The Grouse Flats wolfpack in southeast Washington has killed another calf, a depredation Fish and Wildlife called an isolated event that won’t cause the department to resume culling the pack.
The calf was in a fenced private pasture and was reported dead by a rancher Feb. 3, the department said Monday.
The remains of the partially eaten calf provided evidence it had been attacked by a wolf. Investigators found the tracks of a single wolf and signs the calf had been dragged.
The pack has attacked cattle at least five times in the past seven months, according to the department. The threshold for the department to consider lethal control is four depredations in 10 months.
The pack crossed the threshold last fall, attacking cattle four times in two months. In response, Fish and Wildlife shot one adult female wolf on Sept. 25. It was the first time the department had killed a wolf in southeast Washington to protect livestock.
The department called the recent attack an “isolated occurrence” and an “opportunistic depredation rather than an ongoing pattern.”
The department also said there were more non-lethal deterrence measures to try. The department put flashing lights and ribbons that flap in the wind around the pasture.
The rancher reduced the calving pasture to 10 acres from 140 acres, and started penning cattle at night and checking on them more often, according to Fish and Wildlife.
Even if the department were determined to thin the pack, it might not be possible to find the wolves. No Grouse Flats wolf is wearing a radio collar. The pack’s only collared wolf has dispersed into Oregon, according to the department.
A Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman said the department’s decision to not resume lethal control was based on the other factors, not the absence of a radio collar in the pack.
The depredation was roughly 2 miles southeast of where the Grouse Flats attacked a calf last year. The pack has attacked cattle eight times since Aug. 23, 2018, according to the department.
The pack had at least eight wolves at the end of 2018, making it one of the larger packs in the state. Fish and Wildlife has not announced a 2019 count. The pack’s territory dips into southeast Oregon.