A wolf, or wolves, from the Togo pack killed a Ferry County calf on Sunday.
This is the third confirmed kill involving the Togo pack in the past seven months, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife report.
“Based on all available evidence, WDFW classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation by one or more members of the Togo pack,” according to the report.
A woodcutter found the calf carcass on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in northern Ferry County. The woodcutter said he heard a cow bawling and “saw a black wolf running from the area where the calf was found.”
WDFW’s lethal removal policy allows killing wolves if they prey on livestock three times in a 30-day period or four times in a 10-month period. That policy was developed in 2016 by WDFW and its 18-member Wolf Advisory Group, which represents the concerns of environmentalists, hunters and livestock ranchers.
The policy also stipulates that cattle producers have employed at least two proactive deterrence techniques.
According to the WDFW report, the producer was checking on his cattle daily but not using other deterrence techniques.
After the calf carcass was found, the producer agreed to start using range riders. A range rider was deployed Sunday with plans for more range riders to be provided by the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative.
The calf’s owner said he saw the calf alive earlier in the day.
In 2017, WDFW approved the killing of members of the Smackout pack after confirming four attacks on livestock.
The existence of the Togo pack was confirmed in late 2017. The pack was named in March. Two of the three kills attributed to the Togo pack occurred in November before the Togo pack was confirmed by WDFW. According to WDFW estimates, there are a minimum of two wolves in the pack.
Wolves were extirpated from Washington through shooting, trapping and poisoning by the 1930s. The gray wolf was federally listed as an endangered species in 1973. In 2008, Washington documented its first breeding wolf pack in roughly 70 years as the carnivores began naturally dispersing back into the state from Canada, Idaho and, later, Oregon.
Under state law, wolves are listed as an endangered species and are federally protected in the western two-thirds of the state.
Despite documented losses of roughly a dozen wolves a year from selective state-authorized lethal control, plus poaching, vehicle collisions and other human-related causes, Washington’s wolf population has steadily grown each year. A minimum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs was reported by the WDFW this winter.
Spokane-based conservation group the Lands Council has proposed that ranchers who have grazing allotments on the Colville National Forest shift their cattle from higher allotments to lower-elevation ones. However, ranchers, many of whom have grazed cows on the same allotments for decades, resist that proposal.
At the same time, a rancher and a wildlife biologist have formed the nonprofit Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative in hopes of helping ranchers and wolves coexist.
The WDFW report did not name the rancher who lost the calf. However, the Capital Press, of Salem, reported Wednesday that rancher Ron Eslick, 71, may quit a grazing allotment that he’s had since the 1980s following the attack.