Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind reauthorized WDFW staff to lethally remove wolves from the OPT pack, which has repeatedly preyed on cattle on federal grazing lands in the Kettle River range of Ferry County.
“This is a very difficult situation for all those involved, especially given the history of wolf-livestock conflict in this area,” Susewind said. “Our goal is to change this pack’s behavior.”
In 2018, the OPT pack was involved in a total of 16 depredations in under two months (three killed and 13 injured livestock), which prompted the lethal removal of two wolves by the department on Sept. 16, 2018 and Sept. 28, 2018. On Nov. 13, 2018, the director paused action seeking to lethally remove the two remaining wolves from the OPT pack.
In 2019, three depredations documented outside of the grazing season were confirmed on Jan. 5. On July 6, 2019, WDFW staff confirmed an additional depredation, bringing the total to 20 depredations (seven killed and 13 injured livestock) since Sept. 5, 2018, and 15 in the last 10 months. A summary of the documented depredation activity within the past ten months is included in every monthly wolf update.
The goal of lethal removal, as described in the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, is to manage wolf-livestock conflicts to minimize livestock losses without undermining the recovery of a sustainable wolf population. The purpose of the lethal action in the OPT pack is to change pack behavior to reduce the potential for continued depredations on livestock while continuing to promote wolf recovery.
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(Photo source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)