Tag Archives: wolves

WDFW Releases More Info On Removal Of OPT Pack, Court Case Impact

THE FOLLOWING IS A WDFW PRESS RELEASE

On the morning of Aug. 16, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lethally removed the four known remaining members of the OPT wolf pack. A series of WDFW investigations had shown the pack responsible for 29 depredation incidents.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind reauthorized the lethal removals on July 31 (wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/updates/wdfw-director-reauthorizes-lethal-opt-7-31-2019), in response to continuing depredations of cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River range of Ferry County.

The removal decision was made with guidance from the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan (wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00001)

and the lethal removal provisions of the department’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol (wdfw.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-02/final_protocol_for_wolf-livestock_interactions_jun012017.pdf).

The OPT pack has been involved in 14 livestock depredations in the last 10 months, with nine in the last 30 days, and a total of 29 since Sept. 5, 2018. The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock took several proactive, nonlethal, conflict deterrence measures to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock, and WDFW will continue to monitor for wolf activity in the area and work closely with producers.

This was the fourth time Director Susewind has authorized lethal removal in the OPT pack since Sept. 12, 2018 (wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/updates/wdfw-director-authorizes-lethal-action).

Plaintiffs, supported by the Maryland-based Center for a Humane Economy, filed a petition for review of Director Susewind’s July 31 reauthorization, and sought a temporary restraining order in King County Superior Court on Aug. 1. The motion for a restraining order was denied by a court commissioner at the time, allowing the removal effort to continue. The hearing on a motion for preliminary injunction was scheduled for Aug.16, when the court was expecting to, and did, hear an update on the department’s removal activities.

According to Donny Martorello, wolf policy lead for WDFW, the department had been working steadily to meet its stated intentions since the courts gave it the clearance to move forward on Aug. 1. To date the department has removed:

· On Aug. 7, one wolf

· On Aug. 8, one wolf

· On Aug.13, one wolf

· On Aug.16, four wolves

WDFW believes it has removed all members of the OPT pack, although another wolf was sighted in the area late this spring. That wolf may have dispersed from a different pack.

“I know this is an extremely difficult time for many of our communities around the state and having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is something we take very seriously,” said Director Susewind. “Hopefully we can pull from a diversity of perspectives, ideas, and approaches to find better solutions for coexistence.

Counsel for WDFW appeared in court today for the preliminary injunction hearing. The court was informed of the lethal removals that have occurred since the Aug. 1 hearing. At the end of the hearing, King County Superior Court Judge John McHale ruled from the bench and issued a preliminary injunction that would prohibit WDFW from lethally removing any remaining wolves from the OPT pack until the court has a chance to hear the merits of the case.

In April 2019, the department reported 27 wolf packs in Washington. A summary of Washington wolf recovery and activity can be found at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf.

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WDFW Takes Out 4 More OPT Wolves, But Must Stop Removals After Judge’s Decision

Updated 4:30 p.m., Aug. 16, 2019 with news at bottom on the depredations of a nearby pack.

Hardcore wolf advocates won something of a pyrrhic victory in a King County court this morning.

A TRAIL CAM SHOT CAPTURED A MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL PROFANITY PEAK PACK. (WDFW)

A judge granted a temporary restraining order that bars WDFW from taking out any more Old Profanity Territory wolves, but with four killed this morning, there’s only one left out of the chronically depredating northern Ferry County pack.

That means lethal removal operations are now on pause.

The news was first mentioned on Western Wildlife Conservation’s Facebook page.

“We won but we lost!!” the group posted.

Earlier this month “two Washington residents” represented by Seattle attorney Johnathon Bashford and “with the support” of Wayne Pacelle’s Center for a Humane Economy filed a petition in King County Superior Court to halt the removals.

That was initially decided in WDFW’s favor with the parties ordered to return today to court for a status report update.

That appears to have been decided in advocates’ favor.

“We’ll have to go back to court for a trial that we don’t have a date for,” said spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane.

She said that two of the four wolves taken out in this morning’s remarkably efficient operations were also collared animals, while two were not.

