Apologies for skipping out of the office for the weekend while wolf news was brewing, but for the record, WDFW confirmed a fifth group of wolves in Washington late last Friday afternoon, a pack that we reported on July 11.
State officials believe there are three pups with a pair of adults in the Smackout Pass area west of Ione and the Pend Oreille River. They caught, ear-tagged and released one of the pups.
It’s the second time this year that a dot has been added to the agency’s statewide map of pack locations. Earlier this month, WDFW released information on the Teanaway wolves, based on the capture and radio-collaring of a lactating female.
The Teanaway female has since been determined to be related to the Lookout Pack, 135 road miles to the north in western Okanogan County. In 2008, Lookout became the state’s first officially confirmed pack in 70 years, though may have had pups the year before based on two reports of seven to nine wolves in the area as well as allegations in Federal court papers that William “Bill” D. White of Twisp, Wash., was looking for information on how to snare wolves in late 2007 and hunting them in early 2008.
Later next week, a final wolf management plan/environmental impact statement will be delivered to the Fish & Wildlife Commission during a 10-4, Thursday, Aug. 4 meeting in Room 172 of the Natural Resources Building, 1111 Washington Street SE, in Olympia.
There will be a chance for the public to comment on the plan and wolves there and at three more meetings over the coming months, including in Ellensburg, Tuesday, Aug. 9, and Olympia, Thursday, Oct. 6 and Thursday, Nov. 3.
The presence of a fifth pack moves the species closer towards delisting from state protections and, potentially, hunts. At present, the draft plan requires 15 breeding pairs spread in certain numbers over the western two-thirds of the state for three years in a row.
And the fun just never ends with wolves: Tomorrow in a court in Montana, a Federal judge will hear arguments on the constitutionality of this spring’s Congressional delisting of wolves from ESA coverage in eastern thirds of Washington and Oregon as well as Montana and Idaho.