This report provides information about wolf conservation and management activities undertaken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) from August 1-31, 2018.
Statewide Wolf Capture, Survey, and Management
Wolf biologists attended a meeting with the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council in Spokane, WA to discuss carnivore management in Washington.
The statewide wolf specialist also co-presented an introduction to the science of wildlife management discussion to the Fish and Wildlife Commission in Olympia on August 10, 2018. The presentation was based on information shared during a previous discussion held during the Wolf Advisory Group meeting in Ellensburg, WA in March 2018.
Wolf biologists also presented to the Wilderness Awareness School group of about 30 students while they were on a field trip to learn about tracking, wildlife, and outdoor skills in the Teanaway Community Forest.
District 1 Wildlife Program staff members gave a presentation entitled, “Recreating in Bear, Cougar, and Wolf Country” to a local chapter of Backcountry Horsemen. Topics covered in the presentations included basic biology, ways to avoid conflict, and how to act during an encounter.
Wolf biologists spent a portion of the month scouting and trapping in the Grouse Flats, Wedge, and Togo pack areas, but unfortunately they were unable to capture a wolf during these sessions. While trapping, they spent time scouting and running remote cameras in the Togo pack area to get a better idea on the number of animals in that pack. They also spent time scouting areas in Okanogan, Chelan, and Kittitas counties for evidence of new packs establishing based on observation reports from the public. Possible wolf tracks were located in the Nanuem canyon, north of Ellensburg. Wolf biologists will continue to monitor the area with remote cameras and track surveys to try to confirm any wolf activity. They also placed cameras in the Tanuem and near Stampede Pass south of I-90 to follow up on reports in the vicinity, but no evidence was found of wolves utilizing this area.
For those recreating or hunting this fall, if you happen to see wolf tracks, catch a glimpse of a wolf, or get pictures or videos of wolves, or capture remote camera images while you’re out enjoying the outdoors, please report and upload them to the department's wolf reporting webpage. This information is incredibly helpful to assist in locating new wolf activity and potential new packs on the landscape.
Permit grazing for cattle and sheep is active in the Department of Natural Resources Teanaway Community Forest and the United States Forest Service Swauk Permit Range, both of which encompass the Teanaway pack’s known territory.
- Sanitation measures for both cattle and sheep have been undertaken in the pack territory during August.
- Range riders, producers, and WDFW are present throughout the pack territory on a daily basis monitoring livestock behavior. One injured calf and several injured or sick sheep were removed from the pack territory in August.
- Wolf movements this month have been recorded by collar data, remote camera, and several visual, audial, and telemetry contacts.
- Based on new data and supported by new wolf sightings and contacts, cattle and sheep were moved almost continuously during the month of August to avoid wolves.
- At least two cougar depredation events were documented in August, resulting in the loss of two sheep.
- Two separate livestock depredation events were attributed to wolves during August:
- On July 30, 2018, WDFW was contacted by an agency range rider about an injured calf on a grazing allotment in the Teanaway Community Forest. That same day, WDFW conferred with the livestock owner, who indicated he would find the calf and then contact WDFW. On August 1, 2018, the livestock owner called WDFW and stated he had found and recovered the calf. Department personnel and the livestock owner examined the calf to determine the cause of the injuries. During the examination, staff documented bite lacerations on the calf and also identified recent wolf activity in the area. Based on that evidence, they confirmed that the injuries to the calf were caused by one or more wolves from the Teanaway pack. Due to the extent of injures to the calf, it was immediately removed from the grazing allotment. Meanwhile, the livestock producer and his range riders pushed the cattle to a different area of the allotment. Throughout the grazing season the producer has used a variety of deterrent measures to protect the livestock. The producer does not conduct calving operations in the wolf territory. Following turnout, he has removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment and deployed up to four range riders each day to help check the cattle. The producer has moved cattle and salting locations to avoid both the wolf denning area and a wolf rendezvous site. The producer has increased human presence in the grazing allotment and conducts nonlethal hazing of wolves detected near cattle. Cattle will remain in the pack territory until early October.
