Washington wildlife managers intend to kill the remaining two wolves in the Togo pack in the Kettle River Range of Ferry County, adding a second lethal-removal operation in the region.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Aug. 9 that agency Director Kelly Susewind authorized lethal removal because the Togo pack continues to attack cattle.
The department is already thinning the OPT pack in the same county.
The Togo pack has attacked three cattle in the past 30 days and four in the past 10 months, meeting the threshold for the department to consider lethal removal.
The pack has attacked at least 11 cattle dating back to Nov. 3, 2017, according to the department.
A rancher shot a wolf during one of the recent attacks. The department determined the shooting was lawful. Wolves are a state-protected species in the eastern one-third of Washington, but ranchers are allowed to shoot a wolf caught in the act of attacking livestock.
Two livestock producers who have lost cattle to the Togo pack this summer have tried non-lethal means of protecting their cattle, according to the department.
The department targeted the Togo pack last year, too. The department shot one wolf Sept. 2. The pack continued to attack cattle, and the department planned to kill the pack’s three surviving wolves.
The department suspended the operation in November without killing any more in the pack.
For the 2019 grazing season, ranchers tried to guard against more depredations by the pack, according to the department. The measures include working with a range-rider that contracts with Fish and Wildlife and avoiding areas where wolves are known to gather.
Even with those and other deterrents, the department said it expects the attacks to continue.
Fish and Wildlife said removing the Togo pack’s two wolves will not harm overall recovery of the species. So far this year, the department has documented 10 deaths. In previous years, the department has recorded 12 to 14 deaths, yet wolves continue to grow in numbers and expand their range.
Fish and Wildlife removed one wolf in the OPT pack July 13. The pack — which has four adults and at least four pups — has continued to attack cattle. The department said it intends to remove move wolves.