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Wolf depredation Q and A

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Washington's endangered wolves and livestock depredation, questions and answers.

Fladry helps keep wolves from livestock
Fladry helps keep wolves from livestock
Here are answers to questions about Washington's wolves, livestock depredations, and Washington's wolf plan.

Q: What are some proactive measures ranchers can take to avoid lethal removal?

A: Recommendations of proactive livestock operations include:

  • Removal or burial of deceased livestock so that carcasses do no attract wolves
  • Removal of sick or injured livestock from healthy group when possible as their behavior may attract wolves
  • Delaying turnout of livestock until calves are born and reach 200lbs and wild ungulates are born
  • Reducing the length of time when young livestock are most attractive to wolves by rescheduling livestock births to a smaller time period
  • Use of night penning and confined calving areas
  • Use of herders, guarding animals and/or range riders
  • Avoiding grazing near wolf dens, rendezvous sites to reduce overlap with wolves

Q: What does Washington's wolf plan say of lethal removal?

A: The Washington Wolf Management and Conservation Plan states that, “lethal control of wolves may be necessary to resolve repeated wolf-livestock conflicts and is performed to remove problem animals that jeopardize public tolerance for overall wolf recovery.

Where lethal removal is deemed necessary, incremental control is usually attempted, with one or two offending animals removed initially. If depredations continue, additional animals may be killed. Stepwise incremental control can result in the eventual elimination of entire packs if wolves repeatedly depredate livestock.”

Lethal removal decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, however adjustments on the extent of lethal removal must be made to meet wolf conservation and management objectives in order to minimize negative impacts on recovering wolf populations.

It is suggested that these restraints be that lethal control be limited to solitary wolves when possible, removal from reproductive packs should occur when pups are older than six months, there are six or more members of the particular pack, there are other packs nearby, and the wolf population is more than 75 individuals.

Q: What is required, especially of ranchers, before lethal removal on wolves in WA?

A: The Wolf Plan articulates that lethal removal may be used if:

  • It is confirmed that livestock have clearly been killed by wolves
  • Documented non-lethal methods have been tried and failed
  • Depredations are likely to continue and
  • There is no evidence of intentional attraction of wolves by the livestock owner
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