Here’s the text of a friend’s testimony to the WDFW at their wolf “management hearing:
I’m speaking on behalf of wolf protection and recovery. I’m going to cover three points tonight.
Here’s the text of a friend’s testimony to the WDFW at their wolf “management hearing:
I’m speaking on behalf of wolf protection and recovery. I’m going to cover three points tonight.
I attended the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf hearing last week to find out how far the WDFW ultimately plans to go with wolf hunting, once wolves are inevitably removed from the state endangered species list, and when Washington residents can expect to hear that hunting groups are holding contest hunts on wolves like our neighbors in Idaho have already done.
It turns out the department wasn’t ready to come clean on their ultimate plans to implement hunting seasons on wolves (starting in Eastern Washington). They were only willing to talk about the few cases of sheep predation (a few dozen out of a flock of 1,800 animals grazing on public forest land), and the WDFW’s collusion with areal snipers from the federal Wildlife “Services” for some good old fashioned lethal removal. Here are some notes on what I was planning to say, had it been on topic:
Over the years spent living in rural Eastern Washington, I’ve gotten to know how ranchers think and feel, and what they’re capable of. For over twenty years I lived in a cabin outside the Okanogan County town of Twisp, where rancher/convicted poacher Bill White is currently under house arrest. Exploiting his then-good standing and local influence to get permission from the WDFW to gather road-killed deer, under the guise of distributing them as meat to members of the Colville tribe, he used some of the deer as bait to lure wolves from the Lookout pack to within shooting distance. He and his son are credited with killing nearly every member of that pack—the first wolves to make it back into Washington. Their sense of entitlement was so overblown they thought they could get away with sending a blood-dripping wolf hide across the Canadian border.
On the plus side, I also have a lot of experiences with wolves themselves. As a wildlife photographer I’ve photographed them in Alaska and Canada as well as in Montana, where I lived a mile away from Yellowstone National Park. I got to know the real nature and behavior of wolves. I’d like to think that if ranchers knew the wolves the way I do, they wouldn’t be so quick to want to kill them off again. I shouldn’t have to remind folks that wolves were exterminated once already in all of the lower 48 states, except Minnesota, which had only six wolves remaining before the species was finally protected as endangered.
Although I personally believe that wolves belong to no one but themselves, to use game department jargon, wolves and other wildlife belong to everyone in the state equally—not just the squeakist-wheel ranchers and hunters. By far most of Washington’s residents want to see wolves allowed to live here and don’t agree with the department’s lethal wolf removal measures (that no doubt include plans for future wolf hunting seasons, which are currently being downplayed by the WDFW).
What’s to stop Washington from becoming just like Idaho, Montana and Wyoming in implementing reckless wolf-kill programs that eventually lead to things like contest hunts (as in Idaho) and the subsequent decimation of entire packs? Or year-round predator seasons that ultimately result in federal re-listing (as in Wyoming)? What guarantee do we have that Washington’s wolves will be treated any differently?
Capital Press October 15, 2014
LYNNWOOD, Wash. — The east-west divide over how Washington should manage conflicts between ranchers and the state’s growing population of wolves was apparent Tuesday at a meeting in this Seattle suburb.
Speaker after speaker told state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials that game managers shouldn’t have OK’d the shooting of a wolf in August to deter a pack from preying on sheep in Stevens County in northeast Washington.
A week ago at the Stevens County Fairground in Colville, game officials were accused of being slow to stop livestock predation. At the Lynnwood Convention Center, they were charged with being quick to kill wolves at the bidding of ranchers.
Denise Joines, representing a Seattle-based philanthropic conservation group, the Wilderforce Foundation, said the economic contribution of “wildlife watchers” dwarfs that of ranchers who graze their animals on public lands.
“The Department of Fish and Wildlife should focus on serving the interests, both recreational and economic, of the majority of our state’s citizens, not a small extractive industry,” she said.
A sharpshooter from a helicopter killed a breeding female in the Huckleberry Pack on Aug. 23. The department called the Lynnwood and Colville meetings to give residents a chance to vent.
Ania Pastuszewska, of Seattle, called the wolf a symbol of the American West and the August shooting “plain lazy” and an act of “cowardice.”
Hank Seipp said he drove across the state from his home in Spokane because he didn’t have a chance to speak in Colville.
