Tag Archives: lethal removal

WDFW Kills One O.P.T. Wolf, Now Evaluating Pack Behavior

Editor’s note: Updated 11:15 a.m., July 17, 2019, with more info from WDFW near bottom

Washington wolf managers say they have lethally removed a member of the Old Profanity Territory Pack and are now evaluating the livestock-depredating wolves’ behavior.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATION OF THE OPT PACK TERRITORY, OUTLINED IN RED, IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (WDFW)

WDFW reports killing the collared adult male on July 13 and made the announcement yesterday.

The pack is blamed for 20 attacks on cows and calves in northern Ferry County since early last September, with 15 of those falling within a rolling 10-month window that allows for the agency to consider taking wolves out to try and head off more depredations.

Director Kelly Susewind authorized “incremental removals” on July 10 after a dead cow was found July 6 and determined to have been killed by a member or members of the pack, allowing for an eight-hour court window for challenges, but none were filed.

“WDFW’s approach to incremental removal consists of a period of active operations followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions changed the pack’s behavior. The department has now entered an evaluation period,” the agency states in an online update.

State sharpshooters have now taken out three members of the pack, two last fall, but some are calling for the complete removal of the animals which share countryside with cattle on federal grazing allotments and private pastures, while others say the problem will only continue because of the quality of the landscape for wolves.

It was the scene of livestock attacks and wolf killing in 2016.

WDFW says that it may restart removals of the OPTs if another depredation turns up and is determined to have occurred after Saturday’s wolf was killed.

Wolf policy manager Donny Martorello describes the animal as the pack’s breeding male, which had been part of previous depredations.

Taking out the largest, most able member is meant to reduce the rest of the pack’s ability to attack livestock, he said.

“It’s not only the removal of a key individual but the hazing can have an effect to change wolf behavior,” Martorello added.

There were believed to be five adults and four juveniles in the pack as of a week or so ago. At least two had collars, the alpha male and a yearling male captured in March.

Martorello reported there was nothing new with the Grouse Flats Pack, which killed a calf on WDFW’s 4-O Ranch Unit of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area, but that the agency is gearing up to hold a number of public meetings in the coming months.

Starting in early August, expect to begin hearing more about planning for postrecovery wolf management in Washington, a scoping process that will include more than a dozen meeting across the state from September through November.

WDFW will essentially be asking the public if there is anything missing in its plans for how to deal with wolves after they reach population goals in the coming years.

“It’s about making sure we have the bookends at the right places,” says Martorello.

He says that for hunters or others unable to attend the meetings, there will be a webinar version.

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ODFW Begins Culling ESA-steelhead-eating Sea Lions At Willamette Falls

Three Willamette Falls sea lions have been killed so far by state managers under a recently issued federal permit, an action being taken to help the watershed’s threatened wild steelhead.

A CALIFORNIA SEA LION CAPTURES A SALMONID BELOW WILLAMETTE FALLS. (BRYAN WRIGHT, ODFW)

ODFW plans to lethally remove as many as 40 California sea lions in the first four months of the year, and are allowed to take out up to 93 a year.

The news, first reported yesterday by OPB and followed up by the Associated Press this morning, comes as at least 145 wild winter steelhead have been able to navigate past pinnipeds feasting below the falls as of the end of last month.

In 2015, they ate 25 percent of a very weak return, according to ODFW, which in 2017 estimated that there was a 90 percent chance that one of the Willamette’s ESA-listed runs would go extinct if nothing was done to counter predation by sea lions.

Attempts to capture and move them to the Oregon Coast were unsuccessful as the male marine mammals tended to just swim right back.

“The only fish in the river right now are the winter steelhead,” ODFW’s Bryan Wright told OPB. “If we can remove all these sea lions right now that will be a huge benefit to them.”

In mid-November, his agency was authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service to begin killing CSLs seen at the falls and in the lower Clackamas River for at least two days or observed eating steelhead or salmon.

Last month, Northwest states and tribes were also authorized to lethally remove as many as 920 California sea lions and 249 Steller sea lions in portions of the Columbia and its salmon-bearing tributaries such as the Willamette to help address too many pinnipeds taking too big a bite out of ESA-listed salmon and steelhead stocks and help keep one of their new favorite targets, sturgeon, from ending up on the list too.

Last 2 O.P.T. Pack Wolves To Be Lethally Removed

Washington wolf managers will take out what they say are the last two Old Profanity Territory Pack wolves after a 16th attack on a producer’s grazing cattle in the Kettle Range of northern Ferry County in less than two months.

The latest depredation, a dead calf, was investigated October 23rd and came after an adult and a juvenile member were lethally removed in September.

