February 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Despite the shooting of seven members of the Wedge Pack last summer by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife because they were killing cattle, the state’s wolf population is burgeoning, a new survey shows.
Only one pack, the Hozomeen Pack, has been documented on the western side of the state, in the North Cascades near the Canadian border.
Most of the wolves are in the north central and north eastern portions of Washington, but one pack, the Walla Walla, has been found in the far southeast corner of the state.
The densest concentration of wolves in Washington is actually in the sparsely populated northeast corner of the state, home to the Wedge Pack. In its survey the department found two confirmed members that either escaped elimination, or are new migrants from Canada.
Two members of the Wedge Pack have been confirmed by state wildlife monitors after the shooting of seven members of the back by WDFW last summer. The two wolves documented in the survey may be new recruits, or members of the original pack that escaped the shooting.
Photo courtesy of WDFW
The number of confirmed gray wolves and wolf packs in the state nearly doubled during the past year, according the survey, which based on field reports and aerial monitoring in 2012 found at least 51 wolves in nine packs, with five successful breeding pairs.
The previous year’s survey confirmed 27 wolves, five wolf packs and three breeding pairs.
A pack is defined as two or more wolves traveling together. Growth of the state’s wolf population is due both to successful reproduction, and in-migration.
It is possible the number of wolves in Washington is even greater than could be confirmed in the survey, with easily more than 100 wolves actually in the state, according to the department.
The gray wolf is listed as a state endangered species throughout Washington, and is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act west of State Route 97.
To report a wolf siting, call the department’s wildlife reporting line at 877 933 9847. For more on the recovery of wolves in Washington, see the department’s website.
Meanwhile on the Colville Indian reservation, chairman John Sirois said contractors working for the tribe had recently net-gunned a more than 130 pound male. The animal was tagged and released with a GPS collar.
For more on the tribe’s tagging and management of wolves on its reservation, have a look at this report.
The tribe opened a hunting season on wolves this winter that concludes at the end of the month. So far, no wolves have been taken. The next season may be in August, said Randy Friedlander, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation, and director of the tribe’s department of fish and wildlife.
So far he’s heard of only one hunter even seeing a wolf.
“They are pretty tricky, pretty wise,” Friedlander said. But he must have some kind of special wolf mojo. “I can’t get away from them,” Friedlander said. “Every time I go out in the woods I see tracks or hear them.”
The tribe initiated its hunting season in part to maintain robust elk and deer populations.
“We caught quite a bit of grief this year because we had a season,” Friedlander said. “I don’t know what they would say if they knew we ate a lot deer, and elk, for us it is about trying to strike that balance.”
February 22, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Like other species of very early flowering plants, witch hazel really packs the fragrance, the better to attract pollinators at a time of year when the pollinator pickings are slim. From winter honeysuckle to daphne, the size of the fragrance far outdoes the size of the flowers on these early bloomers.
Witch hazel is aglow at the Washington Park Arboretum
Lynda Mapes photo
The winter garden is replete with these lovelies and they are in full bloom right now. So whether you are looking for ideas for winter landscaping, or just want to remember in winter was strolling a fragrant, flower strewn path feels like … the arboretum winter garden is the place to be.
Inspired to grow some yourself? Here is more on witch hazel in Pacific Northwest magazine from garden writer Valerie Easton.
Witch hazel is particularly fragrant, the better to attract pollinators when they are scarce in late winter.
Photo by Zack P. Krieger
February 18, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is underway in Boston. This means one of the largest aggregations of pointy heads anywhere has converged on an already pointy-headed city. Underway since Thursday, the conference wraps up today.
Cruising the exhibit hall at the AAAS meeting in Boston
The AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. We came along to collect our 2012 award for online journalism for Elwha: The Grand Experiment, our project on the world’s largest dam removal. And, of course to feast on the panels on all things scientific, from the amazing ability of mussels to stick to wet rocks (look for a story on this soon) to work underway to develop more sustainable fish farms (ditto.)
But what do these people do for fun?
The best way to understand this is to browse the exhibit hall, with everything from a mock wind tunnel for demonstrating the amazing wing adaptations of bats (fake bats, don’t worry) to posters on research that even after your read them leave you wondering, hmmm, what could that be about?
With as many as 11,000 participants, more than 160 symposia, lectures and the doings in the exhibition hall, it’s quite the gathering. And where else can you get this?
A button only Darwin fans could love, just some of the swag at the AAAS exhibit hall.
February 15, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The seventh annual Snow Goose and Birding Festival is coming up in Stanwood on February 23 and 24.
New this year is a celebration of the designation of the Skagit and Stilliguamish Delta as a site of regional importance in the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network featuring. The celebration will feature a talk by Rob Butler, a world expert on shorebird conservation and president of the Pacific Wildlife Foundation.
.See the festival website for more information and to purchase tickets.
Snow geese brighten our winter days.
Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times staff photographer
Of course, you can always have a snow goose festival all your own. I was surprised, when reporting a shorebird story this week on just how easy it is to go see snow geese (and hear them) by the thousands.
