Wolf News Roundup 11/16/2018
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
November 16, 2018
Nationwide wolf delisting
McClatchy news reports that Congress is scheduled to consider a bill that would result in the nationwide removal of wolves from federal protections, while one activist group has just filed a lawsuit seeking a new national wolf recovery plan.
WA cattle depredations
According to the Capital Press, wolves drove the Washington’s largest domestic sheep producer off the national forest, and the question is whether the same will occur with the state’s largest cattle producer. Click on the link below to read about the wolf problems experienced by the Diamond M ranch.
WA lethal removal
On Nov. 13, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind paused action seeking to lethally remove the two remaining wolves from a pack that repeatedly preyed on cattle while occupying the old Profanity Territory (OPT) in Ferry County. However, the agency has not moved into a formal evaluation period.
On Sept. 12, Susewind authorized the initial incremental removal of OPT pack members after WDFW field staff confirmed that the pack had killed one calf and injured five others during the previous eight days on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in the Kettle Range.
The Director’s action was consistent with both the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the department’s Wolf-Livestock Interaction Protocol, which allows WDFW to use lethal means to reduce future livestock depredations if the department documents three depredations by a pack on livestock within 30 days, or four within ten months.
Previously, on Sept. 28, WDFW had suspended the use of lethal measures after removing two wolves (a juvenile wolf and an adult female) from the pack, and initiated an evaluation period to determine whether that action would change the pack’s behavior.
However, by Oct. 23, the department documented six more depredations by the pack during the evaluation period for a total of 16 depredations (13 injured and three killed livestock) by the pack in under two months. The additional depredations prompted Susewind to reauthorize the removal operation. Using aircraft, WDFW staff attempted to remove the remaining two pack members (a collared adult male and an uncollared juvenile wolf) multiple times over a two-week period. Staff were unable to locate the uncollared wolf due to the dense forest canopy.
The proactive non-lethal deterrents deployed in the area are described in the wolf updates on Sept. 28, Oct. 19, and Oct. 26. By Nov. 9, the producer had removed all but a few of the 198 pairs from the grazing allotment.
Director Susewind is assessing the situation before considering any further action.
On Nov. 8, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) marksman shot and killed an adult male member of the Smackout wolf pack, which has repeatedly preyed on cattle on private grazing lands in Stevens County.
At that time, the pack included four to five adult wolves and no known pups. WDFW Director Kelly Susewind authorized the incremental removal of one to two members of the Smackout pack after WDFW field staff confirmed that the pack preyed on five cattle since Aug. 20.
The affected livestock producers had several proactive non-lethal wolf deterrent measures in place while livestock were on the range, including calving outside of known wolf territory, containment of livestock in fenced pastures, human presence around livestock, range riders, Fox lights and radio-activated guard (RAG) boxes in specific pastures, hazing wolves with nonlethal munitions, fladry, and the removal and/or confinement of sick and injured livestock and livestock carcasses (see wolf update on Nov. 6 for details for each producer).
After moving their cattle to private pastures, the producers also maintained human presence around livestock, deployed range riders and fladry, and observed approved sanitation practices place.
Four heifers were killed and one calf was injured in those depredation incidents, meeting the criteria for considering lethal action under WDFW's wolf-livestock interaction protocol. Under that policy, WDFW can lethally remove wolves if department staff documents three depredations by wolves on livestock within 30 days, or four within ten months, and depredations are expected to continue.
Because the most recent depredations involved larger cattle located on private pastures, WDFW wildlife managers expected the pattern of livestock depredation by wolves in this area to continue, leading to the recommendation of lethal
After WDFW staff reported removing the adult male wolf, Susewind suspended removal operations and initiated an evaluation period to determine if that action will disrupt the pack’s pattern of depredating livestock.