Tag Archives: togo pack

WDFW Prepares To Take Out 1-2 O.P.T. Pack Wolves; Togo Wolf To Be Trapped

As three dozen people wave signs outside WDFW headquarters, a state wolf manager inside the building said that with a judge this morning again rejecting advocates’ request for a temporary restraining order, agency marksmen will carry out an order targeting a pack that’s attacked six calves this month.

A PAIR OF WOLVES USE A LOGGING ROAD IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (CONSERVATION NORTHWEST)

Donny Martorello says that local staffers in Northeast Washington have air, ground and trapping options at their disposal as they attempt to lethally remove one or two members of the Old Profanity Territory Pack.

It runs in rugged mountain country of northern Ferry County, where WDFW has previously had to kill eight wolves to try and head off livestock depredations in 2016 and 2017.

The OPT wolves — three to four adults and two juveniles — are confirmed to have injured five calves and killed another between Sept. 4 and 11.

Parts of the carcasses of three more calves were found in the immediate area, but their cause of death couldn’t be determined

WDFW reports the producer — identifed as the Diamond M Ranch in a news story — has been moving the cattle herd to the west but that 20 head remained in the area.

Producer Len McIrvin told the Capital Press that he had already lost an estimated 30 to 40 animals.

The state believes that without lethal action the losses will continue and hopes to change the pack’s behavior by incrementally removing members.

Not far to the north, the options are tougher with the Togo Pack, which has now attacked cattle seven times since last November, with the most recent incident coming after a sharpshooter killed the adult male.

Rather than kill the adult female and worry that the two pups might starve, WDFW is going to try a “spank and release” strategy, capturing one of the pups, outfitting it with a collar, and letting it go.

Martorello says that sort of negative stimulation might help prevent further conflict, but also that telemetry data will be given to the local producer and a RAG box set up in their pasture to try and help prevent more attacks.

Back in Olympia, for a second time in two weeks Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy denied a Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands request for a temporary restraining order, again because they hadn’t met the criteria for injunctive relief through the state’s Administrative Procedures Act, according to WDFW.

The agency also said that the groups had actually asked for the TRO after the eight-hour challenge window following the kill order announcement had passed, so perhaps it was all just for theatrical purposes, what with today’s prowolf rally and “die-in.”

Indeed, as Northwest Sportsman spoke to Martorello, he moved to a window in the Natural Resources Building and said he could see 30 to 40 protesters outside holding signs.

Meanwhile, other wolf advocates are choosing to focus their work in the hills.

Martorello added that Judge Murphy expedited a hearing on the merits of the CBD et al’s lawsuit against WDFW over the Togo and now OPT kill orders and is encouraging all parties to schedule it before the end of the year.

Judge Denies Out-of-state Groups’ Initial Bid To Derail WA Wolf Protocols

Editor’s note: This is a developing story and will be updated as additional material arrives.

A Thurston County judge this morning turned down out-of-state environmental groups’ bid to stop the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife from lethally removing the breeding male of a depredating wolf pack in northern Ferry County.

“As a result, a temporary restraining order issued by the court on Aug. 20, which has prohibited WDFW’s lethal removal action, will expire at 5 p.m. today,” spokesman Bruce Botka said.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS WHERE THE TOGO PACK IS BELIEVED TO BE CENTERED IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (WDFW)

In video tweeted out of the courtroom by KING 5 reporter Alison Morrow, Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy denies the organizations’ request for injunctive relief because it didn’t meet a legal benchmark to allow it to move forward.

“That applies both to the extension of the temporary order, or a preliminary injunction, or I use the word ‘stay,’ essentially staying the action until the resolution of this matter,” said Judge Murphy. “It also applies to the request to halt any future orders under the 2017 plan.”

That plan is the state’s lethal removal protocols, a hard-won compromise between ranchers, hunters and instate wolf advocates and WDFW that Arizona’s Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon’s Cascadia Wildlands are trying to derail through the court.

Two Monday mornings ago, when WDFW announced it would target the Togo Pack for six depredations since last November, including three in a 30-day space this summer, the two organizations filed a lawsuit and another Thurston County judge issued an order that temporarily blocked any lethal removals and set a hearing date for today.

The groups claimed the protocol was “faulty” and should have undergone a state environmental review.

Judge Murphy acknowledged how controversial the issue is but said that WDFW was following its 2011 wolf management plan and the protocol.

“It is clear to me from the record that there was some process that was followed,” she said in the Morrow video.

