WDFW’s 2017 Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol describes tools and approaches designed to influence pack behavior with the goal of reducing the potential for recurrent livestock depredations while continuing to promote wolf recovery.
On August 25, WDFW notified the public that non-lethal deterrence measures were not achieving that goal in the Sherman pack territory and that the director had authorized incremental lethal removal of wolves as another tool to address recurrent depredations.
That approach consists of a period of active removal operations followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions changed the pack’s behavior. Between August 25 and September 1, the department removed one wolf from the Sherman Pack, then initiated an evaluation period September 2 to assess the effect of that action on the pack’s behavior.
Range riding activity has continued in the grazing allotments. The producer rotates five WDFW contract range riders throughout the grazing allotments to increase the level of human presence around the cattle. On May 9, before the producer turned out the cattle, the range riders started patrolling the area to check for carnivore activity and to proactively increase regular human presence. They have continued to patrol the area occupied by cattle on a near-daily basis, and communicate frequently with the producer. In late July, three additional range riders began rotating shifts, patrolling the surrounding grazing allotments. Any changes in cattle behavior or carnivore activity have been shared with WDFW. Five other people – including the producer, his family, and employees – also work cattle throughout their allotments and have noted wolf activity in the area.
The department has not documented any wolf depredations by the Sherman pack since the evaluation period started (the last known wolf depredation was August 28). The evaluation period is ongoing. Per the protocol, the department may consider initiating another incremental lethal removal period if a fresh wolf depredation is documented during the evaluation period (i.e. not one that likely occurred during or before the removal period).
In the September 1 update, we reported that on August 28, WDFW officials confirmed that one or more wolves from the Sherman Pack killed a calf on grazing lands in Ferry County, marking the fifth depredation on cattle by the pack since June 12, 2017. We indicated that the details of the investigation would be provided in this update, which is below.
On August 28, 2017, WDFW Staff responded to a report of a wolf depredation on a calf in Ferry County. The calf had bite lacerations and bite puncture wounds to the left flank, left shoulder, left rear leg, left side of the brisket, lower left front leg, left upper neck, right hock, right rear leg, right front leg, and the nose. Several injured areas had hemorrhaging to the underlying tissue adjacent to the bite wounds indicating the calf was alive during the depredation event. The GPS points from the Sherman Pack collared wolf showed that the wolf had been at the location at the estimated time of death. Based on all available factors, the event was classified as a confirmed wolf depredation by one or more members of the Sherman Pack. The depredation occurred on the Colville National Forest grazing lands.