A northeast Washington wolfpack that had two members shot last month by state wildlife managers fatally injured a calf found Friday and probably injured another calf found Sunday in the Kettle River Range, according to sources.
The attacks took place on the same Forest Service grazing allotment where the department had previously documented 12 wolf depredations on cattle since early September. Before Friday, the most recent confirmed depredation had been Sept. 21.
The department had not announced as of early Monday whether it would respond to the latest confirmed and probable depredations by removing more wolves. In a statement Friday, apparently issued before the attack on the calf was confirmed, the department said it may kill more wolves if more cattle were attacked. Efforts to obtain comment from the department Monday morning were unsuccessful.
The attacks are occurring in the Colville National Forest in an area called by the department the Old Profanity Territory, a reference to a former pack on the allotment.
General deer hunting season begins in the area Saturday, possibly complicating sending a helicopter to search for wolves after that date. Cattle are due to come off the federal grazing area by mid-October.
Steve McLaughlin, who ran for lands commissioner in 2016 and has taken on the role of advocating for ranchers, said Monday that the wolves will continue to be a threat to cattle on private land in the area.
“The problem doesn’t go away just because the cattle are off public land leases,” he said.
A department marksman in a helicopter shot a female wolf Sept. 28. Previously, a marksman shot a juvenile wolf Sept. 16. The department said it was difficult to distinguish between adult and young wolves from the air.
The pack has one known adult and one pup, according to the department. The adult, a male, is wearing a radio collar that transmits its GPS locations to the department.
The department has agreed to issue a one-day public notice before removing wolves to give environmental groups time to seek a temporary restraining order. A judge approved the department’s plan to try to remove one or two wolves to stop the attacks.