Wolf Pup Captured West Of Ione

WDFW captured and released a wolf pup in Northeast Washington July 2 and is now looking to radio-collar its parents.

It marks the emergence of a second new pack in the state in just the past week.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildife announced that a female wolf most likely with a litter is roaming the Teanaway area of the Cascades between Cle Elum and Blewett Pass. Northwest Sportsman learned of an animal’s capture there in late June, but WDFW held news until DNA testing determined it to be a wild gray wolf.

The newest canid apparently was caught in the Smackout Pass area of northern Pend Oreille and Stevens Counties just west of the town of Ione and the Pend Oreille River.

It was given an ear tag, according to spokeswoman Madonna Luers.

“You don’t want a radio collar on a pup of that size for a variety of reasons — the least of which is, it’s still growing,” she said.

While locals appear to have known about the capture, WDFW has been quiet about it as the agency’s wolf specialists attempt to capture adult wolves in the area and put telemetry devices on them to monitor their range.

“The more you talk about it, the worse the job becomes,” Luers says.

The news means that more and more are settling into Northeast Washington. At the end of 2010 there were four wolves in the Salmo Pack of extreme northern Pend Oreille County and 12 in the Diamond Pack east of Ione. How many of those made it through the winter is unknown, but in recent weeks wolf-like howls have been heard above Bead Lake north of Newport to the south of that pack’s known range. An Idaho pack, Cutoff Peak, has a sliver of territory in Washington between Lookout and Salmo too.

Elsewhere in the state’s upper right quadrant, a tribal biologist on the Colville Reservation today said that canid poop discovered with tracks in the middle Sanpoil Valley last winter was “confirmed” as from a wolf by DNA testing.

However, Randy Friedlander and Colville Natural Resources Department manager Joe Peone do not think that there are any breeding pairs or packs on the sprawling reservation on the north and west sides of Lakes Roosevelt and Rufus Woods.

“I halfway believe they were transient wolves,” says Friedlander of the tracks.

Ongoing howling surveys and trail cams have yet to turn up any, he says.

For now, that’s good news for tribal hunters on a reservation suffering from high unemployment but with liberal hunting seasons.

“Our priority for the Colville Tribes is to provide sustenance for our members,” says Peone.

Elsewhere in Washington, a map on WDFW’s Web site shows additional possible pack locations in the Blue Mountains on the Oregon state line and on the international border in the upper Skagit River valley, though none were found in the latter during searches earlier this year, says Luers.

It’s unclear how many wolves are in the Teanaway group, but before confirming it, the agency was estimating a statewide population of 25. Online estimates run far higher.

Luers says that the state is still waiting on genetics work to determine whether the Teanaway wolf is related to the Lookout pack further north in the Cascades. Meanwhile, the smarty-pants who tweets as one of that latter pack’s members, declared yesterday, “Just got back from visiting Teanaway, cuz I know that chick. I mean really know. Had to see for myself. Pups look just like me. Knew it.”

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