Tag Archives: opt pack

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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Wolf Depredation Reported On Asotin Co. Wildlife Area

Washington wildlife managers are confirming another wolf depredation this week, this one in the southeastern Blue Mountains.

They say the Grouse Flats Pack of southern Asotin County killed a 400-plus-pound calf in a fenced 160-acre pasture of the 4-O Ranch Unit of the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area.

THE DEPREDATION OCCURRED ON THE 10,000-PLUS-ACRE 4-0 UNIT OF THE CHIEF JOSEPH WILDLIFE AREA ALONG AND ABOVE THE GRANDE RONDE.  (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Its carcass was found Monday by state staffers working on the site. An investigation found classic hallmarks of a wolf kill, and telemetry from a radio-collared member of the pack put it in the area when it’s believed the calf was taken down.

“The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock monitors the herd by range riding at least every other day, maintains regular human presence in the area, removes or secures livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and avoids known wolf high activity areas,” WDFW reported. “Since the depredation occurred, the producer deployed Fox lights in the grazing area and will increase the frequency of range riding until cattle can be moved to a different pasture.”

The Grouse Flats Pack struck three times in 2018, injuring one calf in August, killing another in early September and injuring a cow in late October.

The three head all belonged to different ranchers grazing cattle on private lands and federal grazing allotments.

Meanwhile, far to the north in Ferry County, WDFW had no update to its announced incremental removal of wolves from the Old Profanity Territory Pack, according to spokeswoman Sam Mongomery.

Director Kelly Susewind greenlighted that operation on July 10.

Outside environmental groups reportedly did not want to challenge it in court during an eight-hour window.

The OPT Pack is blamed for 20 depredations, including 15 in a rolling 10-month window. Under WDFW’s protocols, lethal removals are considered for three depredations in a 30-day window or four in 10 months.

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Susewind OKs Targeting OPT Pack Wolves For Chronic Livestock Attacks

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind this morning authorized incremental lethal removals of a Northeast Washington wolf pack involved in at least 20 cattle depredations since last September, the latest a cow that was killed sometime before this past Saturday.

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

“This is a very difficult situation for all those involved, especially given the history of wolf-livestock conflict in this area,” Susewind said in an agency statement. “Our goal is to change this pack’s behavior.”

His OK is subject to an eight-hour window for any possible court appeal.

State sharpshooters took out two members of the OPT or Old Profanity Territory Pack last fall following a series of attacks on calves.

The effort was paused twice, and there were three attacks in January on private land attributed to the pack, though those “were not considered in the Director’s decision.”

All totaled, WDFW says that the wolves in the northern Ferry County group have killed at least seven calves and cows and injured 13 since Sept. 5, with 15 of the attacks occurring in the rolling 10-month window where lethal action can be considered.

Yesterday afternoon, the agency began laying out its case for possibly making this decision, detailing nonlethal preventative measures taken by the producer including turning out calves later and older, wolf-livestock conflict avoidance work being done where the cattle are grazing on a Colville National Forest allotment, and outlining the pack’s chronic history of depredations.

Those were reiterated and expanded in this morning’s announcement.

“As called for in the plan and protocol, incremental removal includes periods of active removals or attempts to remove wolves followed by periods of evaluation to determine if pack behavior has changed,” WDFW states.

This mostly public-lands, mountainous and forested/burned forest region interspersed with some meadows and grazing allotments has seen numerous depredations in the past, including last year by the Togo Pack, in 2017 by the Sherman Pack, in 2016 by the Profanity Peak Pack and in 2012 by the Wedge Pack.

It’s believed there are nine members in the OPT Pack, five adults and four pups.

We’ll have more as news comes in.

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OPT Wolves Involved In 20th Livestock Depredation, WDFW Says

Washington wolf managers are reporting a fresh cattle depredation in a troublesome part of the state.

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF A NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY WOLF PACK SEVERAL YEARS AGO. (WDFW)

WDFW says that the OPT wolves are responsible for the death of a cow discovered this past Saturday in northern Ferry County, bringing the number of livestock killed or injured by the pack since early September 2018 to 20.

“Director (Kelly) Susewind is now assessing this situation and considering next steps,” the agency stated in an update to its wolf pages.

The livestock producer wasn’t identified, but WDFW said it is the same one who was hit by a string of depredations last summer and fall, meaning the Diamond M Ranch.

They turned out cattle onto Forest Service allotments two weeks later than allowed under their permit, according to the agency, which added that for the past three weeks, there have been “near-daily patrols” of the herds by its staffers, ranchhands, and Jeff Flood, the Ferry-Stevens County wildlife specialist.

WDFW’s report includes more details about proactive, nonlethal measures being taken, along with details on how the cattle have been using the area.

On June 23, fox lights were also deployed to try and keep wolves away from the livestock.

Following last September’s attacks by the OPTs, which occupy the old territory of the Profanity Pack, Susewind authorized  incrementally removing members, taking out two of the four known wolves, paused the operation, restarted it again after late October depredations, then it paused again in November.

In January three more depredations occurred, though those don’t count towards considering lethal removal.

A monthly wolf report WDFW sent out yesterday shows that 13 and now 14 depredations with this latest have occurred within the 10-month rolling window for consideration through Saturday, July 6.

Thirteen of the 20 attacks resulted in injured calves or cows, the other seven deaths.

Diamond M operators suffered depredations from the Profanity Peak Pack in 2016 and Wedge Pack in 2012.

There are at least four and possibly five adults in the OPT Pack, along with four juveniles, the agency reports.

Things are otherwise generally quiet with Washington’s wolves, at least according to WDFW’s June report.

It states that six wolves, including two females in the Beaver Creek Pack, an adult female in the Dirty Shirt Pack, a yearling female in the Huckleberry Pack, an adult male in the Lookout Pack, and an adult male in the OPT Pack were all captured and collared last month.

The agency also stated that a collared Teanaway female that dispersed out of Central Washington was legally killed near Douglas Lake in British Columbia, and that members of its pack were also involved in “an interaction” with cattle.

Away from the woods, get ready for more wolf talk later this summer and fall.

“WDFW will begin a public engagement process in August that will propose the development of a post-recovery wolf conservation and management plan,” state managers posted in their monthly update. “The evaluation of wolf translocation will be incorporated into this process. Wolves are currently listed as a state endangered species in Washington. The post-recovery planning process is being initiated proactively because WDFW anticipates it will likely take two to three years to complete. The post-recovery plan will guide WDFW in long-term wolf conservation and management, and will evaluate various wolf management tools, including translocation. WDFW will announce the public scoping for the post-recovery plan and associated public meetings in August.”

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