Regional News

WDFW director authorizes lethal action in Leadpoint wolf pack

Aug 14, 2020

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind today authorized the incremental removal of wolves from the Leadpoint pack in northeast Washington in response to repeated depredations of cattle.

The Leadpoint pack has been involved in 11 depredation events since June 19, 2020. This is despite the use of proactive non-lethal deterrents by area livestock producers. Those deterrents include:

  • Calving away from areas occupied by wolves,
  • Choosing not to utilize a grazing allotment on public lands,
  • Removing sick and injured livestock from the grazing area until they are healed,   
  • Delaying turnout of calves (to coincide with deer fawns, and elk and moose calves becoming available as prey),
  • Calving away from areas occupied by wolves,
  • Removing sick/injured livestock from the pasture,
  • Carcass sanitation,
  • Allowing steers to heal after castration before releasing into the pasture,
  • Human presence around livestock,
  • and using Cattle Producers of Washington (CPoW) conflict monitors.

“Despite the use of proactive non-lethal efforts and deterrents, this pack has continued to attack livestock,” Susewind said. “While not an easy decision by any means, there is a balance that must be achieved when it comes to wolves, humans, and livestock co-existing. In this case, non-lethal measures have not been successful and we believe the pattern of depredations will continue.”

Director Susewind's decision is consistent with the guidance of the state's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan and the provisions of the Department's wolf-livestock interaction protocol.

Under the protocol, WDFW can consider lethal removal of wolves if department staff confirm three depredations by wolves on livestock within 30 days, or four within 10 months. The lethal removal of wolves in the Leadpoint pack is not expected to harm the wolf population's ability to reach statewide recovery.

WDFW's approach to incremental lethal removal consists of a period of active lethal removal operations followed by an evaluation period to determine if those actions modified pack behavior.

Following an eight-hour required notification process (one business day), the Department will initiate lethal removal activity. WDFW will use humane lethal removal methods.

WDFW will provide a final report on this and other lethal removal operations that have occurred during 2020 in the Washington Gray Wolf Conservation and Management 2020 Annual Report, which will be published during spring 2021.

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