WDFW To Remove 1-2 Wolves From Depredating SE WA Group

WDFW will go after one to two wolves of a Southeast Washington pack associated with at least six dead cattle in the past three months, the agency announced late this morning.

The confirmed and probable wolf depredations have mostly occurred on private grazing lands but also on a Forest Service allotment, and the cattle were owned by four different producers who had been using a range of nonlethal, proactive deterrence methods, according to WDFW.

SOUTHEAST WASHINGTON’S ASOTIN COUNTY HAS SEEN A SPATE OF WOLF DEPREDATIONS IN THE PAST THREE MONTHS AND IN RESPONSE WDFW DIRECTOR KELLY SUSEWIND HAS AUTHORIZED ONE TO TWO MEMBERS OF THE WA139 GROUP OF WOLVES. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

The wolves in question are known as the WA139 group, named after a Tucannon female that dispersed into Northeast Oregon, either by itself or with other wolves, in late January, and since settled in Asotin County.

WDFW blames the bunch for killing at least two calves and probably another in a depredation on or about May 21 on private land that left a fourth calf dead of unknown causes, a heifer confirmed to have been killed by wolves on private land on or about June 20, a dead calf investigated on a Umatilla National Forest allotment in late July and probably killed by wolves, and a dead calf found August 15 on private lands and confirmed killed by wolves.

“WDFW staff discussed the recent depredations by the WA139 group and associated effectiveness of the nonlethal deterrence tools implemented by the affected livestock producers.¬†Staff determined that range riding occurred on a daily/near daily basis on the large grazing allotment and human presence by livestock producers on small pastures occurred on a daily/near daily basis. The livestock producers used good sanitation practices and put forth a concerted effort to keep livestock in the area safe. Producer 2 held back vulnerable cow/calf pairs and yearling steers from their summer pasture near the core activity center of the WA139 group,” the agency stated.

“Unfortunately, depredations have continued over a widespread area and timeframe impacting four different producers. WDFW staff believe depredations would likely continue given recent pack behavior and the limited effectiveness of additional reactive measures that could be implemented in these pastures and allotments to protect livestock,” it continued.

Where sometimes WDFW grants lethal removal permits to livestock producers, Director Kelly Susewind’s authorization only applies to agency staffers. The permit is good through September 6, or when a “wolf or wolves” has or have been killed, but it could be extended or amended if there are other depredations.

“WDFW discussed the impacts of removing up to two wolves from the WA139 group territory and determined the current level of mortality should not negatively impact the ability to recover wolves in Washington,” the agency added.