In an update earlier this week, WDFW said that it had removed an adult and two juveniles since Aug. 6, and before that it had taken out the breeding male in an attempt to change the pack’s behavior.

There were at least nine members when the pack began again attacking livestock grazing on federal allotments on the Colville National Forest near Republic.

The OPTs are now blamed for 29 cow and calf attacks since last September, nine in the past 30 days.

“Having to carry out lethal removals of wolves is a difficult situation and something the Department takes very seriously. WDFW makes every effort to make a responsible decision after considering the available evidence,” the state agency said in a statement. “We appreciate the time the court put into reviewing this material and will work with the court throughout the process ahead.”

Western Wildlife Conservation is stating that with the judge’s order that WDFW can’t remove wolves from other packs such as the Togos, which are under the gun for a series of depredations, but Lehman says that that is not her understanding that the judge’s order pertained strictly to the OPTs.

The area has been the scene of past livestock attacks, most notably in 2016.

Groups outside the mainstream have been trying to impact how wolves are managed in Washington.

Last year it was the Center for Biological Diversity of Arizona and Cascadia Wildlands of Oregon with the Togo Pack.

Now it’s Pacelle’s new Maryland-based organization, which put out word yesterday on today’s court hearing.

Earlier this summer they also spread news that a full-page ad had been taken out in The Seattle Times as well as reintroduced Rob Wielgus into the fray, he of the 2016’s incendiary comments about the Diamond M and where they allegedly turned their cows out — and which led to a sharp rebuke from the university where he worked at the time.

CHE did not immediately respond to a request to identify the Washington residents involved in the suit. Instead, they focused on blaming the Diamond M for “baiting wolves.”

Meanwhile, more pragmatic wolf fans are highlighting how they are working with ranchers to reduce livestock conflicts.

And late this afternoon, WDFW reported that the nearby Togo Pack was responsible for injuring two calves and killing another.

They were reported last Sunday, Aug. 11, and investigations determined that the dead calf had been killed just hours before, while the wounds to the others likely occurred three to seven days prior to their discovery.

WDFW says their owner “removes or secures livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, calves away from areas occupied by wolves, avoids known wolf high activity areas, and monitors the herd with a range rider. A WDFW-contracted range rider has been working with this producer since May.”

It raises the Togo’s depredation tally to six in the past 30 days and 14 in the past 10 months. Thresholds for considering lethal action is three in 30 and four in 10.

On. Aug. 9 WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized the removal of the entire pack, but according to the update, none have been but the removal period is ongoing.

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3 More Wolves Removed From OPT Pack; Operation ‘Ongoing’

WDFW reported yesterday afternoon that it had removed three more Old Profanity Territory wolves, making four for the summer and six overall as the agency deals with a pack blamed for 29 livestock depredations since last September.

The latest animals are described as an adult and two juveniles, and WDFW describes the lethal operation as “ongoing” in a weekly updated posted to its website.

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

The problems are occurring on Colville National Forest grazing allotments in the Kettle Range of northern Ferry County, scene of past years’ wolf-livestock conflicts as well.

Another nearby pack is also the subject of a Director Kelly Susewind removal order after three depredations in a month and four in ten.

“We did not receive any court challenges on the Togo Pack, so we can move forward,” WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane reported this morning.

Monday was the agency’s designated eight-hour window for opponents to file a restraining order, though they can also do so at any time.

Diehard wolf advocates had attempted to block the OPT lethal authorization in a King County court early this month but a judge allowed it to move forward pending an August 16 “follow-up status report.”

Meanwhile money is being raised for an I-5 billboard and pressure is being mounted on the governor.

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Togo Pack To Be Removed Due To Livestock Attacks, WDFW Director Decides

WDFW says the last two members of a Ferry County wolf pack that’s blamed for three depredations in the past month, four over 10 months and 11 since late 2017 will be removed.

“The proactive non-lethal deterrents used by the two producers in the area have not curtailed repeated depredations,” the agency stated in announcing this afternoon that Director Kelly Susewind had authorized the removals.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS THE LOCATIONS OF THE TOGO PACK (TOP CENTER). (WDFW)

Following an eight-hour court challenge window on Monday, operations could begin on Tuesday.

