WDFW will try to remove up to two wolves from northern Ferry County’s Togo Pack following a seventh calf depredation in a 10-month rolling window.
Director Kelly Susewind authorized lethal removal today after a lengthy internal review. His decision also opens an eight-hour court challenge window, which means operations won’t begin until next Tuesday morning at the earliest.
The latest depredation involves an injured calf that was found on private land by a range rider on June 5. The next day WDFW staff confirmed it had been attacked by wolves.
The calf’s injuries likely occurred a week before, and it was expected to make a full recovery.
The agency announced the depredation June 10, with a decision on whether to go lethal or not initially expected late last week, then early this week, then later this week.
The Togos have been in the bull’s-eye of the state and an affected livestock producer multiple times for depredations dating back to at least summer 2018.
One wolf was removed by WDFW in September 2018, while another was shot by a rancher as it was caught in the act of attacking a calf last July.
The agency says that the livestock producer has been practicing nonlethal deterrents, including delaying turnout until after big game babies are on the ground, checking for sick or injured cattle, removing carcasses, maintaining human presence where calves are born.
Additionally range riding work has been “increased and been tailored to better meet the needs of this chronic conflict pack area.”
“WDFW staff believe depredations are likely to continue in the near future even with the non-lethal tools being utilized, and that there are no reasonable, additional reactive non-lethal tools that could be deployed,” the agency said in announcing the authorization.
Wolves in this part of Washington were federally delisted in 2012 and removing members of the Togo Pack isn’t expected to impact the population or meeting statewide recovery goals, according to WDFW.
In other Washington wolf news, the U.S. Forest Service was sued in federal court this week by wolf advocates who say the Colville National Forest’s revised forest plan from last year violates environmental laws because it didn’t consider livestock grazing impacts on wolves in the area.
It also goes after Colville managers for authorizing the Diamond M Ranch of northern Stevens and Ferry Counties to graze cattle on several allotments in the heart of the Kettle Range, contending that a biological assessment should have been performed.
Earlier this spring WDFW demurred on taking lethal action against the Wedge Pack of northern Stevens County after attacks on three calves in a week on a private pasture. The threshold for considering taking out wolves is three in a month or four in a 10-month window.