. 21 that wolves in the Smackout pack, whose territory straddles Stevens and Pend Oreille counties, killed a calf, the department’s wolf policy coordinator, Donny Martorello, said in an email.

The depredation was the first confirmed attack by the pack this year. The pack fatally injured a calf in October 2015, according to WDFW records.

Also Sept. 21, the Spokane Tribe of Indians reported a wolf had been harvested on the reservation. The tribe also reported in July that a wolf had been harvested.

The tribe allows enrolled members to hunt wolves within the 159,000-acre reservation, with an annual limit of six wolves.

The Spokane tribe reported in 2015 harvesting three wolves in the Huckleberry pack, the only legal shooting of wolves in the state last year, according to WDFW.

Hunting wolves is not allowed in Washington except on tribal lands.

WDFW enlisted the USDA’s Wildlife Services to shoot one wolf from the Huckleberry pack in 2014. The pack was preying on sheep.

Since then, a federal judge has barred Wildlife Services from assisting WDFW with lethal removal, unless the federal agency conducts a more thorough review of the environmental impacts of removing wolves.

Wolves are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington, where attacks on livestock are occurring, but are on the state’s protected species list.

 

Field reports: Wolf-shooting case in prosecutor’s hands   Leave a comment

From:  The Spokesman

POACHING – A Whitman County wolf-shooting case has been turned over by state officers to County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police delivered their evidence to the prosecutor on Nov. 19.

The man who shot a wolf around Oct. 12 could be charged with a misdemeanor for killing an animal that’s protected in far-Eastern Washington by state endangered species laws, said Steve Crown, Fish and Wildlife police chief.

The agency turned over case after receiving DNA lab results that confirmed the animal was a wolf and not a wolf hybrid.

Tracy’s office staff said Wednesday that the prosecutor is still investigating the case and has set no deadline for making the decision on whether to prosecute.

The identity of the shooter has not been released although WDFW officers described the man as a county farmer.

The original WDFW report said the man chased the wolf in a vehicle and shot it in a Palouse farm field about 15 miles southwest of Pullman.

“We’re not recommending anything,” Crown said. “We’re simply referring the facts of the case in our report. It’s up to the prosecutor to examine the facts and the case law and decide whether to bring charges.”

Although exemptions are made for killing a wolf to protect life or livestock, unlawful taking of a state endangered species is punishable by sentences of up to a year in jail and fines up to $5,000.

The only wolf-killing case to be prosecuted in Washington resulted in Twisp ranching family members being ordered to pay fines totaling $50,000 in 2012 for killing two Lookout Pack wolves in 2008. Those wolves also were protected by federal laws.

A Kittitas County wolf-killing case remains under investigation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Brent Lawrence said Tuesday no arrests have been made in the October shooting of an adult breeding female belonging to the Teanaway Pack near Salmon la Sac. Conservation groups have offered a $15,000 reward in the case.

Another wolf was found shot to death 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. The case remains unsolved.

Bald eagles showing at Wolf Lodge Bay

BIRDS – Four bald eagles were counted Wednesday at Lake Coeur d’Alene in the weekly fall survey conducted during the annual fall-winter congregation at the northeast corner of the lake.

That’s up from zero birds counted last week by U.S. Bureau of Land Management biologist Carrie Hugo in her first survey of the season.

Eagles were at Higgens Point and in the Beauty Bay area this week, she said.

For decades, the eagles have provided a popular wildlife-viewing attraction as the birds are lured from mid-November into January to feast on the spawning kokanee that stack up in Wolf Lodge Bay.

“It is not too unusual for the count to be very low (in mid-November),” Hugo said.

The 2013 bald eagle count at Lake Coeur d’Alene peaked at 217 on Dec. 30.

 

Conservation Groups Offer $15,000 Reward After Endangered Wolf Killed in Washington   4 comments

From:  Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 14, 2014

Contacts: Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Jasmine Minbashian, Conservation Northwest, (360) 319-3111
Shawn Cantrell, Defenders of Wildlife, (206) 508-5475
Dan Paul, The Humane Society of the United States, (206) 913-2280
Gigi Allianic, Woodland Park Zoo, (206) 548-2550

 

SEATTLE— Conservation groups are offering up to a $15,000 reward for information leading to conviction of those responsible for the illegal killing of the breeding female wolf of the Teanaway pack in Washington’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The killing is one of several in the past year jeopardizing the recovery of Washington’s gray wolves, which are fully protected under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western two-thirds of Washington and throughout the state under state endangered species law.