The pack was initially believed to include three or four adults and two or three juveniles.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind’s kill reauthorization follows an evaluation period that saw an additional attack by the pack investigated Oct. 7 that could have triggered action but he “sustained the evaluation period to consider the details and complexities of the situation in the field.”

A statement this morning from the agency also reiterated that the allotment is large, wild and completely within the OPT pack’s range, and that following an October 5th depredation “the department took additional steps to document the range-riding operation on the allotment to make sure it is as effective as” can be.

While WDFW doesn’t name the producer, it is known to be the Diamond M Ranch, which has previously suffered depredations by the Wedge and Profanity Peak Packs, triggering other lethal removals.

The state says the rancher is using non-lethal methods to try and stave off wolf attacks including contracting with range riders, removing sick stock off the range and dealing with carcasses.

State Timeline Details Togo Pack’s Livestock Attacks, Ranchers’ Preventative Measures

THE FOLLOWING IS INFORMATION FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

On August 18, 2018, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) documented the third wolf depredation by the Togo pack within the last 30 days, which is also the sixth wolf depredation by the pack within the last 10 months. For the most recent depredation, WDFW officials confirmed that one or more wolves were responsible for injuring a calf on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in Ferry County. The recent depredation has prompted Director Kelly Susewind to initiate the lethal removal provisions of the Wolf Conservation and Management plan (Wolf Plan) and wolf-livestock interactions protocol (Protocol).

 (WDFW)

The six depredations by the Togo pack include:

Depredation #1 – November 2, 2017

On November 2, 2017 WDFW was contacted by a livestock producer (herein Producer 1; note Producer 1 is a family operation with multiple owners) in Ferry County about an injured calf that was discovered less than three miles from where the unmarked female wolf was killed under caught-in-the-act authority on October 27, 2017 (see November 9, 2017 public update at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/updates.php?year=2017). A WDFW contracted range rider heard that there was a possible injured calf a day prior, but the calf could not be located at that time. Once the calf was found, it was taken to a holding pen for the investigation. The Ferry County Sheriff and WDFW management staff were notified and on November 3, department staff investigated a reported livestock depredation.  A Ferry County Officer was also in attendance for the depredation investigation.

The calf had injuries to both rear flanks and on both rear legs between the pin and hocks. Injuries on the rear flanks included bite lacerations and puncture wounds. Hemorrhaging was noted near bite lacerations in all four locations. After the wound was cleaned and dead tissue was removed, significant hemorrhaging was noted inside the wound, specifically around the wound margins. After a field examination of the injuries to the calf, it was determined to be a Confirmed Wolf Depredation. The determination was based on evidence and recent wolf activity in the area. Repeated reports from Producer 1 and WDFW contracted range rider included recent wolf howls, tracks, scat, and cattle grouping behavior in the pasture where the injured calf was located.

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 1 met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures suitable for the operation, which were best suited for the operation and for a sufficient amount of time for the measures to be effective.  Those included:

  • Producer 1’s cattle were on private fenced lands,
  • Producer 1 checks on the cattle multiple times every day during feedings,
  • Producer 1 removes sick or injured cattle from the area,
  • Producer 1 also used range riders periodically in 2017 (as well as 2016), and
  • Producer 1 also received locations of nearby collared wolves via WDFW’s Sensitive Wildlife Data Sharing Agreement.

Responsive non-lethal deterrence measures – After the investigation on November 3, WDFW staff and Producer 1 considered potential responsive deterrent measures consisting of fladry, fox lights and increased range riding activity. The producer decided to move cattle to a different private large fenced grazing pasture, utilize fox lights and agreed to increase range rider activity.

Depredation #2 – November 8, 2017

On November 8, WDFW was contacted by Producer 1 and he reported a calf carcass that was discovered while moving cattle in a different private large fenced grazing pasture. The calf was tarped by Producer 1, a hired hand, and range rider for the pending investigation. Wolf tracks were reported at the scene. The Ferry County Sherrif and WDFW management staff were notified that field staff were responding to conduct a depredation investigation per the 2017 Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol On November 9, WDFW conducted an investigation, accompanied by a Ferry County Deputy and WDFW Contracted Range Rider. After a field investigation and necropsy of the calf carcass, it was determined to be a Confirmed Wolf Depredation. The determination was based on bite lacerations with associated hemorrhaging, signs of a struggle near the calf carcass, large canid tracks near the calf carcass, recent wolf activity in the area, and the confirmed wolf depredation on November 2 in the area.

