A member of the wolf pack occupying the old Profanity Peak pack area was shot and killed Sunday. And a day later a dead cow was found.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that a state shooter killed “a juvenile member” of the pack, according to an agency news release.
A day after the 50-pound male was killed WDFW confirmed that an adult cow was killed by wolves in the same area. The agency investigated and determined that the cow was likely killed before the wolf.
On Sept. 12 WDFW ordered the incremental removal of wolves living in the Profanity Peak area after some killed a calf and injured five others, the first incident occurring on Sept. 4. The animals were on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment.
The wolves inhabit the same general area where members of the former Profanity Peak Pack once ranged. Members of that pack were killed by WDFW in 2016 following documented cattle depredations.
A year later, the agency killed members of the Sherman pack, whose range is close to the old Profanity Peak Pack range.
This is the third time in three years that lethal removal has been ordered for wolves in the area.
The Profanity Peak area is surrounded by other wolf packs, the forest is dense and there are few roads, which makes it harder for ranchers to keep track of their cattle.
In a previous interview Jay Shepherd, the wolf program lead for Conservation Northwest and one of the founders of the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative, said that the continued cattle depredations and lethal removal orders show that for whatever reason state wolf management policy isn’t working in the Profanity Peak area.
“Having the same thing happen every year and expecting a better outcome … it’s kind of the definition of insanity,” he said.
Although Conservation Northwest has supported lethal removal of wolves in the past they didn’t support the action in this case.
One ‘OPT pack’ wolf removed, one more cow killed
On September 16, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife marksman shot and killed a juvenile member of a wolf pack currently occupying the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) that has repeatedly preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.
The young wolf, weighing 50 pounds, was one of four pack members spotted that day by a WDFW helicopter crew. Identifying adults and young wolves from the air is difficult this time of year due to the size of the animals.
On Sept. 12, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized “incremental” removal of wolves from the OPT pack, after confirming that one or more pack members killed one calf and injured five others from Sept. 4-7 on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotment.
One day after the juvenile wolf was removed, WDFW confirmed that an adult cow was killed by wolves in the same general area. WDFW staff investigating the cow carcass determined that it was likely killed prior to the removal of the wolf. The department is currently working to determine the next option to deter wolf depredation by the OPT pack under the current incremental removal action.
This action is consistent with the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and wolf-livestock protocol, which allows the department to take lethal action after confirming three depredations by wolves on livestock within 30 days or four within 10 months.
The series of depredations from Sept. 4-7 met the first criterion, in addition to a requirement in the protocol that non-lethal deterrents were in place, but did not prevent conflict between wolves and livestock. Non-lethal deterrents employed by the livestock producer whose cattle were killed or injured by the OPT pack include:
Using range riders to keep watch over his herd.
Calving outside of occupied wolf range
Delaying turning out cattle until July 10 – a month later than usual – when calving is finished and the calves are larger and less prone to predation.
Removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd.
Removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area.
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