Colville Tribes Receive Grant for Innovative Wolf-Monitoring Program
Wolves on the Colville Reservation in northwestern Washington are getting a closer look thanks to a $187,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The reservation has a land base of 3.1 million acres. Limited funding and personnel makes keeping track of wolves and wolf packs difficult, so this grant will aid tremendously. A lot of the focus will be monitoring the location of wolves.
The grant also allows them to hire an additional biologist, said Randy Friedlander, who heads up the program. The new position will be filled by Justin Dellinger, a Ph.D. candidate with experience in wolf, cougar and deer research.
“The grant also allows us to get assistance with completion of writing our wolf management plan,” Friedlander said.
Monitoring includes DNA sampling from scat. This can identify individual wolves and numbers of animals within each pack. It can also tell what food is being consumed and gauge consumption rates on such animals as moose, elk, and deer.
Other research includes tracking and howling surveys, use of remote cameras, and trapping and collaring. Old collars about to expire are being replaced. They help locate packs and track locations of individual animals. This helps determine home ranges, den locations and kill sites.
Hunting seasons are established, but to date no wolves have been harvested. Friedlander said numbers don’t appear to have changed in the past year, with still two confirmed packs and a couple of suspected packs. Trapping efforts this summer will focus on collaring more adults from the Nc’icn Pack and any new packs that are located. The public is encouraged to report any wolf sightings by calling 509-722-7681.
Washington’s first wolf pack in 70 years was documented in 2008, and the state now has 13 confirmed packs and a minimum of 52 wolves. Nine of those packs are in northwestern Washington, including on the Colville Reservation. The animals are still protected in western Washington but can be managed in eastern Washington.
Much attention has been given to wolf research and management throughout the western states, where wolf populations have dramatically increased in recent years. Montana reported a verified count of 147 packs in 2012. Game Management Bureau Chief George Pauley said they expected a similar count for 2013.
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