State wildlife officers responded Thursday to the latest in a monthlong series of wolf attacks on cattle in northern Stevens County.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is considering more lethal action and possibly breaking up the Wedge Pack near the Canada border.
Department officers confirmed on Tuesday that a Diamond M Ranch calf was attacked and wounded by wolves on a Colville National Forest grazing lease in “the wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers.
Reports from the ranchers that two more calves had been killed were being investigated on Thursday, said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.
If the kills are verified, the ranch operated by the McIrvin family will have had at least three calves injured and three killed by wolves in four weeks. The ranch grazes about 400 cattle in the area during summer.
“Basically, cows, big game and wolves are everywhere in that area,” Luers said.
In mid-July, officials confirmed that wolves had injured a cow and calf and killed another calf from the northern Stevens County ranch.
A female nonbreeding wolf was killed Aug. 7 by department officers attempting to disrupt the pack’s pattern of targeting livestock. It was the first lethal action taken by the agency under its 2011 wolf management plan.
Gray wolves are protected in Eastern Washington by state endangered species laws.
One male wolf trapped and released from the Wedge Pack – one of eight confirmed packs in Washington – is wearing a GPS tracking device that helps the agency monitor the pack’s movements. Starting Monday agency biologists will attempt to trap and put tracking collars on more of the wolves.
“We’re going to try to thoroughly document their range and what they’re doing,” Luers said. “After that, we’ll decide which way to go. Everything’s on the table, including removing more wolves and trying to disperse the pack.”
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