As OPT Cattle Attacks Continue, WDFW Assessing Situation

Editor’s note: Updated 8 a.m., July 24, 2019 at bottom with news on Grouse Flats Pack depredations

WDFW is confirming four more calves have been or were probably killed or injured by the Old Profanity Territory Pack, mostly since its breeding male was lethally removed, and is continuing to evaluate the situation.

“Director (Kelly) Susewind is now assessing this situation and considering next steps,” an agency weekly update out Tuesday afternoon reads.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATION OF THE OPT PACK TERRITORY, OUTLINED IN RED, IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (WDFW)

Range riding and other nonlethal conflict prevention measures will continue in the immediate short term in the northern Ferry County area where the cattle are on federal grazing allotments.

WDFW killed the OPT’s breeding male July 13 following the death of a cow, at the time the 20th depredation by the pack in less than a year, then paused its operation to evaluate the pack’s response.

Two injured calves were found on July 18, a dead one was reported on July 19 and investigated July 20 , with a fourth, also dead, discovered July 22.

The first three were confirmed wolf depredations, the last one went down as a probable, according to WDFW.

All but one occurred after the removal.

There are believed to be 8 wolves in the pack, half of which are adults, including one younger male that has a radio collar that was tied to the scene of one of the dead calves.

The agency says this about prevention measures being used:

“The owner of the calves is the same livestock producer who experienced wolf depredations by the OPT pack on July 6 and previously in 2018. On July 10, WDFW released an update detailing the proactive nonlethal conflict deterrence measures in place prior to the confirmed wolf depredation on July 6, and the subsequent lethal removal of an OPT wolf on July 13. Following the depredation confirmed on July 6, WDFW-contracted range riders were in the area for two days before pausing activity during lethal removal efforts. The WDFW-contracted range riders did not resume riding because the livestock producer prefers that contracted range riders not work with their cattle at this time.”

“The producer is continuing to remove or secure livestock carcasses (when discovered) to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and remove sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed. WDFW and county staff are continuing to coordinate patrols of the grazing area to increase human presence and use Fox lights at salting and watering locations to deter wolves. Other livestock producers with cattle on federal grazing allotments in the OPT pack territory have deployed range riders.”

Rancher Len McIrvin of the Diamond M is dismissive of non-lethal efforts in a Capital Press story out today after the fourth calf’s carcass was discovered.

“They learn to fear the helicopter, at best, maybe,” he told the ag outlet.

WDFW says its next update on the pack will come next Tuesday, July 30.

Meanwhile, the Grouse Flats Pack has killed a second calf in two weeks, this time on private land near Anatone, according to an article in the Lewiston Tribune, which broke the news.

It’s also the Asotin County wolves’ third depredation in 10 months, the trigger for consideration of lethal removals under WDFW protocols, and fourth in less than a year.

The others were a dead calf investigated in early September and an injured cow investigated in late October.

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