Washington Fish and Wildlife has stopped trying to kill wolves in a pack that attacked 13 calves in a pasture in northeast Washington.
The department has not officially called off the operation, but has stepped back after lethal-removal efforts initiated in mid-August were unsuccessful. "An opportunity doesn't always present itself," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Staci Lehman said Friday.
The Leadpoint pack has not attacked cattle in more than a month. It had killed three calves and injured 10 on private land in Stevens County between June 19 and Aug. 7. The 200-acre pasture was ringed by flapping ribbons called fladry and protected by lights, sirens and people.
Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind authorized the department to remove one or two wolves on Aug. 13. The pack has up to seven adults and six pups, according to the department.
Fish and Wildlife has not ruled out restarting the operation, Lehman said. "Nothing is off the table," she said.
Lehman said the department's decision to stop looking for the wolves was unrelated to Gov. Jay Inslee's order last week to rewrite wolf-removal policy.
Inslee instructed the Fish and Wildlife Commission to develop a lethal-control rule to replace a flexible protocol that leaves the decision up to Susewind.
In a letter to the commission, Inslee said that the chances for depredations and lethal control are "unacceptably high."
Fish and Wildlife was unsuccessful this summer in culling the Togo pack in Ferry County. Susewind authorized removing up to two wolves in mid-June. The department called off the operation five weeks later. The department has not confirmed any attacks on livestock by the pack since early June.
Fish and Wildlife removed the three wolves that made up the Wedge pack in Stevens County, killing one in late July and the remaining two in August.