On July 11, a group of livestock producers and ranch staff discovered multiple injured calves while gathering cattle in a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in Stevens County. WDFW staff investigated eight total injured calves the day they were reported. This incident occurred within the Wedge pack territory.
The investigations of seven of the eight injured calves revealed bite wounds and lacerations consistent with wolf depredation. The injuries to three of the calves were estimated to have occurred 1-2 days prior to the investigation; wounds on another calf were estimated to be 2-3 days old; wounds on another calf were estimated to be 3-4 days old; and injuries to the two remaining calves were estimated to have occurred 5-7 days prior to the investigation. Based on the estimated ages of the injuries, WDFW staff considered these depredations as four separate events.
When range riders observe a group of cattle that are bedded and appear to be relaxed and calm, riders do not make them stand, attempt to move them, or harass them; as such, injured calves are not always readily discernible and easily observed. The livestock producers removed the most severely injured calves from the range back to the ranch headquarters for medical attention and monitoring.
An additional injured calf was reported to and investigated by WDFW staff on July 13, and was confirmed as a wolf depredation.
The combination of bite wounds and lacerations with associated swelling consistent with hemorrhaging on all of the calves and recent wolf locations in the area provide evidence consistent with confirmed wolf depredations.
The affected livestock producer had the following proactive, nonlethal deterrents in place at the time of the depredation: removing or treating sick or injured livestock when discovered, carcass sanitation, calving away from areas occupied by wolves, delaying the turnout of livestock until wild ungulates are born, human presence around livestock, and using range riders.
This livestock producer used Cattle Producers of Washington range riders for six full days and eight partial days from May 21 through mid-June mainly on an 800-acre private pasture. Range riders transitioned with the livestock to larger summer grazing allotments. Following the depredation confirmed on June 17, range riding and livestock monitoring efforts were intensified. Range riding has been occurring four days a week, with the largest gap in coverage being two days. In addition to this increase in range riding, the producer, family members, or ranch staff have checked the cattle on the grazing allotment near the Wedge territory on a daily basis since the depredation confirmed on June 17.
WDFW has documented nine depredation incidents since May 11, 2020 attributed to the Wedge pack. WDFW staff are discussing how to most effectively address this situation; Director Susewind will also assess this situation and consider what action to take.