Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Letting the Wolves Howl - Part 1

Last summer I pitched a book to my publisher regarding the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species list in 2011. I wanted to examine the issue from both sides of the coin - from an environmental standpoint as well as from the viewpoint of hunters/ranchers and others impacted by the growing population of wolves in several states in the U.S., covering the history and ecological aspects of wolf populations.

Because of my schedule I've decided not to write this book, but wanted to share with you a little of what I researched. Please note, this is a real rough draft...

One of the more interesting stories I ran across involved the poaching of wolves in Washington state in 2008. The following excerpts (which I'll post over several days) are based on news articles, information from Conservation NW as well as the actual reports from WDFW agents.

Since their delisting, more than 500 wolves have been killed by hunters and trappers in Idaho and Montana alone. [Photo courtesy of Conservation NW.]

Poaching the Pack

It was mid-afternoon, just a few days before Christmas, 2008, and a large white package sitting on the FedEx counter was addressed to Ralph Brausen of Hardisty, Alberta, Canada. The woman, who was dropping off the box at the FedEx shipping outlet at the Walmart in rural Omak, Washington, claimed her name was Allison and said that she needed to get it shipped out that day. Since it was so late in the day, the clerk told her it couldn’t be done. Allison took her package and headed back out to her red SUV.

She returned later that afternoon, unsuccessful at her attempt at the local post office. Allison, who had short, wavy brown hair and was wearing a pink shirt, black pants and a maroon jacket, needed to get the package out as soon as possible. She paid her shipping bill, declaring that the box contained a rug worth $50, and left Walmart. When the FedEx driver came to pick up the package, he refused the shipment because the package was leaking what appeared to be blood.

The clerk at the shipping outlet called the Omak Police and, when they opened the box, they found the unprocessed and untanned pelt of a wolf inside. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) agents were called in to investigate. The phone number that Allison had given with the package didn’t check out so the investigators started reviewing the Walmart surveillance tapes. Allison was seen on tape carrying the white package from her red SUV in the parking lot. Based on the vehicle filmed on camera, the agents narrowed it down to a few possible car models, but beyond that they had no immediate leads on who was responsible for the poaching of one of the few wolves known to exist in Washington State.

The Lookout Pack of the Methow Valley in north-central Washington was the first wolf pack to return to Washington State since their eradication in the 1930s. First sighted in the spring and summer of 2008, this pack consisted of six wolf pups and three adults. Based on DNA testing done by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, this pack was 100% wolf and was genetically related to wolves from British Columbia or Alberta, Canada and had made their way to Washington from there.

Because gray wolves were a federally and state-listed endangered species, poaching one of the pack carried a heavy penalty. Killing a federally listed endangered animal is a federal crime and the penalty includes up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison. Because of this, in other areas of the U.S. where illegal wolf hunting occurs, the preferred method of many hunters is what they call “SSS” – shoot, shovel and shut-up. For example, in 2010, an Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings defended a charity fund-raiser titled the “.308 SSS Wolf Pack Raffle”. The first prize included a Winchester .308 rifle and a shovel. The sheriff in question claimed he was not advocating shooting federally protected wolves but that the raffle’s name stood for “safety, security and survival.” He neglected to mention the shovel.

Next installment: Hunting Down the Killers

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I can get where ranchers are coming a point. When you raise livestock you MUST MUST MUST do what is needed to protect them from predators. It might take more work, but it needs to be done. Have cows ready to calve or sheep ready to lamb? Then make sure you keep them protected.

I do not support the hunters that want to take wolves. Wolves are not their competition. Hunters want the biggest, healthiest game animal they can find. Wolves take the sick, injured, old and young. Wolves keep game populations healthy and thriving. They ensure that game doesn't overgraze their habitat.