Wolf pack kills calf, forcing decision on lethal control

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A wolf pack in northeastern Washington state has killed another calf, forcing the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to determine whether to cull the pack, officials said.

The Togo pack of wolves has attacked three calves over the past 30 days, surpassing the threshold of livestock kills for the department to consider killing one or two wolves to curb the livestock killing, The Capital Press reported.

The other killings of livestock were confirmed on May 17 and May 18. The latest calf killed belonged to a different rancher than the first two that were attacked, officials said.

The Togo pack territory in Ferry County is the only one that Fish and Wildlife classifies as a “chronic-conflict zone” because of the frequency of livestock attacks.

Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind has authorized culling the pack five times since 2018 and killed one wolf in the five attempts.

Fish and Wildlife officials met Thursday to discuss a recommendation for Susewind.

Susewind authorized culling the pack last summer. The department didn’t kill a wolf, but said the ground search for the pack may have discouraged it from attacking more cattle.

The pack has been attacking in private pastures patrolled by ranchers and state-funded range riders, which the department says is the best non-lethal way to prevent wolf-livestock conflicts.

If the department decides on lethal control, it typically tries to kill one or two wolves and then suspends action to determine whether livestock attacks stop.

The department counted seven wolves in the Togo pack at the end of 2021.