Confirmed wolf depredation in Smackout pack territory

(PRESS RELEASE/Chewelah Independent)

On April 3, a community member reported witnessing four to five wolves in the Smackout wolf pack territory in northeast Washington chasing and attacking a cow-calf pair, separating the pair from the rest of the herd. The incident took place in a private calving pasture. The community member observed several wolves biting the separated calf and fired a firearm multiple times, scaring off the wolves.

Upon receiving the report from the community member, the Stevens-Ferry County Wildlife Specialist responded and identified the injured calf and notified WDFW staff to conduct a depredation investigation. Shortly after receiving the call, WDFW staff responded to the scene.

The investigation revealed bite marks, puncture wounds, and lacerations consistent with wolf depredation. Further investigation revealed extensive wounds to the inner and outer hindquarters. Blood and signs of swelling were also observed on the hip joint and inner thigh. According to the livestock owner, the calf was last seen the night before and appeared healthy and uninjured.

WDFW staff classified this as a confirmed wolf depredation for multiple reasons, including the detailed report of wolves pursuing and attacking the calf; the abundance and location of bite marks, puncture wounds, and lacerations consistent with wolf bites and wolf attack patterns; and the presence of fresh wolf tracks around the calving pasture where the calf was injured.

The affected livestock producer checked their cattle at least once daily prior to the incident. The calving pasture is adjacent to a heavily traveled road and surrounded by several occupied structures. Following the incident, WDFW staff provided the livestock producer with Fox lights and information on additional measures that could be taken such as spotlighting in the calving pasture at night, installing fladry, checking the herd several times a day, removing or burying afterbirth, and monitoring for sick or injured cattle.

A summary of all documented depredation activity within the past 10 months is included in every monthly wolf update.