NESPELEM -- With a wolf pack to the west, and three packs to the east, Colville tribal officials weren't too surprised to confirm that gray wolves are now also living on the Colville Indian Reservation.
Reports of wolf tracks, wolf kills and howling on the reservation -- all the way from Omak to Inchelium -- have become more and more frequent since 2007, said Randy Friedlander, manager of the wildlife program for Colville Tribes Fish and Wildlife.
Now that it's certain, the tribal agency wants to study the wolves, and find out what tribal members want to do about them.
Last winter, the tribe confirmed with a DNA test of scat that they are not hybrids or dogs. Remote camera images since then show there is more than one.
"They're here. So -- What are we going to do with them now? -- is the next question," Friedlander said.
This winter, they have invited tribal members to fill out a questionnaire asking how they feel about gray wolves returning to the reservation, whether they are culturally or spiritually significant, and if the wolves should be hunted or trapped if there are too many.
Based on the more than 90 questionnaires returned so far, wolves appear to be just as controversial among tribal members as they are in other parts of the state, Friedlander said.
Officials now think there are at least three wolves, and as many as nine now living on the reservation, said Joe Peone, the tribes' director of Fish and Wildlife.
There's no evidence yet that there's an active pack, defined by the state as a breeding male and female with pups, he said. Mostly, reports have been of lone tracks.