Courtesy of Ron Eslick
The wolfpack that killed a calf Sunday in northern Ferry County was the same pack that attacked two calves in the area last November, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday.
The attack was the third confirmed depredation by the Togo pack in the past seven months, but only two, at most, will count toward whether the department will consider culling the pack to stop depredations, according to the department.
Department policy calls for wildlife managers to consider culling a pack after four depredations within 10 months, providing at two least non-lethal measures were taken to prevent attacks. The depredation Sunday did not meet the standard, Fish and Wildlife wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said.
“We are at two (depredations) that meet the protocol,” he said.
To prevent more attacks, range-riders from the department and the Northeast Washington Wolf-Cattle Collaborative will rotate to watch the herd near Orient, an unincorporated area along the border with Stevens County. No pack member is wearing a radio-transmitting collar, the primary way the department tracks packs.
The depredation was reported Wednesday by the Capital Press, but was not confirmed by the department until Thursday. The department’s description of the incident matched the previously reported account of rancher Ron Eslick, who lost the calf.
The two depredations in November occurred before the department had determined that there was a wolfpack in the area.
The department confirmed Nov. 3 that a calf on fenced private land had been injured by wolves. The department confirmed Nov. 9 that wolves killed a calf owned by the same rancher. At the time, the department reported that the attacks had occurred outside the territory of any known pack.
The department confirmed the presence of the Togo pack during its annual population survey in late 2017. The pack was named after Togo Mountain, near the U.S.-Canada border. The pack had two members, according to the department’s annual report.
Martorello said that the department will review the November incidents to see whether they met the criteria for counting as depredations toward lethal removal. Back in November, the department reported that the rancher checked cattle multiple times a day day, used range-riders, removed sick and dead cattle, and received collar-tracking data from the department.
In late October, fewer than 3 miles from where the November depredations occurred, a different rancher shot and killed a wolf. The department concluded the shooting was lawful because the wolf was chasing cattle.
Martorello said the wolf was likely a member of the Togo pack.
On Sunday, a woodcutter heard a cow bawling and saw a wolf while approaching a gate that separates private land from U.S. Forest Service land, according to the department. The woodcutter told Eslick, who found the calf.
The calf had wounds to both rear quarters, upper rear legs, neck and sternum, according to investigators.
Eslick previously told the Capital Press that he grazes 40 head on a nearby Forest Service allotment, but may graze the cattle on private pastures this summer to avoid losing more animals to wolves.