Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More cattle deaths attributed to wolves in WA

Wolves kill yearling Angus in Central Washington

Don JenkinsCapital Press
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has confirmed that a yearling Angus has been killed by wolves in Central Washington.

A yearling Angus has been killed by wolves in the range of the Teanaway pack in Central Washington, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday.

The depredation occurred north of Cle Elum in Kittitas County on a Washington Department of Natural Resources grazing allotment. Gray wolves are a federally endangered species in Central and Western Washington, and a state protected species throughout Washington.

A Washington State University graduate student researching wolves in the range of the Teanaway pack discovered the dead livestock July 16. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife employees gathered evidence and looked for other dead cattle.

USFW spokeswoman Ann Froschauer said WDFW will work with the producer to take preventive measures, such as range riders, to protect the rest of the herd. Unlike in the eastern one-third of Washington, where WDFW has lethally removed wolves to stop livestock depredations, USFWS is not authorized to shoot wolves when non-lethal means have been exhausted. “We don’t have that option in the (federally) listed area,” Froschauer said.

The Teanaway pack has at least four members and maybe six, according to a recent WDFW report.
The pack has had no history of livestock depredations, according to WDFW, though pack members injured a sheep dog in 2011. A female member of the pack was illegally shot and killed last fall. Conservation groups have offered a reward for information leading to the shooter’s conviction. No arrests have been made.

At least five cattle have been killed by wolves this month in Washington. Three adult cows and a calf were killed by wolves in the Dirty Shirt pack in Stevens County, according to WDFW. The yearling’s hide and bones showed evidence of gnawing and bite marks consistent with a wolf attack, according to USFW.

Other signs of wolf activity in the area included tracks, scat and hair. WDFW has fitted several members in the past with GPS collars. The collars confirmed wolves are in the area where the yearling was killed.

The producer has an agreement with WDFW in an effort to prevent depredations by increasing human presence near cattle and removing dead livestock to keep from drawing wolves.

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NE Washington wolves linked to more cattle deaths

Don JenkinsCapital Press
Wolves have killed three cows and one calf in Stevens County in northeast Washington. Ranchers call for lethal removal.

Stevens County ranchers are calling on Washington state wildlife managers to take lethal action to deter wolves in the Dirty Shirt pack, which has now claimed three adult cows and a calf.

“I think when there are four dead cows, the department should have initiated removal by now,” Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association Vice President Scott Nielsen said Monday.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported 10 days ago that the pack, known to have six members, had killed two cows on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment in northeastern Washington. The agency has not disclosed details of the discovery of a third cow and a calf from the same herd killed by wolves, though sources say the department confirmed the depredations.

The cattlemen’s association Monday posted a statement on its website reporting that the depredations occurred on or before July 10. “We know that wolf attacks on livestock can only be stopped by immediately removing the offending wolves before the behavior spreads to the whole pack,” the association’s president, Justin Hedrick, said in a written statement.

Efforts to reach WDFW officials Monday were unsuccessful.

Shawn Cantrell, Defenders of Wildlife’s Northwest director, said it’s too early for WDFW to consider shooting wolves. Cantrell, a member of the department’s wolf advisory group, said the depredations occurred before WDFW put range riders in the area to haze Dirty Shirt wolves away from the herd.
The department’s policy demands for multiple depredations to occur after non-lethal measures have been employed before it will authorize shooting wolves.

Considering lethal removal now “seems, A, unnecessary, and, B, inappropriate, given the fact these other tools are working,” Cantrell said. Nielsen said non-lethal measures such as range riders, flags and loud music won’t protect grazing livestock over a large landscape. “We are talking about thousands and thousands of acres,” he said.

WDFW reported the producer, who was grazing 166 cattle before depredations, has moved the herd. Nielsen said that other ranchers are grazing in the pack’s territory. Even if the wolves are hazed from the area, they will find cows wherever they go, he said. “It doesn’t matter which way you chase them, you’re chasing them to somebody’s cows,” Nielsen said. “Stevens County is virtually blanketed with livestock. We graze everywhere.”

To stop the Huckleberry pack from preying on a sheep herd in Stevens County last year, WDFW authorized lethal removal of up to four wolves. The agency suspended the hunt after one wolf was shot because the sheep were no longer in the pack’s territory.

WDFW killed seven members of the Wedge Pack in 2012 after the department concluded its members were targeting livestock over natural prey in Stevens County.

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