KUOW reporter Tom Banse tweeted, “Agency director (Kelly Susewind) watched from back of courtroom, said he is ‘glad’ WDFW’s authority to manage wolves to facilitate ‘social acceptance’ upheld.”

There were real concerns about what might happen in Eastern Washington if the TRO had been extended by the court.

Susewind, at his post less than a month, made a second trip to the state’s northeast corner last weekend to listen and talk with Rep. Joel Kretz and livestock producers about the situation.

“It would have absolutely exploded here” if Judge Murphy had ruled the other way, said Kretz this afternoon.

With a horse ranch on Bodie Mountain, on the Okanogan-Ferry County line, Kretz has been in the middle of the issue literally and metaphorically for seven years and. He said he’s been trying to keep people in his district from “going over the edge” and that the ruling was “a relief.”

From his vantage point he’s seen the “tremendous amount of work” that has gone into development of 2011’s wolf plan, the protocols and more, all of which he said were upended for 10 days as the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands essentially ran wolf policy in the state.

Speaking to the collaborative approach being taken with Washington’s wolf issues, where everybody is getting some but not all of what they want, as well as local forestry management that was challenged by another out-of-state group, Kretz said he hoped that the era of running to court to block things was coming to an end.

But in the aftermath of today’s court skirmish, defiant CBD spokeswoman Amaraq Weiss told the Capital Press, “We’re not done.”

She told KING 5 that there would be a future court date over WDFW’s alleged violation of two state acts in creating the lethal removal policy.

Following last week’s lawsuit, instate wolf advocates, hunters and the editorial board of the ag-oriented Press all issued statements of support of the protocol.

After Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese issued the TRO last week, the Togo’s breeding male was apparently hit by the bullet of a livestock producer checking on his cattle and who felt threatened as it approached and barked at him. The wolf survived but with a broken leg.

In a statement posted after the judge’s ruling, WDFW says that the kill order will be implemented after 5 today because wolf managers believe:

  • There is no evidence to indicate the pack’s behavior – the killing of livestock – will change.

  • While the male wolf is injured, the adult female may have trouble feeding both the adult male and her two pups unless she continues to prey on livestock.

  • It is more difficult for wolves to successfully capture wild game animals, such as deer and elk, than cows and calves.

Key Court Hearing On Washington Wolf Management Friday Morning

All eyes in Washington’s wolf world will be focused Friday morning on a Thurston County courtroom where a judge will determine whether to extend a temporary restraining order against a WDFW kill order.

(WIKIMEDIA)

It’s a decision with implications as out-of-state environmental groups try to insert themselves into the management of an already hot-button species and the hard-won lethal removal protocols reached by the Wolf Advisory Group’s ranchers, hunters, wolf advocates and WDFW over how to deal with the inevitable depredations.

“Lots of people in my world are very concerned that it may become a permanent restraining order,” Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Jay Holzmiller of Anatone said during a teleconference Monday. “If it becomes permanent, it’s going to be Katy bar the door because people are frustrated.”

The TRO applies only to the Togo Pack of northern Ferry County, and last weekend, new Director Kelly Susewind made another trip to Northeast Washington to meet with local state Rep. Joel Kretz and livestock producers and hear their concerns.

During the conference call, he said he’d vowed WDFW would present its best legal case Friday but also that vigilantism would be counterproductive if the order is extended by Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese.

“People are really on edge. If it goes that way, they’re going to abandon the collaborative approach, I think, and what that means I’ll leave to them,” Susewind said.

A WDFW spokesman declined today to give a comment for this blog.

The agency hasn’t reported any depredations since Susewind’s Aug. 20 kill order for one or more members of the pack and that may be in part due to extra effort in the field.

In continuing to draw a very sharp contrast between the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity’s and Oregon-based Cascadia Wildlands’ court tactics and its own collaborative approach, Conservation Northwest this afternoon reported its staffers and contracted range riders have been working hard to prevent further depredations by the Togos.

“We and others stepped up to help the rancher protect cattle day and night given the Temporary Restraining Order [on lethal removal]. We have reduced possible wolf depredations by using night herd monitoring and also through the use of day time range riders that are protecting cow/calf pairs currently in the midst of the Togo Pack territory in the north Kettle Mountains. The well-trained range rider group uses years of experience and low-stress livestock handling methods to potentially aggregate cattle and document and monitor wolf activity,” the Seattle-based organization said in a statement this afternoon.

On Aug. 23, the breeding male also was apparently hit by the bullet of a livestock producer checking on his cattle and who felt threatened as it approached and barked at him.