The announcement also gives Northeast Washington ranchers and others an idea about WDFW’s plans for dealing with the pack.

One member was shot in late July after being caught in the act of attacking a calf. Afterwards were two more confirmed depredations by the pack that left one young cow dead and another injured.

Following livestock attacks last summer and then a judge’s temporary restraining order that was lifted, one Togo wolf was taken out in September.

That didn’t change the pack’s behavior as more depredations occurred but with WDFW tied up in other removal operations, a livestock producer, his family and employees were given a permit to carry out a kill order if they saw the wolves in their private pasture.

None were shot.

Today’s news comes as things appear quiet, or at least there was no news to report — with the Old Profanity Territory Pack just to the south of the Togos and in the Blue Mountains with the Grouse Flats Pack, according to WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman.

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WDFW Launching Post-wolf Recovery Planning With ‘Extensive’ Scoping Meetings This Fall

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

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has opened a public comment period to gather input on how the department will manage wolves in Washington post-recovery.

TWO WOLVES ROAM ACROSS A SNOWY EASTERN WASHINGTON LANDSCAPE. (UW)

Biologists are confident that Washington’s wolf population is on a path to successful recovery. Since 2008, the state’s wolf population has grown an average of 28% per year. WDFW documented a minimum of 126 individuals, 27 packs, and 15 successful breeding pairs during the last annual population survey.

“Long-term sustainability and persistence of Washington’s wolf population will always be a department priority,” said WDFW Director Kelly Susewind. “We know that Washington wolves are doing well, and it’s our responsibility to be prepared to help wolf and human populations coexist in the same landscape.”

Although it may be a few years before meeting wolf recovery goals, WDFW is preparing for when wolves are no longer designated as state or federally endangered by developing a post-recovery conservation and management plan. It will guide long-term wolf conservation and management.

As part of using the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) process, WDFW will include an extensive public input and engagement process to develop the plan. This involves preparing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will evaluate actions, alternatives, and impacts related to long-term wolf conservation and management. The department will develop the draft EIS based on feedback, and the public can review and comment on the draft once it is complete.

“The department currently uses the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, adopted in 2011, to guide wolf management activities in Washington,” said Julia Smith, WDFW wolf coordinator. “However, the 2011 plan was developed specifically to inform and guide Washington wolf recovery while wolves are considered threatened or endangered. The new plan will focus on how the department will conserve and manage wolves after their recovery.”

Public input and feedback is vital to this effort. The public scoping comment period is open from Aug. 1, 2019 through Nov.1, 2019. You can share your thoughts by taking an online survey at https://wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/at-risk/species-recovery/gray-wolf/post-recovery-planning, or by attending one of the following 14 public scoping open houses in your community:

Spokane
Sept. 3, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Spokane Community College (SCC), The Lair Student Center, Building #6, Sasquatch and Bigfoot Room 124 & 124C, 1810 Green St., Spokane, WA 99217

Colville
Sept. 4, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Agriculture & Trade Center, 215 S. Oak St., Colville, WA 99114

Clarkston
Sept. 5, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Quality Inn and Suites, Half Mahogany Room, 700 Port Drive, Clarkston, WA 99403

Chelan
Sept. 11, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Chelan Fire Station, 232 E. Wapato Ave, Chelan, WA 98816

Pasco
Sept. 25, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Franklin PUD auditorium, 1411 W. Clark St, Pasco, WA 99301

Selah
Sept. 26, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Selah Civic Center, 216 S. 1st St., Selah, WA 98942

Mt. Vernon
Oct. 7, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 10441 Bayview-Edison Rd., Mt. Vernon, WA 98273

Issaquah
Oct. 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Eagle Room, City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way, Issaquah, WA 98027

Kelso/Longview
Oct. 9, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Red Lion Hotel and Conference Center, 510 Kelso Drive, Kelso, WA 98626

Morton
Oct. 10, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Lyle Community Center, 700 Main Street, Morton, WA 98356

Olympia
Oct. 15, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Natural Resources Building (Room 172), 1111 Washington SE, Olympia, WA 98504

Goldendale
To be determined

Port Angeles
Oct. 29, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Peninsula College, House of Learning (Longhouse), 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, WA 98362

Montesano
Oct. 30, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St., Montesano, WA 98563

A webinar will also be available for those who are interested. A date and time for it will be announced later.

