Three wolf packs implicated in livestock conflicts in northeast Washington

Three wolf packs implicated in livestock conflicts in northeast Washington

ConservationNWAdmin / Jul 15, 2020 / News Releases, Range Riding, Wolves

The remaining 12 wolf packs in northeast Washington have been free from confirmed livestock conflict so far this year.

It’s been a rocky start to the summer in northeast Washington, where more than 15 wolf packs share the landscape with domestic livestock on federal, state, tribal and private lands.

The Togo, Leadpoint and Wedge wolf packs have been implicated in depredations on livestock since early May. The remaining 12 wolf packs in northeast Washington have been free from confirmed livestock conflict so far.

There have been no reports of depredations from the at least ten additional packs in the rest of our state’s wolf range, including the north and central Cascade Mountains, Okanogan Highlands and southeast Washington.

In the Togo Pack area, a consistent and rigorous range riding effort has been deployed in recent years, including through the Northeast Washington Wolf Cattle Collaborative, local ranchers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife contracted range riders and conflict specialists, and field support from Conservation Northwest staff. Despite these thorough efforts, depredations on livestock were confirmed in 2018, 2019 and again on June 6, 2020. No wolf removals have occurred so far this year, though the Togo Pack is currently under a state authorization to lethally remove up to two wolves.

On June 19, the state confirmed injuries to domestic livestock in a private pasture within the territory of the Leadpoint Pack. Since this wolf depredation, WDFW staff, the Ferry/Stevens County Wildlife Specialist, and a Cattle Producers of Washington range rider organized a coordinated work party to put up fox lights and more than a mile of fladry to surround the several-hundred acre private pasture. Range riding and other deterrence efforts continue in hopes of preventing further depredations in the Leadpoint area, as well as the adjacent Smackout Pack territory. Conservation Northwest’s Range Rider Pilot Project has operated a range rider in the Smackout territory for many years, including this season, and our staff continue to provide assistance on-the-ground in the area.

The Wedge Pack was involved in three livestock depredations in May 2020, a fourth in mid-June and seven more in early July. Livestock from two different producers (ranches) have been injured. WDFW determined there was a gap in range rider coverage during the first four depredations, and there has not been a publicly available assessment of range rider coverage or other non-lethal deterrence efforts over the time period of the most recent injuries to cattle.

Wolf-livestock conflicts on grazing allotments on the Colville National Forest and nearby public and private lands in northeast Washington have occurred since 2012, and annually in the northern Kettle River Mountain Range going back to 2016, with 2020 being at least the fifth season of conflict in this area. This is the second year of conflict in the Wedge since 2012.

Learn more about WOLF RECOVERY IN WASHINGTON, COEXISTENCE WITH WOLVES, and our RANGE RIDER PILOT PROJECT
A range rider at work in northeast Washington. Photo: Jay Shepherd