A wolf pack in northeast Washington has attacked five cattle in the past 10 months and will not be euthanized at the current moment, according to state officials.
The Togo pack located near Danville, Washington is believed to have killed one cow on Aug. 8 and injured a calf on Aug. 9. The two latest attacks are the fifth depredation cases attributed to the Togo pack since November. The first two cases of depredation were documented in November 2017 and another animal was attacked in May.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have yet to decide if the five depredations warrant killing the wolves.
Lethal removal policy for WDFW allows wolves to be killed if they prey on livestock three times in a 30 day period or four times in a 10 month period. The latest attacks would mean the Togo pack has eclipsed the 10 month threshold established by WDFW and its 18-member Wolf Advisory Group in 2016.
Despite no moves made to take lethal action, WDFW is taking steps to monitor the pack more closely with remote cameras and by trapping members of the pack to fit radio-collars on the wolves.
WDFW Director Kelly Susewind says he wants as much information as possible on the developing situation before considering further action regarding the Togo pack.
There is uncertainty as to the number of adult wolves in the pack. In a winter survey there were believed to be at least two adults in the pack and the pair produced an unknown number of pups in the spring. One of the adult males was captured by WDFW on June 8 and fitted with a GPS collar so its location could be shared with livestock producers during the summer grazing season.
In the latest cases of depredation the cow that was killed was left in the location it had been found because it was so remote and rugged. The rancher and range rider who found the cow were not able to locate that cow’s calf, but are continuing to search.
The following day the rancher and range rider removed a calf that had been attacked along with its mother. The calf had bite lacerations to both of the calf’s hamstrings and left flank, and puncture wounds and associated hemorrhaging to the left hindquarter and stomach. The cow had no reported wounds. The cow-calf pair has since been moved to a holding pen for monitoring.
According to a release from WDFW the affected producer has taken a number of measures to deter interactions between wolves and his livestock.
“He delayed turnout until late June so the calves would be larger and used Fox lights on his private pasture to deter wolves. Following turnout, he has removed sick or injured cattle from the allotment and deployed one or more range riders each day to help the producer check the cattle. They have moved the cattle when necessary,” the WDFW says.
According to WDFW the wolf population in Washington has been on the rise for nine straight years. Following the department’s annual winter survey it was determined there are at least 122 wolves, 22 packs and 14 successful breeding pairs in the state. The survey determined that the Togo pack was one of four new packs in the east of the Cascade Mountain range.
In 2017, there were five different wolf packs involved in at least one livestock mortality. During 2017 at least eight cattle were killed while another fiver were injured.
“We know that some level of conflict is inevitable between wolves and livestock sharing the landscape,” says Ben Maletzke, WDFW statewide wolf specialist. “Our goal is to minimize that conflict as the gray wolf population continues to recover.”
For 2017, WDFW processed two claims for livestock compensation totaling $3,700 in losses to producers. Last year two wolves from the Smackout pack were removed after killing two cattle during the grazing season and showing a history of preying on livestock in 2016. Similarly, one wolf was killed from the Sherman pack after killing four cattle and injuring another in the 2017 grazing season.
A map of the wolf packs in Washington can be viewed below: