FERRY COUNTY, Washington — WDFW Director Kelly Susewind today authorized department staff to lethally remove wolves from a new pack that has repeatedly preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County.
WDFW staff have confirmed that on six separate occasions since Sept. 4, one or more members of the Old Profanity Territory pack killed one calf and injured five others on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment. The pack occupies the same general area as the Profanity Peak pack in 2016.
Five of the depredations are described in a Sept. 11 report available below. The sixth incident, confirmed after the report was published, resulted in an injured calf, which has been removed from the grazing allotment with its mother.
Susewind authorized “incremental” removal of wolves from the pack, consistent with the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the lethal removal provisions of the department’s wolf-livestock interaction protocol. Both the plan and protocol define initial incremental removal as meaning one or two wolves.
Under the protocol, WDFW can consider lethal action against wolves if department staff confirm three predations by wolves on livestock within 30 days, or four within 10 months. Depredations confirmed by WDFW in the past week meet the first criterion.
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 initiate lethal removal efforts no earlier than the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 13.
WDFW will use humane lethal removal methods consistent with state and federal laws. The objective is to use the best methods available while considering human safety, humaneness to wolves, swift completion of the removal, weather, efficacy, and cost. Likely options in this case include shooting from a helicopter, trapping, and shooting from the ground.
As called for in the plan and protocol, incremental removal includes periods of active removals or attempts to remove wolves followed by periods of evaluation to determine if pack behavior has changed.
The department documented the presence of the pack in May and notified the public on June 1. The affected livestock producer and USFS were also notified. Recent surveys indicate the pack includes three or four adult wolves and two pups. Wildlife managers have monitored the pack’s movements since June, when the adult male was captured and fitted with a tracking collar.
The protocol requires livestock producers to employ specified non-lethal measures to deter wolves from preying on livestock before WDFW will consider lethal action. In this case, the producer employed several approved deterrents that have already been exhausted. WDFW expects depredations to continue based of the history of depredations.
“This is a very difficult situation, especially given the history of wolf-livestock conflict in this area,” Susewind said. “We are committed to working with a diversity of stakeholders in a collaborative process to seek other creative and adaptive solutions to prevent future losses of wolves and livestock.”