Courtesy Ron Eslick
A northeast Washington rancher says he may quit a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment that he’s had since the 1980s after wolves killed one of his calves Sunday in northern Ferry County.
Ron Eslick, 71, said the Black Angus calf, a week and a half old, was the first animal he’s lost to wolves, as far as he knows. He said he will look into grazing on private pastures this summer rather than risk losing more livestock on an open range.
“It’s been a perfect range,” Eslick said. “I don’t want to give it up, but I’m not going to feed the wolves.”
Several sources said the Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the calf was killed by wolves. The department did not respond to requests for details and confirmation.
It’s unclear which wolfpack attacked the calf, though the herd was close to the Togo pack’s territory in northern Ferry County. Togo was one of four new packs identified by Fish and Wildlife in 2017. It has not been officially blamed for any previous depredations.
Eslick has a permit to graze cattle on the Jasper allotment in the Colville National Forest.
Eslick said a neighbor saw the wolf over the calf. The wolf left, leaving the partially eaten carcass.
“A lot of the quarters were eaten off,” he said. “If we had come two hours later, it would have been eaten and nobody would have known anything about it.”
Eslick said the calf was killed about 600 yards from his brother’s home and was found on federal land just inside the boundary with private land north of Orient, an unincorporated community that borders Stevens County.
Eslick said officials suggested he could put flashing lights on the 1,300-acre allotment to prevent wolf attacks. He said he’s checking on the condition of fences on pastures about 12 miles away.
Fish and Wildlife has adopted a policy of releasing information about wolf attacks on its own delayed schedule.
“I don’t think WDFW has a lot of interest in telling people what’s happening up here,” Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen said. “There’s been less information, and it’s getting progressively worse.”