More Details Emerge On Recent Grouse Flats Pack Depredation

WDFW says that lethal removal isn’t being considered after a wolf killed a newborn calf in the pasture of a former Fish and Wildlife Commissioner, the fifth confirmed livestock depredation by the Grouse Flats Pack in seven months.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE ROUGH LOCATION OF THE GROUSE FLATS PACK’S RANGE, ON THE SOUTHEAST SIDE OF SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON’S BLUE MOUNTAINS. (WDFW)

State wolf managers term the Feb. 3 attack near Anatone “an isolated occurrence” that “appeared to be an opportunistic depredation rather than an ongoing pattern,” and say “several non-lethal deterrence options were available to be deployed.”

The following evening three wolves “prowled around [Asotin County rancher Jay] Holzmiller’s pasture and barn” and left “tracks within 100 yards of his home,” according to a follow-up article by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune, who reports that no animals were lost.

Holzmiller, who served six years on the commission before being replaced last year, is keeping an even closer eye on his calving cattle and WDFW conflict specialists have installed fladry and flashing lights in his pasture to try to prevent more depredations, the story states.

According to the article, Holzmiller believes that, given wolves joining the ranks of cougars and bears in the Blues, the pack is having difficulty finding deer and elk to eat.

Barker reports that he is willing to shoot a wolf if he sees one attacking his livestock.

” … (L)egally I can actually do it because they have in Washington what they call the ‘Caught in the Act’ act. If you catch a wolf harassing your cattle, you can shoot it,” Holzmiller told the reporter.

That authority stretches back to a 2013 Fish and Wildlife Commission decision made just before Holzmiller joined the citizen panel. Members, prodded by legislators on both sides of the aisle and state, voted unanimously to allow people to kill a gray wolf attacking their livestock or pets without a special permit from WDFW in the federally delisted third of the state.

Last year saw at least two reported caught-in-the-act killings in far Eastern Washington, one in northern Ferry County, another in northeastern Adams County.

Down in Asotin County, WDFW staffers “will continue to monitor the area to mitigate future conflict,” agency wolf managers say.

Under state wolf-livestock protocols, lethal removal can be considered after three confirmed/probable wolf attacks in 30 days, or four in 10 months, and at least two proactive or responsive measures are or have been in place to head off conflicts.

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