By DON JENKINS
A rancher has reported the shooting of a wolf chasing cattle Monday evening in Adams County in Eastern Washington, an area where there are no known wolfpacks.
The rancher on whose land the shooting occurred said the wolf was one of the three pursuing cattle in a pasture near Lake Sprague, which straddles the border between Adams and Lincoln counties.
Two wolves turned around, while the third, an adult female, continued to chase cattle and was shot by a ranch worker, he said.
Fish and Wildlife has not confirmed the shooting. Efforts to contact the department Thursday were not immediately successful.
The department does not identify ranchers who lose livestock to wolves or shoot wolves. The Capital Press is withholding the name at the rancher’s request.
The shooting occurred in a region where wolves are a state-protected species, but state law allows ranchers to shoot wolves that are threatening livestock. The rancher said he was confident after meeting with wildlife managers that the shooting was lawful.
Wolves are not federally protected in the eastern one-third of Washington.
Fish and Wildlife has confirmed wolfpacks in northeast and southeast Washington, but not in the area between, including in Adams and Lincoln counties. The rancher said he saw a wolf in the area three years ago, but does not know whether he has lost any cattle to wolves.
Most of Washington’s wolves are in four north-central and northeast counties. Fish and Wildlife says it expects wolves to eventually disperse throughout the state.