HOOK AND FUR
By Bob Brown
Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) eliminated the Wedge Pack gray wolves that resided in northeast Washington. Department marksmen killed the pack’s alpha male last Thursday, for a total of six wolves killed during that week.
Phil Anderson, WDFW director, ordered the pack’s removal in response to the wolves’ escalating pattern of preying on the ranch’s cattle. The wolves are believed to have killed or injured at least 17 calves and cows since July
Anderson said, “We decided to eliminate the Wedge Pack only after non-lethal measures were unsuccessful, and after the removal of one pack member failed to alter its behavior. We are committed to the recovery and sustainability of the gray wolf in Washington, and its numbers are increasing rapidly, but recovery won’t succeed if ranchers’ livelihoods are threatened by persistent wolf attacks on livestock.”
Anderson also said directing the pack’s removal was a very difficult decision, both personally and professionally, but it was necessary to reset the stage for sustainable wolf recovery in the region.
“We will now refocus our attention on working with livestock operators and conservation groups to aggressively promote the use of non-lethal tactics to avoid wolf-livestock conflicts,” he said.
The Wedge Pack was one of eight confirmed and four suspected packs in the state, most of which are in Pend Oreille, Stevens and Ferry counties.
Other news and comment
* WDFW has tentatively scheduled a razor clam dig for mid-October, while continuing to accept public comment on future digs. The first dig of this season will start Oct. 13 at four ocean beaches, (Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, and Mocrocks), providing upcoming marine toxin tests show the clams are safe to eat. The final approval of the dig will be about a week before the dig is set to begin, said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager. Ayres also said “We’re still in the process of determining additional fall and winter digging opportunities, but we want to give people a chance to start making plans for October.
* Migrating salmon and steelhead are continuing to return to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery in pretty good numbers. During Sept. 17-21, 823 fall chinook adults, 106 jacks, 14 spring chinook, one jack, 303 coho adults, 127 jacks, 118 summer steelhead, seven cutthroat trout and two sockeye returned to the hatchery. Also, 303 fall chinook, 31 jacks, 133 coho, 43 jacks and one cutthroat trout were released into the Tilton River at Gus Backstrom Park in Morton.
* Man’s innovations to solve a problem are sometimes amazing. Case in point: How to keep bears from away from camps? Cal Cope of Tiller, Ore. said he has a solution to that problem.
* Having lived in Alaska for many years and worked as a trapper, logger, commercial fisherman and general woods bum, Cope would save his urine in a five-gallon bucket. When he had four or five gallons, he would throw it 10 to 12 feet up into trees around his camp. Cope said, “No critters ever came into my camp. What animal in their right mind would mess with something that can pee 10 feet up a tree?”
Charlie Richie, editor and publisher of Backwoodsman magazine, said years ago he learned to make a circle of urine around his camps and never had a bear problem in all the years he spent in the high country.
Richie said Cape’s solution was good advice. Who knows? If the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t jump all over Cape’s innovation, maybe it is worth trying.