SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The first sheep kill attributed to a wolf has been reported in Whitman County in southeast Washington.
The ewe was found dead Friday after it strayed from a flock near Lamont, apparently through a break in an electric fence.
“We’ve ruled it a probable wolf kill,” said Joey McCanna with the state Fish and Wildlife Department, noting that the investigation didn’t come up with all the evidence needed for a confirmation.
However, location of the wounds, canine teeth punctures and a broken femur indicated wolf, he said.
McCanna told The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/1z2m9i2 ) that other ranchers and farmers in the area are being alerted to secure their livestock with fences. They also are advised to make sure any carcasses are buried to avoid attracting coyotes and wolves.
Wolves were hunted to extinction in Washington early in the last century. But they have been returning to the state in recent years as they migrate from Montana, Idaho and Canada.
The dead ewe was one of several sheep that had strayed from the flock where there was a breakdown in their enclosure of three-strand electric fence, McCanna said.
Wolf sightings had been reported in the past three weeks in the Lamont area, but no one witnessed the attack, McCanna said. Two wolves were confirmed in the LaCrosse area last winter.
In October, a wolf was shot about 15 miles southwest of Pullman by a man Fish and Wildlife police described as a Whitman County farmer. Gray wolves are protected by state endangered species laws.
Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy is investigating the evidence turned over in that shooting. Tracy’s staff said Monday that no decision has been made on whether to prosecute the case.
Fish and Wildlife officers will be working with the livestock producers when they move the Lamont sheep back to a fenced area near their homestead later this month, McCanna said.
“We are not forcing anyone to move livestock in this situation,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman. “The sheep are being moved on a normal schedule.”
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com
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