State wolf managers are giving eight hours’ court notice before going after a pack in Washington’s southeast corner.
WDFW says the Grouse Flats wolves have two depredations in the past 30 days, four in 10 months — the threshold for consideration of lethal removal — and seven overall since August 2018.
“Proactive nonlethal deterrents … used by livestock producers in the area have not influenced pack behavior to reduce the potential for continued depredations on livestock,” the agency stated in an update announcing Director Kelly Susewind’s decision.
The operation is described as “incremental,” which means pursuing wolves and possibly taking out one in hopes of changing the pack’s behavior. A period of evaluation follows to see if it worked.
Unless headed off in court today, it will be the first time that WDFW has gone after wolves in the Blue Mountains.
All other lethal operations have occurred in Northeast Washington’s Kettle, Huckleberry and Selkirk Ranges.
The Grouse Flats wolves have killed or injured calves and cows belonging to at least four different producers and which were grazing on a mix of private land and on state wildlife area and Forest Service allotments, according to WDFW chronologies.
It’s one of four known packs that den on the Washington side of the mountain range. Another half dozen or so are on the Oregon side.
“The lethal removal of wolves in the Grouse Flats pack is not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach the statewide recovery objective,” WDFW said in its announcement, posted before 8 a.m. to get the court clock ticking.
Earlier this summer, the agency said it had eliminated the Old Profanity Territory Pack for chronic cattle attacks in northern Ferry County.
It has also been targeting the Togo Pack, in the same region of Northeast Washington for depredations going back to 2017, but none have been removed.
In other Evergreen State wolf news, tomorrow, Sept. 25, is WDFW’s second webinar as it begins planning for how to manage the species after delisting.
Unlike the first, this one will be held during the lunch hour, from 12 to 1 p.m., for those who were unable to participate during dinnertime, when the last one was held last week.
The third is coming up Tuesday, Oct. 15, 6-7:30 p.m.
WDFW’s monthly report for August also describes the wounding of a wolf that approached ranch hands in northeastern Okanogan County.
On Aug. 30, ranch personnel encountered the Beaver Creek wolf pack on private land while searching for a bear seen earlier that morning. A 16-year-old deceased cow was in the area; wolves were not seen feeding on it and the cause of death was unknown. After one of the ranch personnel fired a shot over three adult wolves observed, all of the pack members (four pups in addition to the three adults) retreated, except one adult not previously seen. The wolf that remained approached the ranch personnel. They felt threatened and shot it, and believe they injured the wolf. It retreated and was not located after a search by WDFW staff. Staff believe that the behavior observed indicates the ranch personnel came upon the Beaver Creek rendezvous site.
The update had “no activity to report” for 17 of state’s 27 known packs, couldn’t report on three that occur on the Colville Reservation, where the tribes are the lead managers, listed deterrence measures being taken to prevent conflicts with a pair of Kittitas County packs and grazing sheep and cows, and said trail cams were being put up in the Wedge Pack territory to monitor wolves there.
A Spokane Spokesman-Review article last week details the newest member of WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group, Bill Kemp, a retired cross-country coach who owns 300 acres which is roamed by the Carpenter Ridge Pack.
And also in the SSR in mid-September, Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Dr. Kim Thorburn penned an op-ed that took issue with one from Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biological Diversity that criticized lethal removals as “cruel” and a waste of money spent developing wolf management policies.
“It was also full of accusations against ranchers who are trying to sustain a livelihood in wolf country,” Thorburn wrote. “It seems crueler to level fraught allegations of malfeasance against passionate professionals devoting their lives to the preservation, protection and perpetuation of the state’s wildlife and to force unscientific anthropomorphic values on rural communities living among wolves.”