- On August 11, 2018, WDFW was contacted by an agency range rider about a potential wolf depredation on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in the Teanaway pack wolf territory in Kittitas County. Later that day, WDFW documented one deceased adult sheep, one injured adult sheep, and verified an additional missing lamb. During the investigation, staff documented bite lacerations and puncture wounds with associated hemorrhaging on the hamstrings, flanks, left and right groin, and udder of one adult sheep and on the hamstrings of the other adult sheep. Wolf tracks and telemetry signals of collared wolves in the Teanaway pack place wolves near the injured sheep and the sheep carcasses. Based on that evidence, WDFW confirmed that the cause of the deaths and the injuries was a depredation by one or more wolves from the Teanaway pack. Due to the remote location and rugged terrain, the adult sheep carcass was left on site. Meanwhile, the livestock producer and his sheepherder, aided by an agency rider, moved the sheep to a different area of the allotment. Throughout the grazing season the producer has used a variety of deterrent measures to protect the sheep. He delayed entry onto the allotment until July, after wild ungulates are born. A sheepherder stays with the sheep at all times, accompanied by five herding dogs and three guarding dogs. The sheep are gathered tightly together each night and guarded by the dogs, the sheepherder, two Foxlights, and a Radio Activated Guard (RAG) programmed to trigger when a collared wolf approaches the sheep. Additionally, sick and injured sheep are removed from the allotment. The sheepherder, range rider, and WDFW actively haze wolves with human presence, air horns, and gunfire when they are detected near the sheep. The sheep were moved out of the Teanaway Pack’s known territory on August 28.
Proactive Deterrence Measures
A WDFW conflict specialist loaned a RAG box to a conflict specialist in Region 3 for use in the Teanaway pack territory.
Contracted range riders continued coordinating with livestock producers to monitor livestock within the Loup Loup and Beaver Creek pack territories. The Lookout pack territory is closed due to the Crescent Mountain fire.
Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties
District Wildlife Conflict personnel continued to meet and coordinate with livestock producers, the United States Forest Service, university researchers, local Sheriff office staff, and other non-profit organizations in northeastern Washington. This coordination will continue throughout the summer grazing season. Information on the data sharing program, Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements for Livestock, WDFW Contracted Range Rider deployment and training of new contracted range riders, wolf high use areas, and depredation investigations was shared.
A variety of nonlethal deterrents continued to be deployed in Carpenter Ridge (e.g., range riding and WDFW presence), Dirty Shirt (e.g., range riding and human presence), Goodman (e.g., WDFW presence), Huckleberry (e.g., range riding, fox lights), Leadpoint (e.g., human presence and fox lights), the Unnamed pack using the old Profanity territory (e.g., range riding and fox lights), Smackout (e.g., fox lights, fladry, air horns, pyrotechnics, range riding, and a RAG box), Stranger (e.g., range riding, continual improvements on calving locations, and fox lights), and Togo (e.g., range riding and removal/treatment of sick/injured).
Range riding activity in most packs was provided by Damage Prevention Cooperative Agreements for Livestock, WDFW contract range riders, and two non-governmental organizations on most large grazing location. WDFW have also been spending time on allotments assisting range riders in coverage. Along with the specific deterrents listed above, sanitation (removal of dead livestock) has been occurring on an as needed basis. Direct hazing of wolves occurred in both Smackout and Togo this month. Finally, cattle are coming off the range due to foraging drying out and wolf activity. Some cattle will be coming off the range as part of their grazing agreements within a month.
WDFW has also been coordinating with both Ferry and Stevens’s counties on responses to depredation investigations by a legislator funded special deputy. A depredation training and weekly check-ins were set up for the coming months.
District staff members are also reviewing feedback from stakeholders on the content of the monthly reports to provide pertinent details from those groups.
On August 21, 2018, WDFW investigated a report of domestic dog depredation in Okanogan County. After the investigation, it was determined there was not enough evidence to determine cause of death. Trail cameras were place on the property in an attempt to document any additional incidences.
Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties
This is a partial list of depredation investigations conducted in District 1.
August 8 – WDFW investigated a report of a cow carcass in Ferry County that was determined to be a confirmed wolf depredation. The Togo pack collar was in the area when the depredation was suspected to have occurred.