Huckleberry Wolf Pack attacks guard dog near Hunters

Johnsey 1 Johnsey 2 Johnsey 3 Johnsey 4

August 13, 2015

Huckleberry wolf pack continues to haunt Hunters area rancher

Wolves attack, nearly kill guard dog on Aug. 12

The Huckleberry Wolf pack is continuing to haunt a cattle and sheep rancher in southern Stevens County, with the wolves attacking and nearly killing a guard dog on Aug. 12. Johnsey, Marama-Akbash guard dog, was protecting a small group of sheep on the Dashiell ranch near Hunters when he was attacked and mutilated by wolves. The attack is another blow to the Dashiells who were forced to leave their private grazing ground in 2014 after chronic wolf attacks killed over 33 sheep and left over 300 unaccounted for. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife removed one wolf from the Huckleberry wolf pack, but it did not stop the attacks. With the ranch losing animals on a daily basis, the Dashiells were forced to drive the over 1,800 head of sheep down from their forested grazing area to pastures where the ranch was forced to feed hay. In 2015, the ranch was unable to go back to their summer grazing due to ongoing wolf activity and is now feeding the majority of the sheep hay on pastures near the Tri-Cities. A small group of replacement ewes is still being kept at the Hunters ranch. Moving most of the sheep from the summer grazing pastures is costing the ranch over $10,000 a month in hay costs alone. Unable to absorb the high overhead, the Dashiells have put their sheep up for sale. By being forced out of Stevens County, the area is losing a business that grossed over $100,000 a year.
“This will be the fate of every ranch in Stevens County if we don’t change something right now,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick. “When offending wolves are not quickly removed, they will come back again and again to feed on and attack livestock and domestic animals.”
Hedrick noted that the challenges to his own ranch, the Diamond M, only stopped after most of Wedge Pack was removed in 2012.
Due to the unbreakable nature of the behavior of wolves that start killing livestock, multiple kills by the Dirty Shirt pack near Chewelah also this summer indicate that pack should be removed immediately, said Hedrick. So far, the pack has killed three adult cattle and one calf.
“We have asked WDFW to be specific about how many cattle have to be killed before removal action will be taken and by their own documents, four is the number,” said Hedrick. “So the time for removal of the Dirty Shirt pack is now.”

**Additional info:

Due to questions on more details about Johnsey and wolves at the Dashiell Ranch, here is some additional info we shared on our Facebook page:

Thank you to everyone who commented on our post about Johnsey, the guard dog who was attacked by wolves this week. Johnsey was only one of five guard dogs with this band of sheep. One thing we want to make very clear is that this ranch has tried every possible means to “deter” wolves from their ranch including traditional methods like rotational grazing, full time herders that camp with the sheep and guard dogs. This year they have also tried rag boxes, fox lights and range riders. No one can say this outfit hasn’t tried everything and they are not the kind of ranch to go down without a fight.
For those who advocate the rancher just start killing wolves, please keep in mind how difficult this is. Even when the state removes wolves, it has to be done by helicopter. Ground hunting is not effective. In the past (prior to helicopters), wolves could only be removed by trapping and poison.
However, if you have a wolf on your place harassing or killing your animals, you can try and do something about it, if you can catch them. Per state law, you are able to shoot up to one wolf without a special permit. Click the link below to see the rules for killing a wolf in Eastern Washington:
http://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=232-36-052

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SCCA concerned about recent wolf kills near Chewelah

wolf pack map

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association has expressed concern over recent cattle kills by wolves in the Chewelah Creek area of Stevens County and is hoping for quick resolve to the situation by state wildlife managers. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has confirmed that three adult cows and one calf were killed by wolves in the Dirty Shirt pack on or prior to July 10.

“As always when this happens we are concerned for the ranch family that now has to worry about keeping their animals safe from wolves in addition to their regular operations,” said SCCA Vice President Scott Nielsen. “We hope that WDFW takes deliberate, intelligent action in this situation that stops the damage from wolves immediately so the rancher is not burdened with continuing losses throughout the summer.”

Now in the third year of wolf depredations in Stevens County, wolves have attacked and killed livestock in all four corners of the county as of 2015. Wolves have killed cattle and sheep from the Canadian border near Laurier, to the south end of the county near Springdale as well as in the Colville Valley and Chewelah.

SCCA has also received recent reports of wolf activity in the Profanity Peak area in Ferry County. WDFW confirmed that the Profanity Peak pack killed one cow and injured another last season, with the affected ranch reporting a loss of 26 calves in 2014.Wolf packs in Eastern Washington total a minimum of 11, according to the last count by WDFW.

In all of these situations, SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA firmly advocates for lethal removal of wolves that kill and attack domestic animals.

“We know that wolf attacks on livestock can only be stopped by immediately removing the offending wolves before the behavior spreads to the whole pack,” said Hedrick. “We support addressing the situation as soon as possible.”

