Washington wildlife managers have confirmed a second wolf attack on cattle in November on private land in northern Ferry County, one depredation shy of possibly triggering the state’s third lethal-removal operation this year.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife reported Tuesday that a calf found dead Nov. 8 in a large fenced pasture was killed by at least one wolf. WDFW had earlier determined Nov. 3 that a calf owned by the same rancher was injured by wolves.
Department policy calls for it to consider killing one or two wolves after three depredations within 30 days, or four within 10 months.
The attacks occurred outside the territory of any of northeast Washington’s 15 packs, WDFW said. “Whether we designate a pack or not, we would consider lethal removal,” WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said.
WDFW killed two wolves in the Smackout pack in Stevens County and one wolf in the Sherman pack in Ferry County this year to stop chronic depredations. In 2016, WDFW killed seven wolves in the Profanity Peak pack, also in Ferry County.
The two depredations this month occurred fewer than 3 miles from where another rancher shot and killed a wolf that was attacking cattle. WDFW said the shooting was lawful.
Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen said the incidents show that WDFW has not been successful in stopping repeated depredations.
“To me, we have a chronic problem,” he said. “It frustrates me to no end.
“The wolves are moving into the ranchers’ backyards.”
The wolf attacks, which occurred near the Canadian border, have come unusually late in the year. In previous years, depredations on livestock have generally ended in September or October when cattle are moved off public grazing lands. It’s also unusual for WDFW investigators to not be able to identify the wolfpack responsible for the attacks.
The rancher whose calves were attacked checked on the cattle multiple times a day, according to WDFW.
“It’s a sign that anytime you have wolves and livestock, there’s a potential for conflict,” Martorello said.