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WDFW OPT Wolf Removal Op Can Proceed After Lawsuit Attempt

Editor’s note: Since this blog was posted around 3:30 p.m. today, Aug. 1, 2019, a King County Superior Court judge has sided against parties trying to stop WDFW from lethally removing livestock depredating wolves. “Judge decided in DFW’s favor so we can move forward with removal,” said agency spokeswoman Staci Lehman at 5:30 p.m. via email. “However, we don’t have a timeframe currently and someone else could file another TRO at any time.”

Editor’s note 2: During the Aug. 2, 2019 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting, Director Kelly Susewind provided an update to say that there will be an Aug. 16 court date “for a follow-up status report” and that in the meanwhile WDFW is “actively looking” to implement his lethal removal authorization.

Another active day in Washington’s wolf world, as the focus shifted from northern Ferry County to Seattle today.

That’s where a Maryland-based organization says a motion has been filed to stop WDFW from killing more Old Profanity Territory wolves for chronic cattle depredations.

(ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The state agency has paused its planned lethal operation against the pack now blamed for killing or injuring 27 cows and calves since last September pending a judge’s decision.

A temporary restraining order could be granted with a follow-up court date in several days, or the injunction could be tossed out, which would allow WDFW to proceed, according to spokeswoman Staci Lehman.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, word one way or another had yet to emerge from court.

WDFW Director Kelly Susewind had greenlighted more OPT removals first thing yesterday morning, and following an eight-hour window for court challenges, state staffers could have begun targeting the eight wolves last evening or this morning.

But the lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court by “two Washington residents” represented by Seattle attorney Johnathon Bashford and “with the support” of Wayne Pacelle’s Center for a Humane Economy put a halt to that.

Lehman says that technically motions can be filed by anybody at any time but that the eight-hour notice is a “courtesy” for people to get their “legal ducks in a row” before WDFW takes action.

Appealing for a restraining order is the same play that the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands made last August after the Togo Pack had attacked three times in 30 days and Susewind OKed killing one or two to try and head off more problems.

A Thurston County Superior Court judge initially granted the out-of-state groups a TRO, but it was lifted about 10 days later by another judge because it didn’t meet a legal benchmark to be able to move forward, and one Togo wolf was ultimately taken out.

In this latest lawsuit threat, the parties are taking issue with WDFW for removing wolves depredating on Diamond M Ranch cattle on federal grazing allotments and trying to draw attention to the livestock producers’ alleged “needlessly provocative actions.”

Meanwhile, they’re also taking their own — attempting to break the fragile peace that is wolf management in Washington, just as the Arizona- and Oregon-based organizations before them.

They’ve taken out a full-page ad in The Seattle Times in recent weeks and reintroduced Rob Wielgus into the fray, he of the 2016’s incendiary comments about the Diamond M and where they allegedly turned their cows out — and which led to a sharp rebuke from the university where he worked at the time.

Yesterday, WDFW also announced that a Togo Pack wolf had been shot by a rancher as it chased a calf and that the pack had three attacks within the past 30 days. The agency also alerted the public a week or so ago the Grouse Flats Pack had three in the past 10 months.

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More Wolf-Calf Problems In Ferry County; Togo Wolf Shot

Updated, 9:05 p.m., July 31, 2019

For the second time in two years, a Togo Pack wolf has been shot under reported caught-in-the-act provisions, and the northern Ferry County wolves have also attacked three calves in the past 10 days.

TOGO WOLF. (WDFW)

It means WDFW Director Kelly Susewind may have another decision to make this week on whether to lethally remove wolves from a Eastern Washington pack to try and head off more livestock losses.

