(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sometimesong/2182803563/)
The Seattle Times reported last week that biologists have confirmed a fifth wolf pack in Washington. Biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found the gray-wolf pack living in the state’s northeast corner after they tagged and released a young wolf pup. This confirmation comes after ranchers in Stevens County reported seeing two adults and three pups, as well as hearing howling, earlier in the summer.
Just two weeks earlier, a breeding female wolf was collared in the Teanaway drainage near Interstate 90, which is about a 90-minute drive east of Seattle. After conducting DNA tests, biologists learned that this female wolf descended from the Lookout Pack in the Methow Valley, which descended from wolves in nearby British Columbia.
The newest pack was named the Smackout Pack, after the nearby Smackout mountain pass. The Lookout Pack, which was the state’s first pack, took up residence in Okanogan County in 2007 or 2008. Tragically, this pack has since been devastated by several poaching incidents. Northeast Washington is also home to the Diamond and Salmo packs.
Even though all of Washington’s wolves are protected as state endangered species, only the wolves west of Highway 97 have the protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, Washington’s eastern wolves are considered part of the Rocky Mountain wolves that were removed from federal protection earlier this year.
To learn more about Washington’s wolves and to take action, visit Conservation Northwest’s website.