County wildlife specialist busy during winter months

Predator complaints still high in NE Washington

Although many would assume winter is a time when challenges with predators like cougars and wolves would decrease, Stevens County Wildlife Specialist Jeff Flood said he has been very active during this time.

Deputy Flood is a special deputy with the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office. Flood’s position is funded by a grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) to address complaints related to wildlife. Flood handles wildlife calls involving threats to livestock, pets and people. Flood often works with area cattlemen to address concerns related to the safety of their livestock from predators like cougars and wolves.

The Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association (SCCA) said they are appreciative to have a deputy at the sheriff’s office available to handle wildlife complaints.

“Having Jeff available for the last three years has made a tremendous difference to us because we have someone who is vested in the safety of our community,” said SCCA President Scott Nielsen. “We appreciate having a local resource to address the increasing pressure from predators against our ranch families and livestock.”

Since winter closed in, Deputy Flood said he has been responding to calls about predators, as well as working with other agencies to collect better predator data.

“We still get lots of predator complaints in the winter. It’s harder for everybody to survive in the snow, so we have prey animals like deer coming down low and the predators are following them,”  Deputy Flood explained.

Deputy Flood said most of the predator complaints this winter have been related to cougars killing livestock, but wolves are still a particular concern.

“We are coming into breeding season for wolves and wolves can be very territorial,” Flood noted. “It’s important for people with pets, especially dogs, to be thinking about this. You don’t have to be out deep in the woods to see a wolf. Anymore, we can have a wolf anywhere.”

Deputy Flood has been working closely with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to get more wolves in the area collared for data collection. Deputy Flood has also been working with the Kalispel Tribe to collar cougars to determine their patterns of movement. He also has game cams out in various parts of the county to aid in data collection.

For those who may be concerned about predator activity in their area, Flood said being mindful of the behavior of pets and livestock is important.

“Pet and livestock owners should be mindful of their surroundings and any unusual behavior of their animals. Cattle that are getting pushed out of pens or are bunching up may be experiencing pressure from a predator, for example,” Flood explained.

No matter what the situation, Flood emphasized that citizens are legally able to defend themselves and their animals.

“If you feel threatened or your animals are threatened, you are within your rights to remove the animal,” Flood said. “You can also call the Stevens County Sheriff and we will respond. If I get a wildlife call, I will respond. I don’t care what day or time it is, call me.”

Flood can be reached by calling the Stevens County Dispatch at 684-2555.

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