This morning he reauthorized taking out members of the OPT Pack after continued depredations there that now tally at least 27 since last September.

Protocols call for removals to be considered after three confirmed/probable attacks in 30 days, or four in 10 months.

An agency update out late this afternoon on the Togo depredations says, “WDFW staff are discussing how best to address this situation; Director Susewind will also assess this situation and consider next steps.”

This evening WDFW wolf policy manager Donny Martorello said staff will meet internally to go over variables such as the rate of depredations, what happened, what deterrence are being used, the wolf shooting and put it all on the table for the director to consider.

Part of today’s wolf update was also to give the public an alert that there is an issue with the Togo wolves and it may require action.

The Togos run to the north of the OPTs, but unlike issues with grazing cattle with that pack, these latest depredations occurred on private lands, according to WDFW.

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

The wolf shooting was reported on July 24 to WDFW, and is listed as being “under investigation” in the update, to not presuppose game wardens’ final report, but this afternoon an agency spokeswoman confirmed a Capital Press story that said the animal had been “lawfully” shot by a producer “as it was attacking a calf,” according to WDFW.

“We have heard that the preliminary assessment (from WDFW law enforcement) is that this was a lawful caught in the act incident. There was no evidence of foul play” said Martorello.

The wolf’s carcass was not recovered but it is believed to have been fatally wounded. The calf’s body was left in the field to aid in trapping and collaring efforts but was later removed.

The other two Togo depredations were looked into July 29 and earlier today, according to WDFW. More information on the latter is expected in the coming days.

“The livestock producer (producer 2) who owns these livestock removes or secures livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd (when discovered), removes sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed, calves away from areas occupied by wolves, avoids known wolf high activity areas, delays turnout of livestock onto grazing allotments until June 10 when calving is finished (and deer fawns, elk calves, and moose calves become available as prey), and monitors the herd with a range rider,” WDFW reported.

Early last September, a Togo adult male was taken out following a series of summertime depredations and after a Thurston County Superior Court judge denied a preliminary injunction from Arizona-based Center For Biological Diversity that had halted WDFW’s initial plans to remove the animal in mid-August.

In late October 2017, an uncollared female Togo wolf was shot by a rancher during a series of depredations that summer and fall.

Hardcore wolf advocates had eight hours starting this morning at 8 a.m. to challenge in court Susewind’s OPT authorization, and were reportedly mulling it early in the day. They didn’t try to block an early July one that resulted in the removal of the pack’s breeding male.

After the day’s business hours were done, Martorello said that none was filed.

“We’re preparing to initiate that operation. We’ve passed 5 p.m.,” he said, adding it would likely begin in the morning on Thursday.

Wolf advocates appear to be issuing press releases and firing off tweets instead of trying the courts, perhaps in an effort to attract the attention of the governor who is involved in the presidential race.

WDFW stresses that removing OPT wolves is “not expected to harm the wolf population’s ability to reach the statewide recovery objective,” which it has done so and how in the federally delisted eastern third of the state.

Martorello said “multiple animals” could be removed, meaning two or more.

“We think Washington’s approach is the best conservation strategy for wolves in any Western state today,” Conservation Northwest also said in a statement sent out late in the day. “Through these policies and the collaborative work of the [Wolf Advisory Group], our wolf population continues to grow, expanding to more than 126 animals at the end of last year. While at the same time, the number of ranchers using proactive conflict deterrence measures is increasing, and livestock conflicts and wolf lethal removals remain low compared to other states.”

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WDFW’s Susewind OKs Removing More OPT Wolves After Calf Attacks

As livestock losses mount again in northern Ferry County, WDFW again aims to reduce the number of wolves in the Old Profanity Territory Pack, now blamed for 27 attacks on cows and calves since early last September.

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

Director Kelly Susewind’s authorization came this morning following yesterday’s news that three injured calves had been found July 26 and four other injured or dead ones in the days before that.

Six were confirmed wolf depredations, the seventh a probable, making for eight attacks in the last 30 days.

