The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has announced they’ll use lethal force against wolves in the Profanity Peak pack after their number of cattle depredations has been confirmed at five this year.
The wolf pack – with at least 11 wolves – roams mainly in Ferry County. WDFW said they expect the operation against the pack to begin soon and could include the animals being trapped or shot from the ground and helicopter.
“What I’m hearing so far is sadness, disappointment, but not the outrage that immediately surfaced two years ago with the Huckleberry pack,” Shawn Cantrell, director of Defenders of Wildlife Northwest and a member of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Wolf Advisory Group, said to the Capital Press.
The Profanity Peak pack made kills on public grazing lands in the Sherman Pass area, northeast of Republic and belong to two different ranches.
“The Ferry County Commissioners have not only declared a state of emergency, but have demanded the department complete a full removal of the pack,” said Hedrick — whose ranch ,the Diamond M, lost four calves to the pack — in a press release by Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association. “Considering the ongoing damage these wolves have caused over the last three years, we feel that request is reasonable and should be met.”
The department ordered lethal force when it confirmed a fourth kill by the pack. Since then a fifth kill has also been identified by WDFW. They also have classified three other livestock deaths as probable kills by the pack as well.
In order for wolf removal, the WDFW must confirm four kills by wolves within a calendar year and an attempt to use non-lethal methods to stop the killing.
Diamond M and other ranches used non-lethal deterrents like range riders and removing carcasses of killed cattle and other methods, said the Stevens County Cattlemen’s Association.
“I think the department followed the protocol and the producers there upheld their end of the bargain, and it’s where we are,” said Paula Swedeen — who represents Conservation Northwest on the advisory group — said to the Capital Press.
Two groups – the Center for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Wildlands and the Western Environmental Law Center objected to WDFW’s plans to lethally remove wolves.
The last time the department announced they’d remove wolves, it was in 2014 when they said they would remove four wolves. That operation, however, ended when WDFW came under scrutiny after shooting one wolf. This is the third time the department has had to lethally remove wolves in the past decade.
Currently, 19 wolf packs are in the state of Washington. Four kills is the threshold for the department before ordering lethal removal. The number of wolves the department will remove has yet to be determined.
“They’ve let it go on way too long. If they mess around with one or two wolves, the pack will continue killing cows,” Stevens County rancher Scott Nielsen said to the Capital Press. “If they had acted sooner, it would take less to stop that feeding habit.”
Along with the wolf shot in 2014, WDFW removed seven wolves from the Wedge pack in 2012. They were assisted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, but since then a federal judge has ruled federal agencies cannot help lethally remove wolves without doing an environmental impact study.
The WDFW said they will give weekly updates on the operation.
By The Independent Staff