Nespelem - With an estimated population between 30 and 40 wolves on the Colville Indian Reservation, the Colville Business Council will vote in Special Session, Sept. 6, to remove the limited allocation on the number of wolves that can be harvested in the 2018-2019 hunting and trapping season that opened August 1.
Under the current tribal wolf management plan, which CBC approved in Jan. 2017, an annual harvest quota is set based on 20 to 24 percent of the total population of wolves on the reservation, a percentage that allows maintenance of what the plan calls “a stable wolf population” on the reservation.
When the plan was passed, tribal wildlife managers estimated there to be 12 wolves on the reservation in three known packs: the Nc’icn Pack, the Strawberry Pack and the White Stone Pack. That estimation resulted in a harvest allocation of three wolves in each hunting season.
In August of this year, Colville Tribal Fish and Wildlife confirmed two new packs had been found on the Colville Reservation: The Nason Pack and the Frosty Pack.
While a pack is defined by two or more wolves living in an area together, the average pack has six to eight wolves, according to CTFW director Randall Friedlander, who estimated the current population of wolves on the reservation to be between 30 to 40 animals.
Friedlander initially read a recommendation to CBC’s Natural Resource Committee to allow a harvest allocation of eight wolves on the reservation, which would have been the plan’s suggested allocation for 35 to 39 wolves, but CBC member Jack Ferguson called for removing the limited allocation in the current hunting season through an amendment to Friedlander’s recommendation.
During his time on the tribal council, Ferguson said he watched the reported number of wolves grow from a three in 2013 to the current estimation of up to 40.
“At the rate they’re going, if you can do simple math, it’ll be at 100 in what a year or two? What’s it going to be?” asked Ferguson. “I would rather see a lot more elk or deer. I’m not against having wolves around, but… I think we don’t put a limit on harvest, but we keep our regulations on how they’re hunted, how they’re trapped and that will regulate people and harvest.”
The current wolf management plan does allow for the committee to call for an unlimited allocation, according to Friedlander.
By a show of hands, CBC voted in favor of the motion with Richard Moses, Marvin Kheel, Jack Ferguson, Richard Swan, Joe Somday, Norma Sanchez and Andrea George voting in favor and Karen Condon and Margie Hutchinson voting against.
The Colville Tribes first opened wolf hunting on the reservation in November 2012, though the fist wolf killed by a tribal hunt on the reservation came in Nov. 2016.
Last year, was the first year the full allocation was harvested, according to Friedlander.
Unless closed earlier by tribal decision, the current season will end Feb. 28, 2019.