By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS | Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The season when wolves come into conflict with livestock in Eastern Washington has arrived, but the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is ready.

The agency has been working for nearly a year to minimize conflicts during the summer grazing season.

Across Eastern Washington, “wildlife conflict” specialists have been working with ranchers to help them protect their livestock, while field biologists capture and fit wolves with radio-collars to improve state monitoring efforts.

Wolves were hunted to extinction at the beginning of the last century in Washington. But starting in the early years of this century, the animals began returning to the state from Idaho and Canada.

Ranchers in Eastern Washington have reported losing an increasing number of livestock to wolves as the population of the predators has grown.