As wolf advocates launch a pressure campaign against Washington wildlife managers over their handling of the OPT Pack, the Ferry County wolves have reportedly attacked three more calves since the breeding male was taken out nine days ago.
The Capital Press says that one of the calves was found dead while the other two died as a result of the depredations from this past Thursday and Saturday.
The pack has been in an evaluation period after the large wolf was lethally removed July 13 in response to the killing of an adult cow on a federal grazing allotment discovered July 6.
That loss was the 20th attributed to the OPTs since early last September.
“Our team is meeting this morning as we speak,” said Staci Lehman, a WDFW spokesperson based out of Spokane, a short time ago.
The Press reports that the rancher whose cattle were attacked claims the incidents occurred near lights set up to ward off wolves.
“The only thing they can do is total pack removal,” Len McIrvin told the ag outlet.
In a new pressure campaign, McIrvin is termed an “instigator for a long series of ‘wolf depredation’ actions” taken by WDFW and accounts for 85 percent of all lethal removals.
The Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action also placed a full-page ad in yesterday’s Seattle Times calling on Director Kelly Susewind not to authorize more removals, and sent out a press release that brings Rob Wielgus, the former Washington State University professor, back into the conflict.
In 2016, Wielgus claimed McIrvin and his Diamond M Ranch had turned out cattle “directly on top” of the original Profanity Peak Pack’s den, but WDFW and WSU officials refuted that, saying the herd had been let out 4 to 5 miles away.
“My research shows that non-lethal controls, such as keeping livestock and salt blocks one kilometer away from wolf denning and rendezvous areas, are very effective in deterring rare wolf attacks on livestock,” Wielgus stated in the AWA press release.
According to WDFW, the rancher delayed turnout two weeks and sent out calves born earlier in the year, both of which “are considered proactive conflict mitigation measures because the calves are larger and more defensible.”
“The producer is continuing to coordinate patrols of the grazing area with WDFW and county staff, removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, using Fox lights at salting and watering locations to deter wolves, and removing sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed,” the agency reported last Tuesday.
At the very least, expect a weekly update on the situation from WDFW tomorrow.
Meanwhile, as outside groups attempt to minimize Washington’s wolf count and make the wild animals seem more vulnerable, the agency is increasing the visibility of how it manages wolves, placing the species as the banner on its website with a link to population information.
“The 2018 annual report reinforces the profile of wolves as a highly resilient, adaptable species whose members are well-suited to Washington’s rugged, expansive landscape,” the statement reads.
Next month expect to begin hearing more about planning for postrecovery wolf management in the state, a scoping process that will include more than a dozen meeting from September through November.
WDFW will essentially be asking the public if there is anything missing in its plans for how to deal with wolves after they reach population goals in the coming years.
For hunters or others unable to attend the meetings, there will be a webinar version.