Washington wolf attack

A King County judge will decide within two weeks whether the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife must stop killing wolves after they have repeatedly killed cattle.

The number of confirmed wolf attacks on cattle in Washington in 2018 was more than double any previous year, according to Fish and Wildlife reports.

At least 31 cows or calves were killed or injured, topping the previous high of 15 in 2016. The count does not include missing cattle or suspected depredations in which scavengers picked the bones and ate evidence of wolf bites.

Cattle Producers of Washington President Scott Nielsen said the number of attacks is increasing, but attributed the large jump in confirmed depredations to better documentation of attacks.

“I don’t think there was a big increase. I think it has been a slow, steady growth,” he said. “It’s not way worse now. They’re just admitting it.”

Fish and Wildlife has not announced a final count for the year, and the department’s periodic reports on wolf activities often lag weeks behind events.

As in the past, most depredations took place in Ferry and Stevens counties during the summer and fall grazing season. The Old Profanity Territory pack in Ferry County was blamed for 16 attacks.

Cattle, however, were attacked in more parts of the state and over more months than usual. Attacks started in May and continued into late fall.

In southeast Washington, the Grouse Flats pack has attacked at least three cattle since late August. In north-central Washington, one wolf took down a 400-pound calf in Okanogan County, where wolves are still federally protected. Fish and Wildlife confirmed the depredation Nov. 29.

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