A Northeast Washington wolf that may be part of a new pack forming in northern Stevens County killed a cow in late August, according to state wildlife managers.
WDFW investigated the remains of the largely consumed carcass on Aug. 31 and says that based on GPS collar data from the Dirty Shirt Pack disperser, signs of a struggle at the site of the depredation, bite marks, wolf poop and reports of wolves in the area it was a confirmed depredation.
AN IMAGE FROM WDFW’S MONTHLY WOLF UPDATE SHOWS APPARENT PUPS IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. (WDFW)
The livestock producer, who had been advised beforehand by WDFW of the wolf in the area, had their cattle in a fenced pasture near a residence they rented out, and both the rancher and renters were checking on the stock daily while the renters were also periodically using lights at night, according to wolf manager Donny Martorello.
He says that a state-contracted range rider had also began watching cattle in nearby grazing allotments.
Since the attack, a second range rider has begun patrolling the local allotments, while a FOX light has been set up in the producer’s pasture to help deter any more depredations, Martorello says.
He was hesitant to say that the Dirty Shirt wolf is officially part of a new pack — two wolves traveling together in winter — but notes that a trail camera picked up an image of a British Columbia disperser and that time stamp information puts both animals in the same location on the same day. That apparently occurred in late July.
“We’re assuming they’re together, but we don’t know that for certain,” Martorello says, adding that it probably won’t be till winter snows before they can definitively say one way or the other.
If it is a new pack, it would join the Wedge, Smackout, Stranger, Huckleberry, Dirty Shirt and Carpenter Ridge Packs which roam entirely or partially in Stevens County, making it the county with the most wolf packs in the state.
While other depredations this summer have occurred in Northeast Washington, the other eastern corner of the state saw one recently too.
An Asotin County cow and calf were injured by the Tucannon Pack 10 or more days ago. The injured cattle were first spotted by a hunter southeast of Cloverland. The pair was on a Forest Service road.
WDFW investigated Sept. 5 and is treating the incident as a single event instead of two, which it otherwise does with depredations of large livestock such as cattle.
Martorello says that’s per an exception in the agency’s protocols if cattle are known to be together, such as a cow-calf pair.
He said the calf had the more severe injuries but the mother’s ears were torn up most likely from trying to defend her young one.
It’s an important distinction because under the lethal removal guidelines, agency director Jim Unsworth can authorize taking out one or two wolves after three confirmed or probable depredation events in 30 days.
According to WDFW, a range of nonlethal deterrence measures are being used in the range of the Tucannons.
OTHER WOLF NEWS
- Biologists, fish and wildlife officers and conflict specialists have been pretty busy over the past month, performing 10 other investigations on dead or injured cows, calves, sheep and a dog in Stevens and Ferry Counties. They were found to have been caused by a domestic dog, a coyote or unknown, or weren’t depredations at all.
- There are no updates at all on the Skagit County wolf. Its DNA is still in the queue at a federal lab, and it doesn’t appear to be doing much on the ground either.
- All’s quiet — at this writing anyway — on the Sherman and Smackout Pack fronts following a series of depredations followed by lethal removals. WDFW continues to evaluate the wolves’ behavior in response while nonlethal deterrence measures also are ongoing.
- WDFW C&Red a young member of the Beaver Creek Pack after capturing it in mid-August.
- For more details, see the agency’s monthly wolf update.