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 1 met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures suitable for the operation, that were best suited for the operation and for a sufficient amount of time for the measures to be effective.  Producer 1 continued using the following non-lethal deterrence measures:

  • Cattle on private fenced lands,
  • Checked on the cattle multiple times every day during feedings,
  • Removed sick or injured cattle from the area,
  • Utilize fox lights ,
  • Used range riders periodically in 2018, and
  • Receiving locations of nearby collared wolves via WDFW’s Sensitive Wildlife Data Sharing Agreement.

Depredation #3 – May 20, 2018

A woodcutter reported the incident to the producer (herein Producer 2), who had seen the calf alive earlier in the day and who then found the carcass and reported the incident to WDFW.  The incident was on a federal grazing allotment in northern Ferry County, in the same vicinity as the November 2 and 8, 2017 wolf depredations.  A woodcutter working in the area said he approached a gate that separates U.S. Forest Service land from private property, where he heard a cow bawling and saw a black wolf running from the area where the calf was found. A WDFW official arrived later on May 20 and conducted an investigation with help from a wildlife specialist employed by Stevens and Ferry counties.

The investigators found that the calf had bite lacerations and puncture wounds to both rear quarters, upper rear legs, neck and sternum, consistent with predation by a wolf. Hemorrhaging, indicating the calf was initially alive during the encounter, was visible near the bite wounds and was also found in the left front armpit, where no lacerations or punctures were visible. Based on all available evidence, WDFW classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation by one or more members of the Togo pack (note, the area was confirmed as the Togo wolf pack territory from surveys conducted in February 2018).

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 2 did not met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures that were best suited for the operation. Producer 2 deployed one proactive deterrence measure, which was checking on his cattle daily.

Responsive non-lethal deterrence measures – Department staff and Producer 2 discussed additional responsive deterrent strategies (including the use of fladry and Foxlights) but agreed the use of range riders would be the most effective additional deterrent, given that the cow-calf operation takes place in an unfenced allotment in rugged terrain. Later on May 20, Producer 2 deployed a range rider and made plans to rotate several riders from the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative and WDFW to provide ongoing daily or near-daily coverage.

Depredation #4 – August 8, 2018

On August 8, 2018, WDFW was contacted by a wildlife specialist employed by the Stevens and Ferry County Sheriff’s Offices about a potential wolf depredation on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in the Togo pack wolf territory in Northern Ferry County, near Danville.  Later that day, WDFW staff documented a deceased adult cow.  The owner of the livestock is Producer 1.  During the investigation, staff documented bite lacerations with associated hemorrhaging, signs of a struggle down a steep hill and around the cow carcass, and recent wolf activity in the area.  Based on that evidence, they confirmed that the death was a depredation by one or more wolves from the Togo pack.

Due to the remote location and rugged terrain, the cow carcass was left on site.  However, Producer 1 and his range rider -moved the cattle to a different area of the allotment.  The cow was turned out as part of a cow-calf pair, but Producer 1 and range rider were not able to locate her calf.

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 1 met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures that were best suited for the operation and for a sufficient amount of time for the measures to be effective.  Throughout the 2018 grazing season Producer 1 used a variety of deterrent measures to protect the livestock. Producer 1:

  • Delayed turnout until late June so the calves would be larger,
  • Used Fox lights on his private pasture to deter wolves,
  • Following turnout, he removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment,
  • Deployed one or more range riders each day to help the producer check the cattle, and
  • Moved the cattle when necessary out of areas with higher wolf activity to minimize interactions between wolves and livestock.

Responsive non-lethal deterrence measures – After the investigation on August 8, WDFW staff and Producer 1 considered potential responsive deterrent measures and decided additional range riders would be the best option for their operation.

Depredation #5 – August 9, 2018

On August 9, at about 9:30 p.m., the department was contacted by a WDFW-contracted range rider about another potential wolf depredation in the Togo pack area that injured a 350-pound calf owned by Producer 1. Producer 1 and range rider moved the injured calf, and the cow that accompanied it, from the allotment to a holding pen at their residence.

On August 10, WDFW staff and the two counties’ wildlife specialist examined the cow and calf. The cow did not appear to have any injuries, but they documented bite lacerations to both of the calf’s hamstrings and left flank, and puncture wounds and associated hemorrhaging to the left hindquarter and stomach.  Based on the evidence and related factors, the investigators confirmed that the calf’s injuries were the result of a wolf depredation and classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation. The cow and injured calf were kept at the holding pen for monitoring.

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 1 met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures that were best suited for the operation and for a sufficient amount of time for the measures to be effective.  Producer 1 continued using the following non-lethal deterrence measures:

  • Used Fox lights on his private pasture to deter wolves,
  • Removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment, and
  • Deployed one or more range riders each day to help the producer check the cattle, and
  • Moved the cattle when necessary out of areas with higher wolf activity to minimize interactions between wolves and livestock.

