WENATCHEE, WA.- The US Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a news release detailing Thursday’s rescue of a researcher who was forced up a tree by a pack of wolves. The wolves have been confirmed to be members of the Loup Loup Pack which is among several being monitored as endangered species.
Officials say the incident at a campground West of Winthrop is located near a known wolf den. The student was rescued and she was unhurt.
US Department of Fish and Wildlife Press Release:
On July 12, 2018, a student completing research surveys in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest encountered two adult gray wolves from the federally listed endangered Loup Loup pack.
The student was safely extracted, uninjured, by helicopter from the location the incident occurred.
Prior to the incident, the student observed wolf tracks and heard yipping and barking for a period of time before the wolves approached.
After unsuccessful attempts to scare the wolves away (including yelling, waving and deploying a can of bear spray in the direction of the wolves) the student climbed a tree and used a radio to call for assistance.
A Loup Loup pack den site is within a kilometer of the site where the incident occurred, and GPS collar data from the evening of July 11 shows at least one adult wolf from the Loup Loup pack in close proximity to the area where the incident occurred.
US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists believe the location is a “rendezvous” site, and the wolves were likely acting in a defensive manner to protect offspring or food sources. Rendezvous sites are home or activity sites where weaned pups are brought from the den until they are old enough to join adult wolves in hunting activity.
USFWS and WDFW biologists will continue to monitor the GPS collar data for the two adult wolves and will hike into the site on July 13 to further investigate.
Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in the western 2/3 of Washington. The USFWS is the primary agency responsible for managing wolves in the federally listed area, and coordinates closely with WDFW to implement the state’s Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.
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