According to WDFW, the pack has been involved in six attacks on two producers’ cattle since last November, including three in a 30-day period this summer, a triggering level for consideration of lethal removals.

After some hesitation to better gauge the pack, that was approved but immediately stymied by the lawsuit which contends the lethal removal protocols are “faulty” and should have been subject to a state environmental analysis.

Wolves in this part of Washington are managed by WDFW and by all accounts appear to be doing pretty well, despite the agency’s rare removals after chronic depredations to prevent further conflicts.

The editorial board of the Capital Press, which reports on ranching and farming issues, lent its voice to the issue today, scolding WDFW for agreeing to give an eight-hour window to challenge kill orders, but also taking direct aim at CBD and Cascadia Wildlands.

“The two environmental groups claim their interests would be damaged if one Togo wolf was killed. But it’s nothing compared to the damage those two groups and their lawsuit have done to the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s years of efforts to reach a consensus on managing wolves.”

Hunters on the WAG have also said they support WDFW’s position and others’ stance against the outside groups.

The hearing begins at 9 a.m.

If anything’s become clear in all this, it’s that the court action to delay and tie managers’ hands that had been seen in other states has arrived in Washington, and now Fish and Wildlife Commissioners are thinking longterm towards delisting planning, the battles there and getting their ducks in a row to limit hold-ups in the process.

“We’ve got a recovered wolf population in Eastern Washington. Our hands are tied because we’re still doing recovery management and we have to go through a bunch of legal steps on paper to get to where we really are in Eastern Washington. I’m really concerned about any delays,” said Kim Thorburn of Spokane.

Togo Pack Update: Injured Male Wolf Found Following Reported Self-Defense Shooting

THE FOLLOWING IS A STATEMENT FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

On Aug. 27, four days after a Ferry County livestock producer reported shooting at a collared adult wolf in self-defense, a WDFW wolf biologist and a county wildlife specialist located the animal – injured but mobile – in the Togo pack territory in northeast Washington. Radio signals and recent GPS locations from the collared wolf led biologists to the vicinity where they saw and identified the wounded animal as the adult black male from the Togo pack.

TOGO WOLF. (WDFW)

The wolf biologist got within approximately 20 yards of the injured wolf and saw that its left rear leg appeared to be broken below the knee. Within seconds, the wolf ran into a wooded area. A remote camera in the area showed that the adult female from the Togo pack had been nearby the night before.

Based on their experience with other animals, WDFW wolf managers believe the injured wolf has a good chance of surviving, and the department will continue to monitor its movements. If the wolf does not remain active, the department will consider whether it should be euthanized.

The department is also continuing its investigation into the shooting incident. Additional information appears in four earlier wolf updates on the Togo pack, all of which appear below.

CBD Wolf Lawsuit ‘A Giant Step Backward For Social Tolerance’ — Hunter

Hunter representatives on Washington’s Wolf Advisory Group are lending their voices to the growing backlash against out-of-state environmentalists’ legal actions temporarily blocking lethal removal of Togo Pack wolves.

“The Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit is a giant step backward for social tolerance and management of wolves on the landscape,” said longtime WAG member Dave Duncan. “Sadly it is all about cash flow.”

TOGO WOLF. (WDFW)

Duncan, of Ellensburg, belongs to Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation, an umbrella organization of sportsmen’s clubs and others around the state.

Last Monday, after WDFW announced it was going to take out one or more members of the northern Ferry County pack for depredations stretching back to last November, including three in a recent 30-day period, CBD of Arizona and Cascadia Wildlands of Oregon got a Thurston County judge to issue a temporary restraining order, blocking implementation of the kill order.

It took several days but anger began to bubble to the surface from other members of the WAG.

On Thursday, Conservation Northwest said it saw “little upside” in going to court because “lawsuits and polarization haven’t worked out well for wolves elsewhere,” and the organization instead called for continued collaboration.

Essentially, the lawsuit is over the hard-won lethal removal protocol that WDFW and the WAG came up with.

“It was really difficult to get through,” Rep. Joel Kretz, a Republican who represents almost all of Northeast Washington, told the Capital Press. “It’s all out the window now.”

County officials and ranchers in this part of the state held a meeting on Friday about what to do.

“When the judge put the restraining order on the department he didn’t put the restraining order on the wolves,” Stevens County commissioner Don Dashiell told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

WDFW hasn’t reported any more depredations, but last Friday the agency investigated after a livestock producer checking on cattle when collar data showed a wolf near them fired a shot at one in self-defense.

