The Washington Department spent $15,000 to shoot wolf after $147,000 was invested on preventing depredations
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spent $15,097 to kill a wolf last summer in the Sherman pack, about one-tenth the amount that was invested in keeping the pack from attacking livestock, according to a department report released Dec. 15.
WDFW paid $134,170 for range-riders and other preventive measures in the pack’s territory in northeast Washington. Conservation Northwest, an environmental group, contributed another $12,880 for range-riders.
The report does not tally costs or losses incurred by ranchers, but some of the state’s spending was dependent on producers employing additional safeguards.
WDFW might have spent more on deterrence, but it ran out to money to enter into cost-sharing agreements with ranchers, according to the report.
WDFW wolf policy coordinator Donny Martorello said Monday that there is no way to know whether more spending could have prevented the pack from killing calves.
“Certainly, we’d like to be able to help as many individuals with the uptake of those non-lethal tools,” Martorello said. “The demand is starting to exceed the resources.”
Washington has a growing wolf population, particularly in northeast Washington. The report details efforts to safeguard up to 1,300 cow-calf pairs on 10 grazing allotments that overlapped the Sherman pack’s territory in Ferry County. Chronic depredations led the WDFW to shoot one of two wolves in the pack Sept. 1.
The pack formed in 2016 when a female left the Profanity Peak pack and paired with a male wolf. The female was hit and killed by a vehicle March 20, 2017. By the time the grazing season neared, the surviving male, who was wearing a radio collar, was traveling with another wolf.
The two wolves moved into territory occupied the summer before by the Profanity Peak pack, which was linked to 15 depredations in 2016. The department responded by shooting seven of the pack’s wolves. The lone surviving adult left the territory last spring, according to WDFW.
Before the grazing season began, five range-riders hired by WDFW began patrolling the grazing allotments to look for wolves. Patrols increased after WDFW determined June 12 that the Sherman pack had attacked a calf.
The pack attacked three more calves between July 12 and Aug. 23.
WDFW Director Jim Unsworth authorized killing one wolf Aug. 25. Initially, the department hoped to trap and euthanize a wolf. But the pack attacked a fifth calf Aug. 28 several miles from where WDFW was trapping.
WDFW shot the male wolf from a helicopter Sept. 1. The helicopter cost $9,868. WDFW staff time and travel made up the rest of the operation’s cost.
Martorello said the department believes wolves are still overlapping the grazing allotments.
“We have had reports of wolves in the area. I would fully expect there to be wolf activity,” he said.
In addition to hiring range-riders, WDFW spent $35,000 to help four producers pay for preventive measures. At least four other producers were interested in the cost-sharing agreements, but the department had exhausted the funds, according to the report.
WDFW also killed two wolves last summer in the Smackout pack in Stevens County. WDFW policy allows for possibly culling a pack after three depredations within 30 days or four depredations within 10 months.