He held prepared remarks laying out his belief that non-lethal means can deter attacks on livestock. Instead of referring to his paper, he turned to look at three department officials and spoke through clenched teeth.
“We, you, have to do better,” he said.
Afterward, Seipp said he was surprised by his vehemence. “My emotions got the better of me over this subject,” he said.
About 100 people came to the Lynnwood meeting and heard the department’s assistant director, Nate Pamplin, defend the shooting.
He said the Huckleberry Pack had killed 34 sheep grazing in rugged terrain. He said non-lethal efforts to protect the sheep, including patrols by state employees around the flock, didn’t stop wolves from killing and injuring livestock.
The state spent an estimated $53,000 in first tying to protect the flock and then in shooting one wolf.
Many in the audience accused game managers of failing to do enough before resorting to lethal action. The same managers were criticized in Colville for allegedly failing to take action against the wolves.
Tricia M. Cook, of Glacier, said a rancher at the Colville meeting slipped her an unfriendly note accusing her of being a “wolf lover.”
“I’ll take that accusation as a compliment,” she said.
In Lynnwood, south King County resident Bill McCorkle stood out when he applauded the shooting of the wolf.
“These guys are just trying to make a living. They are American farmers,” McCorkle said. “I’m not a wolf-hater. I don’t want to see them all dead. I just don’t want things to get out of hand.”
Washington lists the wolf on the state’s endangered species list. Game officials estimate there are 52 wolves in the state, mostly in northeast Washington.
Game officials say the population is growing rapidly and spreading. They anticipate the wolf population will recovery as soon as 2021.
“Wolves in Washington are here to stay,” Pamplin said to applause.
The department’s carnivore manager, Donny Martorello, said conflicts between wolves and livestock likely will increase.
The Huckleberry Pack caused the department the most trouble last summer.
In Ferry County, the Profanity Pack killed a cow and calf. “This is a pack we’ll have to closely monitor next year,” Pamplin said. “This will be a challenging area for 2015.”
…If they’re mean, they get shot and if they’re “too-friendly” they get trapped and have to spend they rest of their life stuck in an enclosure…
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – Officials are still trying to trap a wolf that has to be moved from northeast Washington to prevent it from becoming too friendly with dogs, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department said Monday.
“It can take some time to trap a wolf,” spokesman Craig Bartlett.
The wolf, known as Ruby Creek Wolf 47, may be wary because it was trapped in July 2013 and equipped with a radio collar. Tracking last summer showed the wolf hanging around homes near Ione and playing with pet dogs. It has not been aggressive to people or livestock, but there is potential for more serious problems.
To prevent the wolf from mating with dogs over the winter, the state Wolf Advisory Group decided in September to move it to the Wolf Haven sanctuary in Tenino.
The sanctuary has set aside an enclosure in an area away from public view, spokeswoman Kim Young told The Chronicle in a story published Friday.
It would be only the second time in Wolf Haven’s 32-year history that it has accepted a wolf from the wild.
“It’s pretty disheartening the Ruby Creek wolf has become habituated to dogs and being around people, that she now has to spend her life in captivity,” Young said.
“The challenge is that she has lived her entire life in the wild,” she said. “We do all that we can, but we are very aware that this is not the wild.”
Wolf Haven has 82 animals, including eight wolf-dog hybrids and two coyotes.
The sanctuary provides a home for displaced, captive-born wolves and also serves as a breeding facility for two types of highly endangered wolves – the Mexican wolf and the red wolf.
Wolf Haven monitors wolves by remote cameras to reduce stress to the animal by minimizing human presence.
OLYMPIA – The public will have an opportunity to discuss wolf management with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) leaders during a meeting Tuesday, Oct. 14, in Lynnwood.
The meeting will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. in Room 1EF of the Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, Lynnwood.
WDFW officials will provide information on recent wolf attacks on livestock in the state, and on the packs involved in those incidents – the Huckleberry pack in Stevens County and the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County.
WDFW’s actions to protect sheep this summer from the Huckleberry pack are described in a question-and-answer document on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/huckleberry_faq.html .
WDFW officials also confirmed recently that wolves were responsible for killing a cow and calf at a cattle grazing site in Ferry County, within the range of the newly discovered Profanity Peak pack. WDFW wildlife conflict specialists continue to monitor that situation.
