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 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.
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.
Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties
No new information this month.
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.
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.