Monthly Wolf Report - August 2021

Publish date

This update provides an overview of gray wolf conservation and management activities in Washington during August 2021.

Program updates

On August 5, WDFW staff briefed the Wolf Committee of the Fish and Wildlife Commission on the status of wolf-livestock conflict deterrence rule making and discussion of current wolf activity. Resources shared were the following:

Communication and coordination

In August, a WDFW wolf biologist gave a presentation on the status of wolves in Washington at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) rendezvous at White Pass. Two WDFW ungulate specialists also presented on the status of Washington’s elk and deer herds at the same meeting.

In honor of International Wolf Day in August, WDFW published a blog post providing information on how wolf packs are named. It may seem random, but wolf pack names have longstanding ties to place, community, and land. There's a method to how wolf packs are named based deep in geography and history. Find out how wolf packs are named in Washington here.

Current population status and proactive conflict mitigation

The year-end minimum population count for 2020 was at least 132 known wolves in 24 known packs including at least 13 breeding pairs. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation reported 46 wolves in five packs. Annual wolf population surveys are conducted in the winter because wolf populations experience the least amount of natural fluctuation during this time. Counting the population at the end of each year allows for comparable year-to-year trends at a time of year when the wolf population is most stable. The year-end minimum population count for 2021 will be released in April 2022.

Reports of remote camera images or videos, wolf tracks, or sightings from the public are extremely helpful in locating previously undocumented wolf activity and potential new packs on the landscape. Please take photos of wolves or wolf sign (use some way to measure the size of a track) and upload them to the wolf reporting page via the following link: https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/observations

Definitions: A “pack” is defined as two or more wolves traveling together in winter, and a “breeding pair” is defined as at least one adult male and one adult female wolf that raised at least two pups that survived until December 31. In any given year, the number of packs will always be greater than or equal to the number of breeding pairs. The known territories and more information for each pack can be viewed by clicking the pack name.

Beaver Creek pack
No activity to report.

Butte Creek pack
No activity to report.

Carpenter Ridge pack
No activity to report.

Diobsud Creek pack
No activity to report.

Dirty Shirt pack
No activity to report.

Goodman Meadows pack
No activity to report.

Grouse Flats pack
No activity to report.

Huckleberry pack
No activity to report.

Kettle pack
No activity to report.

Leadpoint pack
No activity to report.

Lookout pack
No activity to report.

Loup Loup pack
No activity to report.

Naneum pack
No activity to report.

Navarre pack
No activity to report.

Onion Creek pack
No activity to report.

Salmo pack
No activity to report.

Sherman pack
No activity to report.

Skookum pack
No activity to report.

Smackout pack
On August 30, WDFW staff investigated multiple injured calves that had been grazing on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment within the Smackout wolf pack territory.

Of the four calves investigated, WDFW staff determined two of the calves had been injured as a result of a probable wolf depredation; the other two were uninjured. Both injured calves had large open wounds on their left hamstrings, with associated significant swelling and bite lacerations leading to and from the injuries. The injuries on both animals appeared to have occurred at approximately the same time, showing nearly identical stages of healing. It appeared that the injuries were roughly a week old at the time of the investigation, which is consistent with range riders discovering the calves together on August 23.

In addition to the investigations conducted on August 30, WDFW staff conducted two other investigations during the month of August on a dead cow and a dead calf found within the Smackout territory. Both deaths were determined to be non-depredation-related.

Due to a WDFW-contracted range rider quitting, there was no range rider coverage at the time of these depredations through no fault of the livestock producer. Following this depredation incident, the livestock producer reached out to the Northeast Washington Wolf Cattle Collaborative (NEWWCC) to ensure range rider coverage. Currently, the allotment where the depredation activity occurred is covered by both NEWWCC and WDFW-contracted range riders.

Stranger pack
No activity to report.

Strawberry pack
No activity to report.

Sullivan Creek pack
No activity to report.

Teanaway pack
No activity to report.

Togo pack
Updates on the Togo pack were provided on Aug. 19, Aug. 26, Sept. 2, and Sept. 9.

Touchet pack
On August 10, WDFW staff investigated a dead calf in a private pasture in the Touchet pack territory. During the investigation, staff documented multiple factors consistent with wolf depredation, including bite marks, punctures, and lacerations in locations typical of wolf depredation, evidence of subdermal and subcutaneous hemorrhaging, and feeding patterns typical of wolves.

