State investigates whether wolves killed cow

WENATCHEE — State wildlife biologists are investigating the death of a pregnant cow on a ranch south of Wenatchee — and they got a glimpse of a wolf while they were working.

It’s the same ranch where pictures of two gray wolves were captured on Sunday. The Wenatchee World reports that state wildlife officials named the wolves the Wenatchee Pack on Tuesday. Later that same day, the officials were at the Hurd family ranch investigating a dead cow.

“This is all happening so fast,” said Dave Volson, a wildlife biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The state agency has not yet determined how the cow died.

Rancher Ross Hurd said he doesn’t want to create hysteria about the wolves, but wants people to know the wolves are in the area and people may have to adapt.

He said he put up two additional remote cameras on his property to track the wolves on his ranch. The family also plans to have more people out patrolling their property and watching over their livestock, which includes about 60 head of cattle, as well as horses and sheep.

Wolves migrated to Washington from Idaho, Oregon and western Canada. They are listed as endangered throughout Washington under state law and as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state under federal law.

Earlier this month, the Washington state Senate passed a measure that would allow livestock and pet owners to shoot wolves without a permit when the wolves are attacking or threatening their animals.

The bill is the latest salvo in an ongoing debate over how to cope with the reintroduction —and subsequent population rise — of the predatory canines in Eastern Washington. Bill opponents say it would hurt the state’s wolf recovery efforts and contradicts years of effort put into hashing out a state wolf plan.

The state plan requires 15 successful breeding pairs for three consecutive years to remove endangered species protections. Four breeding pairs would be required in eastern Washington, the North Cascades and the South Cascades or Northwest coast, as well as three other pairs anywhere in the state.

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