In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species in the eastern third of the state, but the species is still protected under Washington state law. The state Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and state laws set the parameters for responding to wolf predation on livestock.
The department has also established a Wolf Advisory Group that provides input to the department on wolf plan implementation. More information on that group is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wag/
This message has been sent to the WDFW News Releases & Weekender mailing list.
Visit the WDFW News Release Archive at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/
by Anonymous for Wolves
On September 4th, WDFW posted a News Release under the Latest News link on their website (wdfw.wa.gov) with this heading, Sheep moved from scene of wolf attacks. The release reads that rancher Dave Dashiell worked over the Labor Day weekend collecting his flock of 1800 sheep to eventually truck them, somewhat prematurely, to their winter pasture area.
This is good news for Stevens County Huckleberry wolf pack as it acts as a stay of execution after a WDFW contract sharpshooter from USDA Wildlife Services, shot dead the breeding female from a helicopter on August 23rd. The pack had been preying on Dashiell’s sheep with WDFW determining the need for lethal action. “If non-lethal tools fail, lethal actions can be taken. It is a process,” WDFW’s Wildlife Conflict Manager Stephanie Simek said.
Wolves are on Washington’s landscape and ranchers now need to put in place the new best practices for ranging livestock. These practices include quickly removing injured, sick or dead livestock, all of which help attract wolves and other large carnivores. Consistent human presence in non-fenced range situations to “babysit” herds is imperative. Such models are being taken from Western Idaho and Montana ranchers: range-riders go out on foot, 4-wheeler or horseback, attending to the herds.
“This may not be accomplished 24/7,” said Donny Martorello, WDFW’s Carnivore Manager, “but they go out as much as they can.” Wolves can also be hazed by shooting overhead and with rubber bullets, as well as by being chased off. Spotlights, flashing lights and fladry may also be employed.
Was Stevens County rancher Dashiell timely and diligent in his non-lethal tactics? Reports have been mixed. WDFW had claimed that Dashiell was out every day and night, along with four guard dogs, a range rider, and eventually with the department adding a second rider and a greater human presence during the night. West Coast Wolf Organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity, Amaroq Weiss, believes otherwise.
Weiss spoke with David Ware, WDFW’s game division manager who also oversees wolf management for the department. While WDFW had released statements that on August 15th Dashiell’s range rider was on task and the sheep were being moved, “Ware confirmed that these actions were not happening and that (Dashiell’s) range rider had quit a month ago. The following week the sheep still had not been moved and a range rider did not show up until August 20th,” said Weiss.
WDFW observed prey switching within the Huckleberry pack: the switch from preying on wild to domestic animals. This switch can be determined by energetics, ease in taking, and by abundance, what is most often being seen.
“Sheep are such easy prey and so abundant, it’s hard to get wolves to stop preying on them,” said Marearello. Dashiell’s range allotment is also rugged, brushy and sprawling; it can be difficult to protect livestock on this type of landscape.
The GPS collar on the Huckleberry pack’s alpha male collects data every 6 hours. It was observed that by the 3rd or 4th depredation, with the wolf traveling back and forth from the rendezvous site to the sheep, the animal had begun solely preying on the domestic sheep. This behavioral pattern can also be passed on to pups.
WDFW’s original goal was to remove four animals from the Huckleberry pack as a means to reduce their numbers on the landscape. This reduction would lower the food requirements and nutritional needs of the pack. In this case, the removal of the breeding female may have broken the Huckleberry pack’s pattern of sheep depredation. Said Martorello, “Removal of a single animal may have been enough to break the pack’s cycle. The animal was removed on August 23rd and the collared male has not been back to the vicinity of the sheep since the 27th. The sheep were not moved until September 1st or 2nd.”
WDFW claims that killing the breeding female was not the department’s intention. Their goal was to not take the breeding pair, but to remove yearlings and two year olds from the pack. The litter had a mix of colors with the pack’s collared adult male being black. The sharpshooter was to look for color (the breeding or alpha female’s color has yet to be released at the time of this writing), look for smaller–younger– wolves to shoot, and to only shoot when multiple wolves were under the helicopter to use for size comparison.
