WDFW Director Kelly Susewind today reauthorized lethal removal in the Togo pack to remove the remaining three wolves that have repeatedly preyed on cattle in Ferry County.
On Sept. 2, the department initiated an evaluation period to determine whether removing one wolf from the Togo pack had 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 2017 wolf-livestock 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 a wolf depredation to a calf on Sept. 7, which occurred after the removal period. That incident could have supported a decision to remove more wolves, but the Director sustained the evaluation period because there was no clear path to removing all the wolves without risking the orphaning of one or both pups given their age and size at the time.
The department documented another wolf depredation to a calf on Oct. 26, bringing the total to 6 depredation by the pack in the last 10 months (and eight in the last 12 months). The calf had bite wounds and lacerations in the inner rear legs. Based on the stage of healing of the wounds, the attack likely occurred in mid-October.
Director Susewind re-authorized lethal removal of the remaining wolves in the pack because the latest depredation is an indication that the pack behavior of preying on livestock has not changed.
Director Susewind has decided to issue a permit to the livestock owner allowing him, his immediate family, or his employees to kill wolves if they are within his private fenced pasture where the livestock are located. Susewind decided to issue a permit rather than having department staff conduct the removal because of limitations of resources; the department is set to have three concurrent lethal removal operation underway in the OPT, Smackout, and Togo packs (see public notice today on the Smackout pack)
Based on a recent court order, the department must provide one business day (8 court hours) advance public notice before initiating lethal action on wolves. Consequently, the department will issue the permit no earlier than Thursday morning, Nov. 8.
The affected producer has met the expectation in the wolf plan and 2017 protocol for implementing at least two proactive non-lethal deterrents and responsive deterrent measures. Those details were provided to the public on updates on Aug. 20, Sept. 13, and Nov. 6, found here.
Director Susewind may direct department staff to directly undertake the removal if more resources become available in the coming weeks.