WDFW staff who conducted the investigation determined that the injuries sustained were the result of a confirmed wolf depredation. The decision was based on the nature and location of the injuries (which were consistent with those made during a wolf depredation event) and wolf sign documented at the carcass location.

The affected livestock producer utilized multiple, proactive, non-lethal deterrents across the large private pasture area, including daily/near daily range riding, Fox lights, mineral sites away from core wolf activity centers, delayed turnout of livestock, and carcass sanitation. The livestock producer will continue employing non-lethal deterrents and make adjustments based upon wolf sign or changes in cattle behavior. 

Tucannon pack
No activity to report.

Vulcan pack
No activity to report.

Wedge pack
No activity to report.

Miscellaneous/lone wolves
In mid-August, WDFW staff documented wolf activity in an area north of the Touchet pack territory and west of the Tucannon pack territory in Columbia County. WDFW staff were not able to determine which pack the wolves belonged to based on trail camera monitoring alone, so they initiated a trapping effort in the area. A WDFW wolf biologist captured and collared two adult wolves in this area and will continue to monitor their movements through the fall and winter to gather evidence to see if these wolves are members of a known pack or if there is a new wolf pack in this area.

On August 25, WDFW staff investigated an injured calf in a private pasture in the area north of the Touchet pack territory and west of the Tucannon pack territory in Columbia County. During the investigation, staff documented multiple factors consistent with wolf depredation, including bite marks, punctures, swelling, and lacerations in locations typical of wolf depredations.

WDFW staff who conducted the investigation determined that the injuries sustained were the result of a confirmed wolf depredation event due to the location and extent of the injuries and presence of wolves documented on the private pasture location.

The affected livestock producer used multiple, proactive, non-lethal deterrents across the large private pasture area, including range riding, Fox lights, and delayed turnout of livestock. WDFW staff communicated the location of a core wolf activity center to the livestock producer, who then moved mineral blocks away from the wolf activity center. The livestock producer will continue employing non-lethal deterrents and adjust based upon wolf sign or changes in cattle behavior.

In addition to the newly documented activity in Columbia County, WDFW wolf biologists also spent time deploying cameras and conducting surveys in areas of reported wolf activity in the South Cascades.

Note: The Frosty, Nason, Nc’icn, and Whitestone pack territories are within Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (CTCR) lands and are managed under tribal authority. Information regarding these packs is proprietary and reported at the discretion of the CTCR.

Mortalities

No wolf mortalities were documented in August. As of this update, WDFW has documented three wolf mortalities in 2021. 

Depredation activity

Please report any suspected livestock depredations or the death or harassment of wolves to the WDFW Enforcement Hotline at 1-877-933-9847.

In 2020, 76% of known wolf packs were not involved in any documented livestock depredation.

Below is a summary of packs with documented depredation activity within the past ten months (some packs have depredation history prior to the current ten-month window; this timeframe is considered based on guidance from the wolf-livestock interaction protocol).

Pack

Depredation date

Depredation type

Proactive non-lethals

Ten-month window

Agency lethal removal actions

Leadpoint

3/26/21

Probable injury of calf

Yes

1/26/22

 

 

7/22/21

Confirmed mortality of one calf (died from injuries), confirmed injury of second calf

Yes

5/22/22

 

Naneum

5/7/21

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

3/7/22

 

Smackout

8/30/21

Probable injury of two calves

Yes

6/30/22

 

Togo

6/24/21

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

4/24/22

 

 

8/6/21

Confirmed mortality of calf (died from injuries)

Yes

6/6/22

 

 

8/17/21

Probable injury of calf

Yes

6/17/22

 

 

8/17/21

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

6/17/22

 

Touchet

1/16/21

Probable kill of calf

No

11/16/21

 

 

8/10/21

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/10/22

 

Area of new wolf activity north of Touchet pack and west of Tucannon pack (Columbia County)

8/25/21

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

6/25/22

 

 

Packs
Beaver Creek
Butte Creek
Carpenter Ridge
Diobsud Creek
Dirty Shirt
Goodman Meadows
Grouse Flats
Huckleberry
Kettle
Leadpoint
Lookout
Loup Loup
Naneum
Navarre
Onion Creek
Salmo
Sherman
Skookum
Smackout
Stranger
Strawberry
Sullivan Creek
Teanaway
Togo
Touchet
Tucannon
Vulcan
Wedge