Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New #wolf pack moves into Washington state

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife trail cameras captured footage of an adult wolf in this file photo. Officials have designated a new wolf pack in northeastern Washington state.A Washington rancher says wolves in the new Profanity Peak pack have been preying on their livestock.

Northeastern Washington has a new wolf pack, and a rancher there says it’s already been killing his cattle. The Profanity Peak pack has been in the area at least a year, said David Ware, game division manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photos indicate the pack has at least three adults and three pups. To be recognized as a pack, at least two wolves must have traveled together through a winter. The state is working to trap the wolves to put a radio collar on one.

The pack is so named because it is near Profanity Peak in Ferry County, Ware said. The state has already confirmed that a wolf killed an adult cow and a calf in the same territory as the pack. The livestock is owned by the Diamond M Ranch. “We’ve been finding kills all summer,” said Bill McIrvin, partner in the Diamond M Ranch with his father, Len, and nephew Justin Hedrick.
Some 17 animals belonging to the ranch were killed or injured by wolves from the Wedge pack in 2012. The state subsequently killed seven wolves from that pack. “We’re just trying to figure out why the first two packs that are into cattle hard in the state are into our cattle,” McIrvin said. “We think they’re killing steady.”

The ranch runs roughly 400 cow-calf pairs on two grazing allotments on the Colville National Forest near the U.S.-Canada border. In addition to the confirmed kill, McIrvin said three other calves were killed and three calves and one cow were bitten. He also said there were three dry cows that haven’t had a calf and a couple of cows that were still producing milk, meaning their calves were likely recently killed. “We know it’s been significant, those cows are all showing the signs of being harassed, that (the wolves are) feeding on them,” he said.

McIrvin said the ranchers maintained a human presence as they moved the livestock around, but it didn’t appear to slow the wolves. “You know the other side will try to say it was our fault because we were sloppy ranching,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll try to make us look like the bad guy because we didn’t do enough, but we’ve done everything we could do.”

Ware said field staffers are trying to determine the best course of action to keep any more livestock from being attacked. “It’s a fairly remote area, so it’s not going to be an easy task to determine something to do that will help keep wolves and livestock apart,” he said.

McIrvin said they also found eight cows that had been shot. “I would guess that it’s probably wolf advocates that are shooting the cattle. We had threats and things that they would shoot cattle,” he said. The sheriff’s office has been notified.

The ranchers are moving the livestock from the grazing allotment onto privately owned fall pasture earlier than normal, McIrvin said. McIrvin hopes to reach out to local officials. “We don’t feel that our elected officials ought to allow the state’s wolves to prey on our livestock,” he said. “(We’re hoping to) stop the cycle of wolves eating our livestock.”

Ware advised ranchers to be diligent. Wolf depredations on livestock often occur in late summer, when the packs and wolf young are more mobile and their food needs are greater as the pups mature.
“August and September are probably the two toughest months in terms of wolf depredations,” he said.