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SCCA offers reward for info on killed, maimed cattle

June 29, 2015

SCCA 2015 reward ad

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) recently ran ads in newspapers in Stevens and Ferry County offering a $2,500 reward for information that will help find who has been killing and maiming their cattle over the last two years. Ads were featured in both the Statesman-Examiner (Colville) and the Ferry County View (Republic) over the last two weeks.

Over 15 head of cattle belonging to various local ranches have been shot and left for dead in the last 18 months in Stevens and Ferry County. In nearly every instance, the animal was shot near a public roadway. In addition, another rancher had a cow hit by a vehicle and left to die. Tire marks leading to the carcass showed that the vehicle accelerated in order to hit the cow and that the incident was not accidental. Although the incidents have been reported to law enforcement, no one has been arrested or charge in connection with any of the killings.

SCCA President Justin Hedrick said some of the cattlemen are suspicious the senseless acts were in retaliation for the strong stance SCCA has taken on the wolf issue. SCCA has opposed the unchecked growth of wolves in Eastern Washington and called for greater controls as many SCCA members have suffered livestock losses to the predator.
“We don’t know why people are doing this exactly, but we have our suspicions,” he said. “Whatever the reason, injuring our cattle and leaving them for dead is a cowardly, cruel thing to do and we want those responsible to be found and convicted for their crime.”

SCCA is encouraging those with information to either call Hedrick directly or call the Stevens or Ferry County Sheriff’s offices. Information that leads to an arrest and conviction will be eligible for the $2,500 reward. One reward is being offered per conviction.

For more information about the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, visit http://www.stevenscountycattlemen.com

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SCCA launches “Public Land: Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn”

scca billboard artwork

June 15, 2015

Log It, Graze It, or Watch It Burn

Cattlemen release new billboard on forest plan revision

A new billboard on the southern end of Colville sponsored by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) is advocating for a simple strategy for managing public land. The billboard says, “Public Land: Log It, Graze It or Watch It Burn.”

The June 15 release of the billboard coincides with the anticipated release of new documents for public comment from the Colville National Forest (CNF) on their Forest Plan Revision.

Colville National Forest officials are in the process of creating a new management plan for the 1.1 million acres the forest encompasses. The current forest plan was crafted in 1988 and is at the end of its 15 year life span.

However, the Proposed Action plan that came out for the Colville National Forest in 2011 not only significantly decreased the number of board feet of lumber that could be removed from the forest (a decline from the 80 million   board feet in the 1988 plan to 25-35 million board feet in the 2011 plan) but it also proposed 87,500 acres of wilderness that would  include portions of the Abercrombie, Hooknose, Bald Snow, Profanity, and Hoodoo areas.

Wilderness designations in those areas are wrong-headed for several reasons, according to SCCA, including their lack of “primeval character” as defined in the 1964 National Wilderness Preservation System. That federal designation recognized wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain” and  “an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions .”

Most of the areas recommended for wilderness designation in the proposed area have been logged, grazed and otherwise improved by man, according to SCCA.

“These areas are not untouched spots and they plan a vital role in the local community by providing renewable resources,” said SCCA Vice President Scott Nielsen. “To remove any motorized items and abandon these places will create not only economic hardship for the loggers and ranchers but create situations where the overall health of the forest degrades because it cannot be managed through logging or grazing.”

SCCA President Justin Hedrick said SCCA supports the conscientious and respectful use of natural resources on National Forests for the betterment of communities and the health of the forest.

“Reducing management of the forest by shutting down logging and grazing will only create fire-ready forests, increased bug and beetle kill of tree stands,” said Hedrick. “We can’t let that happen here and watch our forest go to ruin and our communities suffer.”

The Colville National Forest plans to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Forest Plan Revision this summer on possible action alternatives for the plan. The draft will be available for public comment.

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Ranchers, wildlife groups denounce lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services

March 9, 2015

A recent announcement by five radical environmental groups that they are suing USDA Wildlife Services regarding wolf removal in Washington is gaining strong condemnation from agriculture groups and wildlife conservationists who argue the suit is frivolous and hampers responsible management of wolves.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Cattle Producers of Washington, Spokane County Cattlemen and Washington Residents Against Wolves said the lawsuit that challenges USDA Wildlife Services’ authority to kill wolves in Washington is dismissive of the real challenges of a growing wolf population.

“The organizations behind this suit are taking a clear and public stance that they do not care about the cost to ranch families, rural communities or prey populations like deer, elk and moose that suffer when wolf populations are not kept in check,” said Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Justin Hedrick. “It’s easy to sit in your cubicle somewhere and criticize the on-the-ground challenges when it isn’t your family or your livelihood at risk.”

The lawsuit against USDA Wildlife Services was filed on March 3 by Cascadia Wildlands, The Lands Council, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Predator Defense and WildEarth Guardians.

