The Togo wolf pack in Northeastern Washington has injured or killed four calves within the last 30 days, triggering lethal removal of wolves under the state’s management plan.
On Monday, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Director Kelly Susewind released a statement that a hunt for one or two wolves will take place. He authorized the action in response to repeated depredations of cattle on private grazing lands in Ferry County.
“The proactive and responsive non-lethal deterrents used by the two affected livestock producers in the area this grazing season have not curtailed further depredations,” WDFW said in a press release.
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The WDFW has shot one wolf in five previous tries at culling the pack since 2018.
Lethal removal authorization expires when the wolf or wolves have been removed, or after June 27, whichever comes first. The authorization could be extended or amended to include other wolves in the pack if additional depredations are documented in the next couple of weeks, according to WDF.
“They don’t think they have anything to fear from,” said Scott Nielsen, President of the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, on June 13. “It’s past time that something gets done to protect livestock, but unfortunately, I do not think that killing one or two of the pack is going to slow the attacks at this point. Fish and Wildlife waited too long, and they’ve now got a chronically depredating pack of wolves on their hands.”
Nielsen believes many other kills and injuries are tied to the Togo pack, but it is challenging to get WDFW to confirm them.
This is, in part, connected to Gov. Jay Inslee’s plea in 2019 to “significantly reduce” the killing of wolves involved in livestock conflicts. In a letter to WDFW, Inslee asked that the state increase efforts to change guidelines that dictate when a wolf can be lethally removed.
WDFW must confirm at least three wolf depredations from the pack on livestock within 30 days or four within 10 months.
The official Washington wolf population numbers as of 2021 were 206 wolves in 33 packs, with 19 successful breeding pairs. The WDFW documented 30 wolves were killed by people in 2021, up from 16 in 2022. Two wolves were killed by the WDFW itself while 22 were legally hunted by tribal members and four were struck by vehicles.
The department counted seven wolves in the pack at the end of 2021. Two of the wolves are wearing radio collars. Removing one or two wolves from the pack won’t harm the recovery of wolves in the state, according to WDFW.