July 13, 2016
Wolf pack on third year of cattle attacks
The Profanity wolf pack, located in northeast Ferry County, has again started their killing spree, killing three calves within the last 10 days. The pack that numbers at least seven adult wolves, a breeding pair and likely a new litter of pups is again taking advantage of the rugged territory near Sherman Pass to kill cattle that are out on summer range.
The three calves killed belong to the Diamond M Ranch that has had previous “confirmed” killings by the Profanity Pack in 2014. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed that the ranch lost a cow-calf pair and a calf to the Profanity wolves in 2014, however, the actual losses were much higher.
“We were missing 26 calves and four cows in 2014. Most of those losses are due to unconfirmed wolf kills,” said Diamond M Ranch co-owner and President of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association Justin Hedrick. “Our usual death loss for that area can be up to four calves.”
The 2014 losses and the addition of at least three more killed calves this year is a significant loss to the ranch, with each loss calf costing at least $1,500 in potential revenue.
The persistent attacks from the Profanity Pack are making for a reoccurring nightmare for the Diamond M that saw this kind of behavior explode into a crisis situation in 2012. Wolf activity from the Wedge Pack in 2012 culminated into 17 wolf attacks and the ranch absorbing over $100,000 in losses due to the Wedge Pack activity. Eventually, some of the Wedge pack was removed by WDFW, but as the losses were mounting in the summer of 2012, WDFW did nothing but mark down the body count.
“A scenario like the Wedge pack is happening again,” said Hedrick. “Last year we didn’t see as much killing from the Profanity Pack due to a lot of wildfire activity. But now that things have settled down, they are back at it.”
While the Diamond M is trying to work with WDFW and local officials to address the situation, Hedrick said experience has shown that the only way to stop the carnage is to remove the offending wolves.
“This is a chronically depredating pack that needs to be removed,” said Hedrick.
Yet, at the time when the ranch needs help, WDFW has tightened up restrictions on lethally removing wolves. A lethal removal plan passed by the Wolf Advisory Group in May requires the ranch to implement sanitation measures as well as using a “non-lethal deterrent” approved by WDFW. In addition, lethal removal protocols also require 4 confirmed kills in one calendar year by the pack; non-lethal deterrents have to fail and the public has to be notified that the wolves will be removed. With only one of the three calves killed by the Profanity Pack this year being “confirmed” kills, Hedrick said WDFW is working to avoid reaching the 4 killings needed to start lethal removal.
“This situation needs to be addressed because if it isn’t, we are going to see as many losses as we did in 2012 from the Wedge Pack. That is rugged country and the wolves are going to just keep killing,” Hedrick related.