On July 13, WDFW lethally removed a radio-collared adult male member of the OPT wolf pack. WDFW’s approach to incremental lethal removal consists of a period of active operations followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions changed the pack’s behavior. Since the removal, WDFW staff have investigated three more livestock depredations in the same area (a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in Ferry County) in addition to four reported on July 23.
On July 26, the livestock producer who has been experiencing depredations discovered three injured calves while gathering and moving cattle. WDFW staff were alerted and investigated the injuries. All of the calves had bite lacerations and puncture wounds with swelling and hemorrhaging in the underlying tissue. The calves were treated and released back to the pasture.
The damage to each of these calves was indicative of wolf depredation. In addition, location data from a GPS-collared wolf in the OPT pack showed he was in the area where the calves were discovered. The exact date calves were injured could not be determined from the evidence present, but injuries on two of the calves were estimated to be four to five days old and injuries on the third calf were at least a week old. Based on the evidence, WDFW staff confirmed these injuries were caused by wolves.
On July 10, WDFW released an update detailing the proactive nonlethal conflict deterrence measures in place prior to the confirmed wolf depredation on July 6, and the subsequent lethal removal of an OPT wolf on July 13. Following the depredation confirmed on July 6, WDFW-contracted range riders were in the area for two days before pausing activity during lethal removal efforts. The WDFW-contracted range riders did not resume riding because the livestock producer prefers that contracted range riders not work with their cattle at this time.
The producer is continuing to remove or secure livestock carcasses (when discovered) to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and remove sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed. WDFW and county staff are continuing to coordinate patrols of the grazing area to increase human presence and use Fox lights at salting and watering locations to deter wolves. Other livestock producers with cattle on federal grazing allotments in the OPT pack territory have deployed range riders.
Since the removal of an OPT wolf on July 13, the OPT pack has been involved in seven depredation incidents (two killed and five injured livestock), and a total of 27 since Sept. 5, 2018—depredation activity is summarized in every monthly wolf update.
Director Susewind is now assessing this situation and considering next steps. WDFW will keep the public informed about this activity through weekly updates. The next update will be provided on Aug. 6 or earlier.
2019 OPT pack updates
For a summary of removal operations in the OPT pack during 2018, please see page 37 of the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2018 Annual Report. WDFW will provide a final report on any lethal removal operations during 2019 in the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2019 Annual Report.
A summary of all documented depredation activity within the past ten months is included in every monthly wolf update.