Capital Press 9/20/12
The wolves in the Wedge Wolf Pack
are now dining almost exclusively on beef,
according to a northeastern Washington cattle
"The game department told me
they're nearly 100 percent beef in the manure
piles," Laurier, Wash., rancher Len McIrvin
said. "They've taken all the game in this area
and are just living on these cattle."
There have been two more kills
and two more injured cattle, which state
officials confirmed to be wolf-caused, on
McIrvin's Diamond M Ranch in recent weeks.
However, he estimates 40 calves
have been killed, as evidenced by mother cows
that are now dry.
"The wolves are killing about a
calf a day or every other day right now," he
Dave Ware, game division manager
for the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife, said efforts to kill several wolves in
the pack are ongoing. The department increased
the number of staff in the area to operate on
several sites and increase efforts to keep the
wolves from the livestock.
"We haven't actually been able to
take a wolf, but we've been close several
times," he said. "We feel we will be successful
in the near future."
After killing several wolves, the
state will evaluate the situation, Ware said.
McIrvin estimated the cost to his
operation is approaching $100,000 in cattle
kills, weight loss, injuries, extra labor and
low conception rate. The department has $50,000
allotted for compensation to ranchers, $5,000
McIrvin has refused compensation,
saying it would be akin to supporting the
wolves' presence. He'd prefer to see the entire
"The next step's to go out of
business if we can't eliminate that pack,"
McIrvin said. "A cattle ranch can't sustain that
kind of losses."
McIrvin said he still gets phone
calls, with the callers seem to be evenly
distributed between industrial support and avid
"As long as it's not their
cattle, pets or kids getting eaten, everything
is great," he said wryly. "One woman in Seattle
said, 'I love wolves, I'd just like to take one
home to cuddle with.' I wish she would."
McIrvin blames the regulations
for the complications.
"It's not the wolves' problem --
wolves do what wolves do: They kill for fun,
support and hunger," he said. "We could take
care of it, but when you've got an agency that
won't allow it, our hands are tied."
As ranchers bring their cows in
from open ranges and federal and state
allotments and hunters begin to go out into the
field, Ware recommends they report any signs of
wolves, including scat and tracks.
Jamie Henneman, media relations
representative for the Stevens County
Cattlemen's Association, said eastern Washington
cattlemen are concerned about developments at
the Diamond M Ranch, since Stevens, Ferry, Pend
Orielle and Okanogan counties have eight of the
state's 12 wolf packs.
"The aggressive wolf behavior at
the Diamond M proves wolves will attack cattle
even when the weather is agreeable and wild game
is available," Henneman said.
Henneman said the inability of
the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to
handle the situation is "not inspiring much
The association is advocating for
immediate delisting of the wolf as an endangered
species in eastern Washington. Henneman said the
association wants producers to have the same
discretion with wolves as other game animals.
"Cattlemen in our area regularly
deal with other predators like cougars or bears
without 'wiping out' those populations,"
Washington Department of Fish and
Cattlemen's Association: http://stevenscountycattlemen.wordpress.com/