While a sheep-killing gray wolf may still roaming in Whitman County, a new wolf pair has been confirmed in Asotin County and another pair has been reported near the Chelan-Okanogan county line, state wildlife officials say.
These are in addition to the 14 wolf packs recognized in the state plus other individual wolves roaming from Idaho to the Cascades.
Whitman County sheep ranchers, who this month suffered the county’s first livestock losses to wolf attacks in decades, have moved their flock of about 1,200 sheep from a pasture closer to their Lamont-area home.
A lamb was killed by a coyote last weekend before the Art Swannack family had all of their predator-deterrent fencing in place, said Joey McCanna, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conflict specialist.
One of three Anatolian shepherds that had been protecting the sheep has been missing for nearly two weeks and is presumed dead, McCanna said.
Judging from tracks, he said he doubted the 4-year-old male guard dog might have teamed up with the wolf. A guard dog in the Ione area hooked up with a female wolf last year about this time and they mated. State wildlife officials used a helicopter to capture the female wolf so she could be spayed to prevent the birth of hybrids.
“That was a very rare situation,” McCanna said. “In most cases a dog that crosses paths with a wolf gets ripped apart.”
Wildlife staffers have put out motion-sensor cameras but have not captured a photo of a wolf in Whitman County.
“We still think the two sheep depredations we’ve confirmed were by one wolf,” McCanna said.
The case of a Whitman County wolf shot by a Pullman area farmer Oct. 12 is still being explored by the prosecutor’s office and no charges have been filed. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police delivered their evidence in the case to Prosecutor Denis Tracy on Nov. 19.
Elsewhere, wolf recovery continues to be debated across the country.
A federal judge last week issued a ruling the put the gray wolves of the Great Lakes region back under Endangered Species protections. The Great Lakes region has 3,700 wolves in the area that’s about the size of Idaho, which has about 700 wolves.
The judge sided with several groups including the Humane Society of the United States that filed a lawsuit charging that the 2012 delisting of Great Lakes wolves from the Endangered Species list had been “arbitrary and capricious.”
The lawsuit was opposed by a coalition that included the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, local hunting groups and others as well as U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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