“The chronic livestock depredations and subsequent wolf removals are stressful and deeply concerning for all those involved,” Susewind said in a statement. “The department is working very hard to try to change this pack’s behavior, while also working with a diversity of stakeholders on how to prevent the cycle from repeating.”

Following the early July discovery of a dead cow on a federal grazing allotment, he OKed beginning incremental removals, leading to the killing of the pack’s breeding male in hopes of heading off further depredations and changing the wolves behavior.

But the attacks continued during an evaluation period, leading to this new effort.

“WDFW staff believe depredations are likely to continue in the near future even with the current and responsive nonlethal tools being utilized,” the agency states in outlining that preventative work.

This morning’s update gives wolf advocates eight hours to challenge the decision in court before operations begin; they did not do so during the window after Susewind’s initial authorization earlier this month.

Two OPT wolves were lethally removed last fall following depredations then.

The general area of mountainous, forested and burned Colville NF ground was also the scene of wolf-livestock conflict in 2016.

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OPT Pack Continues To Attack Cattle; WDFW Decision Likely Weds.

With still more Old Profanity Territory Pack depredations reported, a decision is likely tomorrow from WDFW on what’s next for the northern Ferry County wolves now blamed for 27 dead and injured cattle in less than 11 months.

ATTACKS ON CALVES GRAZING FEDERAL LANDS IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON CONTINUE. THIS ANIMAL WAS WOUNDED SEVERAL YEARS AGO. (WDFW)

Following this afternoon’s news that three wounded calves were found Friday, July 26 by a rancher gathering and moving cattle, an announcement could come as early as 8 a.m. Wednesday to work through the required eight-hour court challenge window before operations commence if the state chooses to lethally remove more members, which it can under the wolf-livestock protocol.

WDFW Spokeswoman Staci Lehman said that regional managers forwarded Director Kelly Susewind, who was out sick on Monday, their recommendation today for review with the state Attorney General’s office.

“We’re waiting for the director to make his decision,” she said. “He’s very, very thorough.”

After six months without a confirmed depredation, the OPT wolves struck in early July, killing a cow on a federal grazing allotment.

That led Susewind to authorize incremental removals to try and head off more attacks and change the pack’s behavior, an OK that wasn’t challenged in court.

The pack’s breeding male was killed July 13 and WDFW began evaluating the remaining four adults’ and four juveniles’ response.

They struck again injuring and killing three more calves, likely killing a fourth, all of which were investigated around July 18-20.

At that point last Tuesday, Susewind was “assessing this situation and considering next steps.”

The latest three injured calves were investigated by WDFW, which confirmed a wolf attack based on bite marks, hemorrhaging, and GPS data of a young male pack member.

The calves were able to be treated and released.

“The producer is continuing to remove or secure livestock carcasses (when discovered) to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and remove sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed,” the agency reported. “WDFW and county staff are continuing to coordinate patrols of the grazing area to increase human presence and use Fox lights at salting and watering locations to deter wolves. Other livestock producers with cattle on federal grazing allotments in the OPT pack territory have deployed range riders.”

WDFW also reports that the rancher, Len McIrvin and the Diamond M per previous stories, has declined to use WDFW-contracted range riders to “work with their cattle at this time.”

This part of Northeast Washington has seen wolf-livestock conflicts since at least 2016 and the original Profanity Peak Pack, which WDFW took out.

The OPT wolves began depredating last September and two members were lethally removed by WDFW. Unless I’m mistaken, the pack is responsible for the most cattle attacks on record in Washington.

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IDFG Deploys 800+ Trail Cams To Get ‘Most Robust, Accurate’ Wolf Count

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME

How many wolves are on the landscape in Idaho? That’s an often-asked question that Idaho Fish and Game is aiming to answer using game cameras during a new statewide population monitoring program.

In recent months, Fish and Game staff have deployed over 800 game cameras in a high-density grid throughout the state, which will take millions of pictures. When Fish and Game staff collect the cameras at the end of September, researchers will download and analyze the photos and apply statistical modeling to estimate the population.

