This report provides information about wolf conservation and management activities undertaken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife from Oct. 6 to Nov. 13, 2017.
Carnivore Section Update
Wolf biologists gave two presentations, including one for the Fish and Wildlife Research Cooperative Unit at the University of Washington and a one at the Animal Handling and Immobilization Training offered by Wolf Haven International.
Staff spent time monitoring wolves in the Goodman Meadows, Skookum, and North Kettles areas and followed up on public observation reports near Snoqualmie Pass. They also coordinated and communicated with various district biologists, conflict specialists, and other staff around the state regarding wolf issues.
Proactive Deterrence Measures
Wolf packs in Ferry, Stevens, and Pend Oreille counties
WDFW staff members continue to work with producers and WDFW contract range riders as livestock are gathered off U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotments. Most cattle are removed from these allotments by the end of October and placed on private grazing areas. Deterrent measures (e.g., fladry and foxlights) are collected from large grazing allotments as cattle are removed. There have been ongoing planning efforts with producers and WDFW contract range riders for areas where livestock are present within wolf pack territories.
Wolf packs in Okanogan County
The Okanogan district team contacted livestock producers and nonprofit organizations regarding the Northeast Washington Wolf-Livestock Management Grant Application to discuss long term projects, such as fencing off carcass pits, building compost piles, fencing off calving areas, and habitat projects to enhance pasture rotation options.
The majority of livestock have been removed from public grazing allotments and placed on private grazing areas. Contracted range riders finished their season on October 31, but remain available if a depredation incident occurs.
Wolf packs in Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Walla Walla counties
Producers throughout the areas of known wolf activity have deployed daily range riders on large private pastures across southeast Washington. Two WDFW staff members monitored private grazing allotments. Producers and range riders moved cattle off grazing allotments in the Umatilla National Forest in mid-October. Producers and range riders are searching for a small number of unaccounted for cattle on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotments. These allotments overlap territories occupied by the Tucannon and Touchet wolf packs. Multiple sightings of wolves and wolf tracks were also reported throughout Asotin, Columbia, Garfield, and Walla Walla counties this month.
WDFW is also working with producers and range riders to deploy proactive deterrence measures in known territories of the Tucannon and Touchet packs and other areas of known wolf activity. These measures include:
Removing sick or injured livestock
Using range riders to monitor livestock in areas of wolf activity and areas adjacent to wolf activity
Increasing human presence around livestock in areas with wolf activity and areas adjacent to wolf activity
Using herding dogs to concentrate livestock in areas where they can be monitored
Removing carcasses from grazing allotments and pastures
Having producers report injured or deceased livestock to WDFW so they can be investigated
Wolf packs in Kittitas County
There are no reports or credible sightings indicating the Teanaway pack has left their territory. Staff performed routine communication with producers in the area and there is no significant wolf activity to report. In general, open range livestock have been removed from the pack territory.
Department staff members conducted investigations on several reported livestock depredations during October. These investigations are listed below noting dates, species affected, county, and WDFW’s determination.
Region 1 – Eastern Washington
October 6 investigation of goats in Stevens County resulted in a Confirmed Non-Wolf Depredation by a cougar.
October 7 investigation of sheep in Stevens County resulted in a Confirmed Non-Wolf Depredation by a cougar.
October 9 investigation of a cow resulted in a Confirmed Wolf Depredation by the Smackout wolf pack.
October 12 investigation of sheep in Stevens County resulted in a Confirmed Non-Wolf Depredation by a cougar.
October 12 investigation of goats in Stevens County resulted in a Confirmed Non-Wolf Depredation by a cougar.
October 16 investigation of a cow in Stevens County resulted in a Non-Depredation.
October 31 investigation of sheep in Stevens County resulted in a Confirmed Non-Wolf Depredation by a cougar.
On November 3, department staff investigated a reported livestock depredation in northern Ferry County that resulted in a confirmed wolf depredation with an injured calf. The incident occurred outside any known pack territories. The details of the incident were shared with the public here on November 9. In this incident, the cattle are on private fenced lands. The producer checks on the cattle multiple times every day during feedings. The producer has also used range riders periodically this year and last year. The producer removes sick or injured cattle from the area. The producer also received locations of nearby collared wolves via WDFW’s Sensitive Wildlife Data Sharing Agreement.
- On November 8, WDFW was contacted by the same producer who experienced the wolf depredation on November 3. The producer reported a calf carcass that was discovered while moving cattle in a different private large fenced grazing pasture. The calf was tarped by the producer, hired hand, and range rider for the pending investigation. Wolf tracks were reported at the scene. The Ferry County Sheriff and WDFW management staff were notified of the pending depredation investigation as per the 2017 Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol. On November 9, WDFW conducted an investigation, accompanied by a Ferry County Deputy and WDFW Contracted Range Rider. After a field investigation and necropsy of the calf carcass, it was determined to be a Confirmed Wolf Depredation. The determination was based on bite lacerations with associated hemorrhaging, signs of a struggle near the calf carcass, large canid tracks near the calf carcass, recent wolf activity in the area, and a recent confirmed wolf depredation (one week prior) in the area. Within 14 days of the discovery of the calf carcass, a wolf was removed via the “Caught in the Act” authority (WAC 220-440-080) less than three miles from where the calf carcass was discovered. Repeated reports from the producer (including hired hand and range rider) and WDFW contracted range rider included recent wolf howls, tracks, scat, and cattle grouping behavior in the pasture where the calf was located. The calf carcass was removed by WDFW staff.