Wolf kills calf in Ferry County

(By Staff Reports/Chewelah Independent)

State officials have reported the first wolf depredation on cattle in 2017. (WDFW photo)

Remains of another calf found 150 yards away…

The death of one calf has been confirmed as a wolf kill by WDFW officials and the scattered skeletal remains of a second calf was found but the cause was not determined on a grazing allotment in Ferry County. The carcasses were found on June 12 by a WDFW contract range rider who was patrolling the area which has a cluster of GPS points from a collared wolf from the Sherman Pack, a press release by the WDFW said.

Department officials said the bite lacerations and puncture wounds were consistent with a wolf kill or depredation. It was the first reported depredation of the year.

The calves belonged to a cattle producer that was grazing on a boundary of private and Bureau of Land Management lands in the Lambert Creek area of Ferry County. That same cattle producer had cattle depredated by wolves last year and in 2012.

GPS points from the Sherman Pack collared wolf showed that it has been at the attack location several times between June 3-11. Data from a wolf in the Profanity Peak Pack also showed that the animal was in the same area from June 5-7. The attack occurred on BLM grazing lands and the remains of the second calf were found 150 yards downhill from the first calf carcass scattered over a 40-yard area.

The calves had been born outside the area and had been trucked in for the summer grazing area. Diamond M Ranch uses five WDFW contract riders to increase the level of human presence around the cattle in the grazing allotment and the riders began patrolling the area on May 9 before the cattle were turned out.

The patrols occur on nearly a daily basis and communicate with the producer. Changes in cattle and carnivore activity is also shared with the WDFW. The riders also monitor the activity of GPS collared wolves.

The WDFW said there are no known wolf dens or rendezvous sites in the area.

The state will consider lethal control after three depredations within 30 days or four within 10 months by a wolfpack.

In 2016, WDFW spent $135,000 when they lethally removed seven of 11 gray wolves who were members of the Profanity Peak pack that had attacked an estimated 15 cattle in grazing allotments.

The state estimates that at the end of 2016, there are at least 115 wolves in 20 packs, gaining at least 25 in their overall numbers despite the lethal removal last year by WDFW.

Wolves are native to Washington and were considered almost extinct in the 1930s after trapping, poisoning and shooting. Wolves began to make a return to the state in 2008 when the animals arrived on their own in Washington from other states.

Northeastern Washington has seen the most influx of the animals as 15 of the 20 packs are located in this region. WDFW has lethally removed wolves in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

WDFW officials have trapped, collared and released what is believed to be the first male gray wolf east of the Cascades. The wolf was found east of Burlington near Marblemount in Skagit County.

Previously there was an indication that wolves had moved west in April of 2015 when a wolf was hit by a vehicle and died on Interstate 90 past the Cascades.

There are no confirmed packs – groups of two or more – in Western Washington.

A WSU wolf researcher is planning to sue WSU for the denial of his free speech rights and then vacating his teaching position, The Daily Evergreen is reporting.

Robert Wielgus, director of WSU’s Large Carnivore Conservation Laboratory said WSU discredited and suppressed his speech after he made critical statements about the lethal removal of the Profanity Peak pack.

Wieglus plans to sue the university in early July for defamation and damages that include six years of salary and benefits.

Wielgus told the Seattle Times in 2017 that a livestock producer had put his cattle directly on top of a pack’s den site. WSU released a later statement saying that was inaccurate and that the livestock producer did not intentionally place cattle on or near the den site.