Courtesy of Ron Eslick
Washington wildlife managers were trying to trap a wolf Tuesday in northern Ferry County to put a second radio collar in a pack that killed a cow and injured a calf last week.
The Togo pack has attacked enough livestock in the past 10 months to qualify for culling, according to Department of Fish and Wildlife policy. The department says it wants more information about the pack’s makeup and movements before making that call.
The department issued a statement Monday stating it had put out trail cameras to see whether there are more than the two confirmed adults in the pack. “WDFW Director Kelly Susewind said he wants as much information as possible on the developing situation before he considers further action,” according to the statement.
Efforts to get further comment from the department about what it hoped to learn were unsuccessful.
Don Dashiell, a commissioner in neighboring Stevens County and member of the department’s Wolf Advisory Group, questioned holding off on lethal removal.
“What’s the use of having a protocol, if you reach the threshold, and you don’t do anything?” he said.
The department trapped and collared a male wolf in the pack on June 2, giving the department, county and ranchers more information about the pack’s movements. The male wolf and a female, which is not wearing a radio collar, produced pups.
Ferry County sheriff’s wildlife specialist, Jeff Flood, said Tuesday that he believes there is at least one other adult in the pack.
Last week, wolves apparently chased a healthy adult cow down a steep slope and along a creek until the cow was blocked by logs and fell victim, Flood said. A calf that survived an attack was found the next day.
The pack also killed a calf and injured another one in November, and killed another calf May 20.
Department policy calls for considering shooting one or two wolves in a pack after four depredations on livestock in 10 months. The department had confirmed five attacks since Nov. 2, but discounts the May attack because it concluded the rancher did not have at least two measures in place to prevent depredation.
Flood said the rancher, Ron Eslick, was checking cattle daily, burying dead calves and his cows were calving in a protected area — all on Fish and Wildlife’s checklist of preventive measures. Flood said he’s asked the department to reconsider and count the depredation toward reaching the threshold for lethal removal.
The cow and calf attacked last week belonged to a neighboring rancher grazing cattle on a U.S. Forest Service allotment.
Eslick said Tuesday he has not lost any cattle since May, but fears wolves in the area have become accustomed to livestock. “It’s just put us in a hell of a bind,” he said. “There’s not much you can do, but keep checking on them.”
The department culled packs in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017 to stop depredations in northeast Washington. This year, the department agreed to give one-day notice before initiating lethal removal to give environmental groups time to seek a restraining order in court.