By MATTHEW WEAVER
COLVILLE, Wash. -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to collect more wolf information and share it with ranchers.
Department carnivore section manager Donny Martorello said the department is working to get collar information, which provides the location of wolves, into the hands of ranchers by spring turnout.
"The producer can have the same level of information we have," he said.
The department collects wolf sighting information to see possible pack establishment. It also sets out trail cameras in those areas and sets out traps to put radio collars on wolves.
The department also has hired Stephanie Simek as wildlife conflict section manager and Jay Shepherd as wildlife conflict specialist.
Simek sought feedback from ranchers about the way the state can assist producers.
"We know this is your livelihood," Simek told ranchers. "We recognize that and we need to get a handle on minimizing those negative impacts."
Voluntary proactive measures have to be tailored to fit a particular operation, she said. "If there's some sort of twist we can put on it to make it effective for your area, let us know."
To consider taking wolves off the endangered species list statewide, there must be either 15 successful breeding pairs -- a male, a female and at least two pups -- for three years or 18 successful breeding pairs for one year. In both cases, the breeding pairs must be evenly distributed throughout the state's three areas.
The wildlife officials say the 18 pairs for one year is most likely to occur more quickly, based on the rapid growth being seen in Washington. There are likely 51-101 wolves in Washington, with nine confirmed wolf packs and two suspected packs.
"There's no reason to expect we're not going to see the same sort of trajectory" as Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, Martorello said. "I would expect our numbers just to continue to go up and up and pretty significantly up."
The department's presentation brought mixed reviews from both sides of the wolf controversy.
"The ranchers want everything to be done for them," wolf supporter William Martin, of Colville, said. "Instead of protecting their product, they want other people to protect their product. Just go out and kill the wolves, that's all they want to do. If they just put up the barriers or protect their property, they wouldn't have any problems."
Retired farmer Bud Sampson, of Hunters, Wash., said wolves are only good for killing animals and costing a lot of money. Sampson wants to see the wolves gone.
"They're never going to be able to control them," he said. "As soon as they get the deer and elk wiped out, they're going to be right into our cattle, and we can't do anything about it so far."
Call 1-877-933-9847 to report wolf depredation signs, including tracks or howling.