Yearling killed near Smackout Pack area
The remains of a year-old cow were found on Rocky Creek, just 20 miles northeast of Colville on Oct. 5, indicating that wolf problems in Stevens County will not be exclusive to the Wedge area. The northwestern area of Stevens County, commonly called the “Wedge”, was the location of numerous wolf-livestock conflicts this summer, resulting in 10 dead and 8 injured calves at the Diamond M Ranch.
The latest dead cow, commonly called a “yearling” due to its age, was part of the all-natural beef herd raised by Olsen Farms and sold at farmer’s markets throughout the state, as well as at Pike Street Market in Seattle.
According to reports from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Department, the cow had been dead for several days and pieces of the carcass had been ripped off and dragged 10 to 20 yards from the kill site. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) agents responded to the kill, but would not confirm if it was a wolf kill at the scene, per their department protocol. However, wolf tracks and scat were both found at the location.
The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association suspects this kill was caused by the Smackout pack that was confirmed in the nearby area.
“This kill shows us that wolf activity is not going to be exclusive to the Wedge pack area and is not the result of ‘sloppy ranching’ as some conservation groups have suggested,” said SCCA President Scott Nieslen. “Our oversaturation of wolves in Eastern Washington means these kinds of incidents will be spreading throughout the region in the near future if the management of this animal is not changed.”
SCCA is advocating that the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission immediately delist the Gray Wolf as an endangered species in Washington State so more adequate management can take place. If the Gray Wolf is delisted, it can be managed as a predator like cougars, bears and coyotes.
Nielsen noted that the management of the Smackout Pack, which has been touted by both environmentalists and WDFW as an ideal model, is failing.
“There was a lot of discussion at the Commission meeting last week about how the Diamond M could have avoided losses if they had ‘worked with conservation groups’ like other ranchers. However, all that really meant is that the Diamond M did not accepting money from environmental groups or from the state,” said Nielsen. “Money cannot fix this problem and non-lethal methods do not always work. We need to be honest about the situation here in Stevens County and rethink the approach.”