Depredation #6 – August 18, 2018

On August 18, WDFW staff received a call from a wildlife specialist employed by the Stevens and Ferry County Sheriff’s Offices about another potential wolf depredation in the Togo pack area that injured a 450-pound calf owned by Producer 1. Producer 1 and range rider moved the injured calf from the allotment, and the cow that accompanied it, from the allotment to a holding pen at their residence.  USFS District Ranger was notified of the depredation event. WDFW staff conducted a field examination of the injured calf with the help of a squeeze chute. Present during the examination were the producers and counties’ wildlife specialist.

On August 18, WDFW staff and the two counties’ wildlife specialist examined the cow and calf.  The injured calf had bite lacerations and bite puncture wounds to the outside lower left hindquarter, the left hamstring, the inside of the left hock and the groin area. Adjacent to the bite puncture wounds on the hamstring and groin was hemorrhaging to the underlying tissue as indicated by severe swelling. Infection had also set in on two of the bite puncture wounds. The bite lacerations, bite puncture wounds and tissue hemorrhaging adjacent to the puncture wounds are consistent with a signature style wolf attack on cattle. Investigators confirmed that the calf’s injuries were the result of a wolf depredation and classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation.

Proactive non-lethal deterrence measures – In this incident, Producer 1 met the expectation of deploying at least two proactive deterrence measures that were best suited for the operation and for a sufficient amount of time for the measures to be effective.  Producer 1 continued using the following non-lethal deterrence measures:

  • Used Fox lights on his private pasture to deter wolves,
  • Removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment,
  • Deployed one or more range riders each day to help the producer check the cattle, and
  • Moved the cattle when necessary out of areas with higher wolf activity to minimize interactions between wolves and livestock.

As a result of these events, the guidance provided in the Wolf Plan and Protocol the minimum threshold has been reached for consideration and possible implementation of lethal removal the Togo Pack. WDFW Director Kelly Susewind has authorized lethal removal of wolves from the pack, consistent with the Department’s Wolf Plan and Protocol.

The goal of lethal removal from the Wolf Plan is to manage wolf-livestock conflicts in a way that minimizes livestock losses, while at the same time not negatively impacting the recovery or long-term perpetuation of a sustainable wolf population. Building on that, the purpose of lethal removal in the Togo pack is to change wolf pack behavior to reduce the potential for recurrent wolf depredations on livestock while continuing to promote wolf recovery (see Protocol). Consistent with the terms of the Wolf Plan and Protocol, the rationale for lethal removal in this case is as follows:

  1. WDFW has documented three wolf depredation by the Togo pack within the last 30 days, which is also the sixth wolf depredation by the pack within the last 10 months. All six of the depredation events were confirmed wolf depredations ( resulting in two dead calves, one dead cow, and three injured calves). The three most recent depredations occurred over approximately a 10 day period, AND
  2. At least two (2) proactive deterrence measures, and responsive deterrence measures as deemed appropriate, have been implemented and failed to meet the goal of influencing/changing pack behavior to reduce the potential for recurrent wolf depredations on livestock in 5 of the six events, AND
  3. WDFW expects depredations to continue based of the history of depredations and the appropriate non-lethal measures having been deployed resulting in no change of wolf behavior , AND
  4. The Department has documented the use of appropriate deterrence measures and notified the public of wolf activities in a timely manner as outlined in the Protocol.  WDFW provided updates on November 9, November 15, December 6, 2017 and  May 24, June 1,  2018, August 11, and August 13, 2018 with information on all wolf depredations on livestock in the area, AND
  5. The lethal removal of wolves is not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach recovery objectives statewide or within individual wolf recovery regions. Comparing the actual level of wolf mortality to that modeled in the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan (appendix G and H), actual average wolf mortality is about 8.4 animals or 10% of the estimated population.  This level is well below the 28% baseline annual mortality assumed in the wolf plan model before any simulated wolf removals, which incorporates a 30% lethal removal mortality in addition to the baseline mortality.  The model was conducted assuming the regional wolf population was at the regional recovery objective. The wolf population in the eastern recovery region has more than doubled the regional recovery objective.
  6. As mentioned earlier, Director Susewind has authorized an incremental removal of pack members from the Togo Pack. The last estimate of pack size during August was 2 adult wolves and an unknown number of pups. The Department expects to begin the effort after 8 business hours following this public notice.  The removal effort will likely continue for a two-week period or less.

