Wolves have come “very close to homes” near Colville in northeast Washington, according to Stevens County commissioners, who issued a public safety announcement Jan. 8 warning residents to protect their pets and livestock.
Wolves have been attacking cattle and sheep in the county for many years, but this is the first time the county has issued an alert to residents, county Commissioner Don Dashiell said Jan. 11. The county has not received any reports of anyone being threatened by wolves, he said.
“I think we’d feel lacking in our response if we waited until wolves came and jerked somebody’s dog off the lease and ate it,” Dashiell said. “It’s not out in the middle of nowhere, it’s two miles west of Colville.”
Colville, the county seat, is the largest town in Stevens County, with a population of 4,745, according to the state’s latest estimate.
The county monitors the movement of wolves fitted by the Department of Fish and Wildlife with radio collars. A sheriff’s wildlife deputy also has confirmed the presence of wolves, according to commissioners.
Dashiell, a member of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group, said the department hasn’t collared enough wolves to closely track packs, but the information available shows wolves are staying in areas near Colville.
“We have enough information to tell us when things are not good,” he said.
The county commissioners posted the warning on the sheriff’s office Facebook page. It has been shared hundreds of time.
Dashiell said commissioners took the initiative to alert the public because Fish and Wildlife has not warned residents in the past about wolf activity. The county did not ask the department to issue a notice in this case, he said.
“We’re not going to ask the department to do something they’re either unable or unwilling to do,” he said.
Efforts to reach Fish and Wildlife for comment Friday were unsuccessful.
Commissioners cautioned residents to be careful about leaving out feed that attracts predators. They said residents should be particularly aware of wolves in the Orin Rice, Seigel Hill Road, Mingo Mountain, Valley Westside and Crystal Falls areas.