Monthly Wolf Report -- August 2017

Publish date

This report provides information about wolf conservation and management activities undertaken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife from July 15 to Aug 14, 2017. It complements weekly reports also posted on this site regarding wolf packs subject to lethal action by the department to address conflicts between wolves and livestock. 

Field Activities

Scouting: Wolf biologists spent two weeks scouting areas south of I-90 on the east slopes of the Cascades searching for signs of wolves where the department has received reports (in recent weeks.). No evidence of wolves was found during the effort, but the department remains interested in any new information about wolf activity in this area or anywhere in Washington State. Members of the public can submit reports of wolf sightings or sign here. Wolf biologists also spent several days searching for wolf sign and activity in the Lookout, Huckleberry, Beaver Creek, and Wedge pack territories to begin efforts to deploy collars on individuals in those packs.

Proactive deterrence measures 

Wolf packs in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties 

WDFW staff members continue to administer Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements for Livestock and WDFW Contracted Range Riders for the new fiscal year that began on July 1, 2017. Deterrent measures being deployed at this time are specific to each producer, the type of livestock, and the location of livestock.

Most producers using deterrents in grazing operations on large areas of public and private lands have engaged range riders. WDFW has contracted with eight range riders deployed on Forest Service allotments. Recently, three additional range riders were hired by Conservation Northwest (CNW) to cover Ferry County Forest Service allotments. In all, at least 25 allotments are now monitored by range riders contracted by WDFW, CNW, and producers with Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements for Livestock. These allotments overlap territories occupied by the Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows, Huckleberry, Profanity, Sherman, Smackout, Stranger, and Wedge wolf packs. 

WDFW staff members are also working with range riders and producers on deterrent measures in these areas. WDFW personnel are rotating through deterrents like fladry and fox lights (to increase their effectiveness) in areas of documented confirmed wolf depredations during this grazing season. The USDA assisted WDFW with providing additional fladry for deployment in areas with ongoing depredations. In other areas of northeastern Washington, WDFW has provided various types of assistance to ranchers grazing livestock in the pack areas noted below:

  • Sanitation. (Profanity, Sherman, and Smackout) 

  • Having producers contact WDFW when livestock carcasses are discovered so they can be removed or protected from wolves. (Profanity, Sherman, Skookum, and Smackout) 

  • Removing or treating sick or injured livestock from pastures in areas where wolves are present. (when feasible)

  • Using range riders to check livestock in areas where wolves are present or in the vicinity. (Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows, Huckleberry, Profanity, Sherman, Smackout, Stranger, and Wedge)

  • Increasing the frequency of human presence checking livestock in areas with wolves or when wolves are in the vicinity of livestock pastures. (Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows, Huckleberry, Profanity, Sherman, Smackout, Skookum, Stranger, and Wedge) 

  • Installing temporary fox lights. (Sherman and Smackout) 

  • Hazing wolves with nonlethal munitions to frighten them away from livestock. (Smackout)

  • Expanding hazing once a depredation event occurs. (Profanity, Sherman, and Smackout)

  • Using electric fencing and other predator-resistant barriers to keep wolves out of pastures/areas. (Huckleberry, Stranger, and Skookum)

  • Using fladry around livestock temporarily. (Sherman and Smackout)

  • Sharing wolf-collar data for areas where collars are deployed. (Carpenter Ridge, Dirty Shirt, Goodman Meadows, Profanity, Sherman, Smackout, and Stranger)

  • Using trail cameras to track livestock and predator movements in allotments. (Profanity and Smackout)

Wolf packs in Okanogan County

The collared wolf from the Profanity Peak pack dispersed into Okanogan County in August. WDFW staff members coordinated with a producer (who has livestock in the area) and U.S. Forest Service personnel regarding collar locations and nonlethal deterrence measures. A contracted range rider checked livestock in the area.

The collared wolf dispersed from an area where wolves are delisted under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) to an area where wolves are listed an endangered under the federal ESA. As such, WDFW staff members also contacted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding non-injurious hazing of wolves amongst livestock. The two agencies are communicating with the producer on options for hazing wolves if encountered near livestock.

WDFW formed an internal subcommittee to discuss wolves and livestock grazing on WDFW lands. This topic has been of particular interest to producers who have grazing permits on WDFW lands in Okanogan County.

Wolf in Skagit County

Skagit Wolf: The collar installed on the adult male wolf in Skagit County in June 2017 is functioning, and the department has placed cameras in the area in an effort to better monitor the wolf’s activities. Wildlife managers still do not know if the wolf is part of a pack or a solitary animal.

Outreach and Information

Midseason Update: A mid-season update on wolf-related activities was given to the Spokane Cattlemen’s Association on August 2, 2017.

Incinerator: WDFW purchased a portable incinerator with a 1,000-pound capacity to provide additional options for carcass removal. Department staff members are in the process of obtaining necessary permits and additional equipment to deploy the incinerator.

New Hire: Dr. Ben Maletzke was promoted to fill the position of Statewide Wolf Specialist, responsible for monitoring wolf population growth and status in Washington. Ben has worked at WDFW in various capacities since 2000. Since 2011, he has been the Assistant Bear and Cougar Specialist, working on issues regarding bears, cougars, wolves, and lynx. Ben has been highly successful authoring and co-authoring over a dozen scientific manuscripts on independent and collaborative research projects.

Packs referenced in this update