The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife publishes reports detailing the wolf conservation and management activities undertaken by the department. Click on the title of an update below to see the complete article.

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Three more depredations by OPT pack confirmed in Ferry County

January 11, 2019

On Jan. 4, WDFW staff were informed of dead livestock by the Stevens-Ferry County Wildlife Specialist on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in Ferry County. The livestock producer and ranch staff were actively looking for a few cow-calf pairs remaining on the allotment along the Kettle Crest. The carcasses were discovered through investigation of wolf location information provided to the livestock producer by the County Wildlife Specialist. The carcasses were within the OPT pack territory.  The producer who owns the depredated livestock is the same producer that experienced wolf depredations by the OPT pack in 2018. The carcasses were discovered northwest of the allotment where the 2018 depredations occurred. 

On Jan. 3, the producer searched the area of the reported wolf location information and discovered one live cow and two calf carcasses. The live cow was removed from the area by the producer and was reported to have no injuries. Due to the remote location of the carcasses and lack of daylight, WDFW staff could not reach the area to investigate the dead livestock until Jan. 5. During the investigation of the carcasses initially reported, department staff found and conducted an investigation on an additional cow carcass discovered in close proximity to the others. In total, staff investigated and confirmed three wolf depredations. The three carcasses (two calves and one cow) were within 850 meters of one another.

Investigation of the first calf revealed partial consumption of the internal organs and back half of the carcass. External examination of the hide indicated bite lacerations and puncture wounds on the right and left hindquarter. Lacerations and puncture wounds were present on the inner and outer portion of both legs. Skinning the carcass on the left and right hindquarters revealed hemorrhaging of the muscle tissue.

The remains of the second calf included the vertebral column and two front legs attached to a piece of hide. All of the soft tissue except the remaining hide had been consumed or removed, and the ribs and one of the long bones had been chewed and broken. There was evidence on the hide of significant hemorrhaging in the left armpit of the calf.

The investigation of the cow carcass revealed significant wounds and consumption of the soft tissues of the head and puncture wounds above the hock on the left rear leg. Skinning the leg revealed significant hemorrhaging and tissue damage immediately underlying those wounds.

The damage to all three of the carcasses investigated was indicative of wolf depredation and wolf tracks were documented at each site. In addition, GPS data from the radio-collared wolf in the OPT pack showed he was in the immediate vicinity during the time of the incidents. The data were also consistent with the age of tracks found at the site during the investigation. The locations and sign further suggest that the wolves involved in the depredations remained in the immediate vicinity for about a week.

No proactive wolf deterrents were in place because cattle were presumed by department staff to be off the grazing allotment. The vast majority of the livestock had been removed almost two months earlier. Deep snow (24-40 inches), avalanche conditions, and the distance from vehicles (more than 10 miles away) prevented WDFW staff or the livestock producer from removing the carcasses or deploying other responsive deterrents. No other livestock were detected in the area.

Previously, the OPT pack was implicated in a total of 16 depredations (13 injured and three killed livestock) in under two months. The additional depredations bring the total to 19 depredations (13 injured and six killed livestock) since Sept. 4, 2018.

On Nov. 13, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind paused action seeking to lethally remove the two remaining wolves from the OPT pack that repeatedly preyed on cattle in Ferry County. WDFW staff previously attempted to remove the remaining two wolves in the pack multiple times over a two-week period, but were unable to locate the uncollared pack member due to the dense forest canopy.

Director Susewind is now reassessing this situation and considering next steps.

For more information, please see previous updates on the OPT pack from the following dates:

2018

  • Sept 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 25, 28
  • Oct 5, 19, 25, 26
  • Nov 15

Packs Referenced: Profanity Peak

Last Updated: Jan. 11, 2019 4:44 PM

Monthly Wolf Report - December 2018

January 4, 2019

This report provides information about wolf conservation and management activities undertaken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) from December 1-31, 2018

Statewide Wolf Capture, Survey, and Management

Wolf surveys

Wolf biologists surveyed for tracks and placed remote cameras in the Sherman, Skookum, Lookout, Skagit, and Five Sisters pack areas this past month. This is the beginning of the annual survey effort to assess the minimum number of wolves in Washington.

They also surveyed in areas with recent wolf reports outside of known pack territories in the Methow and areas south of I-90 to try and locate recent wolf sign.

Any reports of remote camera images, videos, wolf tracks, or sightings from the public are incredibly helpful to assist in locating new wolf activity and potential new packs on the landscape. Please take photos of wolves or wolf sign with some way to measure the size of the track and upload them to WDFW’s wolf reporting page.

 

Stakeholder engagement

On Dec. 8-9, department staff members met with a diversity of stakeholders in Republic to discuss wolf-livestock conflict, data sharing, wolf collaring and monitoring, outreach, and potential predator impacts to ungulates. Director Susewind and Wolf Policy Lead Donny Martorello also attended a Q and A session hosted by the Cattle Producers of Washington on the evening of Dec. 9.

On Dec. 16-17, department staff members met with the Wolf Advisory Group (WAG) in Spokane. The meeting agenda, flip chart notes, and meeting notes are available on the department’s WAG webpage.

 

Regional Updates

Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties

No new information this month.

 

Okanogan County

On Nov. 27, a livestock owner’s employee rounded up cattle, including a 400-pound calf, from Washington Department of Natural Resources land. The employee moved the livestock to WDFW land, which is customarily used in the fall as a gathering site as cattle transition to private land. When the employee returned to collect cattle midday on Nov. 28, the calf was found dead.

Upon receiving the report that evening, WDFW asked the producer’s employee to return to the site, cover the carcass with a tarp to preserve evidence, and install a trail camera. At approximately 7:00 p.m., the employee and a neighbor returned to the site with a tarp and a trail camera. At that time, they saw an animal running from the carcass, but it was too dark for identification.

On Nov. 29, external examination of the calf indicated bite lacerations on the left hind leg. Skinning the carcass revealed subcutaneous hemorrhaging, damage to the muscle tissue, and bite puncture wounds on the left hind leg, left front shoulder, and left front leg. Wolf tracks were found adjacent to the dead calf. The evidence indicated that one wolf was involved in the incident. No collared wolves were present in the area at the time of the depredation.

Based on the available evidence, WDFW classified the event as a confirmed wolf depredation and later deployed a trail camera in the area to document any wolf activity near the site. There were no confirmed livestock depredations by wolves in this area prior to this incident. In an effort to reduce the likelihood of future conflict, the livestock producer removed the carcass from the area and removed the remaining cattle to private land. The livestock producer and WDFW have an excellent working relationship and will continue to work cooperatively to mitigate conflict as they have done previously.

 

Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties

In December, the majority of the cattle producers in WDFW District 3 moved their cattle to protected pastures and feed lots for winter calving and feeding. There was an increase in reports of wolf sightings and track observations this month. Wildlife conflict specialists monitored these reports and worked with producers to help implement proactive nonlethal deterrents. The conflict specialists also worked closely with producers to get final counts as cattle were moved to lower elevations. There were no reported depredations in the month of December.

 

Kittitas County

Permit grazing for cattle and sheep has ended for the season in the Teanaway pack’s known territory.

  • No wolf-livestock incidents were reported or suspected in December.
  • A RAG (radio-activated guard) box is in place at a location on the eastern edge of the pack’s territory as a precaution to protect cattle on private land.

Packs Referenced: Five Sisters, Lookout, Sherman, Skookum, Teanaway

Last Updated: Jan. 4, 2019 3:42 PM