Monthly Wolf Report - February 2023

Publish date

This update provides an overview of gray wolf conservation and management activities in Washington during February 2023.

Program updates and coordination

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Police continue to investigate six wolf mortalities within the Wedge pack territory in Stevens County. WDFW Police began the investigation in February 2022, and it is ongoing. Toxicology results revealed all six wolves died from ingesting poison. The investigation remains active, and the Department encourages anyone who might have relevant information to report it confidentially by calling WDFW's poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411. Rewards totaling $53,900 are available for information that leads to a conviction in the case of the poisoning of Stevens County wolves.

Outreach and education

WDFW’s Statewide Wolf Specialist gave a presentation on wolves to the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group in North Bend this past month.

A WDFW Wildlife Conflict Specialist presented information about gray wolves to an elementary school class in Kettle Falls. The presenter provided information on wolf biology and behavior and answered student questions.

Current population status and proactive conflict mitigation

The year-end minimum population count for 2021 was at least 206 known wolves in 33 known packs including at least 19 breeding pairs. 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 2022 will be released in April 2023.

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
Biologists spent several days surveying for tracks and checking cameras to document wolf activity in this pack territory.

Butte Creek pack
No activity to report.

Carpenter Ridge pack
No activity to report.

Columbia pack
A WDFW Wildlife Conflict Specialist (WCS) met with the WDFW-contracted range rider (CRR) in this area multiple times to discuss calving operations within the Columbia pack territory and recent activity within the area. The CRR maintains a solid rotation to cover producers whose calving operations fall within a wolf territory.

The WCS also spent part of two days procuring fencing components and installing fladry, turbofladry and Fox lights on a Columbia County calving pasture. The pasture has experienced wolf activity and depredation by wolves on cattle in the past. Multiple trail camera photos of wolves near the pasture site have been documented over the winter. The proactive deterrents are an effort by WDFW and the livestock producer to reduce the likelihood of wolf-livestock interactions. 

Dirty Shirt pack
No activity to report.

Dominion 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.

Leadpoint pack
No activity to report.

Lookout pack
No activity to report.

Loup Loup pack
No activity to report.

Navarre pack
No activity to report.

Onion Creek pack
On Feb. 1, WDFW staff investigated a dead calf in a private pasture in Stevens County. The livestock producer saw wolves feeding on the carcass the morning the incident was reported. WDFW’s investigation revealed several injuries on the hide surrounding the hindquarters, hamstrings, front shoulder, and topline. Shaving revealed dozens of lacerations, bite marks, and punctures consistent with wolf depredation. Skinning the hindquarters and front shoulder revealed subcutaneous hemorrhaging and severe tissue damage around and underneath the injuries. WDFW staff also identified several fresh wolf tracks around the calf carcass. Staff classified the incident as a confirmed wolf depredation attributed to the Onion Creek pack. Staff estimated the calf was killed within 12 hours of the investigation. The carcass remains were removed and discarded at an appropriate sanitation facility.

The next day, WDFW staff deployed a mile of turbo-fladry and Fox lights on the livestock producer’s property to reduce the likelihood of future depredations. A second, older cow died from exhaustion and stress the night following the depredation event. That cow carcass was also removed and taken to the local landfill.

The local WDFW Wildlife Conflict Specialist later deployed a RAG box in the area, replaced the coax cable, and tested and calibrated the box to accommodate the size of the calving pasture.

WDFW staff also investigated a non-wolf-caused depredation on a sheep within the Onion Creek territory.

Salmo pack
No activity to report.

Shady Pass pack
No activity to report.

Sherman pack
Biologists spent several days surveying for tracks and checking cameras to document wolf activity in this pack territory.

Skookum pack
No activity to report.

Smackout pack
No activity to report.

Stranger pack
No activity to report.

Sullivan Creek pack
No activity to report.

Teanaway pack 
Biologists spent several days surveying for tracks and checking cameras to document wolf activity in this pack territory.

Togo pack
No activity to report.

Touchet pack
No activity to report.

Tucannon pack
No activity to report.

Vulcan pack
Biologists spent several days surveying for tracks and checking cameras to document wolf activity in this pack territory.

Wedge pack
Biologists spent several days surveying for tracks and checking cameras to document wolf activity in this pack territory.

