The clock is ticking on two more wolf packs in Northeast Washington.
WDFW this morning authorized the lethal removal of the last two members of one pack and one or two from another after continued depredations.
Both operations can begin tomorrow morning at 8 after an eight-hour waiting period due to a previous court order passes.
With a third pack also in the crosshairs for total removal, in a twist, the kill order for the Togo duo was given to a northern Ferry County livestock producer, his family and employees to carry out if they see the wolves in their private pasture.
WDFW says the OK was given because the previous removal of the breeding male in September didn’t change the pack’s depredating behaviors.
The breeding female and/or a juvenile injured a calf in late October. The pack also is blamed for seven other injured or killed calves and a cow since last November.
The state wildlife management agency has shouldered the burden of removals in the past, but with three lethal operations underway at once, Susewind “decided to issue a permit rather than having department staff conduct the removal because of limitations of resources.”
As WDFW attempts to kill the last two Old Profanity Territory wolves further south in Ferry County, it will also be gunning for the Smackouts to the east in northern Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.
Susewind OKed incremental removals after a fifth attack since Aug. 1 by the pack, all on private pastures.
The latest occurred Nov. 1 and followed three in the last three weeks of October.
An agency statement sent out during Election Night outlined the preventative measures two producers have been using to try and head off trouble with the Smackouts.
It said that WDFW has been pooling resources with ranchers and a local group to protect stock and deter wolves.
“The affected producer has met the expectation in the wolf plan and 2017 protocol for implementing at least two proactive non-lethal deterrents and responsive deterrent measures,” a statement said.
Two wolves in the pack were removed in 2017 following four depredations in a 10-month period, one of two triggers for considering a kill order under WDFW’s protocols. The other is three attacks in a month.
The state says taking out as many as two members of the Smackout Pack, which has four or five adults and no juveniles, is not expected to impact wolf recover in Washington at all. It says that average wolf mortality between 2011 and 2018 has been 11 percent, well below the 28 percent modeled in the management plan adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Still, signing off on a kill order is no easy decision.
“Authorizing the removal of wolves is one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my professional career,” said Susewind in a press release out later in the day. “Our department is committed to working with a diversity of people and interests to find new ways to reduce the loss of both wolves and livestock in our state.”
For more details, see WDFW’s Gray Wolf Updates page.