The groups assert that although the USDA has already completed an Environmental Assessment(EA) on the impact of removing wolves in Washington, their lawsuit claims that there is not enough data in the EA to support wolf removal and calls the agency “reckless” for removing a problem wolf in the Huckleberry pack in the summer of 2014. The groups also take issue with USDA Wildlife Services advising the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on the removal of the Wedge pack in 2012.

“It is ironic that these groups are taking issue with removing problem wolves after the ranches involved had already exhausted non-lethal methods and allowed state and agency personnel to intervene on their private property,” said Hedrick. “These ranches did all they could to try to stop the killing of their animals but once wolves started after livestock, there was no way to stop it. There was no other option but lethal removal.”

A press release from the environmental groups regarding their lawsuit against USDA also claims that wolves in Washington are “far from recovered.”

Washington Residents Against Wolves Spokesman Luke Hedquist takes exception to the claim and notes that wolves are well established not only in Washington, but in neighboring states and throughout North America.

“There are over 65,000 wolves in North America, 670 wolves in Idaho, 650 wolves in Montana and over 300 wolves in Wyoming. Wolves have been removed from the Endangered Species List in all three of these states and the states allow for hunting just to try and keep the wolf populations in check,” Hedquist said. “In Washington, we are experiencing a high concentration of wolves in Eastern Washington that are creating dangerous situations for livestock owners, pet owners and hunters with likely more than 100 wolves in the area. By saying that USDA should not be able to remove wolves, these groups are advocating that public safety, other wildlife species, communities and economies should not be taken into consideration when managing wolves. This suit is essentially calling for non-management.”

The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council (INWC), a sportsman’s group with over 500 members and families, said it is seriously concerned about how the lawsuit seeks to run a strictly pro-wolf agenda without taking into consideration the complexity of the issue.

“When you sue to remove a tool from the toolbox, in this case the ability for USDA Wildlife Services to aid in removal of problem wolves by tying it up with red tape, it means these litigants are not considering the impact of an unchecked wolf population,” said INWC President Leonard Wolf. “Hunters and recreationalists in other states know that part of wolf management is sometimes wolf removal. Ignoring that fact means you will have severe declines in prey population as they experienced in Yellowstone when the number of Elk dropped from 19,000 to under 4,000 due to wolf depredations.”

“We need good, responsible management of wolves in Washington that considers all the available options so we don’t create situations that harm communities or wildlife,” Wolf added.

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Justin Hedrick named SCCA President for 2015

Capture

Justin Hedrick, a long-time member of SCCA and co-owner of the Diamond M Ranch, was recently elected as President of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association for 2015. The Diamond M ranch has been at the forefront of the wolf issue for the last several years and has worked diligently with SCCA to see improvement in wolf management. Hedrick is also an active member in Cattle Producers of Washington and a member of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association. Hedrick traveled to Washington D.C. last summer with USCA to lobby Washington Congressmen on the issues of Country of Origin Labeling, reopening horse processing facilities and federal land use.

 

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2015 SCCA Banquet coming up Feb. 7

IMG_0459The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association annual banquet is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Community College building in Colville. Social hour starts at 5pm, Prime Rib dinner at 6pm, live and silent auction, games. Tickets are $30–available at North 40 Outfitters and Colville and Kettle Falls Country Stores. Be sure to join us!

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Hunter stalked by Smackout pack wolves

wolf header 1
Wolves desensitized to human presence, WDFW ignores incident

A pack of wolves that have been the “poster children” for the effectiveness of non-lethal methods to deter wolves from livestock recently stalked a hunter near Smackout Road, forcing the hunter to shoot at the wolves in order to avoid being attacked. Most disturbingly, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife(WDFW) has suppressed the incident by not issuing a notice to the public about the danger of the Smackout wolf pack.
According to a written statement obtained by the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, the elk hunter said he was out along Smackout road on Oct. 30 when he heard something in the brush. Turning around, he saw a “black wolf skirting him” from about 15 yards away. The hunter yelled at the wolf and waved his arm to get it to leave, but the wolf “trotted out in front” of the hunter. The hunter shot in the air to try and scare it, but the wolf did not retreat and three other wolves started to close in around the hunter. The hunter backed up and then heard something coming at him. The hunter said he was “scared for his life.” As a wolf came at him, he shot at the wolf, hitting it in the shoulder. The wolf “was growling and biting its shoulder” and then went up the hill away from the man. The hunter, who has asked not to be named due to potential threats or harassment from environmental groups, said he then got on the radio to tell his hunting partners what going on and to “warn them about the pack of wolves on the ridge.” The hunter also gave the written statement to WDFW.
Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen said the Smackout Pack has been touted by groups like Conservation Northwest to be a “success story” about how non-lethal methods can be used to deter wolves from livestock. However, the efforts are having a troubling effect.
“What we are seeing is a group of wolves that are not afraid of people; are not afraid of guns and were willing to stalk a man who is alone in the woods,” said Nielsen. “These wolves have been totally desensitized to people by the same methods that the environmental groups are saying are effective for livestock operations. What we are creating here are killers that view people as possible prey. This is a serious threat to public safety.”
Even more concerning is the fact that WDFW made no efforts to alert the public as deer season was about to open in the Stevens County area. Late deer season in the Smackout wolf pack area ran from Nov. 8-19.
“Clearly the Department doesn’t want to acknowledge the human threat caused by these wolves and is willing to sit back until something terrible happens. That is unacceptable,” said Nielsen. “If WDFW is going to ignore public safety because their management has created the problem, we need to question their management. ”
SCCA is encouraging citizens to call in any wolf attacks or encounters to the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department by calling 684-5296.

