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Colville Tribes Collar 104-pound Wolf, 3rd Captured On Reservation

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By Andy Walgamott
Northwest Sportsman

“The whole experience has been incredible for me,” said wildlife tech Donovan Antoine. “I’ll view being a part of wolf recovery on the Reservation as one of the pinnacles of my career."

Colville Tribes Collar 104-pound Wolf, 3rd Captured On Reservation

Gray wolves are growing in numbers in Washington. Photo courtesy of Colville Confederated Tribes

Colville wildlife managers captured and collared a female wolf on their sprawling North-central Washington reservation this past Sunday, the third they've trapped and outfitted with tracking devices there since June.

It was the culmination of a six-day search by wildlife biologist Eric Krausz and wildlife tech Donovan Antoine and made tribal officials all the way to the business council proud.

“We’re very pleased that our Colville team, who learned from an expert how to accomplish this difficult task, now has worked independently to collar a third wolf,” Colville chairman John Sirois said in a press release.

That expert is former federal wolf manager Carter Niemeyer, who was recently in Washington helping the state attempt to trap animals just to the east of the reservation.

He helped train Colville biologists during this spring's capture of a 68-pound female and a 72-pound male somewhere in the reservation's northeastern corner. One was fitted with a GPS collar, the other with a VHF device.

This week's wolf was captured on the northwestern side; a photo file accompanying the news release would seem to indicate it came from the Strawberry Mountain area, just south of the Aeneas Valley in eastern Okanogan County.

Before releasing it with a GPS collar, the team took DNA samples and measurements.

The animal weighed 104 pounds, which is on the large size for a female, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Mike Jimenez, but not a record. It could have consumed a meal right before its capture, he suggested. Still, that makes it one of the biggest females on record in Washington, and just a pound lighter than the Diamond Pack's alpha male at its initial 2009 capture.

“It was exciting to set up the traps for the first time,” Krausz said in a press release.

“The whole experience has been incredible for me,” Antoine added.  “I’ll view being a part of wolf recovery on the Reservation as one of the pinnacles of my career.  We have spent countless hours searching for evidence of wolf presence locally and it was great to finally able to find and participate in trapping one.  We were able to apply the knowledge and experience Carter Niemeyer taught us to catch a wolf and I’ll never forget it.”

The Colvilles are working on their own draft wolf management plan, which they expect to be available to tribal members and the general public in the near future. It's expected to include a wolf hunt. The Colville Business Council will need to first sign off on it.

Anyone seeing wolves on the reservation are encouraged to fill out a report form, available online.

Might not be too long before the state has a ninth confirmed pack ...

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