OLYMPIA — Washington Fish and Wildlife officials say they will start spring trapping of wolves, an activity that was previously considered non-essential under Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order.
The department now has training procedures and personal protection equipment to trap wolves while staying within the governor’s order, Fish and Wildlife wolf policy leader Donny Martorello said.
“We are geared up to get back in the field,” he told The Capital Press. “This is a very high priority for the agency.”
Fish and Wildlife traps wolves and puts on radio collars in the spring when packs are staying close to dens. The collars transmit signals that indicate the area a pack frequents.
Fish and Wildlife has been criticized by ranchers for having too few collared wolves. The department says trapping wolves is difficult with no guarantees of success.
Fish and Wildlife will put a high priority on putting collars on the members of packs that have a history of attacking livestock or are being tracked for ongoing research into how wolves affect its wild prey, such as deer.
Martorello said the department also will prioritize collaring a wolf in the newly formed Kettle pack in the Kettle River Range of northeast Washington.
The pack has taken over territory occupied by wolves that have attacked cattle for several years. In response to those attacks, Fish and Wildlife eliminated the OPT pack last year.