When the breeding female was shot by Wildlife Services, she was the sole animal under the under helicopter and weighed only 66lbs; small but not uncommon for an adult female wolf. “We were certainly disappointed in this outcome but, there was no way to sort from the air in this circumstance,” said Martorello .
When asked why take the risk of shooting the wrong wolf if there is no means of comparison, Marearello explained that the department was trying to achieve an objective and the only instructions were that if the opportunity to sort existed, to try and not remove the collared male. “You know going into it you get what you get. We did not have the opportunity to sort in this case,” said Martorello.
The helicopter had been up on multiple occasions and had been unable to spot animals due to weather conditions and visibility limits. And as we learned from the aerial shooting of the Wedge pack in 2012, time in the air translates to tens of thousands of dollars ($76,500 in 2012 to kill the Wedge). Per Martorello, at some point a wolf, or wolves, must simply be killed.
The Huckleberry pack is a relatively young pack, having only been formed in the last 3 years and with a young breeding female. It would not be uncommon then, for another female next in the hierarchy to step in and care for the pups, pups approaching full grown and traveling with the pack. She may also become the new breeding female. With the Huckleberry pack WDFW finds science, in these early stages, that pack cohesiveness remains and that there may not be a loss in pack structure.
Hope for the Huckleberry pack.
STEVENS COUNTY, Wash. — When a sharpshooter took out a member of a problem wolf pack last month, it looked like a small female, but it wasn’t just any female. A necropsy determined it was the breeding female of the Huckleberry Pack, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDF&W) officials said today.
The Huckleberry Pack has been feeding on sheep being raised on private forest lands in northern Stevens County.
The only wolf killed was the female shot from a helicopter by a federal contractor.
WDF&W was hoping to keep the breeding pair alive so that if the pack learned to leave the sheep alone, it could rebuild and return to hunting wild animals.
“Obviously, this is an unfortunate development and one we hoped to avoid,” said Nate Pamplin, WDF&W’s Assistant Wildlife Program Director. “We provided direction for individuals involved in aerial removals or trapping/euthanasia to try to remove smaller bodied animals.”
He added the alpha wolf weighed 66 pounds and was 3 years old. Pamplin said they couldn’t determine it was the alpha female from the air.
Biologists say losing the alpha female harms the survival of a wolf pack, but other females in the pack may fill that role.
A Washington state rancher says he was left “high and dry” when state wildlife managers called off a wolf hunt to protect his 1,800 sheep.
The cancellation forced Dave Dashiell of Hunters, Wash., to move his flock or risk more attacks by the wolves, which had already killed 24 animals.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife managers had planned to kill four wolves from the Huckleberry pack but called off the helicopter hunt after one wolf was killed and pulled out trappers shortly after.
“We’re on pause right now, if something new develops — another series of depredations, perhaps even with a different producer and the same pack in neighboring areas — then we’ll reassess at that point,” department carnivore section manager Donny Martorello said.
A federal wildlife agent contracted by the state killed one adult female Aug. 23 from a helicopter. The helicopter hunt wasn’t as efficient as the department expected, Martorello said. The wolves were screened by thick trees or were on the Spokane Tribe of Indians reservation, where they couldn’t be killed. The department continued trapping until the start of the Labor Day weekend, then removed the traps because of the increase in recreational activities like camping and hunting in the area, he said.
The department still has the authority to kill more wolves in the vicinity of the sheep, Martorello said.
“Our ranch was left high and dry to try and handle the situation ourselves while at the same time having our hands tied due to the wolves’ state endangered species status,” Dashiell said in a Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association press release. Wolves in the area are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Dashiell moved the sheep to a friend’s pasture, where they will stay until he can move them to a new grazing location far from the current site.
The department is working with Dashiell to determine his strategies for managing straggling sheep and will keep a range rider on the site, Martorello said.
The department is also communicating with other producers in the area.
“Having to make this kind of change in the middle of the summer has caused considerable stress, expense and hardship to our operation,” Dashiell said. “The grazing lease we had arranged with the private timber company was good until the middle of October and now we have to move our animals and try to find an alternate spot at the last minute.”
Martorello said there are no requirements in the department’s wolf management plan and protocols that producers move their livestock to alternate grazing sites to reduce conflict. It was an opportunity to break the pattern of repeated behavior, he said.
