On July 13, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lethally removed a radio-collared adult male member of the OPT wolf pack. This pack has preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands repeatedly in the Kettle River range of Ferry County.
WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized incremental removal of wolves from the OPT pack July 10 after WDFW staff confirmed a livestock depredation by the pack on July 6. In 2018, the OPT pack was involved in a total of 16 depredations in under two months (three killed and 13 injured livestock), which prompted the lethal removal of two wolves by the department on Sept. 16, 2018 and Sept. 28, 2018. On Nov. 13, 2018, the Director paused action seeking to lethally remove the two remaining wolves from the OPT pack, one of which was the wolf removed in this operation.
The livestock producer who owns the affected livestock took several proactive, nonlethal, conflict deterrence measures detailed on July 10. The producer is continuing to coordinate patrols of the grazing area with WDFW and county staff, removing or securing livestock carcasses to avoid attracting wolves to the rest of the herd, using Fox lights at salting and watering locations to deter wolves, and removing sick and injured livestock (when discovered) from the grazing area until they are healed.
WDFW’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 department has now entered an evaluation period.
If WDFW documents another livestock depredation and confirms that it likely occurred after today’s action, the department may initiate another lethal removal action following the guidelines of the Wolf Plan and 2017 wolf-livestock interaction protocol.
WDFW will keep the public informed about this activity through weekly updates. The next update will be provided on July 23. WDFW will provide a final report on any lethal removal operations in the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2019 Annual Report.
2019 OPT pack updates
For a summary of removal operations in this pack during 2018, please see page 37 of the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2018 Annual Report.
A summary of all documented depredation activity within the past ten months is included in every monthly wolf update.