“I’ll up my estimate to 3,000,” WDFW wildlife biologist Ruth Milnerr said casually as we drove out Boe Road to Port Susan Bay Reserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy.
She was talking about the geese packed into a farmer’s field. What a racket, as they carried on honking and took wing in great white clouds. A signature of winter, they offer a spectacular show, just an hour north of Seattle, and for free no less.
The Stilly and Skagit deltas are alive with snow geese in winter.
Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times Staff Photographer
Of course the birds are always moving around, but the back roads of this farm country offer a likely sighting opportunity, through winter.
And then there is the reserve itself, well worth packing the binoculars for. It is open for visit by permission. Call ahead to the conservancy at 360-419-3140 to request an afternoon or morning visit.
February 11, 2013 at 10:13 AM
Perhaps you saw my story in the Seattle Times this morning on shorebirds. Tom Luhman, member of the board of BirdNote, sent along this link from the program’s piece on how dunlins, starlings and other birds manage their acrobatic flight, turning and sweeping en masse in perfectly coordinated movement to confuse a predator.
Starlings in flight.
Image from BirdNote
As Tom wrote in his note to me, understanding how they do it doesn’t diminish the mystery … it just adds to the fun.
Go see it for yourself. Port Susan is so close to Seattle, yet feels a world away.
For permission to visit the Nature Conservancy’s reserve, call 360-419-3140. Here’s more on the trail from Washington Trails Association.
February 7, 2013 at 2:20 PM
Perhaps you saw my obituary of Alden Mason in The Seattle Times today.
Exploring the world of his art made me appreciate his sense of beauty, steeped in the shapes and colors of our Northwest landscape, yet presented in an utterly fresh way:
1999, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 inches.
Courtesy Foster/White Gallery
This painting is at Foster/White gallery in Pioneer Square, which represented Mr. Mason since 2002. For many more images of his art work, take a look at their website.
Director Phen Huang knew Mason well and had this to say of his connection to nature and how it is expressed in the painting Landscape Totem and in his approach to painting:
“He was very sentimental about growing up in the Skagit Valley. I think those are the Cascades in the background. The landscapes were rare at this point in his painting career. His compositions tend to tell a story but this is more depiction of a place dear to his heart. Of course, he has hinted at the native history of the region too with the totem motif and connection to the land. The flat perspective and bell jar shaped outline make for a precious containment.”
For more on this luminary of the Northwest art world who brought a whole new look to landscapes see the fascinating biography by former Seattle Times art critic Sheila Farr posted on HistoryLink.
February 5, 2013 at 11:46 AM
Lately the local news about trees in Seattle has been about them being topped and chopped at the behest of property owners seeking a view they prefer. So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit American Forests that Seattle has been named as one of the top ten cities in the country for its urban forests.
But stepping back from the events of late, it is true that Seattle has some extraordinary islands of big trees amid the concrete. Remember my story last summer about Denny Park?
Denny Park’s grand dames bask in the sun.
Photo by Alan Berner, Seattle Times staff photographer
In winning the designation, Seattle was singled out in part for its documented knowledge of its tree canopy, tree species diversity and age class range. At this, Seattle definitely excels. Ask the arborist in the parks department about the trees in Denny Park, and out comes a spread sheet of data, identifying, to the last tree, what’s there and its condition.
American Forests also quantified what we’ve got in Seattle, as part of its review. The specs:
Seattle has a population of 608,660 people, and 4.35 million trees. Not a bad ratio, for urban living. The city’s land area is 53,677 acres, and of those, 5,476 acres are devoted to parks. Again, not a bad ratio for a major metropolitan area.
Researchers also identified 192 tree species in Seattle, 28 of which are native to the Puget Sound Region. The most common were red alder, big leaf maple and beaked hazelnut, all native species.
And our trees are very hard working. In their report, the team determined that Seattle’s trees store two million metric tons of carbon; remove 725 metric tons of pollution from the environment annually, and reduce building energy use, saving $5.9 million annually.
All that from an urban tree canopy researchers estimated covers an estimated 23 percent of the city.
The other winners were Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
February 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM
I wrote in the Seattle Times last week that wolverines are making a comeback in Washington. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also last week proposed listing wolverine as a threatened species. Why? Because climate change is expected to melt wolverines out of their deep snowy denning habitat within the next century.
Researchers head in to the upper Icicle drainage to change the bait and check a remote camera they hope will document the wolverines that have taken up residence as far south as these wild lands south of State Route 2, west of Leavenworth.
Photo by Mike Siegel, Seattle Times Staff photographer.
But it’s not only wolverines that are in trouble, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.
From sand hill cranes to sea turtles, animals face a changing world on a warming planet as their homes are transformed by climate change. The report examined climate change projections in eight regions of the U.S., from the arctic to the Atlantic coast.
Among other findings, the study looked at 305 species of birds in North America and discovered that more than half have expanded their range northward by an average of 35 miles in the past 40 years.
Selected Northwest animal webcams
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