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Ranchers blame lack of info for 14 sheep killed by wolves

The Stevens County Cattlemen's Association says 14 sheep killed by a collared wolf in the Huckleberry pack could have been avoided by more information from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

A Hunters, Wash., rancher blames the death of 14 sheep on a lack of information from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Cattle and sheep producer Dave Dashiell lost 14 sheep to wolves and had nine suspected kills, according to a Stevens County, Wash., Cattlemen’s Association press release. The estimated loss is valued at more than $5,000, according to the release.

The association said the department failed to tell ranchers and landowners the location of the Huckleberry wolf pack.

“This omission allowed Dashiell to unknowingly move his sheep into close proximity to the Huckleberry den site earlier this month,” the association said in the press release.

The association, the Dashiell ranch and other producers had requested collar data on Washington’s wolf packs in the summer of 2013, but those requests were either denied or “met with red tape and stipulations that prevented the information from being shared,” the press release states.

“We know that the producer in this situation is doing all they can to keep their animals alive and prevent wolves from feeding on their herd,” association president Scott Nielsen said in the press release. “But you can’t do that without good information. We are calling on the department to improve their communication on this issue. We are hoping for a positive outcome.”

The sheep have now been moved away from the den.

The Dashiells have been raising sheep nearly 30 years and regularly utilize predator deterrents for their herds including several guard dogs, herders who maintain a consistent human presence in the area and rotational grazing.

According to the association, if the ranch is forced to remove the sheep from the current grazing area, the only alternative is to pen the herd and feed hay until fall pasture is available, costing the ranch roughly $35,000 in feed alone.

— Matthew Weaver



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