Update for area of new wolf activity in Columbia County

Publish date

This is a weekly update for the area of new wolf pack activity in southeast Washington’s Columbia County following the authorization of lethal removal permits by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind on Nov. 10

On Nov. 10, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized permits for the removal of up to two wolves from an area of new wolf pack activity that is north of the Touchet pack territory and west of the Tucannon pack territory. This action is in response to repeated depredations of cattle on private grazing lands in Columbia County under the guidance of the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the lethal removal provisions of the department's wolf-livestock interaction protocol (PDF). No wolves have been removed since the authorization.

On Nov. 15, WDFW staff received a call from an additional livestock producer (different from the two producers who previously experienced livestock depredations in this area) reporting a dead 400-500-pound calf behind their house in their private pasture adjacent to their home. The livestock producer brought the cattle in this pasture off a private summer grazing allotment to their homestead for the winter and checks and feeds them daily.

Based on attack signatures, presence of bite and puncture wounds with associated hemorrhaging, feeding patterns on the carcass, available wolf location data, and trail camera photos in the immediate area, WDFW staff who investigated determined the incident was a confirmed wolf depredation. Staff assisted the livestock producer with carcass sanitation.

This livestock producer had not previously experienced depredations from this new wolf pack. The producer implemented several proactive nonlethal measures throughout the summer and fall including delayed turnout of calves, carcass sanitation, avoidance of core wolf activity areas, and calving in a pasture close to their residence that is checked daily.

In response to the depredation, WDFW staff and the livestock producer are deploying fladry around the weaning pasture and the pasture with cow/calf pairs and reducing the size of the pasture with weaning calves. If wolves breach the fladry surrounding these pastures, a RAG (radio-activated guard) box could be deployed in or near the pastures as an additional measure.

WDFW has now documented five depredation events affecting three different livestock producers resulting in two dead and four injured livestock since August 25, 2021, all attributed to wolves in the area of new wolf activity. All events except one were considered confirmed wolf depredation incidents; the other incident involved one calf confirmed injured by wolves and two others probably injured by wolves. All incidents took place on private land.

Considering the new information, Director Susewind has amended his Nov. 10 authorization to allow WDFW staff to lethally remove one to two wolves from the area of new wolf activity in Columbia County and to suspend lethal permits issued to livestock producers during WDFW operations and if any wolves are removed in WDFW operations.

The lethal removal authorization expires when the wolf or wolves in the permits have been removed or after Dec. 18, 2021 (regardless of whether wolves have been removed), whichever happens first. The authorization could be extended or amended to include other wolves in the pack area if additional depredations are documented in the 30 days following the amended authorization or other extenuating circumstances are identified.

WDFW will keep the public informed about this activity through weekly updates. The next update will be provided on November 29. 

Previous updates

2021 Columbia County area of new wolf activity updates

WDFW will provide a final report on this and any other lethal removal actions during 2021 in the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2021 Annual Report, which will be published during spring 2022. 

A summary of all documented depredation activity within the past 10 months is included in every monthly wolf update.