Colville tribes to open hunt on wolves near Canadian border

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation target wolves in an expanded hunting season in an off-reservation area where they retain hunting rights.

An off-reservation wolf hunt has been approved by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.

The tribes approved the hunting season in special session Thursday, in the so-called north half — a sweeping reach of country north of the tribe’s reservation boundary to the Canadian border, between the Okanogan and Columbia rivers.

Colville Tribal Fish and Wildlife Director, Randy Friedlander noted the tribes opened a wolf hunting season on the south half in 2012, and last year saw the first wolf killed by a hunter -— who was actually out for deer, rattling antlers together to attract them.

“A tribal member was rattling for whitetail deer and called in a wolf instead. That’s when he decided to shoot it,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander added he doubts many tribal members are out actively hunting wolves, but creating regulated seasons ensures they have the opportunity to legally shoot a wolf if encountered at certain times of the year.

“Whenever there is an opportunity available for tribal members to practice their traditions through hunting or fishing it is important to make sure that opportunity is made available,” Friedlander said.

The expansion of the tribe’s wolf hunting area was welcome news to some, and brought despair to others. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has already killed two wolves in the Smackout Pack and may kill more, to protect ranchers’ cattle.

Hank Seipp, director of the Western Wildlife Coalition in Spokane, said he was concerned that increasing the hunt will lead to more poaching and trapping in northeastern Washington of the wolves, prized for their black coats.

“To me, it’s a travesty, it puts more pressure on them from all sides,” Seipp said of the wolves, listed as a state endangered species.

Others were delighted.

“It couldn’t hurt, as far as I’m concerned, it’s a good move” said Don Dashiell, county commissioner in Stevens County, where ranchers are bearing the biggest burden of the state’s wolf recovery plan. Most of the state’s 20 packs are in northeastern Washington, home to many ranching operations.

Most packs don’t kill livestock. But ranchers who now find themselves again in wolf country are being forced by the return of the wolf to change their practices, shouldering…

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