The Smackout Pack appears to be back within one confirmed livestock attack of serious consequences after killing again in early October.
WDFW reports that one or members of the large Northeast Washington pack took down a cow grazing in the Colville National Forest.
The depredation in Stevens County was investigated Oct. 9.
Details are scant – just three sentences reported in the agency’s Oct. 13 update, one of which reads:
“This depredation marks the third wolf depredation by the Smackout pack within the last 10 months and the first within the last 30 days.”
Four confirmed attacks in 10 months or two confirmed and one probable in a month are the triggers for consideration of lethal removals, according to state protocols.
The agency promises more information in its Oct. 20 update.
At the start of this year’s grazing season, June 1, it was believed there were 13 to 15 Smackout wolves, three of which had telemetry collars. The grazing season in this area ended Oct. 15.
After years of relatively good behavior but also increasingly strong efforts needed to head off issues with the wolves, the pack struck twice and probably once more in September 2016, then were confirmed to have injured two calves this July.
One wolf was legally shot in June by a ranchhand when it and another were caught in the act of attacking cattle, and after July’s first depredation, WDFW Director Jim Unsworth authorized incremental lethal removals and two wolves were killed July 20 and July 30.
That and nonlethal work seemed to do the trick of heading problems off, and no further confirmed attacks occurred in August and September, leading WDFW to end removal operations.
A 94-page after-action report stated:
“The collaboration between WDFW personnel and the livestock producers, the approach highlighted in the protocol of both proactive and responsive nonlethal deterrents, and the incremental removal, appeared to have the intended effect of changing the Smackout Pack behavior to reduce the probability of reoccurring depredations while continuing to promote recovery.”
The probability of wolf attacks appears to have been reduced for a period of time. Ultimately they struck again.