The Department will use humane lethal removal methods consistent with state and federal laws. The objective of the methodology is to use the best methods available while considering human safety, humaneness to wolves, swift completion of the removal, weather, efficacy, and cost. Likely options include shooting from a helicopter, trapping, and shooting from the ground.

Per the Wolf plan Protocol, WDFW’s approach is incremental removal, which has periods of active removals or attempts to remove wolves, followed by periods of evaluation to see if the goal of changing pack behavior was met. The first incremental removal will follow the provision of the Protocol in section 7.

The Department will keep the public informed about this activity through weekly updates. The Department will provide a final report to the public on any lethal removal action after the operation has concluded.

Olympic Mountain Goats To Be Moved To North Cascades, Under EIS Out For Final Review

Mountain goats are meant for the mountains, just not the Olympics, where the nonnative species will likely soon begin to be captured and relocated to the North Cascades, or shot on sight.

A TRIO OF MOUNTAIN GOATS CLING TO ROCKS ON THE RIDGE ABOVE THE ROAD TO HURRICANE RIDGE. (OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK)

Federal and state wildlife managers today announced that they want to remove billies, nannies and kids to reduce damage in the heights of the peninsula’s Olympic National Park.

A final environmental impact statement released this week will undergo a final 30-day comment period before the decision is final.

If no last objections are raised, efforts will begin this summer to move as many of the Olympics’ 725 goats as possible to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, supplementing scattered herds there.

A LARGE HERD OF MOUNTAIN GOATS GATHERED ON THE FLANKS OF MT. BAKER, IN WASHINGTON’S NORTH CASCADES, IN 2016. (FENNER YARBOROUGH, WDFW)

Special permit hunting opportunities in the region have been declining over time.

“Federal and state agencies are poised to begin the effort that will help grow a depleted population of mountain goats in the Cascades; and eliminate their impact on the Olympic Peninsula,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum in a press release.

The alpine wanderers were apparently brought to the Olympics in the 1920s for hunting before the mountains became a national park. It was a time when critters were moved around to replenish animal herds diminished by overhunting and settlement, or to provide new opportunities.

But with the peninsula’s goat population forecast to hit 1,000 in several years unless nothing is done, and with the fatal goring of a hiker in 2010, the time to act to halt impacts to mountain vegetation appears to be now.

After two years of capture and translocation operations, lethal removals would begin, though animals in unapproachable areas could be killed after the first year, according to the EIS.

Federal, state and “skilled public volunteers” would be tasked with taking out the last goats with nontoxic ammo.

To view the plan, go to https://parkplanning.nps.gov/OLYMgoat.

ODFW Removes Two More Wolves From Depredating Pack

Oregon wolf managers lethally removed two more members of a pack that’s now killed four calves and injured six others in five incidents in the state’s northeastern corner.

(ODFW)

The news comes as local producers continue calling for all members of the new Pine Creek Pack to be taken out. The depredations have impacted two different ranchers.

ODFW had previously authorized killing two wolves for early-April depredations, and one was killed almost immediately by agency personnel.

But following subsequent depredations that occurred around 5 miles away and were confirmed on Sunday and Monday, last night ODFW authorized killing two more.

Those two animals are described as an uncollared yearling female and an adult male that is also uncollared. They were shot on private land from a helicopter.

One more wolf can be killed at the site of the April 6-7 depredations, either by the state agency or a rancher who was issued a permit that’s good till early May.

“Producers in the new area have been implementing non-lethal activities including burying bone piles and removing carcasses,” ODFW reported. “Ranch staff have hazed the wolves away multiple times. Ranch staff have also been patrolling cattle from before daylight until darkness daily and keeping track of the wolves’ location with ODFW assistance.  Finally, ranch staff have delayed turning out cattle on large open range pastures and have moved cattle from pastures where  the most recent depredations occurred.”

The Pine Creek wolves currently number five, the breeding pair and three yearlings.

2 Removals, Nonlethal Deterrents Appear To Yield ‘Intended Effect’ On Smackout Wolves: WDFW

An after-action report from Washington wolf managers says that taking out two wolves this summer along with efforts to prevent their pack from tangling with grazing cattle appears to have worked.

WDFW says that if the Smackout Pack doesn’t cause any more depredations through Sept. 30, their evaluation period will end and the lethal removal protocol will, in essence, reset to two in a rolling 10-month period. Four would be the new trigger.

But if an attack does occur before the end of the month, they may go back in for another round.

