This was not expected. When photo journalist Carolyn Hall and I met up with wolf tracker Paul Frame in the Colville National Forest, he warned us up front that we would probably never see a wolf.
The next day, he had one -- the alpha male he had been pursuing over the years but never got close to.
KING 5 News has run stories about this capture, but we didn't get a chance to show viewers any of the extra video we shot. That's what you are looking at above.
The video was shot in an area called The Wedge. It is a triangle of Forest Service land betwen the Columbia and Kettle Rivers. While we were there Frame capture the alpha male and a pup, enough for the state to declare that this group of wolves comprised an official pack ... the Wedge Pack.
Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife workers now are combing the woods to find and destroy up to five members of the pack. They already shot and killed one adult female.
The state says the wolves have attacked and killed livestock in the area. Wolf protection groups say there is not enough evidence to determine if the wolves killed the calves, or just scavanged them after they died from some other cause. It has become an extremely volitile corner of the state. It's the first time the state has actually hunted wolves.
It is unlikely either of the wolves you are seeing in these pictures will be killed. The state wants to protect the alpha male to preserve the designation of an official pack. If enough packs are confirmed, the state will delist the wolves as a protected species and can then manage them like any other big game.
The pup Frame trapped is not off limits, but Fish and Wildlife leaders would prefer to target the pack's adult animals.
This video documents a pivotal moment in Washington State's handling of its returning wolves.