Archive for the ‘Whitman County’ Tag

Reward Increased to $20,000 in Killing of Endangered Wolf in Washington   Leave a comment

From:  Center for Biological Diversity

Dec. 23, 2014

SEATTLEConservation groups are now offering up to a $20,000 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. Last month the groups posted a reward offer of up to $15,000, but have now increased the amount, after a member of Conservation Northwest stepped forward to contribute an additional $5,000.

Teanaway Pack wolf

Photo of a member of the Teanaway pack courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This photo is available for media use.

“This new donation to help bring the Teanaway wolf poacher to justice shows how passionate Washingtonians are about protecting our rare and recovering wildlife,” said Jasmine Minbashian of Conservation Northwest. “There is strong support for wolf recovery in Washington, and people are appalled by this type of illegal killing. We’re thrilled to see our supporters stepping up like this, they make our work possible.”

The Teanaway Pack wolf was killed in mid-October near Salmon la Sac in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, making it the fourth known illegal wolf-killing in the state in 2014. In February a member of the Smackout Pack was found killed in Stevens County; in August a wolf was found gunned down in Ferry County; and a Whitman County farmer is facing potential prosecution after chasing a wolf for miles, then gunning it down after seeing the wolf near his field.

“It’s hard to comprehend these senseless illegal killings, because not only are wolves legally protected, there is no evidence these wolves were doing anything harmful at the time of their deaths,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. “What’s more, if anyone thinks they were helping out livestock producers by killing wolves, the exact opposite is true; a brand new study published by a Washington State University wolf scientist demonstrates that killing wolves can increase wolf-livestock conflicts.”

Wolves, which were largely eradicated from the state by the early-to-mid 1900s, are starting to make a comeback, and 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. 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 packs since 2012.  However, in 2014 three of those packs will no longer qualify as successful breeders since the breeding females of the Huckleberry Pack and the Teanaway Packhave both been killed and a wildfire resulted in the loss of most pups from the Lookout Pack.

“This deplorable action should not be left unchecked. Washington’s wolf population remains precarious, and killing the breeding alpha female of the Teanaway pack has cascading consequences for continued wolf recovery in Washington,” said Shawn Cantrell, Northwest regional director for Defenders of Wildlife. “This reward will hopefully help law enforcement bring the perpetrator to justice.”

According to Special Agent Eric Marek with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, the investigation is still open and ongoing. Anyone with information about the killing of the Teanaway female wolf, or anyone who may have noticed suspicious behavior in the Salmon la Sac area in October, should 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.

The organizations that have contributed to the reward fund 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.

 

Guest: Killing wolves will come back to haunt farmers and ranchers   Leave a comment

From:  Seattle Times

Dec 12, 2014 by Amaroq Weiss Special to The Times

Killing wolves to save livestock will lead to greater killing of livestock, guest columnist Amaroq Weiss writes, pointing to a new scientific study

A gray wolf

 

FOR decades, whenever wolves preyed on livestock, the routine response among many ranchers and wildlife managers across the West has been brutally simple: kill the wolves.

More dead wolves equal fewer dead cows and sheep, the reasoning went.

And in many cases the reasoning is likely dead wrong, according to research published recently by a leading Washington state wolf scientist.

Confounding widely held beliefs, the new study indicates lethal responses to livestock predation by wolves often lead to an increase in attacks, or depredations.

It’s a message that may not be heard in Washington, where state wildlife managers responded to livestock depredations by eradicating the Wedge pack in 2012 and killing the alpha female of the Huckleberry pack last summer. Recently, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced it will swiftly move to lethal tactics if the Huckleberry pack kills any livestock next spring and, in statements to conservation groups, has said it is considering “pre-emptive” killing of wolves. Both of these policies flout the state wolf plan, which emphasizes conflict-deterrence as opposed to simply killing wolves.

Killing of wolves by the state compounds illegal wolf-killing by those few who take things into their own hands.

Reports last month that the alpha female of the trouble-free Teanaway pack was fatally shot come on the heels of a Whitman County farmer chasing a wolf for miles before killing it, and Stevens County commissioners exhorting county residents to kill wolves. Earlier this year, a wolf from the Smackout pack was found illegally killed in Stevens County and another wolf was discovered gunned down in Ferry County.

The groundbreaking research by Washington State University wolf scientist Rob Wielgus, published in the Dec. 3 issue of the scientific journal PLOS One, suggests killing wolves can have unexpected results, dissolving previously well-behaved packs and leaving small groups or lone wolves more inclined to kill livestock.

Wielgus said many states are aggressively managing wolves based on the largely untested perception that lethal control reduces depredations. His findings reflect research by other scientists showing increased black bear and cougar mortality results in more depredations.

Examining annual reports from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture over 25 years, Wielgus’ analysis found that each wolf killed increased the chance of livestock depredation the following year by 5 percent. Not until the mortality rate of wolves exceeds 25 percent would livestock depredations decrease.

His study opens the door to further study and debate about whether we’re doing enough to recover wolves. A recent study I co-authored analyzing the additional good wolf habitat across the United States found that more than 25,000 square miles of suitable habitat remains unoccupied in Washington — more than five times the area currently occupied.

In all, the study identified more than 350,000 square miles of additional habitat for gray wolves in 19 states, offering the potential to nearly double the wolf population in the Lower 48 states to around 10,000 by expanding recovery into suitable areas of the West Coast, Northeast, southern Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon area where the first gray wolf in the region in more than 70 years was just confirmed.

But, as we consider expanding wolf recovery to levels that leading scientists deem more sustainable, we must first expand our approach to wolf management.

And, as our knowledge of how human activities impact wildlife continues to evolve, Washington’s wolf-management policies must evolve toward serving not just hunters and ranchers opposed to wolves but the interests of a broader range of taxpaying constituents, who demand that wildlife be managed not as a problem but as a treasured public trust.

Amaroq Weiss is a biologist for the Center for Biological Diversity where her work focuses on recovering wolves across the Northwest, Rockies and California.

 

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.

 

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