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Rancher may shoot wolf that killed calf

A wolf recently killed a calf in Stevens County, and the rancher has permission to shoot the animal if it attacks the Diamond M Ranch’s herd again, state officials said.

The permit was issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, which said the wolf has to be caught in the act of attacking cattle. State officials are also working with the rancher to help him protect his herd through nonlethal measures.

The rancher, who isn’t being named, contacted the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday after discovering an injured cow and calf on his property in Laurier, just east of the Kettle River near the Canadian border. The following day, he found two more calves that had been dead for several days.

WDFW officers and biologists, working with the Sheriff’s Office, confirmed that the first two animals were injured by a wolf. After studying the dead calves’ injuries, they determined that one was killed by a wolf and the other by a cougar. A third calf remains missing.

The rancher will be eligible for compensation through a state program.

The Diamond M Ranch is owned by the McIrvin family. The ranch was also the scene of a wolf depredation in 2007 – the first documented in Washington’s recent history. A wolf pack has long been suspected to have territory in northern Stevens County between the Kettle and Columbia rivers.

Steve Pozzanghera, director of WDFW’s eastern regional office in Spokane, said that agency staff are monitoring the area and are prepared to use rubber bullets, floodlights and other tactics to keep wolves away from the livestock. A department biologist is setting out traps to collar a wolf, which will help track the suspected pack’s movement and trigger alarms if it gets too close to the herd.

The wolf attack on Diamond M’s cattle is the third livestock predation incident reported since December.

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