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Wolf kill target raised to 4 in NE Washington

Gray wolf packs confirmed in Washington as of July 17, 2012. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)
Gray wolf packs confirmed in Washington as of July 17, 2012. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- After discussions with ranchers who've had cattle injured and killed by wolves in the past four weeks, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials have raised to four the number of wolves that might be killed to stop the depredation.

The guideline had been set at three last week after a Diamond M Ranch calf was injured and another calf was killed by the Wedge Pack on a Colville National Forest grazing lease in northern Stevens County near Laurier.

Department officers are moving into the "wedge" area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers today in an effort to trap and put radio collars on more gray wolves in the pack to monitor their movements. Wolves are protected by state endangered species laws, but lethal action is authorized under the state wolf management plan to protect livestock.

WDFW spokeswoman Madonna Luers confirmed that Director Phil Anderson had authorized department officers today to kill up to four wolves in the pack in the coming days or weeks if required to thwart the attacks on livestock. 

Wolf attacks have been confirmed on up to eight of the ranch's animals in the past four weeks, including two calves killed.  Officers responded to the July attacks by killing one non-breeding female wolf in the area on Aug. 7.

Read on for the official announcement by the WDFW.

State wildlife managers today confirmed that wolves from the Wedge pack of northeast Washington were involved in the injury of one calf and the death of another this week in the grazing allotment area of the Diamond M ranch near the Canadian border. This brings to eight the total number of injured or dead livestock from the Diamond M ranch since July. Officials also said they were expanding their efforts to address the pack's persistent attacks on livestock.

Phil Anderson, director of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the department is sending a team of wildlife specialists to the remote area in an effort to attach a radio transmitter to an additional member of the pack. The pack's alpha male has already been fitted with a transmitter collar that alerts the department to the pack's movement.

In conjunction with the collaring effort, the department's team plans to kill up to four other wolves from the pack in an effort to disrupt its pattern of predation, reduce its food requirements, and potentially break it up permanently.

These efforts follow the department's action on August 7 to lethally remove a non-breeding female member of the pack.

The department is taking these actions under the terms of the state's 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The department's primary goal under the plan is to ensure long-term recovery of the gray wolf population. However, the plan specifically authorizes the department to take lethal measures to address repeated attacks on livestock.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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