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News • The Chronicle • March 12, 2014

www.omakchronicle.com

Grant helps fund wolf research Tribe tracking wolves, studies DNA The Chronicle NESPELEM – A $187,000 federal grant is allowing the Colville Confederated Tribes to continue monitoring gray wolves on the 3.1 million-acreColville Indian Reservation and “north half” area. “We are monitoring gray wolf movements and identifying home ranges by capturing wolves and deploying GPS and VHF collars,” tribal biologist Eric Krausz said. “The radio signals from these collars allow us to locate wolf packs during the winter months using radio telemetry equipment from an airplane in order to observe the number of wolves occurring in each pack.” Global-positioning system collars record location data of each collared wolf. The information is transmitted to a satellite and back to a computer, giving biologists information on wolf home sizes, distribution, range denning activity, kill site locations, and dispersal. Biologists recently conducted helicopter captures and deployed GPS collars on an adult female wolf from the Strawberry Pack and an adult female wolf from the Nc’icn Pack. In addition to tracking the wolves, the grant helps pay for gray wolf DNA sampling and analysis, howling surveys and remote cameras. Throughout the year, scat is collected from each wolf pack’s home range and sent to the Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics at University of Idaho. DNA extracted from the

Cougar From A1 by Twisp resident Bill White. His granddaughter, Shelby White, made international news last month when the 12-yearold girl shot a cougar that had tried to follow her older brother into the house. In discussing gray wolves, the commission expressed concerns the federal government has extended its

Transit tax to begin April 1 Some areas are exempt from tax to fund county public bus system By Jennifer Marshall The Chronicle

Confederated Colville Tribes

A gray wolf was photographed by remote cameras being funded, in part, through a grant. samples identifies individual wolves and the number of wolves within each pack, program officials said. “The DNA taken from these scat samples will not only tell us what they are eating, but also what percentage of each species they are selecting during different times of the year,” Krausz said. “The data gathered will also help us to estimate annual consumption rates of prey species such as elk, deer and moose.” Justin Dellinger was hired in January as a wildlife biologist to assist the program. Dellinger is a doctoral candidate through University of Washington, interim wildlife manager Rich Whitney said. In his doctoral work, he has been examining the differences

in white-tailed deer and mule deer behavior in areas where

wolves are present and in areas without wolves.

comment period until March 27 in considering whether the animal should be delisted in the lower 48 states. “They’re not going to delist,” Stevens County Commissioner Steve Parker predicted. Through providing testimony in Olympia last year, Stevie and his dog helped push through an emergency rule allowing residents to kill attacking wolves. A permanent rule now

allows domestic animal owners – or immediate family members or employees – to take lethal measures against a gray wolf that is trying to kill the pet or livestock. In Washington, gray wolves are listed as endangered federally west of U.S. Highway 97 and throughout the state. Last week, the state officially confirmed the presence of 51 gray wolves in 12 packs – Lookout, Wenatchee,

Teanaway, Strawberry, Nc’icn, Huckleberry, Wedge, Smackout, Salmo, Diamond, Boulder Creek and Ruby Creek. Two other packs, the Hozomeen and Walla Walla, frequent Washington, but den just outside state borders. The Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates the actual population of wolves is at least double the official count. Late last year, the Lookout Pack added a few pups to its group.

Confederated Colville Tribes

The map shows the Colville Reservation and “north half” area.

OKANOGAN – A voter-approved sales tax increase kicks in across most of Okanogan County starting April 1. The tax implementation is the next step in creating a public transportation system, under the auspices of the Okanogan County Public Transportation Benefit Area. Unincorporated areas in the transit area — along with Brewster, Conconully, Omak, Oroville, Pateros, Riverside and Tonasket – will see the total sales tax rate rise from 7.7 percent to 8.1 percent under a combination of local and state taxes, including the local transit tax. Twisp, Winthrop and the city of Okanogan will pay more as their sales tax goes to 8.2 percent. Residents of those cities approved an extra 0.1 percent for criminal justice support. Some unincorporated areas and cities that won’t be served by the new transportation system will continue to pay 7.7 percent. Those areas are Coulee Dam, Elmer City, Nespelem and a portion of the southeast corner of the unincorporated county. Local retail and service businesses should be receiving notices from the state to start collecting the increased amount. The Okanogan County Transit Authority will start receiving the estimated $2 million annual revenue this spring or summer. In the meantime, it has secured a loan up to $150,000 with North Cascades National Bank. Fifty-six percent of voters green-lighted the tax, a 0.4 percent increase, in November’s general election. The Transit Authority was scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss how to establish accounting and finance procedures and set policy for hiring a permanent general manager and office clerk. Details of that meeting were not available prior to The Chronicle’s press time.

Hawkins From A1 filed to fill an unexpired term for partisan county office. • Two surveillance bills, authored by former Okanogan County deputy prosecuting attorney Clay Hill, were still alive in the Senate as of Friday afternoon. Hill now works for the House Republican Caucus. First Substitute House Bill 2178 passed the House by a 926 vote Feb. 17. It received a first reading Feb. 19 in the Senate, and was referred to the Law and Justice Committee. The measure would prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft equipped with sensing devices

that collect personal information, including images of individuals on private property that could not have been captured without the assistance of the unmanned aircraft. • Engrossed House Bill 2789 passed the House on third reading Feb. 17 on an 83-15 vote. The Senate Law and Justice Committee passed it to the Rules Committee. On March 5, it was placed for second reading. It would provide clear standards for the lawful use of extraordinary surveillance technologies by state and local jurisdictions.

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