WDFW’S 94-PAGE FINAL REPORT ON A STRING OF CALF ATTACKS OVER 10 MONTHS BY THE SMACKOUT PACK OF NORTHEAST WASHINGTON INCLUDES DEPREDATION INVESTIGATION RESULTS. (WDFW)

The agency’s 94-page final report was issued yesterday — 53 days since the second removal and 61 since the last depredation by the Stevens-Pend Oreille County pack — and will add another data point to the ongoing debate over whether killing wolves helps to quell attacks on cattle and other stock.

“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,” it states near the end.

At the start of this year’s grazing season, it was believed there were 13 to 15 members in the Smackout Pack, three of which had telemetry collars.

The pack has been the subject of heavy deterrence efforts over the years, but it was blamed for killing three calves and injuring two others belonging to three different producers in attacks in late September 2016 and July 2017.

Four of the five depredations were confirmed and one was probable.

WDFW’s report provides the usual graphic details from those investigations, as well as more about the two wolves that were removed after Director Jim Unsworth’s July 20 authorization.

The first was a 30-pound “young of the year” female that was captured and euthanized two days after a calf was injured on Forest Service land.

The second was a 70-pound adult female removed on July 30.

“Both removals occurred within the 14-day window from the time of depredation, thereby having the most impact on changing the behavior of the pack,” the report states, referring to a study coauthored by researchers in the Northern Rockies. “The removals occurred within a short distance (one mile) from the livestock in an effort to provide the greatest influence on pack behavior related to livestock interactions.”

However, subsequent to putting the pup down, WDFW made a decision to only kill adult wolves (the collared breeding female is off limits).

A third wolf was legally killed in late June by a range rider when it was caught in the act of “chasing and posing an imminent threat” to cattle in a fenced pasture, the first time that provision has been employed in the state.

The report notes nonlethal deterrence work was being performed in the neighborhood of the pack not only this year but in recent grazing seasons as well.

“For approximately four years prior to confirmed depredations in the Smackout wolf pack territory, WDFW had been working with producers on both public and private lands to deter potential wolf depredations. These efforts included increased human presence near livestock on large grazing allotments. Other deterrents measures utilized over the past several years included sharing Wolf GPS collar data including information on den and rendezvous locations with applicable producers, sanitation (removal of livestock carcasses), fladry, fox lights, WDFW field personnel working with USFS range personnel, and monitoring by WDFW personnel,” the report states.

In other Washington wolf news:

  • WDFW reports that all’s quiet on the Sherman Pack front following a series of depredations and one removal.
  • There may — or may not — be a new pack in Okanogan County. It’s unclear if two pups and an adult spotted on a trail camera southeast of Oroville are the nearby Beaver Creek Pack or an as-yet-to-be-determined group of wolves.
  • An ethics complaint has been filed by a public employees group against a state representative alleging the lawmaker used his position to withhold funding for a university over a researcher’s wolf work.
  • And an opinion piece out this week in High Country News and headlined “Rural communities can coexist with wolves. Here’s how” focuses on the collaborative approach to dealing with the recovery of wolves in Washington.

ODFW To Begin Incremental Removals Of Another Livestock-killing Pack, Meachams

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM ODFW

ODFW has confirmed four livestock depredations by the Meacham Wolf Pack of Umatilla County this month, all to the same livestock producer in the same privately-owned pasture. This is despite dedicated and substantial proactive non-lethal efforts to stop wolf-livestock conflict.

The producer has removed dead livestock carcasses from the property the same day they were discovered; monitored and removed animals that were weak or could be a target of wolves; employed a range rider five days per week to monitor the location of wolves in the pasture and maintain human presence; modified their normal husbandry practices by putting larger, more mature calves in the pasture; and delayed pasture turnout for 30 days so calves were larger and to give wolves more time to move out of the area.

Additionally, the producer has undertaken a speedy and expensive relocation of many of the cattle from the pasture where wolves are depredating. Normally, this private pasture would be used until October, but nearly 90 percent of cattle that typically use the area have been moved. Finally, for the past two years, the producer has chosen not to use their sheep grazing allotment on national forestland adjacent to the pasture to avoid potential wolf depredations.

ODFW received a lethal control request from the producer on Aug. 21, after the fourth confirmed depredation this month. (An additional two depredations occurred in August 2016 and September 2014.) The producer requested that the entire pack be killed but ODFW has decided to take an incremental approach instead and has authorized the killing of two wolves from the pack initially to limit further depredations.

While lethal removal will not target specific wolves in the pack, pups born this year will not be targeted. The Meacham pack is believed to have at least four pups this year, and has been a breeding pair (meaning at least two adults and two pups born in April survived through the end of the year) each year since 2014. At the end of 2016, the pack had seven members. There is no working radio-collar in the pack at this time, after one collar failed in November 2015 and another collared wolf dispersed from the pack in December 2015.  During August and September 2015, 50 percent of the radio-collar locations of the two collared wolves were on the same piece of private land where the depredations are now occurring.

