WDFW director pauses efforts to remove OPT pack wolves

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On Nov. 13, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind paused action seeking to lethally remove the two remaining wolves from a pack that repeatedly preyed on cattle while occupying the old Profanity Territory (OPT) in Ferry County.  However, the agency has not moved into a formal evaluation period.

On Sept. 12, Susewind authorized the initial incremental removal of OPT pack members after WDFW field staff confirmed that the pack had killed one calf and injured five others during the previous eight days on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in the Kettle Range.

The Director’s action was consistent with both the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the department’s Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol, which allows WDFW to use lethal means to reduce future livestock depredations if the department documents three depredations by a pack on livestock within 30 days, or four within ten months.

Previously, on Sept. 28, WDFW had suspended the use of lethal measures after removing two wolves (a juvenile wolf and an adult female) from the pack, and initiated an evaluation period to determine whether that action would change the pack’s behavior.

However, by Oct. 23, the department documented six more depredations by the pack during the evaluation period for a total of 16 depredations (13 injured and three killed livestock) by the pack in under two months. The additional depredations prompted Susewind to reauthorize the removal operation.

Using aircraft, WDFW staff attempted to remove the remaining two pack members (a collared adult male and an uncollared juvenile wolf) multiple times over a two-week period. Staff were unable to locate the uncollared wolf due to the dense forest canopy.

The proactive non-lethal deterrents deployed in the area are described in the wolf updates on Sept. 28, Oct. 19, and Oct. 26.  By Nov. 9, the producer had removed all but a few of the 198 pairs from the grazing allotment.

Director Susewind is assessing the situation before considering any further action.