Editor’s note: Updated 9:49 a.m., June 11, 20202, in the second and with a new final paragraph following on additional info received from WDFW.
A seventh calf depredation in a rolling 10-month window by a Northeast Washington pack has WDFW evaluating options for heading off further conflict between livestock and wolves there.
A decision on next steps is expected later this week or early next after a recommendation at the local level, according to a spokeswoman.
That many strikes against northern Ferry County’s Togo Pack means that it would qualify for an initial lethal removal, but in May, when nearby wolves struck three times, which would also trigger consideration, WDFW decided to stick to nonlethal methods.
This latest depredation was discovered on June 5 by a range rider employed by Cattle Producers of Washington who found the injured calf in a private pasture, according to WDFW.
An investigation the next day by agency staff found the hallmarks of a wolf attack – “bite marks, punctures, lacerations” – and that the attack had likely occurred about a week before.
The calf’s wounds had healed and the young animal was turned back out to be with its mother.
The depredation is suggestive of a continuing pattern of behavior that began last July, although this is the first known time the Togos have struck since last September.
WDFW describes a range of proactive nonlethal tactics taken by the livestock producer — the agency says the reason it may have taken so long for the wounded calf to be noticed “was likely associated with the injury being difficult to see – as well as range riders from multiple organizations working the area since before turnout.
The region has seen chronic depredations over several years.
Last fall saw Governor Inslee wade into wolf management here. He called for nonlethal methods to be prioritized in the Kettle Range, which has been home to the discontinued Profanity Peak, Sherman and Old Profanity Territory wolves, and now the Togos and Kettle Packs.
WDFW’s removal of the OPTs also led to a court challenge.
A King County Superior Court judge “did grant a temporary restraining order on killing wolves in the OPT territory but declined to extend that restraining order to any wolf in the Kettle River Range in Ferry County, as requested,” WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman stated.
The TRO is the subject of a June 22 court hearing.