Teanaway Pack wolf
Teanaway pack wolf courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This photo is available for media use.

State and federal officials recovered the dead Teanaway pack breeding female on Oct. 28 near the Salmon la Sac area north of Cle Elum. Based on GPS collar data, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents believe the animal was killed around Oct. 17.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has requested that anyone with information about the killing of this wolf, or who might have noticed suspicious behavior in the Teanaway area, to contact federal law enforcement agents at (206) 512-9329 or (509) 727-8358. State law enforcement may be contacted at the 1-877-933-9847 hotline for reporting poaching activity in Washington. Reports to this hotline may be made anonymously.

“We know that it’s very likely that someone has important information about this abhorrent killing that will be useful to law enforcement,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is contributing to the reward. “Statewide surveys indicate three out of every four Washington residents support restoring wolves here, and now we need some of those concerned citizens to step up and help us prevent further setbacks for recovery by helping us find and convict the person responsible for the brutal death of this animal.”

“Whether one supports or opposes wolf recovery in the Northwest, poaching like this is an unacceptable abuse of our shared natural heritage,” said Jasmine Minbashian, communications director for Conservation Northwest.

“Every wolf counts in Washington’s ongoing and fragile wolf recovery,” said Shawn Cantrell, director of Defenders of Wildlife Northwest field office. “It is our hope that this reward will help law enforcement bring the person responsible for the killing of this wolf to justice and deter future tragic killings.”

“This tragic, illegal killing of yet another alpha female clearly demonstrates why all of our state’s gray wolves need protection. They are an endangered species and still have a long road to a full recovery in Washington,” said Dan Paul, Washington state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “We thank the US Fish and Wildlife Service for their commitment to investigate this heinous act.”

The groups coordinating the reward for information leading to a conviction in this case include the Center for Biological Diversity, Conservation Northwest, Defenders of Wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States, The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, and Woodland Park Zoo.

Background
There were only 52 confirmed wolves in Washington at the end of 2013, with five of Washington’s packs statewide having confirmed breeding pairs – two in the North Cascades and three in Northeast Washington.  This killing is the second breeding pack female lost in Washington in 2014, and has left the North Cascades Recovery Region with the potential for only one successful breeding pair, a decline back to the 2008 breeding level. The other known loss in 2014 was the Huckleberry pack breeding female in northeastern Washington in August. The state wolf conservation goal is a minimum of 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years in three recovery regions across the state from eastern Washington to the Olympic Peninsula. To date, numbers of successful breeding packs in the state have been stagnant at five since 2012.

Washington’s wolves were driven to extinction in the early 1900s by a government-sponsored eradication program on behalf of the livestock industry. Since the early 2000s, the animals have started to make a slow comeback by dispersing into Washington from neighboring Idaho and British Columbia.

Human-caused mortality has been a major cause of losses for Washington’s wolves since wolves began recolonizing the state in 2007, including wolves in at least six of the state’s known packs (Lookout, Ruby, Wedge, Huckleberry, Teanaway and Diamond packs). The killings have included the breeding females in four of the state’s productive packs (Lookout, Wedge, Huckleberry, Teanaway).

Because the Teanaway pack represents the southern edge of confirmed wolf recovery in Washington’s Cascades, the pack’s continued survival is critically important to meet the state’s recovery goals. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife, local ranchers and conservation organizations have invested extensive time and resources to prevent conflict between this wolf pack and livestock, including co-sponsoring range riders to supervise sheep and cattle herds. These efforts have been successful, with no reported conflicts within the territory of the Teanaway pack in recent years. State wildlife officials recently described the Teanaway wolves as a model pack. With the loss of its breeding female, the pack’s future success is now in jeopardy.

Groups sponsoring the reward are working together to advance wolf recovery in Washington through the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

 

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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