In the meanwhile, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese has scheduled a preliminary injunction hearing for this Friday. That could determine how long the restraining order is in place for.

“I concur with Conservation Northwest, Northeast Washington lawmakers, area county officials, and others speaking against it,” said Mark Pidgeon of Hunters Heritage Council, a political action organization dedicated to hunting, and who is also a longtime WAG member. “I think Representative Kretz’s comments sums it up the situation pretty well: ‘I think it’s a tragedy.'”

I’m going to butt my way into this story to say that when CBD and Cascadia Wildlands inevitably went to court last Monday I actually felt my tolerance level for this whole thing slip a few notches.

Like I told someone, I get that it’s process and I’m not going to suddenly starting spouting SSS, but in these wildly overly politicized times, it boggles my mind why in the hell the two groups would mess with things here.

Jet fuel, anyone? How’d that work out the last time?

WDFW Investigating Reported Self-defense Shooting In Togo Pack Area

THE FOLLOWING IS A WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE STATEMENT

WDFW is investigating a report from a Ferry County livestock producer who said he shot at an adult wolf in self-defense on Aug. 23, 2018. The incident occurred within the Togo pack territory in northeast Washington.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS WHERE THE TOGO PACK IS BELIEVED TO BE CENTERED IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (WDFW)

WDFW staff traveled to the scene early this morning (Friday, Aug. 24) and spent more than two hours investigating, but did not find evidence that the wolf had been shot. The producer told WDFW staff he shot at a black, collared wolf, which matches the description of one of the members of the Togo pack.

WDFW staff said they received data this morning indicating that the wolf was alive. The wolf’s collar is equipped with a mortality indicator that sends an email to WDFW wildlife managers when a mortality is detected.

The producer told WDFW staff he was responding to collar data indicating the wolf’s presence near his livestock. When he searched the area, he said he saw pups and heard barking and growling, and said he shot at the adult male as it barked and approached him. Afterward, he reported the incident to the Ferry County Sheriff’s Office, which notified WDFW staff.

Vocalizations by wolves are not uncommon when people approach wolf pups, and adult wolves often attempt to escort perceived intruders away from areas where pups are present. While these behaviors are not necessarily predatory in nature, they can feel threatening.

The investigation is ongoing, and more information will be provided as it is confirmed.

Instate Wolf Advocates Blast Out-of-staters’ Court Moves Against WDFW

An instate organization deeply involved in Washington wolf issues over the past decade is blasting two out-of-state environmental groups whose legal moves have initially blocked WDFW from targeting a pack to head off further livestock depredations.

Yes, you read that correctly.

A MEMBER OF CENTRAL WASHINGTON’S TEANAWAY PACK, WHICH ROAMS THE PART OF THE STATE WHERE WOLVES ARE STILL FEDERALLY LISTED, STANDS IN A FOREST. (BEN MALETZKE, WDFW)

“Lawsuits and polarization haven’t worked out well for wolves elsewhere, so we see little upside in spreading those tactics to Washington, where wolf recovery is going relatively well overall” said Mitch Friedman, executive director of Conservation Northwest, in a statement this morning. “Instead of polarization, our focus is on collaboration and long-term coexistence.”

CNW is a member of WDFW’s Wolf Advisory Group which helped craft a set of lethal removal protocols that the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands are now contesting in court.

On Monday, they got Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese to issue a temporary restraining order against Director Kelly Susewind’s kill authorization for one or more members of northern Ferry County’s Togo Pack, implicated in six attacks on cows and calves on private and public land since last November, including three in a recent 30-day period.

The two groups, based in Arizona and Oregon and neither of which are on the WAG, claim that the protocol is “faulty” and should have been subject to an environmental review.

While CBD stresses that Washington’s wolf population is still “small” and uses its own faulty math to make it appear that a higher percentage of wolves have been lethally removed than in any single year, CNW says recovery is actually going better in the Evergreen State compared to the Northern Rockies.

CNW calls the lethal removal protocol a “deliberate approach” and one that the state’s packs “can easily withstand the current level of impact.”

And it says that working with others rather than going to court is the key.

“We think the collaborative work of the WAG is leading to less social conflict concerning wolves and more willingness of ranchers to embrace proactive techniques to lower both wolf-livestock conflict and the use of lethal removal. This is real progress towards the long-term recovery and public acceptance of wolves alongside thriving local communities in our state, and an important model for coexistence between people and wildlife,” the organization said.

