WDFW Director Kelly Susewind today reauthorized department staff to lethally remove the remaining two wolves from a pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle while occupying the Old Profanity Territory (OPT) in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.
On Sept. 28 the department initiated an evaluation period to determine whether removing two wolves from the OPT pack last month has changed the pack’s behavior and reduced the potential for recurrent wolf depredations on livestock.
The Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the department’s protocol indicate that a post-removal evaluation period should consider any depredations that take place after one or more wolves are removed from a pack.
The department documented two wolf depredations to calves found in the allotment between Oct. 5-7, and determined that the depredation by the OPT on Oct. 5 likely occurred after the removal period.
That incident would have supported a decision to remove more wolves at that time, but the Director sustained the evaluation period to consider the details and complexities of the situation in the field.
The U.S. Forest Service allotment where the affected producer grazes his livestock is large and lies entirely within the territory of the OPT pack. After the Oct. 5 depredation, the department took additional steps to document the range-riding operation on the allotment to make sure it is as effective as it can be.
However, the department documented another wolf depredation to livestock on Oct. 23, bringing the total to 16 wolf depredations by the OPT pack.
The affected producer was scheduled to remove his livestock from the U.S. Forest Service allotment by Oct.15. In practice, about 90 percent of the livestock are usually removed by that date. Due to the dense timber and rugged terrain, it may take several weeks longer to round up all the cattle on the allotment.
The producer is transporting a portion of his cattle to private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest and another portion out of state. The private grazing lands west of the Kettle Crest are within the OPT pack territory, although they are at a lower elevations and on the periphery of the pack territory, which may reduce the likelihood of wolf depredations in these areas this winter.
There are also several other allotments with cattle within the OPT that are in a similar situation in terms of removing them from Forest Service grazing allotments.
The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock has continued to employ non-lethal methods to deter wolves from preying on his herd. Strategies used include contracting range riders to monitor his herd, removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, and removing known sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed.
For more information, please see updates on the OPT pack on:
- Sept 7, 11, 12, 14, 18, 25, 28
- Oct 5, 19, 25