“In this particular case, with the producer nearing that period of time where they were moving sheep to a winter range, we wanted to work with the producer to see if we could expedite that process at all,” Martorello said. “We weren’t asking the producer to necessarily take a step he wasn’t going to take, but maybe to do that a little bit sooner.”
Dashiell has represented the Cattle Producers of Washington on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife wolf advisory group.
“But in the end all of the talk did very little to help a person in my situation,” he stated. “The Huckleberry wolf pack needs to be removed, not our sheep. By making us leave we are only passing the problem along to others in the area when the wolf finds their pets, animals and livestock.”
A Stevens County family moved 1,800 sheep off private grazing land over the weekend to protect their flock from wolves that have killed at least two dozen of the animals this summer.
Dave and Julie Dashiell decided to get their sheep to safety rather than wait for state wildlife officials to track down and kill up to four wolves from the Huckleberry Pack, which is at least six strong and hunts north of the Spokane Tribe reservation.
The ranchers tried everything to thwart the attacks, said Jamie Henneman, spokeswoman for the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, which is working on behalf of the Dashiells. They had a full-time herder, four guard dogs, range riders and extra help from state employees, but confirmed wolf kills kept mounting, Henneman said Monday.
“There’s a point where you’ve got to decide, do you leave and hopefully stay in business, or do you stick around until there’s just nothing left,” she said.
The Dashiells know of 24 sheep they lost to wolf attacks the past few weeks and fear the actual toll could be twice that number.
On Sunday they pulled their remaining sheep off rangeland they leased from Hancock Timber Co. northeast of Hunters in southern Stevens County. The animals were moved, with assistance from state employees, to a temporary pasture and soon will be trucked to their winter range, about six weeks earlier than planned, Henneman said.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department shot one of the wolves, an adult female, from a helicopter on Aug. 23 and set out traps in hopes of removing up to three others from the pack. But the agency pulled its traps before the Labor Day weekend to avoid conflicts with recreationists and grouse hunters.
The state responded quickly to assist the Dashiells once it was clear wolves were attacking the flock, said Donny Martorello, carnivore section manager for Fish and Wildlife.
When wolves start preying on domestic sheep, losses can add up quickly, Martorello said Monday. “The alarm bells went off for us,” he said, and the agency worked with the rancher daily on preventing more attacks.
Now that the Dashiells have removed the sheep, the state will re-evaluate what to do next, Martorello said.
“We’re certainly concerned about the behavior, the repeated depredations,” he said. “We did remove one wolf; we don’t know if we’ve broken that pattern of depredation, that prey-switching from natural prey to sheep.”
Henneman said the cattlemen’s association sees this as a case of the state falling short of protecting livestock producers.
“If this is the precedent – that Fish and Wildlife refuses to control their animals, that the rancher has to leave – we have a private property rights crisis here,” she said. “That means anyone that owns land out here … it means you’re going to get kicked out, the predator has precedence.”
Henneman also noted that other land and livestock owners in that area may be at risk from the Huckleberry Pack.
“As soon as that pack figures out that their 1,800 sheep are gone, they’re going to move on to the next site,” she said. “This is not the end to these troubles.”
Until recently the pack had spent most of its time on the Spokane reservation but now is more active north of the reservation. The Dashiells did not know the pack was that close until the attacks began, Henneman said.
Fish and Wildlife plans to reach out to neighboring livestock owners to discuss the pack and offer help to try to prevent more attacks. The agency also is evaluating compensation for the Dashiells for the sheep injured and killed by wolves.
At this time WDFW is not certain if lethal action will continue to be pursued. WDFW and stakeholders are meeting this afternoon and information from this meeting will be posted by WDFW Public affairs office under “Latest News” on their website’s homepage. http://wdfw.wa.gov/index.html
SPOKANE — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) will suspend its hunt for three more members of the Huckleberry wolf pack until after the Labor Day weekend.
Hunters contracted by the state for the past week have been trying to kill a total of four members of the pack in order to protect a herd of 1,800 sheep the wolves have been preying upon. One wolf was shot and killed by a hunter in a helicopter on Aug. 22.
The state says at least 24 sheep have been killed in eight confirmed wolf attacks on the herd in southern Stevens County since Aug. 14.
Officials for DFW say they have suspended efforts to hunt or trap the wolves in order to avoid conflicts with Labor Day recreationists and grouse hunters.