A WDFW DOCUMENT DETAILING DEPREDATIONS OF THE TOGO PACK HIGHLIGHTS BITE MARKS AND OTHER EVIDENCE ON THE CARCASS OF A COW THAT WAS CONFIRMED TO HAVE BEEN ATTACKED BY WOLVES. (WDFW)

This is not the first rodeo for the local and out-of-state advocates.

Last fall, Conservation Northwest said it was “disappointed” with the Center’s filing of a lawsuit to get ahold of public records related to previous removals and a ranchhand’s caught-in-the-act shooting of a wolf that June.

“While this group spends money on lawyers and undermines Washington’s collaborative wolf policy process, Conservation Northwest funds range riders and on-the-ground field staff working to protect both wolves and livestock,” a CNW spokesman said at the time.

Editor’s notes: For reactions from state lawmakers about the lawsuit, see Rep. Joel Kretz‘s and Rep. JT Wilcox’s comments.

Judge Temporarily Blocks WDFW From Lethally Removing Member(s) Of Togo Pack

A Westside judge has issued a temporary restraining order that bars WDFW from beginning the lethal removal of one or more wolves from a pack that’s been depredating Ferry County cattle since last November.

TOGO WOLF. (WDFW)

The state agency had announced early this morning that it would start operations after 5 p.m. today, but two out-of-state animal rights groups went to Thurston County Superior Court to block it and Judge Chris Lanese granted it based on the suit meeting procedural criteria.

A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for late next week.

The Togo Pack has struck six times in the past 10 months, including three times in the last 30 days. In five of those cases, livestock producers had been using measures to prevent wolf-cattle conflicts, according to WDFW.

But the 71-page petition filed by Center for Biological Diversity of Arizona and Cascadia Wildlands calls WDFW’s plan “arbitrary and capricious” and alleges various environmental procedural errors.

The groups had sued last year over the Sherman Pack but earlier this year that lawsuit was dismissed as moot because the pack no longer existed.

However, WDFW agreed to give a notice of one business day notice before future lethal removals.

A 7:30 a.m. press release from the state this morning set the clock ticking.

The judge’s order is specific to Director Kelly Susewind’s kill authorization but does not impact local ranchers’ ability to shoot up to one wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock.

The Aug. 31 hearing will determine whether the temporary restraining order should be replaced with a longer one or not, according to WDFW.

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.

Togo Pack Attacks More Cattle, WDFW Reports

THE FOLLOWING IS A WDFW STATEMENT

On August 8, 2018, WDFW was contacted by the 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.  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.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS WHERE THE TOGO PACK IS BELIEVED TO BE CENTERED IN NORTHERN FERRY COUNTY. (WDFW)

Due to the remote location and rugged terrain, the cow carcass was left on site.  Meanwhile, the livestock producer and his range rider pushed the cattle to a different area of the allotment.  The cow had been turned out as part of a cow-calf pair, but the producer and range rider were not immediately able to locate the calf.  They are continuing to search.

Throughout the grazing season the producer has used a variety of deterrent measures to protect the livestock. He delayed turnout until late June so the calves would be larger and used Fox lights on his private pasture to deter wolves. Following turnout, he has removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment and deployed one or more range riders each day to help the producer check the cattle. They have moved the cattle when necessary.

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 the same producer. The producer 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. The cow and injured calf were kept at the holding pen for monitoring.

The latest incidents bring the total number of confirmed depredations by the Togo pack to five in less than 10 months, including two in November 2017 and one in May 2018. Those incidents were reported in earlier WDFW wolf updates. In four of the five incidents, producers had used at least two pro-active preventive strategies to deter wolf predation as called for in the WDFW wolf-livestock interaction protocol.

The Department first suspected the presence of the Togo pack in 2016, and the depredations in November 2017 provided further evidence of a pack in the area.  The pack was confirmed during the department’s 2017-18 winter surveys and was named in March 2018.  The pack’s discovery is discussed in the department’s August 2, 2018, update, available online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/updates.php.

Based on the winter survey results and recent trapping activities, the department has documented at least two adult wolves in the pack. The pair produced an unknown number of pups this spring.  The Department captured an adult male on June 2, 2018, and fitted it with a GPS collar which provide location data that has been shared with livestock producers and county officials. WDFW has also received reports of a third adult wolf with the pack, but has not confirmed its presence.

Due to uncertainty about the number of adults in the pack, and the importance of receiving ongoing location data from the collared adult male, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind directed the staff to work through the weekend to attempt to confirm the number of adults and learn as much as possible about the pack’s activities before he considers further action.

WDFW will provide another update early next week.