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 depredation while continuing to promote wolf recovery.
On July 20, WDFW notified the public that non-lethal deterrence measures were not achieving that goal in the Smackout pack territory, and that the department’s director had authorized incremental lethal removal of wolves as another tool to address recurrent depredations.
Between July 20 and 30, the department removed two wolves from the Smackout Pack and as of August 3 was continuing to evaluate the impact of the removals on the pack’s behavior.
Protocol and management action
The department’s approach to incremental removal consists of a period of active operations followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions changed the pack’s behavior.
The protocol states that once a removal operation has begun, the department will update the public weekly on the number of wolves removed. This is the second weekly update related to this management action.
The department began the evaluation period on July 31. The duration of this phase is largely dependent on the behavior of the wolves. If depredations continue after the removal period (in other words, a fresh depredation, not one that likely occurred during or before the removal period), the department may initiate another lethal removal action. No additional wolf depredations have been documented since the depredation on July 22.
Continued deterrence efforts
The livestock involved in the five Smackout pack depredations documented by WDFW since September 2016 belong to three producers.
Producer 1 – Wolf depredations to livestock occurred on Sept. 21 and 29, 2016, and July 18, 2017, on a federal grazing allotment. The producer continues to:
Use a range rider, who is on the allotment daily and has a data sharing agreement with the department that enables her to track the movements of collared wolves in the pack. The producer has additional range riders who can fill in as needed. Range riders have firearms and pyrotechnics to haze wolves found near livestock.
Maintain sanitation in the area. The range rider is removing sick or injured cattle from the range and securing or removing cattle carcasses from areas near livestock.
Use fladry and other deterrence measures. The cattle are currently enclosed in a fenced pasture surrounded by fladry (a fence with streamers designed to deter wolves).
Producer 2 – Wolf depredations to livestock occurred Sept. 28, 2016, on a federal grazing allotment. The producer continues to:
Use a range rider under contract to WDFW, who also has a data sharing agreement.
Maintain sanitation by removing sick or injured cattle from the range, and by securing or removing cattle carcasses from areas near livestock.
Producer 3 – A wolf depredation occurred on July 22, 2017, in a private, fenced pasture near the producer’s residence. The producer is:
Using Fox Lights (a type of strobe light designed to deter wolves and other large carnivores) around the pasture where the depredation occurred.
Continuing to check the cattle daily.