The Daily Howler: WDFW Sharing Dirty Shirt Pack Locations With Second Rancher

A second rancher in Northeast Washington has been alerted to the nearby presence of the Dirty Shirt Pack, blamed for the deaths of four cows earlier this month.

During a conference call yesterday afternoon, WDFW said that last Friday it began sharing locations of a GPS-collared female from the pack with the producer after the wolves began roaming towards the Cliff Ridge and South Fork Chewelah Creek grazing allotments, northeast of the tiny town of Chewelah.

It’s also now believed that the pack has at least six adult members and a minimum of two pups.

The first producer, who lost the four animals, he and his family and a hired hand as well as the second and his family have all been searching for stray cattle on their Forest Service pastures, the agency reported.

A RECENT WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE DIRTY SHIRT PACK. (WDFW)
A RECENT WDFW MAP SHOWS THE RANGE OF THE DIRTY SHIRT PACK. (WDFW)

State staffers have been patrolling the area in the evenings and mornings as well.

One of those employees is Joey McCanna, a regional conflict supervisor, who was on site Saturday, and on Monday briefed members of the agency’s Wolf Advisory Group and other interested parties on preventative measures during the teleconference.

“We’re actively hazing wolves today,” he said. “If we have a vocalization within an area of cattle, we’re getting as close as possible to haze.”

With GPS locations for the one wolf, WDFW is also able to more purposefully haze, rather than sit back and react to wolves.

McCanna said that roaming adult wolves are being targeted, not pups, which apparently are located higher in the mountains above the cattle.

Confirmation of the Dirty Shirt’s litter came on Sunday via a U.S. Air Force trail cam, which photographed at least two black-coated pup.

McCanna said that around 1 a.m. yesterday morning, adults and pups were heard howling.

The area, which is just south of the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge, is used for USAF survival training.

During yesterday’s conference call, it was stated that 86 Air Force students were in the woods in the area, and that WDFW met with some on Saturday to talk about hazing strategies. The plan is to meet with them again later this week to gather their observations.

USAF reps found the first dead cow.

Two contracted range riders are also in the hills, and they and state staff are using spotlights, air horns and whistles, with back-up in the form of rubber buck shot, if wolves are in close range.

If any new wolf depredations determined to have occurred since July 10 are found in the Dirty Shirt territory, a lethal take permit for a total of up to two wolves overall would become available to the four producers in the area, as well as the range riders and state staff, according to the state’s new wolf policy lead Donny Martorello. Wolves would have to be in the vicinity of cows, and hunting and baiting would not be allowed.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association says that with four dead cattle — two cows July 5 and 6 and a cow and a calf July 9-10 — removals should have already begun, according to a Capital Press article out this afternoon.

That was called “unnecessary” and “inappropriate” by the Defenders of Wildlife’s regional director.

According to the cattlemen, no matter which way herds are pushed to prevent more conflict, it’s towards someone else’s livestock.

But Martorello says hazing is being done so it doesn’t disturb the pups and in a way that doesn’t displace the wolves towards other livestock.

“We’re keeping the level of disturbance to a minimum at the rendezvous site while reinforcing the negatives to being around cattle,” he said.

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