IDAHO WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST MICHELLE KEMNER SETS UP A GAME CAMERA AS PART OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME’S NEW WOLF MONITORING PROGRAM, WHICH WILL USE CAMERAS TO GENERATE THE FIRST POPULATION ESTIMATE OF WOLVES IN IDAHO SINCE 2015. (BRIAN PEARSON, IDFG)

Sifting through millions of photos will be labor intensive, but Fish and Game Wildlife Research Manager Mark Hurley is aiming to early next year have the most robust and accurate count of wolves ever in Idaho, and the first scientific population estimate since 2015.

Wolf monitoring evolves with changing wolf populations

Wolves were federally reintroduced into Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in 1995 and 1996. Between 1996 and 2005, Idaho’s wolf population was estimated using a “total count” technique to generate an estimate of the statewide population, which was appropriate when the total population was small and many wolves wore radio collars. Biologists could track individual animals back to their packs, get an estimate of pack sizes and then estimate the statewide population.

From 2006 to 2016, Fish and Game’s wolf monitoring program remained under federal oversight. Until May 2016, the department was required to maintain enough radio collared wolves to be able to demonstrate that there were more than 15 breeding pairs of wolves in that state and more than 150 total wolves. .

“This kind of monitoring was really targeted at federal Endangered Species Act recovery goals — that’s why we were doing that. That sort of effort works with very small populations,” Hurley said.

During this period, biologists counted the number of wolves within each pack from aircraft, or on the ground, during early winter, and used that information to calculate an average pack size. While they continued to count the actual number of wolves they spotted during surveys, wildlife managers also began using a new technique to estimate the statewide wolf population that was better suited to larger and more dispersed populations. They applied the average pack size in areas known to have packs, but where individual wolves were not necessarily seen and counted by a person.

As Idaho’s wolf population continued to grow, however, it became increasingly difficult to monitor the population. After wolves were removed from the endangered species list, Idaho took full management of them and hunters and trappers began harvesting wolves, it made keeping radio collars on wolves more difficult and costly.

“That monitoring used to cost about $750,000 per year, a large portion of which came from federal funding,” said Toby Boudreau, Fish and Game’s Wildlife Bureau Chief. “That funding tapered off from the time wolves were delisted in 2011 until it was eliminated in 2016.”

Idaho’s wildlife managers knew they would need to monitor wolf populations using a more cost-effective and efficient model than one based on radio collars, and the focus of their monitoring shifted to “occupancy” — or estimating the number of wolf packs in the state, rather than establishing a total wolf population estimate.

A WASHINGTON WOLF CAUGHT ON A TRAIL CAMERA. (WDFW)

Expanding the use of game cameras

Beginning in 2016, researchers started using a grid of about 200 game cameras to detect whether or not wolf packs were present in predetermined areas scattered across the Idaho, which biologists call “occupancy cells.”

By determining what percentage of Idaho is occupied by wolf packs and monitoring changes over time, while also monitoring wolves’ impact on elk and deer populations, wildlife managers observed large-scale trends in the statewide wolf population, and managed wolves based on population trends, i.e. whether the overall population was stable, growing or shrinking.

“If the wolf population contracts, occupancies should contract, in the same way that they increase,” Hurley said. “You can also estimate the number of packs. That is what we can do with patch occupancy, because your occupancy cells are the size of a whole pack territory.”

Biologists also used DNA analysis from scat surveys and harvested wolves, allowing them to estimate pack counts, reproduction, and the number of wolves in small areas during the summer months. Using these methods alone, however, it was difficult to get an overall, statewide wolf population estimate.

That situation changed recently after researchers developed population-estimate techniques by using game cameras, similar to how biologists are already using cameras to count and monitor elk and deer populations in Idaho.

For the new method to work, wildlife managers needed to dramatically increase the number of cameras in the field devoted to wolf monitoring, which is why Fish and Game staff deployed hundreds of additional cameras this summer.

“What we’ve done is split these occupancy cells up again, and added additional cameras within them,” Hurley said. “That will give us enough cameras to generate an abundance estimate, which we can’t get with just the occupancy cameras.”

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