ENDANGERED SPECIES -- A calf injured in a wolf attack in northern Stevens County – the fourth injured or killed in one cattle herd in four weeks – has left the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department contemplating a response, including killing one or more wolves in the Wedge Pack.
“All options are on the table,” Madonna Luers, agency spokeswoman in Spokane, said Monday.
The incident, which apparently occurred on Thursday, is the latest of several confirmed wolf attacks on the Diamond M Ranch herd near Laurier. The ranch has a Colville National Forest grazing lease in the “wedge” of land just south of Canada between the Columbia and Kettle Rivers.
- See my recent column for background on wolf attacks and management in Washington.
- Click on the video above to see and hear a wolf pack howling.
In mid-July, officials confirmed that wolves had injured a cow and calf and killed another calf from the northern Stevens County ranch.
The Diamond M Ranch is owned by the McIrvin family. In 2007, the ranch also suffered Washington’s first documented wolf livestock depredation in roughly 70 years.
Last year, state officials adopted a wolf management plan to deal with expanding wolf packs, which remain protected by state endangered species laws.
“This latest attack is a continuation of a pattern of wolf-livestock problems in the wedge,” Luers said. “The wolf plan allows several possible responses, including lethal removal, in cases of repeated depredation after other methods have been tried.”
The response likely will be decided todayTuesday, she said.
Steve Pozzanghera, director of WDFW's eastern regional office in Spokane, was not available for comment.
Following the last attacks on the Diamond M Ranch cattle, a Fish and Wildlife Department trapper caught an adult male wolf and released it after attaching a collar with a radio transmitter.
A pup also was caught and released, confirming the pack had reproduced this year.
A range rider also was assigned part-time to the leased area to help keep wolves away from the stock, Luers said.
She could not confirm that the radio-collared wolf – thought to be the Wedge Pack’s alpha male – was near the recent attack on a calf. She also did not know whether the range rider had confronted the wolves.
After the July attacks, the Fish and Wildlife Department issued the ranchers a special permit to kill wolves caught threatening their cattle, but it has not been used, Luers said.