One ‘OPT pack’ wolf removed, one more cow killed

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On September 16, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife marksman shot and killed a juvenile member of a wolf pack currently occupying the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) that has repeatedly preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.

The young wolf, weighing 50 pounds, was one of four pack members spotted that day by a WDFW helicopter crew. Identifying adults and young wolves from the air is difficult this time of year due to the size of the animals.  

On Sept. 12, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized “incremental” removal of wolves from the OPT pack, after confirming that one or more pack members killed one calf and injured five others from Sept. 4-7 on a U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotment.

One day after the juvenile wolf was removed, WDFW confirmed that an adult cow was killed by wolves in the same general area. WDFW staff investigating the cow carcass determined that it was likely killed prior to the removal of the wolf.  The department is currently working to determine the next option to deter wolf depredation by the OPT pack under the current incremental removal action.

This action is consistent with the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and wolf-livestock protocol, which allows the department to take lethal action after confirming three depredations by wolves on livestock within 30 days or four within 10 months.

The series of depredations from Sept. 4-7 met the first criterion, in addition to a requirement in the protocol that non-lethal deterrents were in place, but did not prevent conflict between wolves and livestock. Non-lethal deterrents employed by the livestock producer whose cattle were killed or injured by the OPT pack include:

  • Using range riders to keep watch over his herd.

  • Calving outside of occupied wolf range

  • Delaying turning out cattle until July 10 – a month later than usual – when calving is finished and the calves are larger and less prone to predation.

  • Removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd.

  • Removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area.