By DAN WHEAT
WENATCHEE, Wash. -- The Wenatchee Pack apparently operates closer to a city than any other wolf pack in Washington, a state Fish and Wildlife biologist says.
But Wenatchee is unique as "a front range community" for its size in proximity to mountains and rough country, said David Volsen, a Fish and Wildlife biologist stationed in Wenatchee.
The town, 780 feet above sea level, is bordered by the Columbia River on the east and foothills rising 2,000 to 3,000 feet to the west. Wenatchee's population is 32,400. East Wenatchee, on the east side of the river, is another 13,375 people for a total of 45,775.
The Hurd ranch house, in Pitcher Canyon, is five to six miles southwest of town, but ranch property runs within a mile of the outskirts of town.
"Wolves have been below the ranch (house) as often as above," Ross Hurd said. "We showed the biologist tracks within sight of hikers on Saddlerock. We've confirmed wolves within a mile of the edge of town."
Saddlerock is a popular hiking destination and rock outcropping on a hill about 1,000 feet above town to the west.
Residents of No. 2 Canyon on the west edge of Wenatchee told Chelan County sheriff's deputies that they saw a wolf chasing a deer about 1.3 miles from town about 6:15 a.m. April 16. A deputy shot the injured deer and took a picture of the wolf standing nearby. Fish and Wildlife performed a necropsy on the deer and confirmed it as a wolf attack.
Wolves roam vast areas, 300 miles and more, and are attracted to wildlife, Volsen said.
There have been "smatterings of reports of tracks and howling across Chelan County in the last two years but nothing in concentrations," Volsen said. A female wolf seen in the Entiat Valley north of Wenatchee was captured, but not tagged, as a pup in the Teanaway and believed to be one of the wolves photographed at the Hurd Ranch feeding on an elk carcass, Volsen said.