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 depredations while continuing to promote wolf recovery.
On August 25, WDFW notified the public that non-lethal deterrence measures were not achieving that goal in the Sherman pack territory, and that the director had authorized incremental lethal removal of wolves as another tool to address recurrent depredations.
On August 28, WDFW officials also confirmed that one or more wolves from the Sherman Pack killed a calf on grazing lands in Ferry County, marking the fifth depredation on cattle by the pack since June 12, 2017.
The depredation occurred within the Colville National Forest, in the same vicinity as the previous four depredations. Details of the investigation, including factors and evidence that enabled WDFW investigators to confirm the latest wolf depredation, will be provided in the next Sherman pack update.
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 individuals removed. In the week since August 25, the department has removed one wolf from the Sherman Pack, which occurred early today (September 1). As called for in the protocol, the evaluation period has begun.
The duration of the evaluation period is largely based on the behavior of the wolves. If the department confirms another livestock depredation by the Sherman pack after the removal period (i.e. a fresh depredation, not one that likely occurred during or before the removal period), the department may initiate another lethal removal action.
Range riding activity will continue in the grazing allotments. The producer rotates five WDFW contract range riders throughout the grazing allotments to increase the level of human presence around the cattle. The range riders started patrolling the area on May 9, before the cattle were turned out to check for carnivore activity and to proactively increase regular human presence. They have continued to patrol the area occupied by cattle on a near-daily basis, and communicate frequently with the producer. In late July, three additional range riders began rotating shifts patrolling the surrounding grazing allotments. Any changes in cattle behavior or carnivore activity have been shared with WDFW. The producer, his family, and employees (a total of five) also work cattle throughout their allotments and noted wolf activity in the area.
The department will provide a final report to the public on the wolf-livestock interactions in the Sherman pack after the summer grazing season ends.