“For years, this producer has proactively implemented non-lethal measures and tolerated the challenges of a wolf pack frequenting their property during the grazing season. Unfortunately, this year their increasing preventative efforts have not been successful in limiting wolf depredation,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Acting Wolf Coordinator. “We believe lethal control is warranted in this situation but this action will only be in place as long as cattle are still at risk. We will use incremental removal and lethal control activities will be stopped as soon as the cattle are removed from the pasture.”

When non-lethal deterrence measures are not sufficient, the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan allows for lethal control as a tool to address continuing depredation. At the request of a producer or permittee, ODFW can consider lethal control of wolves under these circumstances: if ODFW confirms at least two depredations of livestock; if the requester documents unsuccessful attempts to solve the situation thru non-lethal means; if no identified circumstance exists that attracts wolf-livestock conflict; and if the requester has complied with applicable laws and the conditions of any harassment or take permit.

ODFW may kill the two wolves but the department will also provide the producer with a limited duration Wolf Kill Permit. This permit allows the producer to kill the two adult or sub-adult wolves (not pups) on the private land where depredations have occurred and does not require the wolf to be “caught in the act” of biting, wounding, killing or chasing livestock. Among other terms of the permit, non-lethal measures must continue and there can be no attractants (such as bone piles) on the property that might attract wolves.

After the initial lethal take of two wolves, the situation will be monitored to determine if further depredations or testing/chasing of livestock occur and additional lethal control is needed.

ODFW is also currently engaged in a lethal control operation for the Harl Butte Wolf Pack in Wallowa County, also due to chronic livestock depredation. To date the agency has taken three wolves out of that pack.

ODFW has documented four new wolf pairs raising pups in northeast Oregon this summer, including one new pair pioneering an area south of I-84 in the Starkey and Ukiah WMUs. “Oregon’s wolf population continues to expand in both number and range,” said Curt Melcher, ODFW Director. “Unfortunately, we are also seeing an increase in livestock depredation from a few wolf packs, which is not surprising due to the increasing population.”

“While it’s disheartening for some people to see ODFW killing wolves, our agency is called to manage wildlife in a manner consistent with other land uses, and to protect the social and economic interests of all Oregonians while it conserves gray wolves,” Melcher added. “It’s important that we address and limit wolf-livestock problems while also ensuring a healthy wolf population. Lethal control is identified in the Oregon Wolf Plan as a needed tool we use when non-lethal measures alone are unsuccessful in resolving conflict.”

“I am authorizing only incremental take in an effort to take as few wolves as possible while still addressing wolf-livestock conflict,” Melcher added. “Following these actions, the situation will be reassessed to see if the goal of reducing depredations has been achieved.”

ODFW will update this news release and its wolf webpages when the initial lethal action is taken or when there are significant changes in the situation. Any further confirmed or probable depredations for this or other packs will be posted on the Wolf-Livestock webpage. Members of the public interested in these updates should subscribe by email to the Wolf Updates Page and/or the Wolf-Livestock page.

 

ODFW To Remove 2 Harl Butte Wolves To Head Off Chronic Depredations

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

ODFW wildlife managers intend to remove some of the adult wolves in northeast Oregon’s Harl Butte pack to limit further livestock losses as non-lethal measures and hazing have not been successful in limiting wolf depredations.

On July 28, ODFW received a lethal removal request from several affected livestock producers from a local grazing association after two depredations were confirmed in a five-day period. They asked that the entire Harl Butte pack be removed due to chronic livestock depredation. ODFW has decided to deny the request and will take an incremental approach instead, removing two members of the pack and then evaluating the situation. “In this chronic situation, lethal control measures are warranted,” said Roblyn Brown, ODFW Acting Wolf Coordinator. “We will use incremental removal to give the remaining wolves the opportunity to change their behavior or move out of the area.”

AN ODFW MAP SHOWS THE AREA OF NORTHEAST OREGON WHERE THE HARL BUTTE PACK RESIDES. (ODFW)

In the past 13 months, ODFW has confirmed seven depredations by the Harl Butte Pack in Wallowa County, which killed three and injured four calves. Six of the depredations have occurred in an area that supports dispersed livestock grazing in large forested pastures on private and public lands.  ODFW believes that depredations may continue or escalate despite non-lethal deterrent measures in place due to the history of depredation by this pack.

