A northeast Okanogan County rancher has been reported cleared by Washington game wardens after shooting a wolf that approached within roughly half a football field of a fenced calving area with several newborns.
It occurred the morning of April 29 east of Highway 97 in the Beaver Creek Pack territory, part of the state where wolves have been federally delisted, and involved a young unmarked male.
“The calving area included cow-calf pairs that were enclosed in a fenced pasture within sight of the house of the livestock producer,” WDFW initially reported.
The Press reported that day-old calves were near a fence as the animal approached. Unsure if it was a coyote or wolf, the rancher shouted at it, but it continued to come closer.
He grabbed a rifle and fired one shot at it, killing it at 280 yards and just 56 yards from the fenceline, the Press reported.
Under state caught-in-the-act provisions, ranchers, farmers and others with animals in the delisted eastern third of the state can shoot a single wolf without a state permit “if the wolf is attacking their domestic animals.”
That allowance was also used this past February in Adams County, where a ranchhand shot and killed a wolf in an unnamed pack after it continued to chase a herd of cattle.
It also requires whomever shoots a wolf to contact WDFW within 24 hours and allow wardens onto the property to investigate.
According to the Press, the rancher was “tense” but officers “assured (him) that we were present to document what had occurred, and we were there to advocate for his personal and property rights as much as the rights of wildlife.”
The story says that the family had known that there had been wolves around the ranch since last fall.
“The producer routinely buries all carcasses and removes afterbirth from the area,” WDFW reported.
Had the wolf gone after the calves, it would have been difficult to make a clean shot, an investigator wrote in their report, the Press stated.
“I informed (the rancher and his wife) that it was a justified act and did not want them to stress about a delayed finding or decision,” another wrote, according to the news source.
Elsewhere in WDFW’s monthly report, state managers say a Spokane Tribe hunter took a member of the Stranger Pack in April, but little other wolf activity amongst the 27 known packs.