Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Conservationists shift efforts to Smack Out wolf pack

KING 5's Alison Morrow reports.

STEVENS COUNTY -- Conservationists shifted their efforts to the Smack Out wolf pack in Stevens County.

The pack, confirmed in 2011, has attacked at least two cows in the last few weeks, killing one of them. After four confirmed attacks, a wolf pack in Washington qualifies for lethal removal. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife decides how many wolves need to be removed to stop further attacks.

Conservation Northwest is offering support to the ranching family most affected by the Smack Out pack. The ranchers are monitoring their cattle regularly. They are often described as "exemplary" in their efforts to reduce conflict between their cattle and wolves.

Several of the Smack Out wolves are collared and GPS information is used to try to maintain distance from them.

“The producer has been using ranger riders and other deterrence measures for five years with this pack. They are diligently trying to avoid further incidents," said Conservation Northwest Carnivore Policy Director Paula Swedeen.

In one of the confirmed Smack Out attacks, a cow died. In the second, the cow survived and is recovering.

Conservation Northwest released a statement after the Smack Out's first confirmed attack: "We are monitoring this issue closely and working with WDFW and the ranchers to offer our support where it adds value in preventing additional depredations. We are hopeful that further conflict avoidance measures and the coming round-up of cows and calves for the scheduled end of the grazing season will prevent further losses and not allow depredations by the Smackout Pack to become habitual or persistent."

Read full Conservation Northwest statement

Statewide controversy followed the decision to remove the entire Profanity Peak wolf pack, which lives just west of the Smack Out pack. The Profanity Peak wolves have attacked 14 cattle in Ferry County. WDFW has killed seven of the wolves; the most recent kill was last week. They believe an adult female and three pups remain.

Debate has raged over the issue of cattle grazing on public lands, but in the case of the Smack Out pack, at least one attack happened on private property.

Most ranchers stop grazing their cattle in late October, so the issue will likely go away on its own in a few weeks if there are no more attacks until then.


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