WENATCHEE, Wash. -- The state of Washington had a plan. It asked ranchers where a new pack of wolves showed up this year to keep their cows in protective pens longer than usual.
The hope was that the wolves would follow the deer and elk as they moved to the high country when the weather warmed.
It may have worked just like it was supposed to. Sightings of the pack have dried up over the last week and the ranch family is about turn the cows out to pasture. But in the world of wolves, nothing is certain. Rancher Doug Hurd worries the wolves will find cattle on the range irresistible.
But biologists say this plan can work and it may have to become the norm in expanding Washington state wolf country.
The newest pack and one other, the Teanaway pack, are the first to venture west to the central part of the state and may signify a much larger western migration. That's good news for wildlife managers who are hoping well dispersed wolves will create and healthy and manageable population.
In the mountains above Wenatchee the pack is also doing something the state biologists like. They are, so far, preying on deer and elk, not protected cattle.