When non-lethal deterrence measures are not sufficient, the state’s Wolf Management and Conservation Plan allows for lethal control as a tool to address continuing depredation. At the request of a producer or permittee, ODFW can consider lethal control of wolves under these circumstances: if it confirms at least two depredations of livestock; if the requester documents unsuccessful attempts to solve the situation thru non-lethal means; if no identified circumstance exists that attracts wolf-livestock conflict; and if the requester has complied with applicable laws and the conditions of any harassment or take permit.

In this situation, the livestock producers have maintained a significant human presence in the area of the depredations. Human presence is recognized as one of the best non-lethal methods to limit wolf-livestock conflict in dispersed grazing situations because wolves tend to avoid people. The producers coordinate between themselves, their employees, a county-employed range rider and a volunteer to ensure daily human presence coverage of the area. They increase human activity in areas when they see wolf sign, learn (through telemetry of a radio-collared wolf) that wolf activity is in close proximity to livestock, or when livestock show behavior that could indicate wolf presence.

The increased human presence has given the livestock producers and the range rider multiple opportunities to haze wolves that were chasing or in close proximity to livestock.  On seven different occasions in June and July 2017, wolves have been hazed away from cattle by yelling, firing a pistol, shooting at, walking towards, and riding horseback towards the wolves.

Producers or their employees have also been spending nights near their cattle. Several producers are keeping their stock dogs inside horse trailers at night (as wolves are territorial and may attack dogs). Other producers are changing their typical grazing management practices including bunching cow/calf pairs in a herd (which enables cows to better protect themselves) or delaying pasture rotation to avoid putting cattle in an area where wolves have been.

While investigating reported livestock depredations, ODFW looks for attractants to wolves such as a bone pile or carcass that may contribute to the conflict. Livestock producers have also been watching for vulnerable livestock and carcasses in order to keep them from becoming wolf attractants and have been quick to remove them. Three injured or sick livestock were moved to home ranches for treatment and to protect them from predators. One dead domestic bull was removed from an area of concentrated cattle use (a pond). ODFW has not identified any circumstances or attractants that could promote wolf-livestock conflict in this area.

All these methods used by livestock producers have complied with Oregon’s applicable laws.

The Harl Butte Pack’s first depredation of livestock was confirmed in July of last year. ODFW received a request for lethal control in October 2016, after the fourth confirmed depredation. The department denied this request because most cattle were being removed from the large dispersed grazing pastures and out of the depredation area, so future depredation was unlikely.

The situation is different now because cattle will be grazing in the area on public lands until October and private lands into November, so ODFW expects the depredation will continue.

“Based on the level of non-lethal measures already being used and the fact that wolves are likely to be in the presence of cattle in this area for several more months, there is a substantial risk that depredation will continue or escalate,” said Brown.

ODFW intends to remove up to two adult uncollared wolves from the Harl Butte Pack by trapping or shooting from the ground or air. Once two wolves have been removed, the removal operation will stop. If two wolves have not been killed after two weeks, ODFW will assess whether removal efforts will continue another two weeks. If a new depredation occurs after the removal of two wolves, lethal control may resume.

About the Harl Butte Wolf Pack

The Harl Butte wolf pack may have formed and bred as early as 2015 though they were not documented until 2016. ODFW counted 10 wolves at the end of last year and observed seven wolves in the pack in March.  One wolf in the pack, OR50, was collared in February 2017 and is believed to be the breeding male of the pack.

The pack is expected to have bred this year, and their weaned pups would now be about four months old, though the exact number of pups is unknown.

1 Smackout Wolf Lethally Removed In Ops To Halt NE WA Depredations

State wildlife managers have removed one wolf from the Smackout Pack to head off a series of depredations in Northeast Washington.

They say that the lethal removal operation, which began a week ago, will continue for another week, and be followed by an evaluation period.

The goal is to take out one or two members of the calf-killing pack to change its behavior.

A SMACKOUT PASS WOLF CAUGHT ON A TRAIL CAM AT NIGHT. WDFW)

The news came out late this afternoon in a brief update to the public.

Details on the wolf, how it was taken out and other operational details are not being shared at the moment to try and keep the situation as calm as possible for state staffers, producers and others working it.

Full details will be available in a final report, says WDFW wolf manager Donny Martorello.

The Smackouts have been involved in five confirmed depredations since late September 2016, including two in the past month.

As a result of the depredation investigated July 18, the fourth in less than a year, incremental removals were authorized.

One Smackout wolf was also shot in late June by a ranch hand after it was caught attacking cattle in northern Stevens County.

The pack has been the subject of intense efforts to keep the peace between it and grazing cattle.

The depredations have mostly occurred on Colville National Forest lands, with the latest, investigated on July 22nd, happening in a private fenced 40-acre pasture.