Old Pro­fan­ity Peak Pack wolves kill two calves, 1 cow in Ferry County

The News Tribune - - News - BY ELI FRANCOVICH Spokesman-Re­view

NO WOLF DE­TER­RENTS WERE IN PLACE BE­CAUSE THE WASHINGTON DE­PART­MENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE BE­LIEVED THE CAT­TLE WERE OFF THE FED­ERAL GRAZ­ING AL­LOT­MENT.

The car­casses of two calves and a cow were dis­cov­ered in Ferry County on a fed­eral graz­ing al­lot­ment early in Jan­uary.

Wolves from the Old Pro­fan­ity Peak Pack area are re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Washington De­part­ment of Fish and Wildlife.

The pro­ducer who owned the cat­tle is the same pro­ducer who lost mul­ti­ple an­i­mals to wolves in 2018.

No wolf de­ter­rents were in place, ac­cord­ing to WDFW, be­cause the agency be­lieved the cat­tle were off the fed­eral graz­ing al­lot­ment. Per fed­eral rules pro­duc­ers can only have their cat­tle on al­lot­ments for cer­tain pe­ri­ods of time. In this case the pro­ducer was sup­posed to have the cat­tle of the al­lot­ment by Oct. 15, although the For­est Ser­vice did issue a short ex­ten­sion

Jay Shep­herd, a co­founder of the North East Washington Wolf-Cat­tle Col­lab­o­ra­tive and the wolf program lead for Con­ser­va­tion North­west, said ranch­ers strug­gled to get their cat­tle of the fed­eral al­lot­ments this year.

“This was a dif­fi­cult year for ev­ery­body not just that al­lot­ment holder,” Shep­herd said. “It was just a dif­fi­cult gath­er­ing year. Largely be­cause of the pres­sure from wolves.”

The threat of pre­da­tion dis­perses cat­tle and thick­ness of the Colville National For­est makes it dif­fi­cult for ranch­ers to find the an­i­mals.

The OPT pack has been cred­ited with 16 depre­da­tions (13 in­juries and three killed live­stock) in un­der two months, ac­cord­ing to WDFW.

Count­ing the newly dis­cov­ered an­i­mals the OPT pack been in­volved in 19 depre­da­tions since Sept. 4, 2018.

WDFW’s lethal re­moval policy al­lows killing wolves if they prey on live­stock three times in a 30-day pe­riod or four times in a 10-month pe­riod. That policy was de­vel­oped in 2016 by WDFW and its 18-mem­ber Wolf Ad­vi­sory Group, which rep­re­sents the con­cerns of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, hunters and live­stock ranch­ers.

The policy also stip­u­lates cat­tle pro­duc­ers have em­ployed at least two proac­tive de­ter­rence tech­niques.

In Oc­to­ber WDFW at­tempted to kill the two sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the OPT pack but they were un­able to lo­cate the wolves.

WDFW Di­rec­tor Kelly Susewind paused the lethal re­moval order. The order could be re­in­stated at any time, said Donny Mar­torello, the wolf policy lead for WDFW.

“Right now the di­rec­tor is keep­ing all of his op­tions open,” Mar­torello said. “He is go­ing to be re­ceiv­ing in­for­ma­tion from our field staff on the de­tails and specifics of this sit­u­a­tion.”

Mar­torello doesn’t know when ex­actly Susewind will make a decision, although he an­tic­i­pates that it will take a week or two.

WDFW is in the process of sur­vey­ing Washington’s wolf pop­u­la­tion in an ef­fort to come to a min­i­mum num­ber of wolves in the state. The sur­vey re­sults will be an­nounced in March.

A min­i­mum of 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 suc­cess­ful breed­ing pairs was re­ported by WDFW at this time last year.

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