Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ranchers say wolf attacks resume in Washington state

Don Jenkins

Two Washington cattlemen said Tuesday that wolves have resumed attacking cattle grazing in the northeast corner of the state, where depredations last summer led state wildlife managers to cull a wolfpack. Ferry County, Wash., rancher Arron Scotten said he found the remains of a calf Monday evening that had apparently been killed by wolves. He said he found bones nearby of a second calf, but too little of it may remain for a state Department of Fish and Wildlife investigator to attribute the attack to wolves. The calves belonged to the Diamond M Ranch and were grazing near the boundary of private and Bureau of Land Management lands. The attack, if confirmed by WDFW, would be the first official depredation this year, though Diamond M co-owner Justin Hedrick said he believes wolves already have killed four of his cattle, including two on private land a couple of weeks ago. Hedrick said the depredations continue a pattern of attacks that began several years ago, though the attacks are beginning earlier than in previous grazing seasons. “I honestly thought we were going to have a little bit of a reprieve this year,” Hedrick said. “As soon as the cattle came back, boom, they were hit.” Hedrick said he believes the wolves have become too numerous and too habituated to eating cattle and have too little prey to be deterred by non-lethal measures. Scotten, who is also a range rider, said he was checking Monday evening on cattle grazing in the Lambert Creek area of Ferry County because radio-collar data showed a male wolf was near the livestock. WSDA traps and fits wolves with tracking collars and shares the information with ranchers. “The cattle were acting really strange. They were pretty fidgety,” Scotten said. Scotten said he found the calf bones, walked the area and found the carcass of the second calf nearby. “There was actually quite a bit left that showed lacerations and punctures,” he said. Scotten said he camped out overnight to keep scavengers from eating the evidence. WDFW investigators place high importance on finding flesh damage to confirm that an animal was killed by wolves...more

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