Miscellaneous/lone wolves
Biologists surveyed for tracks and placed cameras in areas north of Winthrop, north of Republic, and north of Leavenworth for wolf activity this past month. 

Asotin County: The local Wildlife Conflict Specialist (WCS) continued to work with producers in the Anatone area regarding wolf activity near active calving operations. The WCS met with two producers who have active calving pastures in the immediate area of the recent wolf activity. The WCS discussed preventative measures that were currently in place and recommended others. The WCS delivered Fox lights to one of the producers to deploy around their calving pastures and the other producer deployed Fox lights that they had retained from their summer grazing pastures. One of the producers also used temporary fencing to reduce the size of their calving pasture. The WCS continued with daily or twice daily updates to producers in the surrounding area and the Asotin County Cattlemen’s Association President. The WCS also spent two days checking the area for signs of wolf activity and collect information that would help determine how many wolves were possibly in the area. Two wolves were observed near one of the calving pastures and the producer hazed them out of the area.

Lincoln/Whitman County: The local Wildlife Conflict Specialist (WCS) provided guidance and reached out to local ranchers in Lamont (Whitman County) regarding the presence of a wolf in their area near a calving pasture. The WCS and local wolf biologist also searched for and identified signs of wolf activity in the Sprague area of Lincoln County.

Yakima/Klickitat County: WDFW staff continued to monitor a collared dispersing male wolf (originally from the Naneum pack) and an uncollared female wolf traveling in Yakima and Klickitat counties. Over the past several months, the two wolves have been frequenting an area adjacent to a livestock calving pasture. The livestock producer will be calving in this pasture in late February, so the local Wildlife Conflict Specialist (WCS) proactively deployed fox lights around the perimeter of the pasture to help serve as a deterrent measure. The WCS has also been working on developing a livestock carcass disposal program within the area used by these two wolves in Klickitat County. That program should be ready to roll out by late February or early March.

Fox light used for conflict deterrence
Photo by WDFW
One of several Fox Lights deployed around the perimeter of a calving pasture.

Note: The Frosty, Nason, Nc’icn, Keller Ridge, Strawberry, 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

There were no wolf mortalities documented in February. As of this update, WDFW has documented one wolf mortality in 2023. 

Depredation activity

In 2022, 81% of known wolf packs were not involved in any documented livestock depredation.

WDFW documented one wolf depredation event in February, slightly higher than the average (0.2) from 2018-2022.

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

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

Grouse Flats

8/12/22

Confirmed mortality of steer

Yes

6/12/23

 

 

8/30/22

Confirmed mortality of steer

Yes

6/30/23

 

Leadpoint

8/22/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/22/23

 

 

9/1/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

7/1/23

 

 

9/16/22

Confirmed mortality of cow

Yes

7/16/23

 

 

9/19/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

7/19/23

 

 

9/19/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

7/19/23

Adult male removed 9/27/22; adult female removed 9/28/22

 

9/30/22

Confirmed injury of cow and calf (calf died from injuries)

Yes

7/30/23

 

 

10/7/22

Confirmed mortality of cow

No

8/7/23

 

Lookout

5/20/22

Confirmed mortality of two lambs

Yes

3/20/23

 

Onion Creek

2/1/23

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

12/1/23

 

Smackout

8/17/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/17/23

 

 

8/20/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

6/20/23

 

 

8/27/22

Probable injury of calf

Yes

6/27/23

 

 

8/28/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

6/28/23

 

 

8/31/22

Confirmed mortality of two calves

Yes

6/30/23

Juvenile male lethally removed 9/8/22

 

9/26/22

Probable mortality of calf

Yes

7/26/23

 

 

10/3/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/3/23

 

 

10/6/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/6/23

 

 

10/8/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

8/8/23

Yearling female removed 10/10/22

 

10/12/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

8/12/23

 

Stranger

7/28/22

Probable injury of calf

No

5/28/23

 

Togo

5/17/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

3/17/23

 

 

5/18/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

3/18/23

 

 

6/8/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

4/8/23

 

 

6/12/22

Confirmed injury of calf

Yes

4/11/23

Yearling female lethally removed 6/14/22; adult male lethally removed 6/17/22

Vulcan

4/30/22

Confirmed mortality of calf

Yes

2/28/23

 

 

Packs referenced in this update