A rancher in northeast Washington reported Thursday that he shot in self-defense at a wolf matching the description of the wolf that state wildlife managers intended to kill this week before a judge intervened.
The rancher told the Department of Fish and Wildlife that the wolf was black and wearing a collar. The department received information this morning indicating that the collared wolf in the Togo pack was alive.
The incident occurred in the pack’s territory, and Fish and Wildlife employees went to the scene early today. They spent more than two hours investigating, but did not find evidence that the wolf had been shot, according to the department.
The rancher said he was responding to collar data that indicated the wolf was near his livestock, according to the department. The rancher said he saw pups and heard barking and growling, and shot at the adult wolf as it barked and approached him.
The rancher reported the incident to the Ferry County Sheriff’s Office, which notified Fish and Wildlife.
The department has attributed six attacks on cattle to the Togo pack since Nov. 2. Three of the attacks occurred between Aug. 8 and Aug. 18. The rancher has tried to stop the attacks with non-lethal preventive measures, according to the department. Fish and Wildlife determined that the attacks were likely to continue and planned to seek out and kill the pack’s male adult beginning last Monday evening.
A Thurston County judge ordered the department to stand down Monday afternoon at the request of the Center for Biological Diversity and Cascadia Wildlands. The temporary restraining order will be in effect until at least Aug. 31. On that date, the court is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to extend the restraining order.
The pack has at least one other adult, a female. The department said it was not going to target the female. The wolves are rearing at least two pups and maybe more, according to the department.
The pack’s male was captured and fitted with a collar in early June. Collars transmit the GPS locations of wolves. The department shares the information with ranchers and county officials to help prevent conflicts between wolves and livestock.