OLYMPIA — State wildlife managers are planning to kill some wolves in a northeastern Washington pack after its members killed at least four cattle this year.
Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Jim Unsworth authorized killing a portion of the Profanity Peak pack in Ferry County after investigators on Wednesday confirmed a calf had been killed by a wolf. There are at least 11 wolves in the pack.
The department says preventative measures — such removing carcasses or increasing human presence — have not stopped livestock from being attacked, and such attacks will continue if the animals aren’t removed.
The agency says it is following guidelines developed with an advisory group on when to remove wolves, including that there be at least four livestock attacks in a year.
It’s the third time the department will remove wolves since the predators began recolonizing Washington about a decade ago, The Capital Press reported. There are now 19 wolf packs, all of them east of the Cascades.
“I’m disappointed there was another depredation, but happy to see the department is ready to step in,” said Washington Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Jack Field.
Agents shot one wolf in northeastern Washington’s Huckleberry pack in 2014 and seven wolves from the Wedge pack in 2012. In those cases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services assisted the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. Since then, a federal judge has ruled the federal agency can’t help Washington lethally remove wolves without doing a more thorough study of the environmental impacts.
Several conservation groups objected to the decision, saying in a joint news release they do not want to see wolves killed in remote, roadless areas.
“We appreciate the agency’s use of nonlethal measures to try to prevent losses of both livestock and wolves, and are glad to hear the ranchers in question have been working cooperatively with the state, but we are deeply saddened that wolves are going to die,” Amaroq Weiss, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said in the news release. “We are not part of the advisory group but have made clear to the group that we don’t support the killing of the public’s wildlife on public lands.”