(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
WOLF KILLED BY WDFW: WDFW removed adult female on Sept. 25 after it preyed on cattle…
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced on Sept. 25 that a female member of the Grouse Flats wolf pack has been lethally removed from the Grouse Flats wolf pack in Southeast Washington.
This comes after the pack has been involved in seven depredations since Aug. 23.
The agency said it believes this was a breeding female.
WDFW said that the Grouse Flats pack has repeatedly preyed on cattle on grazing lands in southeast Washington. On Sept. 24, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized lethal removal after WDFW staff confirmed four livestock depredations by the pack.
The agency uses incremental removal which consists of periods of active operations of lethal removal followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions changed the pack’s behavior. With this lethal removal, the department will see if the Grouse Flats pack updates. The lethal removal did spur the Defenders of Wildlife to send a letter to The Independent decrying the killing.
GOVERNOR INSLEE SENDS LETTER TO WDFW SAYING KILL FEWER WOLVES
Washington Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to WDFW last week saying the state needs to find new methods to better support coexistence between Washington’s livestock industry and gray wolves in the state. Inslee added “the status quo of annual lethal removal is simply unacceptable.”
WDFW, however, was following the guidelines of its Wolf Management Plan which was set into place with input from the Wolf Advisory Group, a combination of conservation groups, local politicians and ranchers. As the Capital Press pointed out, Inslee’s letter flies in the face of wolf management protocol that has been established after years of deliberation between all groups interested in both cattle safety and wolf recovery.
No immediate changes have been made to the way that WDFW carries out its management policies.
Several conservation groups sent letters and statements to The Independent in their support of Inslee’s letter. Conservation groups have been using billboards and online Facebook groups to criticize Inslee for allowing WDFW to kill wolves.
Since 2012, the department has killed 27 wolves to protect livestock, with many of those lethal removals occurring on the Kettle River Range. This year, the complete removal of the Old Profanity Territory pack – which ranged for 226 square miles – caused much uproar. WDFW and its stringent confirmation process determined the pack had attacked cattle at least 29 times since September 2018.
The department said that “we all share the perspective that something has to change to reduce the loss of both wolves and livestock in this area.”
Also this year, the Togo pack and the Grouse Flats pack have attacked cattle and have been designated with lethal removal protocol. No wolves have been removed from the Togo pack.
WDFW said that the killing of the wolves would not stop the population from growing, which is estimated to be at a minimum population of 126 wolves and 27 packs. This is a minimum number and the agency said the number is likely higher and many ranchers and eastern Washington groups say the number is higher.
According to the agency, 28 percent of the wolf population could be killed each year and the population would still grow. Between 2011 and 2018, about 10 percent of the wolf population died, and in 2019 so far, the department suspects 16 have died, according to the Capital Press, which equals 13 percent. These totals through the years include wolves killed by tribal hunters, poachers and unknown causes.
These mortality rates, the Capital Press pointed out, are much lower than wolf death rates in Idaho and Montana when they were at this stage of their population recovery.
WHAT WAS SEEN NEAR JOE ALBI STADIUM OVER THE WEEKEND? PROBABLY A DOG OR COYOTE
After reports this weekend of what looked like a wolf running around near Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane, WDFW biologists looked at footage and believe it was a very healthy coyote or wolf-dog hybrid within the state’s second biggest city’s limits.
Wolf specialists said that wolves rarely walk through neighborhoods as they are wary of people and do not enter large metropolitan areas.
Still, Stevens County has had seen a bevy of wolf sightings of varying quality, and Stevens County Special Deputy Jeff Flood has even issued warnings about wolves roaming near residents. These are, obviously, the rural areas rather than a populated neighborhood in Spokane.