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Washington’s fifth wolf pack confirmed

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By Staff reporter
Wildlife Extra

The gray wolf is protected throughout Washington as a state endangered species. In the western two-thirds of Washington, the species is also federally protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), making it illegal to harm or harass them.

August 2011: Washington's fifth gray wolf pack has been confirmed in northeast Stevens County.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists caught, tagged and then released a two-month-old wolf pup from the pack. Biologists have since been trying to capture one of the pack's breeding adult wolves to radio-collar it for monitoring. The effort to document the pack began after local ranchers reported observing three wolf pups and hearing howling in late June.

The pack is believed to include a breeding-age male and female and at least three pups. The group has been named the Smackout Pack, in reference to geographic features in the area.

'Wolves are re-establishing here on their own'

The Lookout Pack, confirmed in Okanogan and Chelan counties in 2008, was Washington's first documented resident gray wolf pack since a breeding population of wolves was extirpated from the state in the Thirties. Two more packs have been documented in Pend Oreille County - the Diamond Pack was confirmed in 2009 and the Salmo Pack a year later.

Just a couple of months ago, the state's fourth documented pack - dubbed the Teanaway Pack - was confirmed in Kittitas County. DNA analysis of that pack's adult female wolf indicated she is probably a recent descendant of the Lookout Pack.

The gray wolf is protected throughout Washington as a state endangered species. In the western two-thirds of Washington, the species is also federally protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), making it illegal to harm or harass them.

‘Wolves are re-establishing here on their own,' said Nate Pamplin, who heads WDFW's Wildlife Programme. ‘The confirmation of additional breeding wolf packs moves us closer to achieving a sustainable population, and also highlights the need to finalise a state wolf plan that sets recovery targets and management tools to address livestock and ungulate conflicts.'

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