Wolves kill at least 2 dozen sheep in Stevens County in recent weeks; ranchers cautioned
OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday it is cautioning other ranchers in Steven County to be vigilant as members of the Huckleberry wolf pack moves about their range.
Stevens County rancher Dave Dashiell, with the help of WDFW, moved his sheep away from the site where wolves killed at least two dozen of the animals in recent weeks, it said.
Working through Labor Day weekend, Dashiell rounded up his flock of 1,800 sheep and herded them to temporary holding pens five miles away, and has begun trucking them to their winter pasture in the Columbia Basin.
“The threat to one rancher’s flock has passed, but there are other ranchers and other livestock in that area,” Nate Pamplin, director of WDFW’s wildlife program, said. “We need to make sure that the owners of those livestock operations – large and small – are aware of the pack’s presence and are taking necessary precautions.”
Pamplin said WDFW field staff will continue to monitor the movement of the Huckleberry pack and will contact other ranchers in the area to discuss appropriate protective measures, such as maintaining a human presence around their stock, using guard dogs, and removing animal carcasses whenever feasible.
On Aug. 22, at the height of the attacks on Dashiell’s sheep, WDFW authorized the removal of up to four members of the Huckleberry wolf pack, one of 13 documented packs in the state. One female wolf was killed the next day by an aerial marksman contracted by the department. The department’s wildlife veterinarian conducted a necropsy this week indicating the wolf was the pack’s breeding female.
While other lethal measures were authorized, no other wolves have been removed.
“Lethal measures continue to be an option if the pack attacks other livestock, but we will consider that option only after reasonable preventive efforts have been made,” Pamplin said.
Earlier story from June 29, 2012:
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday that it has confirmed another wolf pack in eastern Washington – the seventh confirmed gray wolf pack in the state.
Using remote video cameras, biologists documented at least five gray wolf pups this week in southern Stevens County, east of the town of Fruitland and north of the Spokane Indian Reservation. In reference to nearby Huckleberry Mountain, the new pack has been named the Huckleberry pack.
The new pack is Washington’s seventh confirmed wolf pack, including the recently documented Nc’icn pack on the Colville Confederated Tribes reservation. An additional five packs are also suspected in the state.
At about the same time the new wolf pack was documented, WDFW investigated an attack on domestic sheep in northwestern Spokane County, near Nine Mile Falls. Based on evidence at the scene, including wolf tracks and the trauma to the carcass, state wildlife officials confirmed that the attack was from a wolf. WDFW officials are working with the livestock producer on compensation for the sheep.
Washington’s new wolf management plan, adopted last December, includes provisions to compensate ranchers who lose livestock to wolf predation, said Steve Pozzanghera, a regional WDFW director and wolf policy lead.
In confirmed wolf depredation cases, livestock owners can be compensated for the full market value of lost animals.
Wolves are currently listed by the state as endangered throughout Washington. The species remains federally listed as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state.
A map showing wolf packs – confirmed and suspected – in Washington is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/