07/08/2012: "A New Wolf Pack, & A New Sheep Attack In Northeast Washington"
In the “be careful what you wish for” the encouragement and protection of wolves into Washington state is showing positive signs for the gray wolf -perhaps less so for farmers.
It has been 70 years since wolves have been known to roam our state, but Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reported last year they have returned.
WDFW has confirmed another wolf pack has been identified, and another wolf attack on sheep in northeast Washington has occurred.
Using remote video cameras, biologists documented at least five gray wolf pups this week in southern Stevens County, east of the town of Fruitland and north of the Spokane Indian Reservation.
In reference to nearby Huckleberry Mountain, the pack has been named the Huckleberry pack.
The new pack is Washington's seventh confirmed wolf pack, including the recently documented Nc'icn pack on the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation. An additional five packs are also suspected in the state.
At about the same time the new wolf pack was documented, WDFW investigated an attack on domestic sheep in northwestern Spokane County, near Nine Mile Falls. Based on evidence at the scene, including wolf tracks and the trauma to the carcass, state wildlife officials confirmed that the attack was from a wolf. WDFW officials are working with the livestock producer on compensation for the sheep.
Washington's new wolf management plan, adopted last December, includes provisions to compensate ranchers who lose livestock to wolf predation, said Steve Pozzanghera, a regional WDFW director and wolf policy lead.
In confirmed wolf depredation cases, livestock owners can be compensated for the full market value of lost animals.
"The primary goal of the new management plan is to protect gray wolves as they naturally re-establish themselves in Washington," Pozzanghera said. "But the plan also provides for compensation when landowners lose livestock to wolf depredation."
Wolves are currently listed by the state as endangered throughout Washington. The species remains federally listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state.
The state's management plan calls for removing listed status protection for gray wolves when a total of 15 successful breeding pairs are sustained in three defined areas of the state for three consecutive years. The state can also delist wolves if a total of 18 successful breeding pairs are confirmed in those areas at any point in time.
Pozzanghera urges ranchers who believe they have lost livestock to predation by any kind of wild animal to contact WDFW immediately at 1-877-933-9847.
"The sooner we can investigate the situation, the better our chances are of determining why the animal died, if a wolf was the predator and if compensation is warranted," he said. "We also ask that landowners protect the site from disturbances and keep scavengers away by covering the carcass with a tarp."
Pozzanghera noted that WDFW field staff continue to monitor known wolf packs and look for new ones throughout the state. A map showing wolf packs - confirmed and suspected - in Washington is available by clicking HERE.