A rancher in Washington reportedly shot at a wolf in self-defense according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
The shooting occurred on Aug. 23 in northeast Washington within the territory the Togo wolf pack runs. Investigators from WDFW went to the scene on Aug. 24 and found no evidence that the wolf had been shot.
The rancher told WDFW investigators that he shot at a black, collared wolf, matching the description of a male wolf in the Togo pack.
A male wolf was fitted with a GPS collar in June from the Togo pack. Officials with WDFW received data from the wolf’s collar indicating it was still alive. The collar is equipped with a mortality indicator that sends an email to WDFW wildlife managers when a mortality is detected.
The rancher was checking on his cow herd after the collar data indicated the wolf was near his livestock. Upon searching the area he saw and heard several wolf pups barking and growling. He then shot at the adult male as it approached him while barking. The incident was then reported to the Ferry County Sheriff’s Office, which notified WDFW staff.
The Togo pack has been responsible for six cases of livestock depredation since November, with three cases occurring in August over a 10 day period. This resulted in WDFW pursing lethal action to control the wolf pack under the guidance of the 18-member Wolf Advisory Group lethal removal rule. However, a lawsuit was filed by two activist groups that has halted the kill order until a court hearing on Aug. 31 can determine any further action.
The WDFW says, “Vocalizations by wolves are not uncommon when people approach wolf pups, and adult wolves often attempt to escort perceived intruders away from areas where pups are present. While these behaviors are not necessarily predatory in nature, they can feel threatening.”
An investigation about the shooting is still ongoing.
For more information about the livestock depredation cases involving the Togo wolf pack in Washington read the following stories: