With still more Old Profanity Territory Pack depredations reported, a decision is likely tomorrow from WDFW on what’s next for the northern Ferry County wolves now blamed for 27 dead and injured cattle in less than 11 months.
Following this afternoon’s news that three wounded calves were found Friday, July 26 by a rancher gathering and moving cattle, an announcement could come as early as 8 a.m. Wednesday to work through the required eight-hour court challenge window before operations commence if the state chooses to lethally remove more members, which it can under the wolf-livestock protocol.
WDFW Spokeswoman Staci Lehman said that regional managers forwarded Director Kelly Susewind, who was out sick on Monday, their recommendation today for review with the state Attorney General’s office.
“We’re waiting for the director to make his decision,” she said. “He’s very, very thorough.”
After six months without a confirmed depredation, the OPT wolves struck in early July, killing a cow on a federal grazing allotment.
That led Susewind to authorize incremental removals to try and head off more attacks and change the pack’s behavior, an OK that wasn’t challenged in court.
The pack’s breeding male was killed July 13 and WDFW began evaluating the remaining four adults’ and four juveniles’ response.
They struck again injuring and killing three more calves, likely killing a fourth, all of which were investigated around July 18-20.
At that point last Tuesday, Susewind was “assessing this situation and considering next steps.”
The latest three injured calves were investigated by WDFW, which confirmed a wolf attack based on bite marks, hemorrhaging, and GPS data of a young male pack member.
The calves were able to be treated and released.
“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,” the agency reported. “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.”
WDFW also reports that the rancher, Len McIrvin and the Diamond M per previous stories, has declined to use WDFW-contracted range riders to “work with their cattle at this time.”
This part of Northeast Washington has seen wolf-livestock conflicts since at least 2016 and the original Profanity Peak Pack, which WDFW took out.
The OPT wolves began depredating last September and two members were lethally removed by WDFW. Unless I’m mistaken, the pack is responsible for the most cattle attacks on record in Washington.