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2014 NEWA Fair Fat Stock Sale brings in $165,277, American West Bank supports awards

American West donation

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) wants to thank the buyers and participants in the 2014 Northeast Washington Fair Fat Stock sale that brought in $165,277 to the community. The sale gives young producers the opportunity to sell their beef, sheep, hogs, goats and some poultry to local buyers at the fat stock sale at the fair. SCCA again managed the fat stock sale, taking on tasks like lining up the auctioneer, ring men, bookkeeper, and other help needed for the event. SCCA also paired with American West Bank that donated $250 to provide herdsmanship awards to youths that did an outstanding job of caring for their animals during the fair. Pictured (L to R) SCCA President Scott Nielsen, American West Bank Community Branch Manager Leanne Pomrankey and American West Personal banker, Lisa Reid.

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‘Local wolf control is the only solution’

As wolf problems have escalated in Eastern Washington with the recent sheep kills by the Huckleberry pack and the confirmation of a new pack near Curlew, the Profanity Pack, depredating on cattle area county commissioners have recently taken action on the issue.

The Stevens County Commissioners recently passed two different resolutions outlining their stance on the wolf issue. The August 29 resolution asserted that citizens have Constitutional rights to “defend their property from wolves” and affirmed that Stevens County residents can “kill a wolf or multiple wolves if reasonably necessary to protect their property.” The Board went a step further on September 17, citing that WDFW had “failed to act” in regards to the Huckleberry wolf pack because WDFW Director Phil Anderson had authorized the removal of four wolves from the pack after it chronically depredated on a sheep herd near Hunters, but only one was killed. The wolf kills were approved after numerous additional non-lethal methods were brought in in addition to the rancher’s regular predator deterrents of a full-time herder, 4 guard dogs and continual rotation of the sheep. Because of this failure to remove the four wolves that forced the rancher to leave his private grazing permit, the Stevens County Commissioners declared they would “consider all available options to protect the residents of Stevens County, their families and their property.”

“No person should be forced off their legal personal property which they have a Constitutional right to occupy by inappropriate actions of the State,” the Stevens County Commissioners’ resolution said.

On Sept. 22 the Ferry County Commissioners also took official action on the wolf issue, by declaring a State of Emergency in the county, asserting that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has “deviated” from the Wolf Conservation and Management Plan by not removing problem wolf packs. They said the Emergency Declaration was needed because wolves pose “a threat to the health, safety and welfare of children, citizens, property, pets and livestock.” The Ferry County Commissioners have asked WDFW to remove the Profanity Peak wolf pack, located near Curlew, “immediately.”

These actions are incredibly encouraging according to Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association President Scott Nielsen.
“After working on the wolf issue for two years and attempting to engage the Department of Fish and Wildlife on this issue by having dozens of meetings, sending letters, testifying before the Fish and Wildlife Commission, holding public meetings for WDFW to speak at and trying to work the channels they have available, we have experienced a total failure in public policy,” said Nielsen. “All of these efforts to get the state to abide by its own wolf plan and to implement lethal control or consider other options like translocation have been largely futile. The state is not serious about following the Wolf Conservation and Management plan and their inconsistency is going to put our family ranches out of business.”

SCCA asserts WDFW did not follow the wolf plan in either the 2012 depredation situation at the Diamond M ranch nor the 2014 depredation on the Dashiell ranch because the conditions for wolf removal were met, but not all of the problem wolves were removed. They also note that additional options for meeting wolf population objectives in the state, like translocation, were never pursued despite repeated requests. They also failed to provide non-lethal tools, like wolf collar data, to producers.
Nielsen said SCCA is looking forward to actions that may be taken by the counties, as they are more vested in the economic survival of the area.

“Our county commissioners live here, they are aware of the financial and community cost of these kinds of crises on our communities. We need people who are directly affected, who are vested in Eastern Washington and aren’t trying to manage from cubicles in Olympia,” said Nielsen. “Local wolf control is the only solution.”

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