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Twisp rancher convicted of conspiring to kill a wolf, reports dead calf

By K.C. Mehaffey
World staff writer

Monday, April 29, 2013

TWISP — A Twisp cattle rancher who admitted last year that he had earlier conspired to kill a wolf and ship its pelt to Canada reported finding a dead calf that he suspects might have been killed by a wolf on his property Wednesday.

But state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say their preliminary finding is that Bill White’s calf was not killed by a wolf.

White says he’s not claiming his calf was killed by a wolf. But he did say that just days before finding the dead calf, a trail camera on his property captured a photo of a wolf on his property, and a neighbor had seen three wolves near his property. He also found scat that appeared to be too large for coyotes within 10 feet of where the mother cow had her calf. And, he said, the calf was located on a grassy hill, where it would be difficult to detect any animal prints.

“They just won’t confirm a wolf-kill unless it’s absolutely 100 percent guaranteed,” he said. White said that biologists who responded to the scene told him that neither a cougar nor a bear had killed it, and that it had been born alive, and traumatized before it died. “So, what I’d like to know is, what did kill it?” he asked. “What can kill it, leave no tracks, eat 40 pounds and then leave?”

State Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Jim Brown, who heads Wildlife’s law enforcement in Okanogan County said while the investigation into White’s dead calf is not complete, Fish and Wildlife officers and biologists responding to the scene could find no conclusive evidence that a wolf was involved in any way.

He said the carcass had been fed on, but there were no wolf tracks near it.

Matt Monda, the agency’s regional wildlife program manager, said White took the proper precautions by covering the carcass with a tarp and calling to report it as soon as he discovered it.

He said two Wildlife enforcement officers, two Wildlife biologists and two Okanogan County sheriff’s deputies responded and investigated the scene.

Monda said there’s strong evidence that a coyote had fed on the dead calf, but it’s unknown why it died.

White pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court last April to conspiracy to take an endangered species and conspiracy to transport an endangered species. He was sentenced to six months of home monitoring and fined $35,000, with $20,000 of the fine shared with his son, Tom, who admitted to killing two wolves.

On Friday, he said he called authorities, even though he didn’t think they would determine that his calf was killed by a wolf. “But if I have another one killed, and another and another down the road, maybe they’ll look back and say, ‘Well, maybe it was.’ ”

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