Local News

WDFW plans lethal action to address predation by wolf pack in Ferry County

Aug 25, 2017

State wildlife managers plan to take lethal action against a wolf pack that has repeatedly preyed on livestock in Ferry County during the past two months.

Jim Unsworth, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) authorized field staff to lethally remove one or more members of the Sherman wolf pack, which was involved in four documented occasions of predations on livestock since mid-June.

At least three calves were killed and one was injured by members of the pack, according to investigations conducted by WDFW field staff. The pack is estimated to have at least two members – including one fitted with a tracking collar – although a survey last winter indicated there were five members in the pack..

Donny Martorello, WDFW’s lead wolf manager, said the department’s response is consistent with Washington's Wolf Management Plan of 2011, which authorizes WDFW to take action to address repeated attacks on livestock.

Martorello noted that the rancher who lost livestock to predation by the Sherman pack employed a variety of non-lethal deterrents before lethal measure were approved. The rancher engaged multiple range riders to patrol his herd in a leased grazing area on a near-daily basis.

The rancher and the range riders also shared information with WDFW about cattle behavior and wolf activities throughout the area, Martorello said.

“This rancher has made concerted efforts to protect his livestock using non-lethal measures, and has met the department’s prerequisite for lethal action,” he said. “Our goal is to change the pack's behavior before the situation gets worse.”

Martorello said the situation also meets the department’s condition for lethal action that predation by a wolf pack occur three times in a 30-day period or four times in a 10-month period.

That condition is part of a protocol for wolf removal developed by WDFW in conjunction with an 18-member advisory group that represents the concerns of environmentalists, hunters, and livestock ranchers.

“The purpose of this action is to change the pack's behavior, while also meeting the state's wolf-conservation goals,” Martorello said. “That means incrementally removing wolves and assessing the results before further action.”

That is the same approach the department took when it removed two members of the Smackout Pack in Stevens County. Since taking that action in late June, WDFW has not documented any further incidences of wolves from the Smackout pack preying on livestock and continues to monitor the situation.

The Sherman and Smackout packs are two of 20 wolf packs documented in Washington state by WDFW in 2016. According to state surveys, the state's wolf population is currently growing at a rate of about 30 percent each year.

For more information about wolf management actions, see Update on Washington Wolves at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/.


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