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Sherman Pack wolves kill Ferry County cattle, state confirms

Washington officials confirmed a minimum of 20 gray wolf packs in the state at the end of 2016. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Washington officials confirmed a minimum of 20 gray wolf packs in the state at the end of 2016. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

ENDANGERED SPECIES -- One or more wolves from the Sherman Pack were responsible for the death of at least one calf whose carcass was discovered on June 12 in a grazing allotment of Ferry County, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed. The attack occurred even though the  producer uses five WDFW contract range riders to increase the level of human presence around the cattle throughout their grazing allotments.

This is the first confirmed cattle attack involving the Sherman Pack.

Successive wolf depredations in Ferry County last year prompted the state to partially exterminate the Profanity Peak Pack.

Here's the just-released WDFW report:

Investigators also found scattered skeletal remains of a second calf, but they could not determine the cause of its death.

The report was made by a WDFW contract range rider who found a recently deceased calf and partial remains of a second calf while patrolling an area that had a cluster of GPS points from a collared wolf from the Sherman Pack. After finding and reporting the carcass and remains to WDFW, the range rider remained on the scene to prevent scavenging by wildlife.

Shortly after sunrise on Tuesday, June 13, two WDFW officials arrived on the scene. The Department officials who conducted the investigation indicated that the first event was an intact calf carcass with injuries to the groin, inside areas of both the hindquarters and hamstrings. The injuries consisted of bite lacerations and puncture wounds with hemorrhaging associated with those bite wounds. The injuries to calf were consistent with a wolf depredation.

The GPS points from the Sherman Pack collared wolf showed that the wolf had been at the location several times between June 3-11. Data from another collared wolf from the Profanity Peak Pack showed the animal was in the area sporadically from June 5-7. Based on all available factors, the event was classified as a confirmed wolf depredation by one or more members of the Sherman Pack. The depredation occurred on BLM grazing lands. It is the first confirmed depredation involving the Sherman Pack.

The second calf’s remains were discovered 150 yards downhill from the first calf carcass. Because the scene consisted of only skeletal remains, scattered over a 40-yard area, WDFW classified the event as an Unknown Cause of Death.

The livestock producer grazes both private and public lands in the area. The producer’s calves were born outside of occupied wolf range and were trucked into the area for the summer grazing season. The producer turned the cattle out onto private land on May 24.

The producer uses five WDFW contract range riders to increase the level of human presence around the cattle throughout their grazing allotments. The range riders started patrolling the area on May 9, before the cattle were turned out to check for carnivore activity and to proactively increase regular human presence. They have continued to patrol the area with cattle on a near-daily basis, and communicate frequently with the producer.

Any changes in cattle behavior or carnivore activity has been shared with WDFW. The range riders also monitor the activity of GPS collared wolves in the area. There are no known wolf dens or rendezvous sites in the area.

Following the depredation investigation, the calf carcass from the confirmed wolf depredation was removed from where high cattle activity is expected. The range riders will continue to patrol the area and surrounding areas.




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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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