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Field Reports: Profanity Peak Pack removal cost state $135K

WOLVES – Washington wildlife managers spent $135,000 to kill seven of 11 gray wolves in a pack that had attacked or killed about 15 cattle on national forest grazing allotments in northeastern Washington last summer and fall.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife released a 200-page report on the situation and effort to lethally remove the Profanity Peak Pack in northern Ferry County.

Helicopter and staff time for the aerial gunning accounted for most of the spending while $10,000 was paid to an area trapper, the agency reported.

The agency followed an established protocol of hazing efforts before targeting the pack for extermination in August. Rugged terrain and other factors prevented the staff from killing all of the wolves. More action could be taken if the remaining four wolves resume attacks on livestock, said Donny Martorello, wolf program leader.

Funding for the lethal removals came from the agency’s Wildlife Account, which includes revenue from license sales but no taxpayer dollars, he said.

Wolf advocate groups say the state could have done more to prevent conflicts that led to the wolves being killed.

The Profanity Peak Pack lethal removal mission was the third and the most expensive of its kind since the state adopted a wolf recovery plan.

Efforts to prevent conflicts between sheep and the Huckleberry Pack and the removal of one wolf in 2014 cost $53,000. Removal of the Wedge Pack in 2012 cost $76,500.

Agency officials have said the past that the state’s wolf recovery program costs more than $1 million a year.

Bald eagles disperse from Lake CdA

BIRDING – Most of the bald eagles have dispersed from Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay.

The annual gathering of eagles to feast on spawning kokanee at the northeast corner of the North Idaho Lake reached more than 260 birds in December, providing a popular wildlife viewing and photography attractions.

This week: “Eagle numbers have dropped off the chart!” reports Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist who just returned from her weekly eagle survey.

“Only five eagles counted today,” she said, noting they included four adults and one juvenile. “I am sure there were more as all the snow on the trees hides eagles very well.

“However, there is more ice on Beauty Bay than I have ever seen since counting and Wolf Lodge and Blue Creek Bay are also iced over. So it makes sense that even if there were a few remaining kokanee, getting to them would be difficult.

Last year during this week, Hugo counted 22 adult bald eagles and two juveniles lingering in the Wolf Lodge Bay area.

“There is still some eagle viewing to be had at Higgens Point where the Lake isn’t frozen over,” she said.

Roosevelt water levels forecast ‘average’

WATERSPORTS – Nothing unusual is expected in the scope of the annual drawdown of Lake Roosevelt in preparation for spring runoff, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports.

The forecast has been released for water levels at Lake Roosevelt this spring as water managers predict how how much the Columbia River reservoir will be drawn down to accommodate spring runoff and how fast it will refill to summer elevations of 1,280-1,290 feet above sea level.

With the Water Supply Forecast at about 97 percent of average, boaters and anglers can expect a modest drawdown and relatively brief inconveniences of dewatered boat launching ramps.

The predicted drawdown to elevation 1,256 feet in April is not nearly as severe as that month in 2012, when a big runoff forced the lowering of the reservoir to 1,227 feet.

The level of Lake Roosevelt was 1,281.20 feet above sea level at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The elevation is anticipated to hold steady and be in the 1,280-1,282 range throughout January before dropping in April and May.

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