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Ranchers Move Sheep Heard to Stop Depredation

Fish and Wildlife officials say a sheep herd that has lost members to a wolf pack in Stevens County is being moved to another area to stop the depredation. The local cattleman's association is not happy with that action.

In the last few weeks, a total of 24 sheep have been killed by members of the huckleberry wolf pack. That group inhabits a mountainous are between Springdale and Hunters, northwest of Spokane. Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and wildlife authorized a plan to kill four members of the pack, and to date one has been killed. That, after previous efforts to scare the wolves away were unsuccessful.

Now the sheep have been removed from leased private timber land, are being prepared to be moved to grazing lands in the Columbia Basin, something that was already planned as alfalfa fields in the basin were being harvested.
 
A spokesperson with the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association, Jamie Henneman, says moving the sheep from the current grazing lands this early is unacceptable.

Henneman: “That rancher is being forced to leave almost two months early, as per his contract, he wouldn’t be moving until mid or late October."

Fish and Wildlife's eastern region director, Steve Pozzanghera, offered a different timeline.
 
Pozzanghera: “That would have been an opportunity that could have come any time from roughly the first part of September to early October.”

Pozzanghera says the rancher had successfully grazed his sheep in that location last year without any problems from the Huckleberry Pack.
 
Henneman says one thing that would have improved the situation would have been if Fish and Wildlife would have provided more specific information on the wolf packs location, called “collar data” to the rancher.

Henneman: “We had the Dasheills and many other ranchers who knew they were in the vicinity of the wolf pack call the department and say hey can we get collar data? We actually took this up in the association and asked if we could collar data by June 14th of last year, and that didn’t happen.”
 
But the Fish and Wildlife manager says there was no request from the rancher in question to provide that information:
 
Pozzanghera: “But I’m not aware this operator has expressed an interest in having one of those agreement with the department to actually be able to download and access this information, but what we have done is post the depredation on august 12th was share the information verbally with the operator.”

He says agency officials will still be authorized to kill two more wolves if the depredation continues as the sheep are being readied to be moved to grazing lands in the Columbia Basin.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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