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Monday, November 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wolves from two packs kill calves in northeastern Washington

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 -- Wolves from two different packs -- one already targeted for lethal removal -- have been associated with new attacks on livestock, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports today.

The Smackout Pack is charged with killing a calf in a private fenced pen in Stevens County -- the fifth confirmed depredation by the pack since September.  Last week, Jim Unsworth, WDFW director, authorized the killing of some of the Smackout Pack wolves to try to change the cattle killing ways of the pack.  The department has not yet reported on those efforts.

Also last week, department staff confirmed that a calf was killed on a grazing allotment in Ferry County.

"The producer uses five WDFW contracted range riders across his grazing areas to discourage conflict with wolves,." the agency reports. "The range riders started patrolling the area on May 9 – before the cattle were turned out – to check for carnivore activity and to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflict. Since then, they have monitored GPS collar data and patrolled the area almost daily, communicating frequently with the producer."

Following is the full report on these incidents issued by WDFW this afternoon:

Depredations increase for Sherman Pack and Smackout Pack

WDFW officials have confirmed that one or more wolves from the Sherman Pack injured a calf that was discovered July 21 in a grazing allotment in Ferry County.

After an investigation WDFW department officials classified the incident as a confirmed wolf depredation, the third involving the pack since June 12, 2017. (See WDFW wolf updates on June 16 and July 14, 2017.) The depredation occurred on Bureau of Land Management grazing lands, about one mile from the site of the two prior wolf depredations.

The latest incident was reported by the livestock producer after his employees found an injured calf while monitoring livestock. Two department officials examined the injured calf and found lacerations and puncture wounds consistent with wolf bite marks. They found wounds on the upper left shoulder, left armpit area, lower left brisket, left hip, lower and upper left rear leg and around the groin. The calf also suffered a broken right shoulder. The calf was euthanized due to the severity of the injuries. A subsequent necropsy showed massive hemorrhaging of the underlying tissue next to the lacerations and puncture wounds.

WDFW officials also found that GPS data showed that the collared wolf from the Sherman pack was in the area when the incident occurred. Tracks near the scene showed that at least two wolves were present.

The deceased calf was removed from the grazing allotment and taken to the WDFW compost facility.

Based on all available factors, the event was classified as a confirmed wolf depredation by the Sherman Pack.

The livestock producer that owns the cattle grazes them on private and public lands in the area. Calves in the herd were born outside of occupied wolf range and were trucked into the area for the summer grazing season. The producer turned out the cattle onto private land May 24.

The producer uses five WDFW contracted range riders across his grazing areas to discourage conflict with wolves. The range riders started patrolling the area on May 9 – before the cattle were turned out – to check for carnivore activity and to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflict. Since then, they have monitored GPS collar data and patrolled the area almost daily, communicating frequently with the producer.

In addition, the producer’s family members and ranch employees have increased their presence on the allotment to reduce the potential for wolf-livestock conflict, and the producer has reported changes in cattle behavior and carnivore activity to WDFW.

There are no known wolf dens or rendezvous sites in the area. The range riders, producer family members and ranch employees will continue to patrol the area and surrounding areas.

Smackout Pack depredations increase to five since September 2016

On July 22, WDFW officials also confirmed that one or more wolves from the Smackout Pack were responsible for injuring a calf in a private, fenced pasture in Stevens County.

During an investigation that day, two WDFW employees classified the incident as a confirmed wolf depredation after they found the calf had sustained severe bite lacerations and bite puncture wounds consistent with wolf bite marks. The wounds were inside the calf’s left leg, with hemorrhaging to the underlying tissue. The investigation also found additional bite lacerations and puncture wounds to the inside left rear leg, the lower left hamstring, the lower left front leg and the lower right front leg.

Data from two collared wolves in the Smackout Pack data placed both animals near the livestock when the calf was injured. Based on all available factors, the investigators classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation by the Smackout Pack. The incident marks the fifth depredation involving the pack since September 21, 2016.

WDFW announced plans to initiate removal of some wolves in the Smackout pack July 20, 2017, after the department confirmed the pack’s fourth depredation within that time frame. (See the WDFW update on July 20, for information on the earlier depredations).

The livestock producer has 30 cow-calf pairs within his 40-acre pasture, which is located near his home, and he checks the cattle daily. Following the incident, a WDFW wildlife conflict specialist worked with the owner to deploy Fox Lights, a type of strobe light designed to haze large predators, as a responsive deterrence measure. The livestock owner will continue to check on the cattle daily.



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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