Although wolves are active throughout the year, most conflicts with livestock occur from July to September in Washington and other western states. By then, ranchers have moved their livestock out of fenced winter pastures and onto summer grazing lands. Meanwhile, wolf packs begin to focus on finding food to meet their growing nutritional requirements as their pups are weaned and becoming more mobile.
To meet this challenge, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) works throughout the year to monitor wolf packs and help ranchers protect their livestock during the summer months. In June 2015, the WDFW Wildlife Program filed Wolf-Livestock Deterrence Updates for 15 of the state’s 16 known wolf packs,* outlining potential risks for predation and identifying measures in place to minimize attacks on livestock.
These updates reflect WDFW’s preparations to deter conflicts between wolves and livestock during the summer of 2015:
WDFW Conflict Staff: WDFW has increased the number of staff around the state to work specifically on wildlife conflict issues related to wolves. As of June, WDFW had 11 wildlife-conflict specialists working with livestock producers in areas with active wolf packs, up from eight in 2013.
Damage prevention cooperative agreements: Since 2013, WDFW has offered cost-sharing arrangements to ranchers who invest in non-lethal measures (e.g. range riders, guard dogs, fladry, and carcass disposal) to protect their livestock. WDFW had 41 active agreements with livestock owners as of June 30, compared with 33 the previous year. Eleven of the current agreements are not reflected in the pack updates, because they are in areas where wolf activity has been reported but no packs have been confirmed.
Range riders: WDFW has five range riders – up from three last year – under contract that wildlife managers can deploy to help ranchers monitor their livestock, remove sick and injured animals, and haze wolves away from active grazing areas. In addition, all 41 livestock owners who have signed cooperative agreements with WDFW qualify for cost-sharing arrangements for range riders.
Radio collars: In the past year, 11 wolves have been captured and fitted with radio collars. There are now 14 active collars on wolves distributed among 10 of the state’s 16 known wolf packs. WDFW shares information about the location of collared wolves with qualified ranchers to help them manage their livestock.
WDFW plans to update its Wolf-Livestock Deterrence reports periodically as circumstances change. See individual pack pages for management events and wolf-livestock conflict deterrence updates.
* The Whitestone Pack’s range is within the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and therefore outside WDFW’s jurisdiction.