CARLTON — The state has sped up plans to put radio collars on wolves in the Methow Valley after confirming last month that the pack likely killed a calf — the first in the state to qualify for compensation.
Scott Becker, a biologist now stationed in Wenatchee and hired to work with wolves, will begin efforts to trap the two known members of the Lookout Pack next week, said Wildlife’s Eastern Region Director Steve Pozzanghera.
It’s the state’s first confirmed wolf pack in 70 years, and now deemed the first pack to have probably killed livestock in a May 19 attack on the Thurlow cattle ranch near Carlton.
The Thurlows qualify for compensation under the state’s wolf recovery plan, up to $1,500 depending on the calf’s market value.
Bernard Thurlow said he believes two other calves were injured by the wolf the same day. He brought them home and nursed them back to health, but will receive no compensation for them.
Pozzanghera said, “We had the depredation, and this will allow us to keep tabs on the animals’ relative proximity to the cattle.” He said Becker — formerly a wolf coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — and another biologist stationed in Spokane will try to trap and radio collar animals from all five known packs in the state. That will allow biologists to follow the packs’ movements and track breeding.
The wolves — including those trapped in the Methow Valley — will be released in the same location as captured, Pozzanghera said.
“Currently, despite the depredation, and certainly not minimizing it, a situation like this does not warrant the movement of the animal at this point in time,” he said. He added that the agency hopes to work with the Thurlows and other ranchers to prevent further problems.
Funds are available for preventing wolf kills, he noted, and that includes hiring what’s known as a range rider.
He said the agency would be happy to work with ranchers, who can pick someone who knows their land and knows cattle ranching to help prevent further wolf attacks.
Human presence is often enough to deter wolves, he said.
Thurlow said he has declined the agency’s offer to hire a range rider. “I just don’t want somebody else up there,” he said. “I don’t know what they know about cows, and they don’t know our range. They could cause me more grief, and the cows don’t know them,” he said.
In addition to the two biologists who will work with wolves, Wildlife hired two science technicians — one of them stationed in Wenatchee — to attempt to detect new wolf packs in the state, and provide support for issues arising from confrontations with livestock.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512